England’s nasty little brother is a little smaller than Scotland (1/4
of the size) and known for its rugged coastline. The country was once
fully covered by an ice sheet and numerous glaciers. Today, with a 1200
km long coastline, the chances are very high to find yourself a links
course. There are 200 golf courses in Wales and a lot of these are on
It’s hard to believe just how undervalued this unique region
is. Particularly among (German) golfers and travel agencies around
Area from Lleyn peninsula to river Conwy, including Anglesey Island
A Perfect Base for a Trip to North Wales
Wales is quite small and the roads very narrow. However, distances are a
bit too far to drive if you want to see the whole country in less than
two weeks. So we decided to focus on golf courses in north Wales. The
decision on where to stay fell to the city of Caernarfon. It lies along
the A487 road, on the eastern shore of the Menai Strait and opposite the
Isle of Anglesey. Caernarfon is the unofficial capital of north Wales.
The town dates back to a Roman fort from the 1st century AD, still
explorable. The center of the town is dominated by one of Britain’s
best-known historic fortresses – the mighty Caernarfon Castle. The city
also offers a large variety of pubs and restaurants and is worth
exploring on foot (even after a long day of golf).
The mighty Caernarfon Castle (photo credits, Herbert Ortner
There are several Airbnb’s in the area, as well as some lovely hotels.
However, with a hobby cook in our group, we decided to share a house. 6
bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a kitchen and dining room all for us, and just
outside the town too.
Planning the Trip
Dirk, who once lived and worked at the borders of Wales, shared all
of his knowledge and experiences. We were also very lucky to gain a lot
of additional help from an English/German/Welsh speaking pro from the
wonderful Caernarfon Golf Club
; Aled Owen.
We handed over our wish list to him in advance. In turn, we received
feedback on the whole region, recommendations and finally a full tour
program of which golf courses in North Wales to play and when. This also
included an amazing discount in comparison to our German experiences.
On this list, there were courses that we had no idea about before. I
would be more than happy to share it with you.
By the way, Aled offered to share his knowledge to other golfers too:Aled Owen
Royal Town of Caernarfon
Getting There and Getting to Play the Golf Courses in North Wales
From Frankfurt to Manchester it is only a 99 minute flight and you
also gain some time due to the change of time zone. We landed around
10:30 am and rented a van at the airport. It takes less than two hours
to get to Caernarfon while driving along the coast of north Wales.
Coming directly from Manchester, you will pass by Prestatyn Golf Club
on your way to Caernarfon. However, we decided to take the scenic route
along the Irish Sea the first day and start our links experience at
Prestatyn on day two. We stopped in Bangor and took the chance to buy
all of the necessary golf equipment (mostly balls) and food for the
first day. With our pockets full of golf balls and our trunk full of
food and beer. We soon arrived in Caernarfon to say hello to Aled.
Prestatyn Golf Club
Green at Prestatyn Golf Club (Photo credits, member Markus4Mueller)
On our second day we went to Prestatyn Golf Club. Home of the Welsh Amateur Open in 2019, the
6246 yards, PAR 72 course, is a true links experience. Protected by the
huge sand dunes all along the course, its design is easy and efficient.
The first 3 holes are into the headwind with the next 5 holes with the
tailwind. Then repeat!
Some crosswinds on the Par 3 and many, many natural bunkers. The
greens are varying in size and very fast! The ninth hole is quite tricky
though. It is surrounded by a watercourse and almost like an island
green, however, it is safe to play your approach too long. Holes 10
through 14 are particularly high standard with the final eight being
more rugged in nature. The quality of turf is much finer, like walking
on a carpet. Fairways are narrow but undulating and a rail track runs
the length of the course to give you a true links experience. The 16th
green is a final challenge as it sits on top of a little hill plateau,
protected by bunkers.
