Why play here?
If you’re looking for the true links experience, red in tooth and claw, Royal Porthcawl is a must play. In constant sight of the sea, its twists and turns require focused precision rather than outright power. With holes facing every point of the compass, players must constantly adjust their approach to account for the westerly wind whipping in from the Bristol. Highlights include one of the finest second holes in golf, where reaching the green requires nerve and accuracy if you are to avoid going out of bounds. The 10th’s elevated tee offers some spectacular sea views, but beware the narrowing green threateningly flanked by bunkers.
Did you know?
Legendary ‘godfather of sports writers’ Bernard Darwin was a big fan of Royal Porthcawl’s rugged charms. ‘Links it may worthily be called, for the golf at Porthcawl is the genuine thing – the sea in sight all of the time, and the most noble bunkers . . . Porthcawl is emphatically a good and serious course,’ was how he put it. More recently, the club’s quality has been confirmed by its selection as a venue for the Senior Open Championship. The competition made a successful debut herein 2014, with a dominant victory from Bernhard Langer and returned for another round in 2017.
What the players say
‘Played Royal Porthcawl yesterday and I have to say that without doubt it is the best and hardest course I have ever played. The front nine is some of the rawest links golf you can possibly see with the sea coming into play on the first three holes – all long tough par-fours. I am a one-handicapper and shot 83. You don’t have to be way off line here to find real trouble. I can imagine the higher handicapper could be chewed up and spat out pretty ruthlessly round here, so make sure you take plenty of balls. I can see why the R&A are taking the Senior Open here with the view to adding it to the full Open roster. As somewhat of a golfing purist, links golf for me is the purest from of the game. This course can more than hold its own with anything that the courses on the Open roster have to offer. Superb!’
Off the course
Outdoor types will find plenty to enjoy around Porthcawl. Once a pair of disused quarries, the waters of Cosmeston Lakes Country Park now provide a natural habitat for large flocks of wildfowl, including mute swans, mallards and great crested grebes. Alternatively head to Merthyr Mawr, a 323-hectare expanse of sand dunes just west of Bridgend. Reaching heights of 200 feet, these are the second tallest dunes in Europe. It’s the perfect spot for some bracing winter walks. The exertion of climbing these towering mounds of sand should keep the December chills at bay.
For more information, please visit the Royal Porthcawl website.