A Golf Break to North Wales
We’ve always known that Wales is a top golfing destination, but what’s the international perspective? We caught up with a group of Swedish golfers on their first Welsh tour to see what they thought
Since 1996, a group of golfing friends who call themselves ‘GolfPoolarna’ (loosely translated as ‘golf buddies’) have been travelling the world to indulge their playing passion. Over the years, they’ve been to Northern Ireland, Scotland, Spain, Turkey, Singapore and even the Dominican Republic to play an annual three-round competition called ‘The Trip’ on the best courses they can find. It was now Wales’s turn, with links golf at Porthmadog, Royal St David’s and Nefyn & District on the menu. Here’s how they got on.
My expectations of Wales were pretty high as I’d been told about it by golf friends who had been there before. It all started very well, with the trip from Manchester Airport going very smoothly. In a little under two hours we were at Porthmadog Golf Club. We had a quick lunch and then played 18 holes in the afternoon. It was lovely to experience so much during the first day of our trip.
The courses were fantastic, especially Royal St David’s and Nefyn & District. Those are two of the best courses I have ever played and I’ve played in many places around the world. I’d love to play them again when I return to Wales.
We were made to feel very welcome throughout our visit. Criccieth was a lovely seaside village and the hotel had some fantastic views out over the bay. The golf clubs were all very friendly too. Wales was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had and I’m going to be recommending it to other golfers. I will definitely be back and I’ll probably bring some friends with me next time I come.
We have travelled all over the British Isles, but this was the first time this group had been to Wales. We’ve been playing together for nearly 20 years, so we decided we wanted to try something new.
I’d heard a bit about Wales as my wife has been here a couple of times. We were very excited about the golf courses. We are a group of well-travelled people and when we come away on these trips we like to play links courses. We don’t have that many of them in Sweden and inland courses can be very wet when we travel in October.
The best experience for me was to play at Nefyn. I thought it was similar to the famous Pebble Beach in California. I really enjoyed the course, the surroundings, the layout, the conditions and also the clubhouse. Everything was good. When we come back next time we will definitely be playing at Nefyn again. Next time we’ll be able to play all the holes on the Old Course, as some of the holes were closed for repair during our visit. At least we had more time to visit the T?? Coch Inn between the 15th and 16th holes on this visit. That was a real highlight.
For what we received the price was very competitive. We were able to take advantage of a winter green fee rate, so we got a lot of golf for our money.
I won the Order of Merit on last year’s trip, so it was up to me to arrange the next trip. I came to Wales during the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor Resort and I’d heard a lot about Nefyn & District. My son also played there a couple of years ago so I’d heard good things about it. Last year we played in Spain because it was a bad summer in Sweden and we needed some sun. The year before we played at Machrihanish in Scotland, so we decided to go a bit further south and give Wales a go. We had lots of help to get everything organised from Ian and Mark at Wales Golf Holidays.
A lot of us who hadn’t been here before were pleasantly surprised by how good the golf was in Wales. I think we were all impressed by the quality of the courses. If you compare the courses that we played here with those in Scotland they stand up very well.
I liked Royal St David’s a lot. We’ve played links all over the British Isles, and Royal St David’s was very good. Everyone was really impressed. I’ve got so much credit for arranging this trip.
Nefyn was excellent. All of the guys want to go back to Wales and we’ll definitely plan to play there again. The peninsular section of the course was closed due to repair work, but the New Course was wonderful.
I enjoyed Porthmadog too. It was a little different because it was a mix of parkland and links holes, but I liked that. It’s a good course to start with, particularly for people who might not have played for a little while. Going straight onto a pure links course could be quite a challenge, so having some parkland holes was actually helpful.
The trip as a whole was great. We had excellent service and awonderful hotel that we thought should be four stars rather than three. The staff were very helpful and took care of us really well. The clubs were thoroughly welcoming too. People would come up to us to say hello and talk about where we’d come from and give us tips about the courses.
In fact, the only downside was that I didn’t do so well in the competition this time round.
Jan von Baumgarten-Stahlberg
It was my first time in Wales, but I had heard a lot of good things about it. We have played in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland so many times. I was maybe not surprised, but I was delighted by the courses in Wales.
Royal St David’s was a magnificent course with a fantastic links style through all 18 holes. I really enjoyed the course, though it was rather difficult. My score wasn’t the best, but I did better at Nefyn & District.
Nefyn was magnificent, because you are very exposed to the sea, the wind and every element of nature’s power. When we played the wind was between 15 and 25 knots so it was rather brisk.
The Old Course out on the peninsula was shut to repair some storm damage, but after our game we were able to play four of the holes and of course, after the 15th hole, we went down to the pub on the beach. It’s obligatory when you play there. It was very sheltered and such a beautiful spot, so we had a pint and went back up to play the other two holes. It was a really unusual experience.
My favourite course was Nefyn, because that’s where I played the best golf. It also showed a lot of the specific characteristics of a seaside links course. There was wind but the weather was good and I was able to play low shots. I played the full 18 holes with the same ball, which is quite an achievement on a course like that.
We stayed at The Caerwylan in Criccieth which was a very good seaside hotel. We have stayed in some really bad hotels on our other trips, but this was excellent. It’s not so much about luxury, but the welcome and the feel of local character that I look for. We definitely got that in Criccieth. It was lovely little village, nice pubs and restaurants, there was also a nice restaurant at the hotel.
I would recommend Wales as a place to visit for a golf trip. It would definitely come out on my Top Ten list and I’m sure we’ll come back to Wales in the future.
Where they played
Nefyn & District Golf Club
Porthmadog Golf Club
Royal St David’s Golf Club, Harlech
Where they stayed
The Caerwylan Hotel, Criccieth
Who put it all together
Wales Golf Holidays