A Great Start
Black Boy Inn – Caernarfon (Photo credits, member Markus4Mueller)
Prestatyn is the perfect beginning to a links experience. Unfortunately,
the club houses at most Welsh golf courses have few opening hours
during the week. They are mostly built in the mid-to-late 20th century
and no architect ever will win a prize for the ugly brick walls. The
showers and locker rooms are small and simple. We were happy to leave
for a beer to one of Caernarfon’s great pubs after a day in wind and
rain. I recommend the Black Boy Inn for dinner and the Harbour Table
Table for breakfast.
Anglesey Golf Club
The ‘special moving obstacles’ at Anglesey Golf Club (Photo credits, member Markus4Mueller)
On day 3 Anglesey Golf Club
was, no doubt, the biggest surprise to all of us and a true hidden gem.
We heard about this thanks to Aled, it wasn’t on our original wish
Another 80 minute drive took us onto the Island of Anglesey and into
Rhosneigr. To my surprise, this unique course is not listed by the Links
Association as a ‘True Links Course’. However, you will find all of the
typical links challenges at Anglesey for very little money. Undulating
fairways and small greens, view-blocking dunes and wind-deformed
crippled fir. You’ll also get a hard/sandy soil with water-absorbing
grass/moss mixture. This unique turf, gives you the ability to play
after the heaviest rainfall. Blind shots, changing winds from the nearby
Irish Sea and a few natural bunkers are evident. In addition, there are
the “special moving obstacles” – the sheep!
The course is not so demanding, but there are some special features.
For example, the fairways are constantly pointing in different
directions and thus, exposed to different wind directions. Doglegs in
combination with narrow fairways request very accurate play and the
rough, whether long grass or crippled pine accumulations, does not allow
for any free ball. A few blind shots will demand your self-confidence.
The small greens are of medium speed, but undulating to make the short
second putts more challenging. The place offers great potential but
unfortunately the maintenance was only average.
Just to test you a little more, the many (hidden) rabbit holes offer a danger to all golfers.
Overall however, the course has a breathtaking natural beauty and it is a
real pleasure to play there. There is a railway track running alongside
the golf course and another special feature is the nearby runway of the
Royal Air Force Station. We had a clear view of an A4 Skyhawk, S-Tucano
and Eurocopter Jupiter taking off! The clubhouse is simple. There’s a
small bar and – of course – very limited opening hours. The price of £15
is great. Absolutely worthwhile!
Royal St David’s Golf Club
Castle view at Royal St. David’s (Photo credits, member Markus4Mueller)
On our fourth day in North Wales, it took us one hour via Porthmadog to get to Royal St David’s Golf Club
at Harlech, just a stones throw below the castle. This course is less
challenging, however, under certain circumstances the dunes channel the
wind. We had to play in these strong winds as well as some heavy rain.
very little bunkers protect the greens. The fairways are mostly wide and
nearly no dogleg, while all are mostly flat and easy with not so much
undulation (except 1 and 3). The first four holes are an easy warm up.
Then the distances from tee box to fairway get longer, and you must hit
the ball hard while doing your best to avoid a slice. No two fairways
point in the same direction and your club selection is very important,
especially if it’s a steady wind.
The ‘IN’ is a little harder to play than the ‘OUT’. Unfortunately the
dunes mostly limit the view, and it is only at 16 that you’ll see the
Irish Sea. The castle on the other side however, can be seen from all
holes. Regrettably you won’t play through the dunes, but you do get a
little closer towards the end of 15/16. The course is not so typical for
a links as most of the fairways are only a little undulated and you can
easily identify a good landing zone for your next stroke.
Overall, things could be done better. Missing indications, a lack of
trash cans, tee boxes not well kept, no ball washing devices and in the
driving range and training area; everything is too simple and not done
with any passion. You pay for Miura clubs but it’s a Wilson staff you get.
Even after a nice day it’s not really worth the money in my opinion.
There are more exciting golf courses around the north of Wales.
Nefyn & District Golf Club
Great greens and views at Nefyn & District Golf Club (Photo credits, member Markus4Mueller)
On day 5 we visited Nefyn & District Golf Club
. Pictures of Nefyn
were the ones that got me interested in Wales back in 2017. The experience did
not disappoint! It is undoubtedly one of the finest golf courses that
North Wales has to offer.
