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Follow signs for Conwy Marina off A55
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Jack Morris, Frank Pennink, Brian Huggett, Neil Coles
While circumstances beyond its control have lead to historical changes to this North Wales championship links, Conwy's 6,901 yards have proved an awesome challenge in the winds of the Caernarvonshire coastline.
Golf began in this area in 1869, the original designer being Jack Morris, nephew of Old Tom Morris. Two World Wars had a profound effect on the Morfa Peninsula and the course was almost lost after the First World War. Stabilisation was only achieved against sand-blow by the planting of huge areas of marram grass on what are now the 7th, 8th and 9th.
By common assent, its chequered history does not detract from the quality of this challenging links, whose current layout is the result of mid-1970s front nine alterations by Frank Pennink, and early 1980s back nine alterations to five holes by Brian Huggett and Neil Coles to allow for the building of the A55 tunnel, aimed at easing traffic problems on the road between Chester and Anglesey..
Conwy Golf Club has played host to a number of major tournaments, including the Martini in 1970, when Peter Thomson and Doug Sewell tied on 268, a score attributable to the dry windless conditions which prevailed that week. The Ladies' British Open Amateur Championship was won at Conwy by Belle Robertson in 1981 and the Home Internationals were staged here in 1990.
Conwy is fairly flat but still has sufficient variety to avoid the charge of monotonous which has been laid at the door of lesser links. Its seaside character is apparent from the start, the second a par three nestling in the dunes, the 3rd curving along the shoreline, followed by holes running parallel to each other to the turn. Going out, there are four par fours measuring more than 400 yards, three of which are more than 450 yards long.
The 10th returns to the Clubhouse, one of three par fives in the next five holes, and the presence of the bay and the mountains and the Great Orme above Llandudno ensures the golfer can enjoy the surroundings whilst being tested to the full.
Douglas Adams prints of the rugged Welsh coastline adorn many clubhouse walls. That coastline is the classic links course of Conwy.
A few facts about Conwy Golf Club
Conwy won the Welsh Golf Club of the Year award for 2007.
Conwy staged the Ryder Cup Wales Seniors Open in June 2007. England’s Carl Mason captured his 15th European Seniors Tour title in four years.
In 2009 Conwy hosted the European Amateur Team Championship, which saw Scotland hold on to beat England in the final.
Conwy was the first Welsh Golf Club to host Open Championship Local Final Qualifying ahead of the 2006 Open at Royal Liverpool. Only three qualifiers managed under par scores: Jon Bevan, Mikko Ilonen and Warren Bladon.
The 41st Curtis Cup was due to be hosted at Conwy Golf Club in June 2020 but was postponed until August 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The walled market town of Conwy and its grand medieval castle has always made this seaside town well worth the visit, but it’s also home to one of the best and heartiest links courses in the country.
Beautiful Conwy is a terrific course laid out under both the Conwy Mountain on one side, and the dormant volcano that is the Great Orme on the other. I’m particularly fond of a course that displays some quirk and character, and Conwy has just that. I played the course from the back blue tees and she was savage in the wind, yet I still managed to fall for her charms. It’s a course that features a wonderful set of holes in an honest and stern links test. Whilst much of the course is largely flat and open, it’s decorated with pockets of gorse dotted here and there as well as some classic pot bunkers. The course is bordered by the sea along two of its sides with the beautiful 7th that plays along the beach of Conwy Bay being the pick of the front nine. This hole has a green tucked into a bowl in the corner of the property and is a delight.
Whilst largely flat, there are plenty of subtle slopes across the course with some elevated tees and greens preventing the course from feeling repetitive. Conwy is a classic links with plenty of personality. The 4th and 10th fairways that cross one another are just one example of this. The routing also regularly changes in direction, thus avoiding that out and back slog from which many traditional links courses suffer.
The course returns to the clubhouse after ten holes, and of the back nine, the par five 12th was a highlight. This hole plays largely blind for the most part towards a marker post in the distance, but it’s a hole of classic strategy where you’re faced with a decision to lay up short of a large depression in the fairway leaving a wedge into the green, or the alternative of taking your chances at attempting to hit the green in two. This is immediately followed by a spectacular par three set in front of the beautiful backdrop of Conwy Mountain. But this beauty also bites as the green is a steeply tiered affair so hitting the correct level is a must or a three-putt awaits. And talking of biting, Conwy is a tough test throughout due to the gorse and its exposed site, but what comes before is nothing until what awaits during the closing stretch of holes. From 14 home, you play down narrow alleyways between gorse bushes with wayward misses certain to go punished with a lost ball. This is genuine card-wrecking material, and it was a conclusion to the round that overwhelmed my average game. I wonder how many great rounds the narrow 17th hole has put an end to?
