The 2017 Senior Open Championship - Get to know the courses
It wasn’t only Royal Porthcawl that’s getting in on the action when the Senior Open Championship returns to Wales in 2017. Ahead of the competition proper getting underway, qualifying events were held at nearby, Pyle & Kenfig, Southerndown, Ashburnham and Machynys. If you fancy experiencing what the pros were up against, why not test your skills on one of the courses that played a part in the 2017 Senior Open Championship? Here’s a quick guide to get you started.
Royal Porthcawl Golf Club
Measuring more than 7,000 yards from the back tees, Royal Porthcawl is a global golfing heavyweight. A regular feature on the ‘best of’ lists (it’s the 44th best club in the world, according to Golf Digest), its blustery links and lightning-fast greens are a test for any golfer. With winds blowing in from every point of the compass, a flexible approach and a well-stocked golf bag are vital for a successful round.
Top hole: There are spectacular sea views from the elevated tee of the par-four 10th. Try not to get too distracted though, as treacherous bunkers lie in wait on each side of a steadily narrowing green.
Ashburnham Golf Club
A feature on our golfing scene since 1894, Ashburnham is one of Wales’s oldest clubs. It’s a traditional, dune-studded serving of proper links golf that’s been a proving ground for some of the biggest names in the game. Dai Rees, Bernard Gallagher and Sam Torrance all won tournaments at Ashburnham before going on to become Ryder Cup captains.
Top hole: The legendary Dai Rees described Ashburnham’s 6th as the most challenging par-three in Britain. It requires pinpoint accuracy to reach an elevated green flanked by a steep bank on the right and bunker on the left.
Machynys Golf and Country Club
Opened in 2005, 7,121-yard Machynys is a comparative new kid on the block. Despite its youth, it’s quickly become one of our most illustrious clubs and a popular competition venue. It’s the only Nicklaus-designed course in Wales and a masterpiece of modern links layout. With 25 acres of lakes, water is a big feature on a course that European Tour mainstay Tommy Fleetwood describes as ‘the best man-made links in the world’.
Top hole: Power and confidence are required at the 481-yard 18th, where you’ll need a walloping drive to clear the lake before landing your ball on an elevated green encircled by bunkers.
Pyle & Kenfig
Pyle and Kenfig Golf Club, Bridgend
by Pyle and Kenfig Golf Club
Pyle & Kenfig is the ultimate games of two halves. The front nine offers a challenging heathland experience, but things get really tough on a back nine of wild and windy links snaking through towering dunes. Make it all the way to the end and you’ll be rewarded by what some believe are the finest three closing holes in golf.
Top hole: The par-four 18th saves the best till last. A blind tee shot over impenetrable gorse will get you to the fairway, but a green bound on three sides by banks and bunkers still lies between you and a low score.
Southerndown Golf Club
It’s a ‘timeless classic’ in the words of Golf Monthly. Largely unchanged since legendary course architect Harry Colt retooled it after the First World War, Southerndown is a seamless blend of natural features and precision design. Set on an unusual limestone heath, its combination of heathland and links features gives players the best of both worlds.
Top hole: Watch out for Carter’s Folly, the par-three fifth that has wrecked many a card. You’ll need a perfectly weighted shot across a steep sided valley that’s waiting to gobble up any misplaced balls to hit a well bunkered green.