Put a little Game of Thrones into your game. Wales is home to more than 600 ancient castles (roughly one every 12 square miles) so you're never too far from a fantastic fortress. Get ready for time-travelling golf journey taking in the epic World Heritage Sites and atmospheric ruins that dot our dramatic countryside. This trip takes you to a few of our most awe-inspiring castles, packing in some equally impressive golf along the way.
Making the cut
Start out at Chepstow on the Wales/England border. Set above the waters of the River Wye, the town’s Norman castle is reputed to be the first stone-built fortress in Britain. The golf has a big history too. The Marriott St Pierre Golf and Country Club is built around a 14th-century manor house and comes complete with two 18-hole championship courses.
Carreg Cennen Castle is an impossibly romantic one-of-a-kind. Perched high on a hill in the Carmarthenshire countryside, it would have been a daunting prospect for any would-be attacker. It’s still a dramatic and imposing site today, its lofty position offering breathtaking views of the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountain. Get your golf in at Glynhir, a friendly 18-hole parkland course near Ammanford. The signature 14th hole is a tricky dogleg leading to a riverside green where any overhit ball will likely end up submerged.
Harlech Castle on the Mid Wales coast is one of Wales’s true heavyweights (and one of a quartet of World Heritage Sites, along with castles at Beaumaris, Caernarfon and Conwy). Its soaring walls merge almost imperceptibly with the steep rocky cliffs on which they sit, providing a towering vantage point from which to survey the surrounding land- and seascapes. One of the first things you’ll see is Royal St David’s Golf Club, laid out in the castle’s imposing shadow. Set on the windswept duneland at the edge of the Irish Sea, it offers links golf fit for a king.
Criccieth Castle on the Llŷn Peninsula may not be as well known as some of its peers, but it’s nonetheless a fascinating stop on any heritage tour. Built by Welsh rather than English rulers, it dominates a rocky promontory overlooking the pretty resort town of Criccieth, with widescreen views of Cardigan Bay and Snowdonia. Criccieth Golf Club is also something of a hidden gem. The final two holes are a great study in contrasts – one a challenging par-four with the green 75ft below the tee, the other just 100 yards long, but requiring a 100ft climb from tee to pin.
Finish up at World Heritage Beaumaris Castle on the Isle of Anglesey. Though it was never fully completed, its unique concentric design makes it a true original. Surrounded by a water-filled moat and with its own protected access to the sea, it was the last castle built in Wales by Edward I and a masterpiece of defensive design. Play your final round at James Braid-designed Bangor St Deiniol, a testing heathland course just across the Menai Strait.
Need to know
These five castles only scratch the surface of what Wales has to offer. To find out more about our fabulous fortresses, visit the Cadw and National Trust websites.