Review for Aberdovey

Reviewer Score:


Aberdovey is the archetypal links course. Not unlike nearby Royal St. David’s, you must cross a live railway line to get to the course that’s sandwiched between the sea and the railway. And whilst it’s a shame that views of the sea are effectively non-existent despite it being located adjacent to the beach, the high dune that flanks the coastal side of the course and dominates the scenery makes up for this minor quibble. Over on the opposite side of the railway is a large hillside with farmland and beautiful holiday cottages, so you really feel enclosed by the most captivating of natural surroundings. The other aspect that makes Aberdovey stand out as the archetypal, traditional links is that it’s routed in the classic out and back formation. Albeit the routing is in a figure of eight shape with the opening holes of the front nine and holes 12-14 on the back nine being the ones that pass closest to the dunes.

A caravan park sits next to the 1st tee, and my immediate thought was how lovely a place it would be to come on holiday. Isolated, next to a beach, beautiful scenery, and an excellent golf course all on your doorstep. It’s no wonder Bernard Darwin enjoyed his time here so much. Those holiday dreams are quickly over once your round starts though since Aberdovey opens up with a 443-yard par four that demanded two stout shots directly into the teeth of the wind on the day that I played it.

The opening three holes are packed into the dunes, with the 2nd being a short and lumpy par four before a funky and blind par-three into a bowl-shaped green then grabs your attention at the 3rd. Three holes into Aberdovey, and you’ve already sampled some of the best variety that links golf has to offer. 4 and 5 are in a similar vein, but the middle of the course from the 6th to the 11th are then laid out over much flatter land situated away from the dunes. The interest through this stretch is kept alive though, with the clever combination of revetted and naturalised bunkers that are topped with thick seaside grasses. The use of railway sleepers across the site, more-so as a decoration than a hazard, also magnify Aberdovey’s appeal.

If you’ve been battered by playing into the wind on the outward holes, you turn around at the end of the site on the 12th tee and then it’s all in one direction on the return, so it’s an opportunity to recover your score.

The golfing media seem to regard the 12th to be Aberdovey’s signature hole and it’s the only hole that plays to an elevated position. A recently constructed green is perched on the top of the dune after the previous green had been washed away in a storm, but they’ve done an excellent job with the rebuild. This is also the only position across the course where you’ll catch the full panoramic of the sea.

The 16th onwards then drifts away from the dunes and follows the curve of the railway. The 16th hole itself, whilst only a short par four, wraps its way around the railway track in a manner that tempts you to pause for the train to pass and then go all-guns-blazing for the green. The smarter advice however is to lay back and place one down the undulating fairway to leave a wedge into the long and narrow green.

The last two holes provide an honest finish and close out a round of golf across one of the most natural and authentic links properties that you’re likely to visit. Like some of the UK’s finest courses, Aberdovey takes some effort to get to, but it’s worth those extra miles.

Date: July 29, 2021

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