Wales has some excellent and famous historic links, but the relatively young Machynys provides an exciting contrast…
Machynys Course Review
The modern links on Machynys Peninsula (opens in new tab) was opened in 2005, a big-budget creation and the brainchild of Gary Nicklaus who brought to it his father’s flair for bold design (opens in new tab) on a grand scale. It has already hosted some important championships, and the course is blessed with a wetlands setting that means drama all the way. Having been a fixture of the Golf Monthly Next 100 (opens in new tab) for some time, I was really looking forward to playing it in preparation for a Golfer's Guide article for the magazine (opens in new tab).
I played on the greyest of grey days (April 2016) as the course was recovering from a wet winter. My photos therefore do not show it either literally or metaphorically in its best light, but it was still very impressive and I am sure that on a sunny day it can look exceptional. The front nine are on the eastern side of the clubhouse and the course opens with a strong par 4 followed by the first encounter with water at the short 2nd.
The next two holes lead you to the furthest point from the clubhouse and you then turn to the prevailing wind at the 5th where the green is protected by a noose-like stream and bunkers either side.
Never before or since have I seen a short-eared owl in the wild, but this slightly out-of-focus shot taken not far from the 6th tee was a real bonus to my round, inspiring me to a regulation par.
Next is the longest par 3 on the course, 222 yards from the back tee but hopefully with the wind behind.
The 8th is a super-tough par 4, SI one, and I really liked the closing hole on the front nine despite it not being a friend to anyone who hits left to right.
The back nine opens with yet another strong par 4, and then a lovely short hole across a lake that is home to plenty of wildlife.
The next two holes run back to and away from the clubhouse, and the 14th borders the beach though you would have to be very wayward to reach it.
The 15th is flanked by water on the right and played to a green by the clubhouse.
The closing three-hole loop is also very strong, starting with a superb hole that takes you out towards the estuary. This is followed by the final short hole, which has dense gorse to the left.
The 18th is a short par 5 with a long carry from the tee that offers some hope of a birdie finish if the breeze is coming in from the bay, a very enjoyable finish to a course packed with interest.
The large and airy clubhouse is superbly fitted out with a spa and brasserie and there are excellent views out over the course. For a golfing test of this standard, the green fees are also remarkably reasonable. If you haven’t yet been, I thoroughly recommend a round.
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 email@example.com.
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