By Rob Smith published
Par 71, 6,090 yards
GM Verdict A beautifully located and secluded course that offers great value for money
Favourite Hole The par-3 14th for its fabulous view of the hole and the hills beyond
The south coastline of Wales has several Top 100 golf courses as well as Next 100 golf courses, but these are mainly links and so it is not so well known for its parkland golf. Plenty of golfers look for variety and value, and heading inland can be very rewarding. Glynneath Golf Club is about 20 miles due north of Royal Porthcawl in a remarkably secluded spot in the foothills of the beautiful Brecon Beacons.
THE FRONT NINE
There are two loops from the clubhouse at Glynneath, the first twelve holes and the last six. This means that there are effectively two starting points, the 1st and the 13th.
The opening hole is a strong par 4 over the gentlest of rollercoaster fairways which also slopes down a little to the right. The lovely view from the green sets the scene very well.
A medium-length par 3 leads you to the 3rd, a tough three-shotter over the ravine and then right to left up the hill. A par here can often feel like a birdie.
You now reach the hardest hole on the course with a marker pole for the drive and another left-hand turn to the highest point on the course. A very good par 4 and a slightly gruelling par 5 take you down a little and then back up again, and the 7th is a blind but driveable par 4 back down the slope.
There is a very appealing drive at the 8th, but beware going right as it is easy to get blocked out. The green is particularly narrow and so calls for a pinpoint approach.
The short 9th, Ravine, does what it says on the tin. This is a fine par 3 to a 2-tier green where it is certainly better to be long than short.
THE BACK NINE
There is another driveable par 4 at the tenth, but again it's blind, and the next is a dogleg to the left where you need a really solid drive to set up your approach round the corner and down the hill. It is very easy to leave yourself blocked out. The 12th is a severely uphill short hole to a small green where you usually need to add on a couple of clubs to the yardage. Past the clubhouse, the 13th is a straightaway par 4.
The drive on the fourteenth presents a real conundrum. There is the tiniest fairway adjacent to the trees on the left, but you need to be at least 230 yards to see round the corner to the green. Having played it, I am still not entirely sure what you are supposed to do! However, when you make it to the green, the view puts a different complexion on things.
The next is a cracking par 3 and it’s worth spending a little while on the tee to drink in the view. The green is over a marshy area and close to water. This does mean that at times the ground nearby can be somewhat pluggy.
The course finishes with two par 4s and then a par 5 where the tree line turns it almost into a double dogleg.
I’m not sure even its most enthusiastic members would argue that the strategic design of the course would win too many golf architecture awards, but as a scenic, peaceful and life-affirming place to play, and as a very friendly club on top of that, Glynneath Golf Club has a great deal going for it.
Rob Smith has been playing golf for over 40 years and been a contributing editor for Golf Monthly since 2012 specialising in course reviews and travel. He has now played well over 1,100 courses in almost 50 countries. Since travel restarted in May 2021, he has played around 80 different courses, more than 40 for the first time. This includes 21 in 13 days on a trip to East Lothian in October. One of his main roles is helping to prepare the Top 100 and Next 100 Courses of the UK&I, of which he has played all but 10. Rob is a member of Tandridge Golf Club in Surrey where his handicap hovers around 16. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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