Llanymynech Golf Club has a very Welsh name (meaning “Church of the Monks”), its club emblem contains a daffodil and dragon (along with a rose and a lion) and fifteen holes on the course lie within Wales, but Llanymynech is an English golf club, registered with the English Golf Union.
The connection with Wales doesn’t end there either, as the club is very proud to have it known that Ian Woosnam and his parents have been associated with Llanymynech for many years.
Offa’s Dyke, which runs through the course - and cuts off the Shropshire holes at 4, 5 and 6 – may have been built to keep people from the Kingdom of Powys in Wales out of the Anglian Kingdom of Mercia in the 8th century, but these days, Welsh golfers are more than welcome to sample the delights of the Llanymynech course.
Formed in 1933, the club has expanded the course over time from an original 9-hole layout to its present 18-hole configuration. Measuring just over 6,000 yards with a par of 70, Llanymynech is laid out on hilly terrain half an hour’s drive west of Shrewsbury and its location affords fantastic views of the surrounding countryside.
Fairways are tight in many places (framed by thorn, ash, birch and oak trees) so even though elevated tee positions invite a full-blooded shot, you are advised to keep the driver in the bag and aim to keep the ball in play – accuracy, not power, is what it takes to score well at Llanymynech.
Llanymynech Golf Club was originally nominated as a Gem by Bob Hardy and was added to the Top 100 website in 2005. Since then we've introduced Best In County rankings and Llanymynech has found its level in the Shropshire county table. Bob Hardy's original comments are as follow:
As you approach Llanymynech Golf Club you enter another world and your breath is invariably taken away by the panorama laid out in front of you. From this hilltop position you can see the Shropshire Plain with its quilted patchwork of fields and trees stretching out for over 40 miles from beneath your feet. Slightly to the right is Breidden Hill with Rodneys Pillar perched on the top keeping a watchful eye on the Severn at it rolls by below. This was so obviously a wonderful defensive position for Caradoc, the Welsh warrior, as he fought against the advancing Roman army. Almost like Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Lost World”, this prehistoric limestone plateau sits above the now fertile arable lands where once sat a glacial lake.
Llanymynech is unique amongst golf clubs for so many reasons – not just its location straddling the border between England and Wales, its beauty and its historical significance but also its connections with Ian Woosnam who learnt his golf here and was featured so prominently in his biography. Golf has been played on the hill for 100 years and the members are very proud of it. They have toiled for generations to make it into the top club in the locality with continual improvements to the course and clubhouse. They share this place with nature and have ensured it remains a haven for wild birds and animals and when you see the rare cowslips and orchids in spring you can understand why it is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
As you go around the course you will notice the diversity of the layout with the first hole going out to the very edge of the precipice and then coming back through the tree-lined parkland style section as it enters England for three holes. It is hard to imagine a calmer or more peaceful spot than down on the 4th fairway, only interrupted by a circling Buzzard or a diving Peregrine. However, soon you come out of the park and back into Wales on the 7th tee, where a massive natural amphitheatre welcomes you to fire your ball down to the fairway below. As it continues, it just keeps getting better.
To play only the first nine holes would be to miss what makes Llanymynech so special. You will start to appreciate this when you fire over the hill on the 11th. To your left is a spectacular elevated view up the Severn Valley towards Welshpool. Sometimes you can actually see aeroplanes flying beneath you at this point! Then the 12th – so much has been said about this place and one can only think you are as near to heaven, as is possible, when you survey the vista in every direction. Here you can see the snow capped Berwyns and look up the Tanat valley over Llanyblodwel church spire and watch the cows grazing in the fields below. Then the 13th with its view up the Vyrnwy valley towards Meifod! It is just sensational. A lower terrace accommodates the 14th and 15th holes before you climb back into the spectacular finishing three holes.
Last week I made the trek from Sheffield to LLanymynech and onwards to Kington for what turned out to be a wonderful days golfing over 2 special courses, both with interesting quirks.
But 1st to Llanymynech - this course has lots of interesting facts - it's the only course to straddle Wales and England; it has the famous Offas Dyke running through it and the views off the 12th tee across Wales to Caer Caradoc and Snowden are to die for. More of that later. And of course Ian Woosnam who crafted his game here.
The course is fascinating throughout, holding your attention from the very 1st tee shot (a par 3 stretching 162 yards off the back tees) to the last (a par 4 that plays down onto and across the practice ground, where to big a drive slightly out to the left could find the car park!).
It has some busy cross over areas, which some may find either confusing or irritating - in my case both, but the over riding impression of the course was that this is an excellent design, unique in nature, maintained to high standards and offering the golfer both a challenge yet also times to relax and also at times, surprises.
And all for £18 on a County Card. Bargain!
The 1st as mentioned above is a par 3, immediately outside the clubhouse and played across a valley to a plateau green. You could be forgiven for thinking the green was the one almost adjacent to the right of it, and if I hadn't checked my yardages I may have just done that - that green to the right is the 18th!
