Royal St David's Golf Club Course Review

A traditional links packed with strong par 4s and a particularly challenging finish; very much a golfer’s golf course

The seventeenth green with the par-3, 18th hole closing hole beyond (Photo: David Cannon/Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A traditional links packed with strong par 4s and a particularly challenging finish; very much a golfer’s golf course

Royal St David's Golf Club Course Review

Top 100 Ranking 2021/22 - 45 Previous Rankings 2019/20 - 46 2017/18 - 44 2015/16 - 44 2013/14 - 46 2011/12 - 49 2009/10 - 45

Summer Green Fees

Round - £95, Day - £135

Visitors: welcome every day subject to availability

Medal Tee: Par 69 - 6,403 Yards (opens in new tab)

VIDEO: The Average Golfer visits Royal St David's Golf Club -

Changes since previous ranking

New tees at holes 6, 12, 14 and 18. Significant changes to green surrounds at holes 2, 4, 7, 9, 11 and 14.

Royal St David's Golf Club Course Review

The green on the par-3 fourteenth with the fifteenth beyond

The premier, old-school links at Harlech has hosted many championships in its long history. With the club dating back to 1894, it was given royal patronage by Edward VII, while the Duke of Windsor (Edward VIII), captained the Club in 1935 while he was Prince of Wales.

Sitting beneath the imperious watch of Harlech Castle, this is a major-league test of golf which plays over mainly flat linksland between a tall dune ridge on the coastal side and the imposing 13th-century castle on the town side. The towering dunes that separate the course from the sea may provide some protection from the vagaries of the wind… but don’t expect too much!

A Serious Test

The course has one of the toughest pars in the Top 100. There are two just about reachable par 5s at the 7th and 8th, but as they run in opposite directions, you are not going to get lucky with both unless the wind does something very unusual!

These are countered by some monstrous par 4s, although when the fairways are running you would hope to get up in two on a good number. Balanced with these are five attractive par 3s of varying length.

The shortest is the tiny 11th which is played over bunkers to a narrow green, while the longest is three holes later where it’s 221 yards to a green that needs no sand for protection and will frequently require driver into the wind.

Looking back down the par-4 fifteenth

The viewing steps behind the 16th provide both a rare glimpse of the sea and an elevated view of a seemingly modest par 4, where clusters of pot bunkers up at the green add to the test.

The club continues to work hard on improving both the playing conditions and visitor experience, and Royal St. David’s is at the heart of a strong and scenic golfing area that deserves to attract far greater interest.

Overall, this is a strong links that places demands on good positional play and a willing acceptance of the odd rogue bounce. The dormy house is very comfortable and there are some terrific packages for golf and accommodation.

Assessor Feedback

Easily the best course in North Wales, RSD is links golf at its purest. It is known as the most difficult par 69 in Britain and usually gives me a sound thrashing - but I just love the challenge.

GM Verdict

A traditional links packed with strong par 4s and a particularly challenging finish; very much a golfer’s golf course

Royal St David's Golf Club Course Review

Rob Smith Visits…

I returned to Royal St. David’s on an overcast morning last Summer after a gap of something like thirty years and a Winter that had ravaged the course and kept it closed for weeks. Terrific effort and success by the greenkeeping team were evident and the course was back in excellent shape with plenty going on throughout the club to improve the visitor experience.

This is a superb links and a real test of golf. It opens with one of seven par 4s over 400 yards, this one watched over by the medieval castle.

The first green offers views back to the castle

Two more two-shotters lead you to the opening par 3 which plays very long into a westerly breeze.

The short fourth is the first of eight holes on the far side of the sea path

A pair of tough par 4s is followed by back-to-back par 5s which may offer chance of some points, again depending on the wind. These lead you to the northern end of the layout at the par-3 9th.

The par-3 ninth is at the far end of the course

The Shortest Hole

The back nine starts with another challenging par 4, and I love the par-3 11th which demands accuracy and perfect club selection.

The lovely, short eleventh - SI18 but a potential card wrecker

As you face the castle again on the next tee, you must not be distracted from your task of getting as far down the fairway as possible.

Best not to top your drive at the twelfth

Two more tough par 4s sandwich the 14th, a brute of a par 3 to a hidden green.

Looking back over the fifteenth green from the sixteenth tee

The round concludes with two more par 4s and a closing one-shotter which is played over an expanse of trouble.

The closing green and clubhouse at Royal St. David’s

I was delighted to finally make it back to Harlech and experience this great links as well as hear about plans for its continued improvement.

Thirty years between visits is too long!

On their own, the beauty of the scenery all along this coastline and inland have huge appeal. Add a game at Royal St. David’s into the equation and I would recommend a visit to any keen golfer.

Rob Smith
Contributing Editor

Rob Smith has been playing golf for more than 40 years and been a contributing editor for Golf Monthly for over ten years, specialising in course reviews and travel. He has now played more than 1,170 different courses in almost 50 countries. Despite lockdowns and travel restrictions in 2021, he still managed to play 80 different courses during the year, 43 of them for the first time. This included 21 in 13 days on a trip to East Lothian in October. One of Rob's primary roles is helping to prepare the Top 100 and Next 100 Courses of the UK&I, of which he has played all but nine. During the 2021-22 review period, Rob has played 34 of the Golf Monthly Top 200. He is a member of Tandridge Golf Club in Surrey where his handicap hovers around 16. You can contact him at