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4 miles SE of Llanelli
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Jack Nicklaus, Gary Nicklaus
It is easy to understand why Machynys Peninsula was seen by many as the best new course built in Britain in 2005. With a hefty total of ₤3.5 million shelled out for the layout and an even greater sum of money spent on the clubhouse, Machynys enjoyed the sort of budget that should deliver one of the very best modern golf designs.
Money alone can never ensure success with a new golfing project as location has a large part to play in determining whether a new course will attract rave reviews but the stunning site that Machynys (Monk's Island) is built on – situated beside the Wild Fowl and Wetlands Trust at Penclacwydd and the Millenium Coastal Park – as good as guarantees its position as a “must play” venue in Wales.
The course is routed in two distinct loops with a parkland front nine and an inward half that has more of a links feel beside the sea. Gary Nicklaus acted as chief designer on behalf of his famous father and his favorite hole is the 451-yard 16th which, as he says, “is played across the lake from right behind the clubhouse [and] is probably one of the most beautiful holes on the course. The view from the green of the whole bay is spectacular, whether the tide is in or out”.
The standard scratch score here from the tournament tees is three over par, letting you know Machynys Peninsula can be set up for some serious competitive golf, and indeed, it has hosted the Wales Ladies Championship of Europe every year since it opened for play.
The opening of Machynys Peninsula to a blaze of publicity in 2005 hasn’t quite changed the golfing landscape in South Wales but it has certainly provided something different to the Establishment.
This Nicklaus designed 7,121-yard layout has already hosted eight championships, including a couple of R&A events and four Ryder Cup Wales LET Championships of Europe. My visit here was for the Welsh Mid-Amateur Strokeplay Championship and it was a fitting choice of venue.
There’s a lot of good things going on here and overall I came away impressed with the course and any negatives were certainly outweighed by the many positives. At just over a decade old the imitation-links is settling down well and will only continue to improve as it reaches its teenage years.
This modern design has the de rigeur par 72 with four shorties and a quartet of par fives. It loops back to the clubhouse after nine-holes, has multiple teeing grounds and a few long walks from green-to-tee. It doesn’t have a soul but it asks enough good questions of the golfer to at least have a personality.
Water comes into play on at least a dozen holes, maybe more if you’re having a bad day, but you are never once asked to carry it heroically; bite of as much as you dare. And I think this is a real shame. There is just the excellent short 11th where you may need to decide how much of the water you carry and that’s only if the pin is located on the left of the green. Many of the water hazards run down the side of the holes, so straight driving is a necessity, and add to this some brutal rough – at times waist-high - that flanks a number of the fairways and there really are some no-go areas. Maybe it isn’t a surprise that the SSS is 76 (four over par) from the back tees.
But don’t let the semi-penal nature of the course put you off because there are some wonderful holes and Machynys provides an excellent, varied and enjoyable test of golf.
The entire set-up with its modern clubhouse, bar, brasserie, spa and excellent practice facilities make it a superb venue for a multi-day tournament but at the same time if one is spending any length of time on the south coast of Wales, perhaps playing some of the more notorious links, I would certainly suggest building in a round at Machynys.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
Very well designed and maintained new course.
Clever bunkering which - to the first timer as we were - provides several optical illusions.... one where we all thought we had carried it and yet were 150 yards short and a few where they look as if they are at the front edge of the green so you stress about carrying them and have acres of space to land the ball.
Good use of water and great variety of holes.
Well worth a visit
Sept 2016 and my first visit to Machynys. Unrelated to the course review but undoubtedly affecting it, we arrived for the mixed betterball open only to find it had been changed to foursomes without letting us know (not great after a two hour drive). Breakfast not good either but in fairness they did give us our money back. The course itself was in excellent condition, no doubt helped that they were setting up for a Seniors home international event. Greens were big and very good, fringes and semi-rough nicely graded and all other areas well prepared. There were a lot of drainage gullies on the fairways. Huge run-off areas around the greens were quite a feature. A very modern style links course with generous fairways and numerous water hazards, which did sometimes appear to be for show; some of the holes reminded me a bit of Bowood (Wilts) with bunkers right in front of the greens, and some of the holes did seem to have the modern style of blandness (oh for some fairway pot bunkers !). There were however some very good holes including 2nr par 3's over water. I particularly liked the par 4 (stroke index 1?) 4th and the shorter par 4 5th which was a nice dogleg with a ditch guarding the front of the green. Hole 8 also worthy of mention and holes 14 and 17 by the estuary provided excellent views across to Gower. Not a great course like Royal Porthcawl, not with the views of somewhere like Cardigan, not with the variety of holes of somewhere like Pennard and perhaps lacking the soul of a traditional links course, but none the less a good course