If I’m honest, the gorse through this closing run is probably a little too penal, and the course would benefit if it was thinned out a little. It makes me wonder how the elite amateurs will fare when the Curtis Cup arrives in August, but in all honesty, those girls rarely seem to miss the fairway so it might not have as much of an influence on them as it does for the average club golfer.
Furthermore, unlike the never-ending drive to some of mid-Wales’ best courses like Royal St David’s and Aberdovey, Conwy is well connected to the North West of England by the A55 since it's within an hour’s drive of Chester, so it’s not difficult to bolt Conwy onto a North West links itinerary. I’d highly recommended Conwy, and whilst it might have gotten the beating of me on this first visit, I shall look forward to returning to see if I can get the better of the course on the next occasion.
Having never been to Conwy, I would take note of this review when debating whether to visit, rather than other reviews this week that claim otherwise. Other users of this site would do well to note Mr. Dean's construction of a strong evidence to justify his final argument. Carry on TP!
As someone who has been to Wales on a few occasions - Conwy gets little overall love -- especially those from the USA. The layout is very fair but it is also quite finicky about the shotmaking requirements. My review was posted earlier.
The Curtis Cup will help with exposure but the matches aren't exactly going to get that wide a visibility for the most part.
For those who do travel the northern perimeter of Wales -- a stop at Conway is well worth the time, effort and money. From the various layouts I have played in the country -- a legitimate top ten course.
Positives- course in great nick with great greens. The par 3 15th was a pretty hole with the mountainous backdrop. Decent clubhouse.
Past that, it was rather underwhelming - the holes felt very monotonous, it’s completely flat, very few vistas across the bay. The very slow nearly 5 hour round (On a Monday afternoon) didn’t help but when we called the club phone number to ask someone to come out and chivvy the groups in front along no one picked up as they had all gone home! Not one I’d rush back to unfortunately.
Conwy does have a unique location with the site being surrounded on three sides, by sea, village and the imposing mountain range to the west. Although the land is relatively flat the two nines have distinctly different characters.
The front nine travels through some low lying dunesland with the village and the sea ever present as a striking backdrop.
Favourite holes include the impressive par 3 second hole with green lying at an angle to the tee, and 5 pot bunkers at the front of the green providing protection and requiring a precise approach.
I also liked the long par 4 seventh hole with its classic links style green partially hidden behind a dune.
The back nine has a different feel altogether as we move away from the sea, into an area dominated by gorse, and mountain backdrops.
For me the two par 3's stood out.I thought the long par 3 thirteenth hole was an all world hole. It really is that good, and extremely challenging. Not only is it long, but the green has a serious swale through the centre ensuring a tee shot to the wrong level is no certainty for par.
The other par 3- the fifteenth hole is also surrounded by gorse but is a little shorter. It is protected by 5 pot bunkers on the front of the green.
Conwy is a quality links course in a lovely setting. It is also a pretty decent test of golf, and is known for the variety of it's links holes, quite a number of which are long par 4 holes running in different directions.
Perhaps the most challenging is the long par 4 seventeenth hole. Just wide enough for the golfers to walk single file between the gorse bushes framing the fairway, the hole is long and hard!
Conwy has hosted many amateur events over the years, and in 2006 hosted the Open Championship qualifying- the first Welsh club to do so. It is that good.
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.
In agreement with the previous reviews. This is an excellent golf course played out over relatively flat land and with the holes laid out in front of you.
I loved the nearest of some holes to the coastline and did not feel there were any weak holes. I appreciate that some feel a little contrived but have no issue with the number of pat 5s in quick succession - they helped my score along nicely.
It’s a step up from North Wales, which I have also played and the Curtis Cup in 2020 will bring new attention to this deserving course.
Conwy is a beautiful part of the world and no trip here should be taken without playing this golf course.
I did not really know much about Conwy prior to my singular visit but I have to say I found the course an enjoyable experience. It helps that during my visit the temps were quite nice -- mid to high 60's -- with roughly a 2-3 club wind at times.
The opening hole is merely one to get your golf muscles stretched out. The 2nd has been downplayed by some but the angle of the green and the protection provided by the bunkers makes for a thinking man's hole. The hole becomes even more challenging when playing the hole downwind and having to stop it quickly to far back right hole location.
The 3rd is a fine short par-4 -- the key coming from an elevated putting surface that requires a pinpoint approach to have an opportunity for birdie.
When you leave the 3rd you face a run of demanding par-4's -- broken up by a lone par-3 at the 6th. The par-4's are quite varied and being able to shape a quality tee shot can help immensely. The 7th is a gem of a hole. Running parallel to the coastline there's a tendency to bailout right and those doing so will face a stressful approach. The green is artfully set within a bowl-like area and those able to drive up the left side of the fairway -- no small feat mind you -- will have a direct line into any pin placement.