The course then plays into more parkland style, with a sweeping dog leg right, across the single lane entrance road, trees providing the defining feature of the hole, a par 5 played to a raised green. Another short par 3 follows, played again across a valley, before you reach the sign which is adjacent to the 4th, a par 4, where you tee off in Wales and putt out in England. The hole itself whilst short at 340 yards, offers risk v reward. A large drive, Tiger like, over the woodland encroaching in from the left could result in a very short chip onto the green, or you could left ruing the mistake; the safe play is to play down to the corner which is visible off the tee and then a wedge into the green.
A wander up the hillside and another, short par 4, dog legging to the left in similar fashion to the 4th, but the trees are drivable over. This leaves an uphill shot to a green high above you. And then the final hole you play in England is a long par 3, shortened by the fact it's downhill, but at 189 yards, played from a tee above the 5th green.
You then leave England, and it is after this that the course really steps up. Parkland is left behind and the 7th is a 415 yard par 4, played from a high tee but down into an Amphitheatre - I'm not sure whether it is natural or as a result of quarrying, but the 7th and 8th, which plays back the other way are fine holes.
The front 9 finishes off with a strong par 5, 548 yards in length and takes you back towards the clubhouse.
I understand that the 2nd 9 holes were added later and this may account for some of the 'forced' holes and cross overs as the designers planned a route that would end up back to the clubhouse.
After wandering further up the hillside to the 10th tee, a par 3 played uphill and across a ravine, to a green protected at the front by grass mounds, at 177 into a stiff breeze, this was a tough hole. The 18th tee box then criss crosses your way upto the green, so make sure you check before starting your ascent.
After this you play the 1st of a couple of blind tee shots - trust the market post and this short par 4, 255 yard hole is drivable. The hole actually drops down to a green in a dell, once your shot has disappeared from view!
The 12th tee is time to stop and marvel at the wondrous scenery which surrounds you. There is a dial on the 12th tee which points out all the Welsh and English countryside, as well as the direction to Augusta. Nice touch.
12th is a great driving hole as you play along the top of the hillside, before you drop down the other side to play the next 3 holes.
The 15th is one of two holes that feel 'forced' into the landscape. A short par 4 at 315 yards, the tee box is situated parallel to the 14th fairway 100 yards short of the 14th green. Sandwiched between trees which separate you from the 14th and banking on the right, it provides a tight blind drive, with no idea of what awaits you. The Red tees situated on the hillside make it a 149 yard downhill par 3, and I personally like this better, because the green complex is the best on the course, protected by a large pot bunker at the front, a long and narrow green and banking falling away to the right. Incidentally whilst I thought the par 3 may have been here 1st and then the par 4 added, it is infact the other way around, mainly because the next hole is an uphill par 3 back onto the top of the hill, and the club did not want back to back par 3's. The members we spoke to always played it as a par 3 however.
The 17th along the top of the hill is another strong hole, 392 yards, playing gently uphill to a raised green.
And the 18th - I must be honest, teeing off over the 10th, down onto the practice area (which forms part of the fairway) and then uphill to the green, tight to the 1st and certainly where errant strikes can land in the car park or the 1st tee, this hole I didn't like from a design point of view. The green, perched on top of the hill looked like an infinity green from the fairway, so that last iron shot in was good.
Add to the above a friendly (and cheap) welcome, the morning here at Llanymynech was a delight and I am so glad I was on the road at 5am to make the journey down there.
Highly recommend as a planned trip - you won't be disappointed
Bit of a treck to Llanymynech but it was worth it, providing golf in England and Wales, high up in the hills with a number of interesting and quirky holes. Similar in some respects to Kington and Church Stretton, except with many more trees lining some of the fairways. The front nine seemed slightly tighter with a couple of good par 5's, the dog-leg 2nd and uphill 9th. The 4th hole was a very odd short downhill dog-leg par 4 requiring only an iron off the tee, but the par 4's at 5, 7 and 8 were really good and interesting holes. The back nine seemed more open on top of the hills with more views and more susceptible to the wind, with holes 12, 13 and 18 the pick of the holes. On the day there were six par 3's (the 15th seems to alternate between a par and par 4) and in my opinion these were the least inspiring aspect of the course, too many being uphill to blind pins. The real star of the show was the greens; slick and of even pace they were the best I have played on for a while
Without doubt one of the finest courses I have ever played. If you like fairly flat, pretty, manicured courses then this one isn't for you. This course is a real test of golf from start to finish and is probably one of the most punishing courses you will ever play. Local knowledge does play a massive part in scoring well on this course and I can see why alot of golfers could get frustrated there. Due to the undulations on the course even what you think should be good shots can suddenly be punished. The winds can be incredibly strong which only adds to the challenge of the course. If you score well you will not find a more satisfying course to play. If you don't score well it is easy to blame the course. As said before the views from the course are exceptional and only add to the special feeling that the course offers. I would highly recommend this course.