When you think of places to visit on a golf trip within the UK, Wales probably won’t be the first place you think of. But that in many ways is its appeal: it can be considered to lie a little bit off the beaten track, meaning there are some hidden gems for you to explore. For a multi-course adventure, some of these under-the-radar locations are perfect to combine with the bigger names, including one of the top 50 courses in the world, and the former host of the Ryder Cup.
In this guide, we’ll highlight six of the best golf courses in Wales, and give you some inspiration if you’re planning a golf holiday with a difference.
Celtic Manor Resort
If you’ve ever driven into Wales on the M4, via either of the Severn Bridges, then you’ve almost certainly seen the Celtic Manor Resort: it’s just outside Newport and right next to junction 24.
The resort has three courses, all of which have their own character, and without a doubt the most popular is the Twenty Ten course, on which Europe won the Ryder Cup that year. Half of the course was previously part of the Wentwood Hills layout, while the other nine were purpose-built with the Ryder Cup in mind. In total, nine holes have water hazards, making this an extreme challenge for you, just as much for the best European and American players.
Green fees are expensive (expect to pay three figures), but the reward in exchange for your money makes it well worth it.
Royal Porthcawl is one of Wales’s oldest courses, dating back to 1891, and is the only Welsh course to feature on our global top 50 list. It’s a popular course with the pros, having hosted the Senior Open Championship twice, and being scheduled to host the Women’s Open in 2025.
On the coast to the west of Bridgend, the breeze from the Bristol Channel adds an extra dimension to the challenge of this course. Given that the holes run in all different directions, it means you’ll have to adjust to a change in the wind from one hole to the next. Like Celtic Manor, Royal Porthcawl is also just a few miles from the M4, making accessibility easy, while the sea views are something to savour.
Royal St David’s
Firstly, don’t be confused by the name: Royal St David’s is not located in the UK’s smallest city in west Pembrokeshire. Instead it’s in the north-west of the principality, literally in the morning shadow of the famous Harlech Castle.
The course is sandwiched between the castle and a set of dunes that look out to Cardigan Bay. This is not a course for the faint-hearted: the fairways are hill, the bunkers are deep, the greens are fast, and the wind can pick up as it blows over the dunes. The front nine is much flatter than the back nine, so if you’re concerned about undulation, focus on trying to pick up some shots early on.
A bit further down the coast from Royal St David’s is Aberdovey Golf Club, right on the mouth of the River Dyfi and just a handful of miles north of Aberystwyth. Just like its northerly counterpart, the presence of dunes plays a major part of the topology of this course, especially around the plateau of the 12th green, which stands out as a particularly challenging par 3.
The surroundings are peaceful, interrupted only by a very occasional train (Aberdovey station is literally next door to the clubhouse), and green fees are very affordable compared to the more illustrious courses listed above. It’s a long journey to get there, but you won’t regret it.
Conwy Caernarvonshire Golf Club ticks all the boxes from a trip perspective: it’s just off the A55 dual carriageway; it looks over the Irish Sea and Conwy Marina for first-class views; and its cheapest green fees are below £50. The course was also used for military purposes during both World Wars, meaning you’ll get to experience a slice of history, too.
It’s a relatively flat links course, but with some holes that are surprisingly tricky, especially the 2nd, a par 3 with six bunkers and a multi-level green. For a quality course, close to amenities but still posing a challenge, look no further.
Southerndown is a links course with a difference, because of its distinctive terrain, based around limestone outcrops and heathland, rather than the normal rolling dunes. That’s not to say that the coast won’t provide a challenge, though: plenty of sand has blown onto the earlier holes over the years to change the characteristics of the fairways and greens.
Southerndown is also only a few miles from Royal Porthcawl, making it a top option for a multi-course break if basing yourself in Bridgend or Swansea. But don’t be surprised if your round is punctuated by some woolly wildlife ambling and grazing around the course…
Get golf insurance with SportsCover Direct
Whichever of the best golf courses in Wales you’re planning to play, make sure you’ve got quality golf insurance in place before you go. There are several good reasons why insurance is important: you might get injured in an accident on the course, your travel plans might be disrupted, your clubs could be lost, stolen or damaged. You could even hit someone with an errant shot and end up liable for a compensation claim.
SportsCover Direct has been insuring golfers like you for more than a quarter of a century. Our affordable policies encompass personal liability, personal accident cover, equipment cover and more. We’ll even cover the traditional round of drinks at the bar if you hit a hole-in-one. Learn more about the details of our flexible, comprehensive golf insurance here.