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 on the 11th March 2005 - Bob Hardy's original comments 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.
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