Off the beaten track: Pyle and Kenfig Golf Club

Golf Courses, Article of the week
15 September 2021
6 min. read
Stephen Killick
Pyle and Kenfig Golf club with its clubhouse in the background. (Photo credit: Pyle and Kenfig Golf club)
Guest writer Stephen Killick travels the coast of South Wales to enjoy Pyle and Kenfig, a family-friendly golf club in a dramatic setting.
Does the ladies’ captain serve breakfast at your golf club? She does at Pyle and Kenfig, this most welcoming course on the south coast of Wales some 40 minutes west along the M4 motorway from Cardiff. 

Lynne Williams, who plays off a canny eight handicap, helps to serve visitors to the spotlessly clean dormie house accommodation provided to those shrewd enough to base themselves at P and K, as it is locally known, and enjoy some of the fine links nearby as well as this most challenging of seaside courses.

Although generally overshadowed by its more heralded near neighbour, Royal Porthcawl, P and K is a testing enough property to produce some outstanding players as the club honours’ board bears witness to with countless Welsh amateur team members of both boys and girls, some of whom have helped the club walk-off this year with not only the Mid-Glamorgan amateur club championship but also the national inter-club competition for the whole of Wales.

It is the friendship and inclusivity shown by the club that attracts talented youngsters from around the region and visitors will feel exactly the same warmth of greeting. There is a real family atmosphere about the place and some outstanding golf holes to enjoy too.

Seaside- or Links golf?

An aerial view of Pyle and Kenfig golf club (Photo credit: Pyle and Kenfig Golf Club)
The club was founded as a nine-hole course in 1922 and extended to 18 three years later although the course is now drastically altered following army occupation of the site during World War II and the provision of a busy road that now bisects the course on what was once a simple cart track.

That most ubiquitous of golf architects, Harry S Colt, helped redesign the original layout in 1926 creating strategic bunkering and raised greens which can be found on the front nine that delivers a solid rather than exhilarating experience albeit with some wonderful views on a fine day and a brace of good par-5 holes to negotiate at five and the downhill ninth that takes us back to the clubhouse. Anything wayward on the approach at the latter could well end up on one of two roads that funnel down towards the green.

What we have enjoyed up to now is more seaside golf than classic links but we have yet to cross the road that leads us closer to the sea and let’s hope that we have amassed a decent score because the opportunities to knock shots off our card will be few and far between on Philip Mackenzie Ross’s superb 1947 creation amongst some towering sand dunes.

"I have seen no finer golfing country"

The 412 yards par-4 fourteenth at Pyle and Kenfig Golf Club. (Photo credit: Pyle and Kenfig Golf Club)
The 10th hole is merely an hors d'oeuvre, offering us more of what we have experienced before we walk across to the 11th tee box to encounter a magnificent golf hole, a 525-yard par-5 that doglegs left and funnels us into the dunes. Accuracy on this side of the road is at a premium and woe betide us if the wind blows. Mackenzie Ross wrote, ‘I have seen no finer golfing country’ and it is hard to disagree with him from 11 through until 15 as we battle our way through the sandhills.

Here there are some simply wonderful golf holes, especially those of the raised tee boxes that give us some superb views along the Bristol Channel and back down towards Porthcawl. The 13th is a short but fiendish golf hole of a mere 369 yards from the back, blue tee boxes but if we try to cut the corner off by too much on this right-hand dogleg we are unlikely to see our ball again amongst the coarse seagrasses of these soaring dunes.

Having negotiated all the perils here we climb up to encounter another top-quality par-4 of 412 yards that climbs right and angles away from us through a valley, leaving us the challenge of taking enough club to hit a green that also slopes sharply upwards. Shots beyond the flag here are not to be recommended.

In need of refreshment

We bid farewell to the dunes on the long par -3 15th which is guarded by three nasty, steep bunkers fronting the green and then face the start of three long and very difficult par-4 holes in a most challenging finish.

Having climbed up the hill to the 17th green what relief we may feel gazing down the last soon evaporates when we realise there is a ditch for anything that flies long and right and that busy road, the former cart track mentioned earlier, will consume anything that errs too far to the left.

By the time we have putted out and crossed the road to find our way back to the clubhouse, that seems just that bit too far away after 18 holes, we shall certainly be in need of refreshment to give us a chance to get our breath back and consider our day’s work.

A round at Pyle and Kenfig is a must for any golf lover

One thing is for certain and that is, whatever our score, we shall have no complaints about the quality of the greens which are firm and true or the quality of the service in the clubhouse, even if one does not have the good fortune to be served by the lady captain.

Whilst Royal Porthcawl may be the better known of these two near neighbours a round at Pyle and Kenfig is a must for any golf lover playing in this part of South Wales although make sure that the dune holes are open as during the Winter months five additional holes come into play and to miss out on those would be, quite simply, beyond foolish.

This is a place where the atmosphere in the clubhouse is every bit as good as that out on the course.

For information about booking a tee time and accommodation in the club dormie house visit: https://www.pandkgolfclub.co.uk.

Stephen Killick

Stephen Killick

#Shanksforthememory

Mid-handicapper Steve Killick takes on some of the UK’s finest courses.
Ladies European TourIAGTOGeo FoundationBig Green Egg