Royal Porthcawl Golf Club Course Review

Perhaps the greatest strength of Wales’ finest links is that it has 18 fresh and different challenges that serve up splendid sea views at almost every turn

Royal Porthcawl Golf Club
The 11th hole (Photo: Geoff Ellis, golfworking.co.uk)

Perhaps the greatest strength of Wales’ finest links is that it has 18 fresh and different challenges that serve up splendid sea views at almost every turn

Royal Porthcawl Golf Club Course Review

Top 100 Ranking 2021/22 - 22

Previous Rankings 2019/20 - 23 2017/18 - 23 2015/16 - 22 2013/14 - 28 2011/12 - 29 2009/10 - 31

Summer Green Fees

Round: £150-£160wd, £100-165we; Day: £195-£210wd, £220we

Visitor Times: Visitor tee-times vary – check website for details. Weekday rates include a complimentary Welsh breakfast or two course lunch between 8am and 3pm

Medal Tee: Par 72 – 6,580 Yards

Website: www.royalporthcawl.com (opens in new tab)

Changes since previous ranking

There have been significant changes under the guidance of Martin Ebert, including the re-naturalisation of all fairway bunkers.

There is new mounding to the left of the 6th and 18th, new tees on the 11th and 14th plus new fine-turf, irrigated pathways from most tees to fairways. There are new flow areas from greens to tees on three holes. A number of bare sand areas have been created.

Royal Porthcawl Golf Club Course Review

This two-time Senior Open venue on the South Wales coast is, for many, the undisputed star of Welsh links golf.

It presents a superb, and at times, dramatic test, setting its stall out from the start with a fine trio of holes flanking the boardwalk and beach on the left. Exceedingly closely in the case of the 2nd where the OOB fence sits worryingly close to the green.

Royal Porthcawl Golf Club

The 2nd is one of three holes hugging the beach at the start (Photo: Geoff Ellis, golfworking.co.uk)

Related: Top 100 golf courses UK and Ireland

You then turn back via a dauntingly long par 3 with a thought-provoking green and a fine par 5 where the final approach plays steeply up to a narrow target.

The golfing treats come thick and fast, from the tiny but well-defended par-3 7th – think Postage Stamp at Royal Troon for trickiness beyond yardage - to the exhilarating slingshot 9th.

Royal Porthcawl Golf Club

The must-hit target on the tiny par-3 7th (Photo: Geoff Ellis, golfworking.co.uk)

With holes heading in multiple directions, there’s superb variety throughout. The back nine can be particularly challenging with a number of demanding par 4s. Among them are the back and forth duo at 15 and 16, both blessed with devious cross bunkers and uphill approaches.

Sea views at every turn

Perhaps one of the very best things about Royal Porthcawl is that with no towering dunes in the way and a wonderful tract of land that slopes gently down towards the beach, there are great sea views to be savoured from almost every part of the course.

Royal Porthcawl Golf Club

The 15th is a strong par 4 on the run for home (Photo: Geoff Ellis, golfworking.co.uk)

The 18th sweeps back down to the clubhouse. Its 50-yard-long green means that merely finding the putting surface will not always be enough.

Harry Colt, J.H. Taylor and Tom Simpson are among those to have helped shape the layout over the years. Martin Ebert has overseen further recent improvements to keep Porthcawl in the thoughts of those organising golf’s premier events.

Bernhard Langer won both Senior Opens here in 2014 and 2017, which perhaps tells you all you need to know about the strategic test.

The fact that his winning scores were 14 shots apart – 18-under and then just 4-under – tells you just how stiff that test can be when conditions dictate.

Assessor Feedback

On playing the course for the first time, Tom Watson apparently said: “It was just one great golf hole after another and one great green complex after another.” I can’t put it any better than that!

When you stand on the 1st tee and look down the coast you can’t help but say, “Wow”.

GM Verdict

Perhaps the greatest strength of Wales’ finest links is that it has 18 fresh and different challenges that serve up splendid sea views at almost every turn.

 

 

Jeremy Ellwood
Contributing Editor

Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly across the whole spectrum from courses and Rules to equipment and instruction. He also edits The Golf Club Secretary Newsletter, a highly regarded trade publication for golf club secretaries and managers, and has authored or co-authored three books and written for a number of national papers including The Telegraph and The Independent. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 91 of the Next 100, making him well-qualified when it comes to assessing and comparing our premier golf courses. He has now played well over 950 golf courses worldwide in 35 countries, right across the spectrum from the humblest of nine-holers in the Scottish Highlands to the very grandest of international golf resorts, but put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content.

Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf


Jeremy is currently playing...

Driver: Ping G425 LST 10.5˚ (draw setting), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 55 S shaft

3 wood: Ping G425 Max 15˚ (set to flat +1), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 65 S shaft

Hybrid: Ping G425 17˚, Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Orange 80 S shaft

Irons 3-PW: Ping i525, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Wedges: Ping Glide 4.0 50˚ and 54˚, 12˚ bounce, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Putter: Ping Fetch 2021 model, 33in shaft (set flat 2)

Ball: Varies but mostly now TaylorMade Tour Response