Pennard Golf Club is also referred to as ‘The Links In the Sky’ and with good reason given its lofty location 200 feet above sea level on the rugged and picturesque Gower Peninsula. We teed off on a sunny afternoon just after 2pm in mid May with the cows looking on intently to our blind approach to the 1st green. A strong opening hole off our chosen (white) tees of the day was followed by a gentle par 3 before the real test began. SI 3 third hole was a dog leg left that had two sucker bunkers on the tiger line, one of which I found and it was a typical penal Braid bunker. The par 3 fifth hole really needs an accurate tee shot to secure a par, my ball started left with a hook and sadly might well have ended up on the beach. ‘Castle’ 7th hole has an inviting tee shot but I ended up behind the old church wall pulling off a Seve esk approach only to three putt but fear not the breath taking view from this green towards the majestic Castle ruins perched on the hill more than made up for it. The approach to the ninth was typical Braid in that he offers you different ways to play the shot, knock down or fly it, I got caught somewhere in the middle and paid the price with another bogey.
The tee shot at the par 5 tenth hole must be thought out given there is a bottleneck of a landing area before the hole turns left and the start of a thee club hill to the green. Not my favourite hole on the course but then again if its good enough for Tom Doak, (who is a big fan of the course), then who am I to argue. As much as the 10th hole divided opinion we were equally in agreement that the par 3 eleventh is a classic. Braid typically desired that holes should be laid out as suggested by the land, well this green fitted perfectly into the Gower sandhills. Tough green to hit given it is only 13yards wide and has a massive false front to-boot. Although we played it on a calm day I would image having the prevailing SW wind on the tail to be helpful when it does blow up from the Bristol Channel. The next stretch of holes offered up a good mix of short and long par
3 and 4’s before the breath-taking par 5 sixteenth. Generous fairway, (I still missed it) and lay-up to wedge distance that again offers multiple ways to play the shot. Seventeen is a double dog-leg that rewards you hitting the fairway by allowing you to go for the green, miss the fairway and it is a three shot par 5.
Eighteen is a difficult fairway to hit but if you do, yes I managed to find one, it will offer up a short iron approach that with the pin up front it was best to fly it on the day before bringing the house down with a birdie for the returning herd of cows from the 1st.
It’s an old school course with rolling fairways and has its little quirks with wired fencing protecting the greens from those cows but it truly is a gem of a course. The par threes are strong with the standout hole being the 11th and still thinking hard to determine if I have every had a friendly welcome to any golf club either side of the Irish sea. Finally a word of advise for anyone with a Garmin Approach S2 in that you best update the latest mapping as I could not get a look in. That said the course planner is value at £5 with tips each hole from the Sean Pearson the resident pro since 2015 and only the fourth pro since the club was founded in 1896.
Like I said a total gem of a course and one I would highly recommend to go play.
M. J. Smyth
Date: May 29, 2018