Here in Wales, 2017 is our Year of Legends – a countrywide celebration of our epic past, present and future. We’re welcoming visitors to come and write their own legendary stories in an epic playground of mighty mountains, lush green valleys and beautiful blustery coastline. This legendary landscape is home to a golf scene that’s just as special. Here are just a few things to look out for, on and off the course, during the Year of Legends.
Forts and fairways
With more than 600 castles dotted around our landscape, you’re never too far from a fabulous fortress. This applies on the golf course too. Venture to Pennard on Gower (known as the ‘links in the sky’ thanks to its lofty position 200m above the sea) and you share the greens with the atmospheric remains of Pennard Castle. According to local legend, the castle was ruined by angry fairies and is now home to a Gwrach-y-rhibyn, the Welsh equivalent of Ireland’s shrieking banshee. Don’t let that put you off your stroke.
Pennard Castle, Gower Peninsula by City and Council of Swansea
Tackle the historic links of Royal St David’s and the formidable Harlech Castle is your constant companion. Perched on a cliff overlooking the course, this mighty fortress adds drama to every shot, its walls seemingly as impenetrable now as they were when it was built in the 12th century. Harlech is one of a quartet of castles in North Wales granted UNESCO World Heritage Site status (you’ll find the others at Beaumaris, Caernarfon and Conwy), all of which lie close to great golf courses. Check out our Legendary Golf itinerary for more on golf that comes complete with a side order of mighty castles.
Wales has produced its fair share of golfing legends. Aberdare’s Dai Rees was one of Britain’s best golfers in the years either side of the Second World War, leading the British Ryder Cup team on five occasions. Beginning his golfing career in Neath, Brian Huggett won 26 titles on the European and Senior European Tour, in addition to serving as Ryder Cup Captain in 1977. More recently, Pontypridd-born Jamie Donaldson etched his name into the history books by clinching the 2014 Ryder Cup for Europe with a stunning wedge shot to the 15th green. Finally, there’s Ian Woosnam, or Woosie to his mates. This farmer’s son from Mid Wales cut his golfing teeth at hilltop Llanymynech, before going on to be one of the ‘Big Five’ (with Ballasteros, Faldo, Langer and Lyle) who dominated the game during the 80s and 90s. With more than 50 professional titles under his belt, Woosie is a living golfing legend.
Bernhard Langer at the Senior Open Championship, Royal Porthcawl Golf Club. by Getty Images
Woosie will be just one of the golfing giants lining up at Royal Porthcawl in July for the 2017 Senior Open Championship. Following a successful first visit in 2014, when Bernhard Langer scored a historic 15-stroke victory over a roster of international heavyweights including Tom Watson, Colin Montgomerie Fred Couples and Miguel Ángel Jiménez, we’re all extremely excited about the competition’s return to Royal Porthcawl’s rugged links. It’s the centrepiece of what promises to be a legendary year of golf here in Wales