Cardigan Golf Club celebrated their centenary in 1995 so members have enjoyed golfing on this site for well over a hundred years. Starting out as a 9-hole course, it was first known as the Cliff Hotel Links and it was extended to a full 18 holes in the 1970s by Fred Hawtree. Over time, Cardigan has been shaped into a fine championship course.
The course sits high on a hill outside the town of Cardigan, overlooking the Teifi Estuary at Gwbert-on-Sea, with extensive views (especially from the 16th tee) over Cardigan Bay and along the coast to Ceredigion in the north and Pembrokeshire to the south.
Measuring almost 6,700 yards – with a Standard Scratch Score of one over the par of 72 – the course at Cardigan can be loosely categorized as an amalgam of meadowland, cliff top and free-draining links golf, with a fair amount of gorse thrown in for good measure.
The signature hole at Cardigan is well worth the wait, a challenging, but fair, par three measuring 195 yards from the medal boxes where an elevated tee awaits, with spectacular views across the Teifi Estuary to Poppit Beach. An accurate shot is required as the green is bunkered on both sides, but the putting surface is receptive and the best results are achieved by attacking the hole – though the bale out is to the left, as a shot to the right will probably be lost. When the pin in on the top level a par feels like a birdie.
Furman Bisher, the American sports columnist (now into his tenth decade) and regarded as “The Dean” of Masters journalists every year he appears at Augusta, is a firm fan of Cardigan, having played here once before. No doubt the club have since benefitted from the increased number of visiting U.S. golfers who have read Furman’s glowing report on his trip in 1993.
Cardigan is not a golf course that is easy to build into a golfing itinerary of Wales. It is a bit of an outlier in terms of location tucked away in the south-west corner of the Principality.
The near 70-mile trek from Aberdovey is likely to take you every minute of the suggested two hour drive (I actually drove from Harlech and I've been on long haul flights that seemed to have passed quicker) whilst those who have already ventured west to Tenby will face another hour in the car to reach this interesting layout which has one of the most amazing finishing stretches I have ever played; green complexes at 15, 16 and 17 are utterly amazing.
Before that we have 14 holes that if they don’t quite excite us they certainly don’t disappoint. Many of the holes play across a side slope and they gradually rise throughout the round. They start of with an upland links feel – good turf and some nice undulations – but as we climb higher the ground becomes more pasture-like.
I wouldn’t quite class Cardigan as a true links course but it’s not far off and you are assured of all the unpredictable kicks and bounces associated with seaside golf; lost balls are probably a common occurrence here. Bunkering is minimal, bracken is a threat and you must use the lay of the land to score well.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.