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|St. David's City Golf Club is an out-of-the-way nine-holer on Wales' southwest coast. (Brandon Tucker/GolfPublisher.com)|
ST. DAVIDS, Wales - Wales isn't the type of golf destination riddled with British Open venues or legendary, world-class links at every turn.
Instead, it's a tiny nook in the British Isles golf landscape where there's always a hidden gem around the corner waiting for discovery. Whereas nearby southwest England features a handful of renowned British Open golf courses, Wales' southwest coast is dotted with little nuggets, often unpublicized and unfound by the mainstream.
In that regard, nine-hole St. David's City Golf Club in a way serves as the poster child for Wales' golf: it's an out-of-the-way club few know about and gets little marketing ink. But for what it is, it does it well: a quaint, never boring course with nine greens, ten holes and 18 sets of tees, not to mention killer coastal views.
Situated within the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, this scenic coastal area also welcomes loads of backpackers and campers. Wales is a country known around the U.K. for its rustic, natural splendor - and they flock to this far-out edge of the peninsula. This little village on Wales' westernmost coast is a popular getaway, featuring camping, whale and dolphin watching and art galleries. The beaches here, like Whitesands Bay, have won a prestigious "Blue Flag Award" for their excellence in providing tourists with an eco-friendly and safe beach. You'll surely pass numerous RVs on your way to the course.
"We would bring more groups out here if it wasn't so far out of the way," said Dylan Williams, director of Wales Golf Vacations. What gives St. David's its appeal in undiscovered allure also means few make it there. It's well over an hour's drive from hubs like Swansea and Tenby on the southern coast.
The golf at St. David's is understated, and there is simply a tiny shack serving as the clubhouse. This is also closed on many afternoons, with a little honesty box accepting green fees taking its place. This little shack is at the top of the course, and from this vantage point, the rugged land slopes quite dramatically towards the coast, making for a collection of holes that flip-flop from sharply uphill to downhill.
There are two sets of tees here that serve for an 18-hole scorecard. The two-tiered 3rd green, the biggest among eight other very small greens, is shared by two separate pin positions (red flags are the front nine, yellow the back nine).
St. David's is on the short side, just over 3,000 yards per nine holes, but that doesn't mean golfers won't be tested. The par-3 4th hole is its most famous, a gently downhill shot towards the sea just over 200 yards to a small green that creeps close to the rocky cliffs on the right. To the left, there is nothing but thick grasses and gorse. With the ocean backdrop, it makes for the course's most serene vista, but the hole itself is a menace.
There is one par-5 here that is no pushover. The uphill 5th hole plays 480 yards and doglegs sharply to the right and features a partially blind tee shot with plenty of trouble on both sides of the fairway. This may be a shorter course, but St. David's certainly has some fangs in spots.
St. David's City isn't the links you travel to Wales to play. That title goes to more prestigious championship links like Royal Porthcawl and Ashburnham, or Royal St. David's and Aberdovey to the north.
Though on the shorter side at just 6,100 yards for 18 holes, the hole variety is overachieving, featuring a good mix of uphill, downhill and side-hill holes. It's a good 'tweener' course for tourists, who might be making their way along the western coast coming from mid or north Wales and don't have time for a full 18 - although that can certainly be done here.
Green fees at St. David's City Golf Club are Â£18 for 18. There is no posted 9-hole rate.
Though just a small village, St. David's was granted city status by Queen Elizabeth II because of the presence of 12th century St. David's Cathedral.
September 25, 2007
Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Channel Courses & Travel. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours.
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.
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