Tenby Golf Club (established in 1888) may officially be regarded as the oldest club in Wales but that’s not the case at Borth & Ynyslas where the club protest that they pre-date their Welsh cousins by three years – even though no officially recognised document has ever been produced to substantiate their assertion!
Regardless of its exact date of existence, this Grand Old Lady has been described by one commentator as “a great but often ignored Welsh masterpiece” which is as good a claim to golfing fame as any in our book.
Lying just north of Aberystwyth, on the other side of the Dovey estuary from the more renowned Aberdovey course, the old-fashioned links at Borth & Ynyslas was modified by Harry Colt in 1945 and the great architect’s subtle design touches have been retained.
The length of the course is just over 6,100 yards (for a par of 70) and only two of its par four holes are in excess of 400 yards long so getting to the green in two shots should be no problem. The five par three holes are a difficult proposition though as they all measure at least 170 yards from the medal tees. And if the Borth Breeze blows… well, be prepared for a torrid time here!
Borth has a wonderful setting, the cliffs to the back of the first tee remind one of being on the South Coast of England or the North York moors ... its a great frame. The course is a minimalistic links, almost a journey back in time. There are a few weak holes, particularly the par 3 7th which is pretty much a green in a farmer's field.
Overall though, it's a classic links ... small greens, tiny bunkers and in a fleeting glances a little like the Old Course.
If you're in the area then play it ... probably the best assessment I can give is that if you're at Aberdovey for 3 days then play Borth. If only at Aberdovey for 2 days the just play Aberdovey twice. That's not to say Borth is bad, just it's neighbour is outstanding.
Borth & Ynyslas is a classic ‘out and back’ true links course. It may not be in the same class as its near neighbour, Aberdovey, located on just the other side of the Dovey Estuary but lovers of links golf will find enough here to warrant a visit.
However, those who have a dislike for the superior form of the game will probably hate it!
Established in 1885 Borth & Ynyslals is one of the oldest, arguably the most senior, in Wales. There is no doubt that it is a traditional links course with a rugged, at times almost scruffy, feel to it. Some of the tees were a little unkempt, the fairways hadn’t been cut for a considerable amount of time and there were animal scrapings on some of them. That said, it kind of works here and I loved it.
There was a real feeling of this is how golf was played many decades ago, almost like going back in time, and so much the better for it.
Equipment may have developed over the years too and where modern technology has rendered many courses obsolete the challenge of Borth & Ynyslas remains. Running on a narrow strip of land just a stone’s throw from Borth beach I can imagine the wind howling off the sea and making the course play a lot more difficult than its 6,086 yards may suggest.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
A really nice traditional links course, and as with all such Welsh courses great value, a quick game and a friendly welcome. As other reviewers have mentioned you really need to be on your game from the off as the first few holes are really tight and intimidating. Given that it is an out and back, there must be many "dog licences" handed out here leading to a subdued walk back. We played in a two club wind from the South West which made a memorable game of golf playing lots of punch shots on the way back from good turf. Highly recommended, definitely worth your support.