Royal Porthcawl Golf CourseDESTINATION GUIDE

Wales: Britain's emerging golf vacation destination full of century-old links

By Brandon Tucker,
Senior Writer

Wales is coming into its own as a golf vacation destination on the backs of premier links courses such as Celtic Manor's Twenty Ten Course, Royal Porthcawl Golf Club and Pennard Golf Club.

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Chances are you haven't heard much about golf in Wales until recently. That's not because the country is new to golf. Hardly. In fact, there are plenty of links in Wales as old as anywhere in Scotland and England.

The country just hasn't promoted its tourism and golf opportunities until recently, to compensate for its eroding industrial base. As a result, Welsh golf courses are often less trafficked and less expensive than in neighboring countries.

Today, Wales is a small country of about 2 million people and geographically just the size of Massachusetts. So it's quite easy to travel from south to north in one trip and experience the finest courses. Or you can stick to either the North or South and enjoy less drive time but plenty of great golf.

With the announcement of the 2010 Ryder Cup Matches coming to the Celtic Manor Resort, Wales' historic golf clubs are stepping up, upgrading facilities and becoming more available to visitor play even on weekends.

Golf in South Wales

Wales' most populous coastline is anchored by the capital port city of Cardiff, nearby Newport and Swansea to the west.

Twenty Ten CourseCeltic Manor hosts three championship parkland golf courses set in rural Welsh countryside, including the new Twenty Ten Course, but it's south Wales' links that really shine.

Nearby Royal Porthcawl Golf Club is the country's most prestigious links, host to the 1995 Walker Cup (the one Tiger played in). Next door Pyle & Kenfig Golf Club is a downland links farther off the coast but a championship test nevertheless.

The Southwest has a collection of courses a little tougher to get to but more off the beaten path. Stunning Pennard Golf Club is the south coast's most picturesque, dubbed the "Links in the Sky" for its cliff-top location. Tenby Golf Club, on the other hand, is a rugged links and one of Wales' oldest.

Mid Wales golf

Wales' middle region is the remotest part of the country, full of stunning mountains and narrow roadways. The coastal vacation village of Aberdovey Golf Club serves as a gateway to the North from the South and is home to a stunning true links course.

The country's oldest club, Borth & Ynyslas Golf Club, is about a half hour south. Farther south is the fun and affordable Cardigan Golf Club, which can be included in either a mid or south Wales golf tour.

North Wales golf

Nefyn & District Golf ClubNorth Wales lacks the larger cities of the industrial south coast, and you'll hear more native Welsh spoken around these small coastal villages. In Gwynedd, Nefyn & District Golf Club steals the show visually, set on a rocky peninsula overlooking the sea. The region's most prestigious links, however, is Royal St. David's Golf Club, set beneath the 14th century Harlech Castle Ruin and regarded as arguably Wales' toughest links.

Neighboring towns Conwy and Llandudno offer a threesome of worthy courses coupled with a festive port atmosphere: 19th century links Conwy Golf Club and North Wales Golf Club and its neighbor, Maesdu at Llandudno Golf Club.

The Isle of Anglesey makes up for Wales' northernmost point but is hardly remote, easily accessible from Liverpool and Manchester from the A55 dual carriageway. Anglesey has five golf courses, including the remarkable heathland Bull Bay Golf Club, set high above the sea, and Holyhead Golf Club, located in the bustling port town that connects Wales to Dublin about 50 miles west.

October 6, 2008

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management. The information in this story was accurate at the time of publication. All contact information, directions and prices should be confirmed directly with the golf course or resort before making reservations and/or travel plans.

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