A golfers journey through the Welsh Borderland (Part 1)

Region specials
18 March 2021
7 min. read
Dirk Keßeboehmer
Right from the beginning of my discovery of golf, I was fascinated by the lovely scenery and the friendliness of the people living in the Welsh borderland between Powys (Wales) and Shropshire (England). As it is only about an hour drive from both international airports (Manchester and Birmingham), I often wondered why this part of the borderland between Wales and England is such an “unknown” spot for golfers.
By Dirk Keßeboehmer - Leading Courses ambassador for Germany

So first of all – let’s have a look at the map and check out, what part of the UK I am talking about. Within a diameter of 30 miles round Shrewsbury there are 75 courses to play and in this part of my blog, I will concentrate on the courses I played lying north and west of Shrewsbury. 
Leadingcourses map

The Start of the Journey

The journey started in September 2016, when I had the idea of bringing up my own small business taking German golfers to the golf courses of Wales. My friend Klaus joined me on this trip.

We started early with our travel-bags and a small trolley at the Frankfurt Airport and 90 minutes later we landed at the Birmingham International airport. Checking through the customs was quick and so we headed on to the counter of the car rental companies, paperwork done within 5 minutes and off to the car-park to fetch our small car. We were really lucky – the sun came out and the sky was clear with just some small white clouds passing by and so it didn’t matter that we were stuck in the morning traffic for a while. The sat-nav told us to leave the motorway and all-in-all that was a piece of brilliant advice – we took another route to Shrewsbury where our B&B for the next week was waiting for us. Driving along small streets with stunning views of wide green countryside, flocks of sheep on the grass and beautiful red-brick-houses – the start of our journey was perfect.
We arrived at Sonia’s B&B round 10:30 and so we were lucky once more – there was still some coffee left from the breakfast and our rooms were already waiting for us. So, what to do next? The original plan was to take a nap and show Klaus some spots in Shrewsbury. But instead, we changed into golfing clothes and jumped to our car again to get us a pack of golf balls in the nearby shopping centre. 

The next stop was the municipal 12-hole-course of Shrewsbury (Meole Brace GC) and we were lucky again, no one was out on a round and so, after a really nice talk with the Pro we paid our fees and walked over a small iron bridge to the first tee. 
My favorite hole on this course is No. 7 – a fair Par 4 with lots of rough on the right side waiting for sliced balls. The approach-shot must be precise, because the green is surrounded by trees and high bushes and some of the sprigs are protecting the green very well. Read my full review of Meole Brace GC – I really can recommend this one for a quick round on the day of arrival. 

What a nice first day of our adventure – so after a few pints and a big burger we headed to bed and were thinking about the courses of the upcoming days.

Day 2 – Welshpool GC

After a good breakfast, we started early on day 2 – there was a 40 minutes’ drive waiting for us to take us to the club where I fell in love with golfing (but that’s another story). We passed the green border to Wales and the views of quiet green land with some small rural towns on the way were fantastic. 

Then we passed the centre of lovely looking Welshpool (the old timber-framed houses are worth a picture) and headed on to the small road (one way and straight uphill) which lead us to the Welshpool GC. We drove through some fairways, as this is the only way to get to the car park and the clubhouse.
An example of the lovely houses in Welshpool. (Photo by Gibbon FitzGibbon on Unsplash)
Welshpool GC is a very special type of course – there is almost no straight stand on the whole course, except the tee-boxes and the greens. All in all a perfect training area for shots standing up- or downhill with beautiful views of the countryside and sheep mowing the fairways all along the course. Honestly, it is hard to get a good score on your card here – just take a look at my complete review of Welshpool GC (and click translate if you don’t read German).
My favourite hole is the old number 1 (the course-setting changed this winter and now it’s No. 13) – a blind uphill shot towards a stake with gorse bushes waiting to grab every slice or hook. The second shot is another blind one, where you aim for a large old tree – the green is well hidden behind a slope. If your second shot goes too far – you will find yourself at the end of another slope, having to hit the ball up to the green again.
Welshpool GC (Photo: User Bart Bikker)
Welshpool GC is a typical James Braid Course and a real hidden gem, if you like “old school golf” – nothing for long hitters, but very good for accurate shots with a lot of feeling for the difficult landing areas around each green.

After we finished our round, we had another coffee and a nice sandwich at the bar and then we drove back to the parking lot near the Powys Castle in Welshpool. We had enough time to wander through the huge deer park and through the castle’s garden – really impressing and definitely worth a visit!

On our way back to Shrewsbury we decided to give the pub another try – it is just across the street from the B&B and our feet were really tired ….

Day 3 – Mile End GC

Our alarm was set a little later that day and when we opened the blinds our first thought was “Rain? Really?!”  

This was not just a slight drizzle coming down and the forecast told about some heavy rain showers for the rest of the day. So, it was time to swap our Polo’s to waterproofs which we had luckily packed as well. So, no excuses and off we went for the 30-minute drive to the golf course of Mile End GC near Oswestry.
After our arrival at the club, we had a short talk with the Pro who was really astonished, that we actually wanted to go for our pre-booked round – I think he might have thought “crazy Germans”. But Klaus and I are both absolutely crazy about golf and so we walked to the first tee.

My personal signature hole on this course is No. 17 – a Par-3 with a nice water hazard on the left side next to the green. Under normal circumstances, this wouldn’t be the most difficult hole on the course, but 16 holes in and water flowing from my shoes …. I was glad to make it to the green!
At the end of our round, the rain had vanished but we were soaked to the bone. Even the best waterproof clothes had to surrender to the rain showers we went through. Read my whole Review of Mile End GC. That afternoon, we definitely preferred a quick drive to our home and a nice hot bath over any sightseeing.

