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.
Date: July 21, 2021