Golf in Cardigan Bay
The Cardigan Bay coastline is famous for its rich marine life and sweeping views – stand on any headland and there’s a chance you’ll catch sight of a dolphin or two. It’s also home to golf that can claim to be truly historic.
Making the cut
Aberdovey is one of the great links courses with an immaculate pedigree. Bernard Darwin, the godfather of sports writers (and grandson of naturalist Charles) was one of its first fans. Aberdovey, he wrote, was the place his ‘soul loved best of all the courses in the world’. He may have been a bit biased for he witnessed the club’s birth as a child, when nine flowerpots were sunk into the ground to serve as makeshift holes. Then came the hand of legendary designers like Herbert Fowler, James Braid and Harry Colt, though Aberdovey’s magnetic character is as much to do with untamed nature as the hand of man. It’s quirky, charming and utterly compelling, a course that’s a must-visit on any golfing trip to this part of the world.
Travel down the coast past the sublime Dyfi Estuary and you soon come to Borth & Ynyslas Golf Club. It’s another championship links course where the wildlife-rich dunes of Ynyslas determine the character. One of the oldest courses in Wales – golf has been played here since 1885 – it’s traditional links redesigned by Harry Colt in 1945. It’s a great test of golf throughout the year for all standards of player with excellent facilities and superb clubhouse. After your game, take time out to explore the Ynyslas National Nature Reserve, a remarkable habitat of dunes, estuary and peat bog.
Aberystwyth, the university town, resort and ‘capital of Mid Wales, comes next. Its golf course is another historic venue: dating from 1911, the parkland course was designed by six-times Open champion Harry Vardon. Another of those ‘hidden gems’, it impresses not just for the golf but for the grandstand views across what seems to be the entirety of the Welsh coast (all the way from Pembrokeshire to the Llŷn Peninsula). Tear yourself away from the views and you’ll find an exciting and challenging course for players of varying abilities, with excellent greens, fairways and playability in all seasons.
South of Aberystwyth at Llanrhystud you’ll find Penrhos Golf Club. Actually, it’s more than a golf club. Penrhos – to give it its full title Penrhos Golf and Country Club – is a hilly parkland challenge with on-site accommodation, a swimming pool and leisure complex. Golfers are spoilt for choice: in addition to a well-designed and groomed 18-hole championship length course there’s also a nine-hole course and driving range, all set in a landscaped country park.
Need to know
For accommodation within easy striking distance of all four clubs take a look at the wide choice available in Aberystwyth.