Aberdovey Golf Club
Golf at Aberdovey dates to 1886, its crude first course consisting of nine flower pots sunk into the seaside turf along Cardigan Bay. Who laid out the original 18 holes is unknown, but over the years they were revised by James Braid, Herbert Fowler and H.S. Colt, among others. Aberdovey is a true links layout, with nine holes out and nine holes back. It’s flatter than most, however, which makes it very easy to walk. It’s not what you’d call “long”, either, at 6,645 yards from the championship tees. Lying so close to the water, though, the wind can make the links play much longer. Aberdovey is a favorite of Welsh touring pro and 2006 Ryder Cup captain Ian Woosnam. Golf Digest ranked it the 3rd best course in Wales. (P.S.: Sheep and cattle are allowed to graze here.)
Conwy Golf Club
In 2005 — 110 years after it was expanded to 18 holes — Conwy Golf Club (known locally as Caernarvonshire) was named the 5th best course in Wales by Golf Digest. A year later, Conwy had the honor of being the first Welsh course to ever be used as a final qualifying site for the British Open. Located near the mouth of the Conwy Estuary, this classic links layout was the site of the British Amateur Championship in 1999. Unlike most links, the fairways here are fairly flat. The greens, however, are quite testing. Because several holes on the front nine play along the estuary, wind is a factor. On the back, thick gorse is frequently in play. Hovering above the course and always in view is majestic Conwy Mountain. From the championship tees, Conwy measures a very manageable 6,647 yards.
Llandudno Golf Club (Maesdu)
Founded in 1915, Maesdu became one of Britain’s top professional venues in North Wales. It is a very pleasant combination of parkland and links golf encompassing a broad expanse of scenery. There are some excellent holes throughout that require concentration and care and together with North Wales Golf Club (which is adjacent to Maesdu) provide the established golfer with a superb golfing break in the Llandudno area.
Nefyn and District Golf Club
Because of its spectacular views of the sea, Nefyn and District Golf Club is often compared to Pebble Beach in California and Old Head in Ireland. The sea is in sight from every tee. Founded in 1907, Nefyn today offers two courses: the Old and the New. Both courses, however, utilize the same “front” 10 holes but two distinctly different “back” 8 holes. The first 10 feature five holes played along the edge of a cliff. The Old’s final 8 are set on a peninsula that juts out into the sea. The New’s closing 8 are not as precarious but still challenging. From the back tees, the New Course measures 6,548 yards. The Old is much shorter — only 6,138 yards from the championship tees — but Golf Digest still ranked it the 9th best course in Wales.
North Wales Golf Club, Llandudno
Welcome to North Wales Golf Club. Open since 1894, this charming course has played host to many regional championships through the years. The course is now best known for its views of both Little and Great Orme, with the town of Llandudno between the two in the distance. It’s a true links course located on the West Shore of Conway Bay. With Llandudno (Maesdu) Golf Club located adjacent to the club, this area offers a terrific golfing break.
Royal St. David’s Golf Club
If Royal St. David’s is not the No. 1 course in Wales (even though many golfers believe it is), then for sure it is the toughest par-69 in the country. Founded in 1894, Royal St. David’s is a challenging links layout with the Irish Sea on one side and Mt. Snowdon (Wales’s highest peak) on the other. (Looming over the golf course as well are the massive ruins of Harlech Castle, which dates to the 13th Century.) Unusual for a seaside course, the tall, grass-covered dunes here block most views of the water. Typical, though, are the humps, bumps, hollows and ever present wind that you’d expect at a classic links. Together, they make Royal St. David’s one surprisingly tough 6,495-yard tract.