The prolific course architect Tom Dunn was a very busy man during the 1890s, designing layouts at Woking, Sheringham, Royal Wimbledon, Royal Worlington & Newmarket and here at Weston-Super-Mare where his survey report concluded “that on the land situated between the Royal Sanatorium and Slimridge Farm, a Golf Link may be formed second to none in the world. There are a number of natural hazards and the turf throughout is of excellent quality”.
Dunn’s original 9-hole course was extended to 18 holes four years later then the next major change took place in 1922 when Alister MacKenzie was commissioned to alter and modify the layout, resulting in the course that is still in play today, almost a century later.
Weston-Super-Mare Golf Club is a seaside course, lying to the south of Weston-Super-Mare Bay, with wonderful views across the Bristol Channel, past Brean Down, Steep Holm and Flat Holm towards Cardiff and the sandy soil of the fairways allows golfers to use medal tees and normal greens all year round.
The five par threes (at 3, 7, 11, 14 and 17) are all beautifully bunkered short holes (as one might expect from a MacKenzie design, of course) and a trio of par fives complement these one-shot holes, two of which (the 461-yard 8th and 456-yard 13th) are well within birdie range.“Road Hole,” the 458-yard, par four 15th is the signature hole on the scorecard and it does have similarities with the famous 17th at St Andrew’s Old Course as it begins with a blind tee shot with out of bounds down the right and a fairway that leads to an offset green protected by a treacherous bunker at the front corner.
We played at WSM as the first course on our annual tour, this year taken in Somerset with eleven of us in tow. As ever, being a group, we need to book-up in advance to obtain the tee-times and pleased to say this was a very simple and pleasurable process, even to the extent that we were offered a discounted rate of £30 pp and the freedom to tee-off in our own time once the members had cleared through by 1.30pm
As to the course, WSM is a flat seaside/links course with one or two particularly nice holes – notably the stretch of 4, 5 and 6 - and offers the opportunity to score well with some good course management. A nice finishing hole too played out alongside the stream that snakes its way around the course. The course isn’t overly tight, nor overly long, but if you start spraying the ball around you will pay the price as the rough can be penal if you’re particularly wayward.
The greens are terrific, with some typical links-style humps and bumps to negotiate in places. We found them true and relatively quick, despite the earlier drizzle. A hallmark of the course for sure.
All in all, a very nice, fairly simple links to get the week rolling – and potentially good preparation for the challenge of Burnham and Berrow the following day. Definitely worth a visit if in the area.
Dating back to 1892 Weston-super-Mare is a historic club with a true links course considered by many as one of the best in the South West. The easy walking course has many subtleties and was designed by Dr. Alister MacKenzie, the man who helped shape Augusta National.
Visitors flock to Weston-super-Mare, especially during a rainy off-season when it is often one of only a handful of courses open in the Somerset area with full tees and greens in operation. Even during the winter months players are greeted with tight, quick running and sandy fairways along with excellent putting surfaces.
Our visit was in April after one of the wettest winters on record and the course was as a dry as any we had played to date. I suspect that the course will play very firm and fast during the summer months – just how links golf should be.
As with all seaside layouts the elements will largely dictate how the course plays. It is perhaps more relevant at Weston-super-Mare because the nature of the course is more exposed. There are no large dunes to protect you from the wind here and the terrain is much flatter, more open and exposed.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
Played in tornado with horizontal rain, summer 2016, but amazingly the course was in good order, somehow. Confess found it a tad dull, and quite flat although appear to be doing ground works around the 17th that will help. Attractive course and who said no sea views? That is odd, the bit over the road has some wonderful views and you can definitely see the sea! I did find the £60 too much for the level of the course, I might be spoiled playing in West Berkshire, where £25 buys a decent round, that apart I did enjoy it, but this is not a links course, very ''seaside''. 15th is great but an odd arrangement to get from the 9th to the 10th, better marking perhaps - accepting it was hurricane conditions!
Listed by Peper & Campbell in True Links and marketed by the club as “a true test of links golf”. What’s your definition of a links course?
Weston-Super-Mare is built on a small site but makes clever use of space with, for example, the 1st and 10th holes having semi-shared fairways. A dominating feature is Uphill Church, which sits above the far end of the course on top of a steeply angled hill.
The first four holes all run along the shore boundary with buckthorn and out of bounds on the right. Five and six are longer par fours across the road near the caravan park. This area, known as Brean Downs, looks across to Uphill Church and its sheer drop at the back.
Coming back across the road, the home run is on very flat terrain, punctuated by a number of drains and small burns. Weston-Super-Mare is worth a look because of the Mackenzie connection in particular - bunkers are quite shallow and greens fairly flat so the feeling is more of holiday golf.
This review is an edited extract from Another Journey through the Links, which has been reproduced with David Worley’s kind permission. The author has exclusively rated for us every English course featured in his book. Another Journey through the Links is available for Australian buyers via www.golfbooks.com.au and through Amazon for buyers from other countries.