The long par-4 8th plays back into the prevailing wind and a pesky lone fairway bunker on the right side can prove fatal for those entering it.
The long weakness at Conwy comes with the par-5 holes. Four come in a span of six holes between the 9th and 14th holes. Frankly, none is especially compelling architecturally and it would help the layout a good bit if more thought could be added to them.
Once you get past the pedestrian par-3 15th you encounter a series of holes presenting a totally different character from the rest of the course. The par-4 16th rests completely on the tee shot. The hole is aggressively defended by gorse -- on both sides -- but especially left. If one finds the left side it's likely going to mean an unplayable situation. At the 17th you head in the reverse direction and again you face a very challenging tee shot. Unlike the 16th which is played with the prevailing wind, the 17th goes back against it and if it's humanly possible an archer-like tee shot is a must to avoid some serious scorecard pain. The longer the tee shot the more accurate one must be. Simply put. Any golfer coming down the stretch at Conwy must handle these two holes.
The concluding hole is one that left me wanting more to end the day. With the prevailing wind helping it can be nothing more than fairway metal or iron to leave a short pitch. Strong players can take driver and get either just before or even beyond the cart path that runs perpendicular to the line of play. The ending hole features a benign green protected on both sides by bunkers.
Conwy is a rollercoaster course -- clear highlights at times balanced against a few formulaic holes. Nonetheless, Conway is a layout well worth exploring. Top ten in Wales? Certainly. With a few upgrades Conwy could rise even further. The forthcoming Curtis Cup Matches in '20 will open many eyes for those competing and attending.
by M. James Ward
What a great course. A very nice classic links course. No 3 in North Wales is exactly the right position. Front 9 is slightly more open and back 9 is an exam. Highly recommended.
Bar staff could be friendlier though pro shop was great.
It mixes challenge with charm to produce an exhilarating links golfing experience. It stands head and shoulders above anything else on this stretch of coastline and it is very easy to see why it’s such a popular repeat venue for many golfers.
Easily accessible from major North-West cities such as Manchester and Liverpool I suspect many inland golf club members will head here for high quality golf 12 months of the year.
At Conwy, officially founded in 1890 but with play dating back to 1869, you can expect all the thrills and spills associated with links golf including uneven stances and unpredictable bounces but here there is an undeniable fairness to it all. Everything is laid out in front of you, nothing is hidden; you get what you deserve. And that is probably why this respected links has hosted so many notable championships for professionals and elite amateurs. The course is as honest as the day is long.
There doesn’t come anything close to a poor hole at Conwy. Sure, there are holes that are relatively weaker than the others but the real strength of the course lies in its strength in depth, its consistency. Holes such as the sixth and 17th are a couple of holes that didn’t set my personal pulse racing but they are far from inferior.
Overall Conwy is quite a flat course, there are very few major changes in elevation, but there are enough undulations on the fairways and around the greens to maintain a high level of interest and keep you on your toes. Conwy doesn’t have the quirk-factor that some links enthusiast seek rather the joy of this course is its persistent and consistent challenge.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
I am lucky enough to play Conwy quite frequently and after a "super Sunday" felt it was time to plug it to the masses !
Superb location, and a course that plays very differently when the wind shifts. Great views, very playable (apart from 16 & 17 which - unless you are dead straight - jump up to bite you especially when you are on a good card !) and enjoyable. Well worth a visit if you havent already played here. Too many good holes to pick out one and it depends on the wind direction as to which are best.
No way is this a six star course - five would be fair and my 1 handicap teenage daughter closed 3, 3, 3 over the final three holes so I'd disagree at their severity. The first and second were weak holes as was the short par 3 6th but I can see why it ranks highly in the area as a course. It's a bit cramped for space at times and when we played it in August 2017 the fairways were in poor conditioned; tined in places which I'm suspecting was due to very wet weather through the main season but as a track it comes alive after the 11th and the run for home was good, challenging and memorable. I agree with others who say the bar staff need to perk up a bit. Overall a decent track but it needs to improve the condition ahead of the Curtis Cup in 2020.
It's interesting to see the range of reviews for Conwy, most of which I think err too much in either direction. We played as a Society on a lovely sunny day and all enjoyed it, not just the links lovers. The turf was firm and free running, plenty of good holes and punitive bunkers (I had my only ever swish-swish red mist episode in one particularly well placed one - as Bernard Darwin's said of the pot bunkers at St Andrews; “just enough room for an angry man and his niblick”.) and some nice views. A friendly place to play golf, that as with much of Wales golf would be better known and more expensive elsewhere; recommended.