Appreciate the artistry of great course design on this tour of James Braid’s North Wales handiwork. The fingerprints of the five-times Open winner and legendary course designer and can be found throughout the country, but this selection is the perfect place to start your Welsh James Braid pilgrimage.
Making the cut
Starting at the Victorian resort town of Llandudno, you’ll find Maesdu. Laid out by Braid and Tom Jones in 1915, it combines both links and parkland features into a naturally harmonious whole. Watch out for the signature par-three 12th hole, which sees you play uphill to a gently undulating green guarded with pot bunkers.
Holyhead on the Isle of Anglesey showcases Braid’s talent for using natural features of the terrain in his course designs. Nowhere is this clearer than on the par-three second green, where out of bounds is marked by the edge of a steep cliff. Try not to be distracted by the spectacular Snowdonia views if you don’t want to lose your ball.
Opened in 1906, Bangor St Deiniol shows how Braid favoured precision over power. The mature parkland course has an organic undulating flow, tight fairways and well-hidden greens, requiring accuracy and careful game management rather than brute force. The signature par-four third’s narrowing fairway leads to an elevated green and a tricky recovery shot if your placement isn’t just right.
Braid was a big believer in giving the player choice. Do you take a risk in search of a lower score or play things safe and avoid a potential card wrecker? It’s a decision you’ll have to make on Pwllheli’s blend of links and parkland. The par-four 11th gives you the option to chance a big drive towards a narrowed fairway for an easier approach shot, or play an iron off the tee and bring the bunkers into play. Choose wisely.
Round things off with a quick nine at meadowland Old Colwyn. This friendly club may be small, but it still has plenty of big Braid challenges – see the short, 159-yard seventh where three huge oak trees guard the green. You can also enjoy some widescreen view of Colwyn Bay and the Irish Sea as you work your way round.
Need to know
There are five more courses on the North Wales James Braid Trail. Visit Aberdovey, Nefyn & District, Porthmadog, Rhyl and Wrexham to complete the set. You can find out more at the North Wales James Braid Trail website.