Wales isn’t the ‘Home of Golf’ like Scotland. It isn’t blessed with courses of mystical reputation such as Ballybunion and Royal County Down, as Ireland is. And it doesn’t have the Open venues or the exquisite heathlands of England.
But there is good reason to think Wales is the best-value destination for a golf break in Britain and Ireland.
While its top course is hardly inexpensive, it’s positively cheap compared to others of its calibre. The handful of Welsh courses beneath it—which all get into the various Top 100 rankings of British and Irish courses—are exceptionally good value.
The second half of its top 10 is simply sensational in terms of quality-to-cost ratio. Wales completely dominates Golf World magazine’s ranking of the Top 100 Courses available for £60 and under. The whole country is home to around 150 courses; Wales amazingly had 17 of them in that Top 100.
Here is our verdict on the top 10 best golf courses in Wales—plus some bonus suggestions with ‘X-Factor’ qualities.
Located on the edge of Rest Bay in South Wales, this is the clear No.1 in the country. Featuring in any credible ranking of the finest courses in the world, Royal Porthcawl has hosted the Walker Cup, the Amateur Championship and the Senior Open Championship.
It was here, in 1995, that the feted amateur Tiger Woods—whose prodigious ability and monstrous driving were already legendary—was humbled by short-hitting career amateur Gary Wolstenholme, who still lived at home with his mum.
It’s one of the finest golf courses in Britain and Ireland; a magnificent links comprising a fabulous setting. There’s a view of the water from every one of its undulating fairways, making the capricious seaside winds an integral part of the challenge.
For Wales #2 and #3, we head up the west coast to two courses steeped in history. First, to ‘Harlech’, a golf course often rated as the ‘best par 69 in Britain’. Royal St David’s is a links of enduring class, incorporating some of the most exacting holes in Wales that wind through some terrific dunes.
Add in a superb setting with views over to Snowdonia and the overlooking Harlech Castle, and there’s a real charisma to this seaside experience.
This is the venue for your second round on your journey along the Welsh west coast. The links here have stations right outside them, so when you walk off the 18th at Harlech, head slightly inland and get on the rattler for a short journey to Aberdovey.
The great writer Bernard Darwin rated it as the links with the most soul, and he wasn’t wrong. Part of the reason for this may have been because his Uncle played a part in laying it out—using flower pots as holes!
Aberdovey has come a long way since then, though, and is another GB&I Top 100 entrant with bags of character. It starts in explosive fashion and ends with a four-hole stretch that is absolutely out of this world.
On the outskirts of the town of Newport lies a Ryder Cup venue of iconic renown. The dream of owner Sir Terry Matthews became a reality in 2010 when Ross McMurray’s made-for-matchplay course hosted a Ryder Cup remembered for its rainy Friday start and explosive Monday conclusion.
A round here is to walk in the footsteps of Ryder Cup legends. This modern parkland is packed with risk-reward holes; a boring round on the Twenty Ten is simply not an option.
This is Wales’ most photographed golf course by virtue of its headland location. It’s utterly spellbinding, offering ‘screensaver’ views from so many holes on the peninsula. It won’t win any architectural awards because there are some compromises on a few holes, but this Insta-worthy clifftop course isn’t there to subtly please; it’s there to blow your mind.
This course has really gained favour in recent years. The club describes its courses as ‘The Links in the Sky’, and that’s a very good summary of what to expect!
Pennard plays over ‘linksy’ turf, but it is perched on ground higher than most of its type, and therefore deserves the often used but rarely accurate term ‘clifftop links’. Expect unforgettable holes, adventurous greens, sloping fairways, five-star views of the Gower peninsula, and lots of ‘I’m glad we came’ moments.
The players’ links. Conwy is an honest, unremittingly challenging course that constantly challenges by virtue of regular changes in direction. It plays over relatively open linksland for the most part and tightens for the last third, weaving between unforgiving gorse. This Curtis Cup host course has arguably never been in better condition.
Rarely is the phrase ‘a course of two halves’ more aptly applied than to Bridgend’s ‘P&K’.
The front nine here is perfectly nice, featuring some good short holes and well-placed pot bunkers, but then, you enter the back nine among some epic dunes, quickly switching to World Top 100 calibre holes.
Think we’re exaggerating? There’s only one way to find out…
Not far from ‘P&K’ is this moorland of high class. The turf here is superb and a joy to hit from. Although, the gorse that lines some of it is less appealing—not least in the exacting final three. Southerndown might be most memorable, though, for a first hole that could never be described as a friendly handshake!
This classic out-and-back links in Burry Port starts and ends in a relatively modest fashion, but the holes that make up the majority in the middle are absolutely outstanding.
Best golf courses in Wales: five more to consider…
This beautiful parkland with slick, fast greens was created by the family behind Rolls Royce cars.
A west coast course with a parkland front nine and a wonderful links back nine. Porthmadog is also barely a mile from the famous Italianate village of Portmeirion, where the TV series ‘The Prisoner’ was filmed—well worth a visit.
As well as the Ryder Cup, Wales has also hosted the Solheim Cup. This Chepstow course was the venue—a parkland with good variety and an infamous par 3.
This one rivals Nefyn for views; it’s that spectacular. Set on the coast just west of Swansea, the par-3 16th and par-4 17th are out of this world. It’s no wonder the likes of Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones enjoy them.
Home to a modern course winding between mature trees and plenty of water, the Vale Resort is often used by the Welsh national rugby team as a base when playing home games in Cardiff.