The area is as scenic, challenging and picturesque as it looks in the
photos. A must play course! Nefyn old course (9 holes) – combined with
the holes 1 – 9 of the new 18 hole course is an absolute joy for the eye
and a feasible challenge for the mid-level player. There is a simple
and narrow driving range just off the clubhouse with a ball machine, and
some covered tees. In front of the putting green there is also a handy
little pro-shop. Take your time to warm up though as it’s gonna be cold
on the course!
All 27 holes are in an exposed position and the wind whistles over
the course for 5 out of the 7 days. This can cut or extend your drive by
60% depending, but in any case it cools the player down after a shot
just as quickly! Fairways 1 – 9 of the new course are mostly along the
coastline to the south, then lead back in. In some cases they offer good
vantage points. The wide fairways are quite forgiving if you happen to
miscalculate the wind and the vast greens make it easier to play “Green
in Regulation”. However with strong headwinds, holes 2, 3 and 4 get very
long and the transverse running 4 requires a full swing long iron.
A Challenging Back Nine
The ‘IN’ track of the old course demands all of your skill! The 10th
green sits high on the dunes and requires a blind shot to a minimum of
60 m. The routing then naturally follows the promontory, high on the
cliff. Between the pots, you play dunes and punishing rough in severe
winds, for several holes out to the ‘Lands End’ watchtower. The par 3,
with the tee high on the tower, enriches the view and requires a good
sense as it’s downhill and in the wind.
One of the nicest things about the golf course is the Ty Coch Inn, a
beachside pub. After you’ve played the par 4, 15th, you can walk down to
the beach and have a nice pint. You can then come up and play the last
View from hole 15 down to Ty Coch Inn (photo credits, member Markus4Mueller)
After an exhausting par 5, (17th) you have to play the 18th uphill –
under the watchful eyes of many pedestrians and clubhouse visitors
(golfers only!). It requires a finish with pinpoint accuracy as a ball
hit too long, can go into the window panes of the clubhouse.
The clubhouse offers a small menu, a nice bar with a terrace and a
window front with great views of the 18th green. This is backed by the
striking cliff guidance of the old course.
Nefyn District GC
is not a links course, but offers many features of one and is a special
experience. The place was – as always – well maintained and the long
journey and the green fee of £ 60 is well worth it!
Porthmadog Golf Club
The ever undulating Porthmadog (Photo credits, member Markus4Mueller)
On day 6 we began by heading south again, about 30min down the A487 to the
beautiful seaside village of Porthmadog. The home of the eponymous Porthmadog Golf Club
This 18 hole PAR 71 Master Course is 5992 yards in length and is very
special. The club offers both a parkland course and a true links
course. And after some renovation work in 2018, it got even better than
before. The ‘OUT’ is good for warming up and runs mostly through a
parkland area, parallel to the beach. It is protected by the woods and
many bushes with an Island green as it ́s highlight.
The ‘IN’ is an estuary at the northernmost point of Cardigan Bay
which leads to a high, often superior dune! Tees 11-16 are good fun.
They require strategy and a dose of luck to find the small landing
zones. The greens are either exposed at the top of the dunes – in the
wind, or tightly enclosed between the dunes and partially visible.
Finally, long fairways on 17 and 18 guide the golfer out of the dunes
and concludes at the clubhouse. The positive changes in the past year
have also made the first nine holes much more attractive. The island
green on 6, as well as the elevated green area on 8 are particularly
Porthmadog is one of the few golf courses in this area of North Wales to
provide a driving range, a pitching area and multiple driving nets as
well as sufficient putting greens in good condition. The clubhouse is
very traditional, with a small menu and a good selection of drinks.
Buggies and E-trolleys are also available. I would certainly like to
play this well maintained yet very natural course again and again!
The concludes the first part of our 12 day trip to North Wales. Make sure to check out the second leg of this trip!