In the evening we walked a couple of blocks to a steak-restaurant that looked interesting and on our way back to the B&B we wondered what kind of weather would be waiting for us the next morning.

Day 4 – Hawkstone Golf Park

What a different wake-up today – the sun was out and the sky clear blue! Yesterday’s clothes and shoes were still wet, so all in all really happy that we brought 2 pairs of golf shoes with us.

We followed the way to the Hawkstone Golfpark and passed really lovely farmland with lots of sheep. Should you not have noticed before… I really do love those views. On arrival, both of us were astonished – a huge hotel with a sunny terrace was waiting on the way from the parking lot to the pro-shop. Lots of golfers were having breakfast or a quick coffee and all of them were watching the players, that teed off from the first tee. No wonder that we got nervous, but luckily the first shot was straight and landed on the fairway.
The Golfpark itself has two 18-hole-courses and another 6-hole-course. We played the Hawkstone-course and if you like, you can read my review here Review Hawkstone GC – honestly, the course gets better and more challenging from hole to hole.

My personal favourite on this James Braid course is No. 11, a fair Par-4 with stunning views on the right-hand side.
Stunning views at Hawkstone GC (photo: Dirk Kesseböhmer)
We used the late afternoon to discover the centre of Shrewsbury and it was very nice to have a beer in a pub on the riverbanks of the Severn, watching a rowing club doing their training sessions. 

Day 5 – Hill Valley

We stumbled into the breakfast room with aching muscles and a little headache – Maybe it was one beer too many the evening before. But nothing would have kept us from the next golfing experience and on that day we wanted to play at Hill Valley near Whitchurch. 

We started our 40-minute drive on another bright morning and after a good and “healthy” breakfast (‘Some more rashers of bacon for the two of you?’) the headache was soon gone.
The Hill Valley GC runs two 18-hole-courses directly near the hotel and Klaus and me were pre-booked on the Sapphire-course – my review on this one can be found here : Review Hill Valley GC
(photo: Dirk Kesseböhmer)
All in all, the course was not so good as the other ones we played on our tour and so I just want to name the signature hole on this course – for me it was the only Par-5 hole on the course (No. 15). This one is a long dogleg to the left with a small creek flowing by at the curve of the dogleg – so, if you are going to play here, think about a lay-up just in front of that hazard.

Day 6 – Lakeside GC

On Day 6 we were going to play a 9-hole-course which lays beside Newton on the welsh-side of the border again – so a little longer to go there (round an hour-drive). 

We passed by Welshpool again and headed on to Montgomery, where our sat-nav told us to turn from the main road onto an old one-way-bridge with signal-lights. We crossed a small side-arm of the Severn again and followed the way to the golf course, passing by a small pond just at the entrance to the car park.
What a difference to yesterday’s experience – a really warm welcome and an invitation to a cup of coffee with the manager (“I remember you Dirk, we played in a flight in Welshpool last year and it’s nice to welcome you here again”) before we went out to the large driving-range-area. 

Klaus and I started our round on another warm Indian-summer-day and we were quite sure, that this would become a nice day of golf once again – and it definitely was. For the whole review on this hidden gem follow this link: Review Lakeside GC
After we finished our 9-hole-round, we had a break for a great lunch at the clubhouse and we thought about what to do on the afternoon – so, as golf nuts do, we decided to go for another 9 and off we went. Brilliant experience!

My personal signature hole is No. 4 – a short Par-3, downhill with your tee-shot starting under huge oak-trees. It isn’t easy to hit the correct plateau on the green and so, even if the tee-shot hits the green, you might be on the dance floor, but a long way from hearing the music play 
The par-3 fourth hole at Lakeside Golf Course.
Back at Shrewsbury, we headed to a pub in the town's centre, because we read some advert about a live-band playing there that evening – it was great and a fantastic end of a perfect day.

Day 7 – Llanymynech GC

The morning started with some small rain-showers, but today there was a very special golf course waiting for us – directly on the border between Wales and England you’ll have the chance to “Drive in Wales” and “Putt in England”.
“Drive in Wales, putt in England” (photo: Dirk Kesseböhmer)
As this is the second course I ever played when starting with golf, this one is a special course for me.  When you drive up the path from Llanymynech to the course (a single-traffic road with a lot of well-hidden curves behind hedges that are too high to look over) you start to notice that you drive a bit upward all the time and so the course lies on a huge plateau overlooking the borderland. A warm welcome was waiting for us in the Pro-shop and in the clubhouse, where we started our day with a huge mug of coffee. 
The course itself is really fair but challenging – blind shots were waiting and both of us had the “pleasure” to find our golf balls in the huge bunker, where you need to use the steps to get in – hard to get out again, but we were lucky enough to do that.

Please see my full review of Llanymynech GC. There is a very special warning-sign on this course.
Photo: Dirk Kesseböhmer
And as the end of this blogpost, I would like to show you the view from the tee of my signature hole on this course – it is No. 18 and you might get an idea of the beauty of this course!
The view at the 18th tee of Llanymynech GC. (photo Dirk Kesseböhmer)
Did you like what you read? Just leave a comment and if you have any questions on this part of the golfing area between Wales and England, don‘t hesitate to leave a comment.

Dirk Keßeboehmer

Dirk Keßeboehmer

Dirk Keßeboehmer is one of Germany's ambassadors for Leading Courses. Having played nearly 60 courses in Wales, you can safely say he has a deep-rooted love for the British county. His favourite Welsh golf course is Nefyn & District Golf Club.
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