Neath Golf Club Course Review

Neath Golf Club, set high above the south Wales valleys, is a James Braid hilltop beauty blessed with mesmerising views

Neath Golf Club - 15th hole
Neath's famous 15th hole - The Pulpit
(Image credit: Neath Golf C.lub)

Neath Golf Club Course Review

GF Round: £28-£39wd, £33-£44we
Par 72, 6,490 yards
Slope 113
GM Verdict – A lovely James Braid hilltop layout where the views from many of the 13 holes that play over the higher ground are breath-taking.
Favourite Hole – The mid-length par-4 15th – The Pulpit – where you can send one into the stratosphere as you descend back to the lower level in one fell swoop. 

Neath Golf Club - heathland

Neath's hilltop course serves up a blend of heathland and moorland golf

(Image credit: Neath Golf Club)

If courses with panoramic views are your thing, some of the hilltop layouts above the Welsh valleys are among the best in the UK when you’re craving that away-from-it-all feeling this form of the game delivers better than any other. James Braid’s 1934 heathland/moorland creation at Neath is a prime example, boasting excellent far-reaching views from a layout that climbs early on – particularly on the blind uphill par-3 2nd - to reveal a golfing canvas of trees, heather, gorse, drystone walls and undulating greens, which will prove singularly perplexing should you stray above the hole.

Neath Golf Club - 4th hole

The 4th is a par 5 with OOB running all the way up the left

(Image credit: Neath Golf Club)

Braid must have had a bit of twinkle in his eye when he designed some of them, although green speeds at the time wouldn’t have been quite what they are today. Indeed, the club has been keen to maximise its Braid heritage in recent times, with an old abandoned Braid back tee on the 3rd hole rediscovered and re-introduced a decade or so ago for occasional use in competitions.

Neath Golf Club - 9th hole

The views from the top are magnificent, as here looking across the 9th green

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)

Once you’re up on top, the panorama is simply magnificent, especially from the 10th and 11th holes as you gaze down on the hustle and bustle far away on the valley floor below. It’s truly mesmerising. What goes up must come down, of course, and at Neath it all happens in one fell swoop via the mid-length par-4 15th – The Pulpit. This is the hole you will remember most as it plunges dramatically back down 80ft or so to the lower level via more tee-shot hang time than you can possibly imagine!

Neath Golf Club - 15th hole

Launching one away from the 15th tee is an exhilarating feeling

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)

Although the opening couple of holes will get the legs and circulation going, the visual panoramic feast you get to devour from the top is ample reward for your efforts! Indeed, Braid is not the only Open winner to have fallen for Neath’s visual allure, with three-time Champion Golfer, Henry Cotton also eulogising about its beauty. There is also great variety to accompany that beauty, with four par 3s and four par 5s, two of which bookend the course.

 

Jeremy Ellwood
Jeremy Ellwood

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 even instruction despite his own somewhat iffy swing (he knows how to do it, but just can't do it himself). He also edits The Golf Club Secretary Newsletter, 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 89 of the Next 100. He has played well over 900 courses worldwide in 35 countries, but put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content. On his first trip to Abu Dhabi a decade ago he foolishly asked Paul Casey what sort of a record he had around the course there. "Well, I've won it twice if that's what you mean!" came the reply...