For golf that is varied, scenic and offers great value, Wales makes for a superb destination. Rob Smith recommends some of its golfing hotspots
Golf Holidays in Wales - Our Top Destinations
Not every golfer immediately thinks of Wales when researching a trip.
However, with more than 150 courses of every size, shape and description, it offers a huge amount.
If you need an endorsement, then at the time of writing this piece, I have two visits booked for this year with the possibility of a third if time permits.
Golf Holidays in Wales - Our Top Destinations
From Cardiff to Swansea
Along much of the southern coast of Wales and immediately inland, there is a wealth of wonderful golf.
At its heart is the finest course in the country, the imperious links at Royal Porthcawl.
Close by are some really characterful courses such as Pyle & Kenfig and Southerndown.
A little further west is the very distinct ‘links in the sky’ at Pennard.
There are plenty more coastal delights here, while either side of Cardiff is a pair of excellent hotels that have more than enough golf to make them a destination in their own right.
Just to the west is The Vale Resort with two beautiful courses
Happily, the Lakes Course and Wales National are very different from one another.
To the east, Celtic Manor is the biggest golf destination in the country.
Here, there is a large hotel, three very distinct and different courses, and plenty of onsite activities.
The best and of course most famous of the three designs is the American-style 2010 Ryder Cup Course.
Celtic Manor has something for all the family, and there are some great-value packages.
The South West
Heading further west into Pembrokeshire, there is far more space and peace to accompany your golf.
One of the oldest in the country, Tenby is a really enjoyable links with very well-priced dormy accommodation.
For something completely different, Milford Haven is an unusual layout.
The holes down towards the estuary offer up some great views.
This is definitely a course of two styles, and the green fee is very reasonable.
The Spectacular West Coast
Way round and up to the west, in the upper reaches of lovely Cardigan Bay, is another fine stretch of golf.
From Aberystwyth up to Porthmadog, the scenery is spectacular.
While the course at Aberystwyth is way up in the hills, Aberdovey is right down by the beach.
This easy-walking links is great fun and has the added benefit of excellent dormy accommodation.
Not far up the coast, again with a dormy house, is Royal St David’s.
This is a tough but fair examination with a particularly strong finish.
One recommendation is to stay at one of these two Top 100 courses and take the train to the other; it’s a lovely ride.
Just beyond the famous Italianate village of Portmeirion, Porthmadog is another friendly members’ club.
Is it also something of Jekyll and Hyde in nature.
The front nine are perfectly enjoyable and interesting parkland holes.
But the back nine is something altogether different that really needs to be experienced.
As we head up to the north coast, always remembering there are far more courses than can be mentioned here, it’s worth stopping at Nefyn & District.
There are 27 holes here, but it is the Point nine that are the memorable, must-play holes.
Along the North
There are more, enjoyable courses as you head east along the country’s north coast.
Perhaps the best is the fine links at Conwy.
It has a beautiful setting by the estuary with views over water and Conwy Mountain.
Over in the east, towards the English border, the Vale of Llangollen seems to fit perfectly into its setting.
Last but by no means least in this whistle-stop tour of Welsh golf, Llandrindod Wells is well worth a detour.
It may not be long, but it offers a genuine golfing challenge in the most wonderful and photogenic setting.
Most golf holidays in Wales will be blessed with a wonderfully unspoilt and attractive landscape.
With the exception of the dozen courses in the Top 100 and Next 100, many of its beautiful designs are not so well-known.
A little research will reveal that there are clusters of excellent golf in close proximity that make for a wonderful golf break.
With dormy facilities offering terrific value, Wales makes for a very appealing and surprisingly different golfing destination.
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Rob Smith has been playing golf for 45 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 1,200 different courses in almost 50 countries. Despite lockdowns and travel restrictions in 2021, he still managed to play 80 different courses during that 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 seven and a half... i.e. not the new 9 at Carne! During the 2021-22 review period, Rob played 36 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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