For me Aberdovey was the highlight of a recent golfing trip to north Wales that included Royal St David’s and Nefyn. There’s something magical about Aberdovey, from the drive to the little seaside town on the road from Machynlleth, to the walk across the old Cambrian railway line to the clubhouse. I must admit that the sign on the gate over the rail crossing struck fear in my heart but it served its purpose… I dutifully closed the gate!
I’ve been meaning to make the pilgrimage to Aberdovey for many years to see for myself whether Bernard Darwin’s affections were simply romantic or founded on real substance. Well I can say, in a similar vein to Rye, there is still a little bit of Darwin’s soul here and Aberdovey is the real golfing deal.
Aberdovey is understated in every way but the quality and challenge hits you hard in the face from the opening tee shot. The back (black) tees are called “Darwin Yards” and the course measures some 200 yards longer from these tiger tees. I watched numerous people tee off on the 1st from the clubhouse balcony and nobody got anywhere near the green in two on this monster 400+ yard hole, which was playing into a two club wind on the day I played here. The second hole is one of those joyful short par fours requiring a much more subtle approach than the one I adopted. The elevated 2nd tee in the dunes got my adrenalin going and I duly pulled my drive into dunes down the left and then carded a triple with a second ball. Then you come to the infamous, bunkerless, blind par three, the “Cader” hole. In my opinion this is the best blind par three I’ve ever played and pushes the Dell at Lahinch into second place. Don’t come up short on the Cader otherwise you’ll have a blind chip too.
Things get a little easier when you reach the pulpit tee on the 4th but par is never easy at Aberdovey. The home holes, from the excellent risk-and-reward short par four 16th, to par fours at 17 and 18 (both measure more than 400 yards) are supremely testing. I was expecting Aberdovey to be a gentle test of links golf on an old-fashioned course. What I found was a thoughtful, entertaining and challenging course that simply does everything rather well. Finally, I must mention the par three 12th which is one of the best short par threes I’ve ever encountered on a links… it gives the Postage Stamp a run for its money.
I’m sure Darwin would have been chuffed to bits had he seen the new clubhouse, which is a fitting recent addition. I really enjoyed the trip and recommend the golf, the value and the welcome. I will venture back to the Principality of Wales but I’ll probably spend a little longer at Aberdovey than anywhere else… I’d like to get to know this course a lot better.
Date: July 11, 2011