The course at Porthmadog Golf Club has a split personality. The front nine is really parkland (and this is where a score can be made) but it’s the back nine that makes you want to re-visit as it has some super links holes.
As you tee off the 2nd, the large hills beyond will stay with you whilst you go ‘out-and-back’ on the flat parkland side. Make your score on the three par fives, as the testing 4th hole is a tough par four. The 9th is a lovely par three down the hill with the clubhouse acting as a backdrop.
Now cross the road to start the back nine and you’ll soon appreciate why we all visit Porthmadog. It really is a case of ‘where are we going’ when you stand on the 10th tee, but yes, do aim for the marker posts as they really are there to be followed. The trip around Samson’s Bay is lovely as you will puzzle over how to play the par four 12th. But after the climb up to the 13th tee take in the views across to the castles of Harlech and Criccieth, but also focus on the dunes, as shortly you will be facing the ‘Himalayas’… two huge mounds that you must drive between on the par four 14th stroke index 1 – a super golf hole.
As you close your round look into the gardens behind the 16th green as the old clubhouse still stands to the right of the modern house and please be aware of the tiny hidden brook that ‘zigzags’ across the front of the green on the par five 17th as it could spoil your card if you’re attempting reach the green in two.
We always enjoy our winter trip to Porthmadog and it is nice to see the course being updated year after year (humps added to the 3rd to create a better featured hole as well as the water on the 5th being dug out more into the fairway to create a bit more thought for the tee shot). The clubhouse is spacious and relaxed and also note there is a snooker room.
Please give Porthmadog Golf Club a go because the back nine is worth the trip alone, especially for those lovers of links golf. Enjoy!
The above article was written by Alex and was added to the website in December 2006.
I have read the mixed reviews on Porthmadog and was hugely surprised by the quality on offer. Most writers are critical of the parkland- style front nine, and sure enough there are some bland holes, but the three par 3s, and an excellent par 5 at 8, raise the bar. And interestingly there were clear signs that the Club are spending money on strengthening the weaker holes.
But the course really comes to light from holes 10 to 16, a stellar stretch of links golf at its finest. This stretch, including three par 3s and four par4s, is played over classic links land with rumpled fairways, blind tee shots, lots of sand dunes, elevation changes and fast-running greens. The view from the temporary 12th tee, which adjoins the huge beach at Porthmadog, takes the breath away, it is one of the most spectacular I have ever witnessed on a golf course. The golfing challenges are fair but demanding, we were lucky to play on a clear wind-free October day and I was hitting the ball straight, so decent scoring is possible! And just when it can’t get better, it doesn’t, 17 and 18 marked a return to somewhat tame parkland golf, and a mundane finish.
The golf course is busy, and money is being spent wisely to improve the facility. I can see this place, with its enthusiastic mainly local membership, continuing to thrive and prosper. And if the current investment continues, I can see Porthmadog starting to move smartly up the ratings. Already it offers a hugely enjoyable and varied challenge on some beautiful natural terrain.
I played for the first time in early August and was disappointed. The course condition was poor – scruffy tees, often bare and ill-defined fairways and slow greens. Additionally, the standout 12th hole hugging the bay was closed (no advance warning from the pro and woeful communication on the course). That being said the links holes (10 to 17) that I got to play were fun and I liked 11, 14 and 17. I would give the course 3.5 balls but am deducting 0.5 for conditioning and 0.5 for closure of the 12th with no prior warning. Would I go back again? Maybe, but I would wait quite a few years in the hope conditioning improves.
I loved Porthmadog. We played a mini Ryder Cup here which added to the sense of occasion. As previous reviewers have commented it's a mixture of parkland and then links golf (think North Shore at Skegness, Abersoch). The course starts with a tee shot across the drive way close to the clubhouse, with oob down the right. Not the most spectacular start, Followed by a hole crossing the green inland. You then cross the road for holes 3 -9 which are pleasant parkland. But the real treat at this course are holes 10-17, especially 14th with the huge Himalayas sand hills.
I love these part parkland, park links courses and porthmadog is an excellent example of one. Combine with a trip down to St Davids and for similar fun try Abersoch just along the Lleyn Peninsula.
The drive into Porthmadog from the North, down the A487 from Caernarfon, is an amazing and beautiful journey. As you descend down to the harbour town, situated on the Glaslyn Estuary, you get a distant glimpse of the course located close to a sandy beach with rugged duneland. The pulse quickens with anticipation of what lies in store.
As it transpires you have to wait a little while longer than you might think for the best of what Porthmadog has to offer. The two nines can best be described as ‘chalk and cheese’; the difference between both halves is remarkable. Eight of the holes are played over fascinating linksland that created some wonderful golf holes. The other ten holes are flatter in nature and more of the parkland variety, albeit fast-running…
I enjoyed my round at Porthmadog and holes 10 to 17 alone make the green-fee worth every penny.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
The front nine is unremarkable - nothing wrong with it but nothing to rave about either - other than it gets you to the 10th tee, where the whole feel and landscape changes into 9 holes of stunning links golf. Such a pity the Club cannot get the land between the sea and the back nine ( back from the cow farmer) and make another six or so holes in the wild dunes - the money for land for housing on part of the front nine would easily pay for the work but no doubt there is an sssi or something in place to stop such ideas ?!?! It could be a truly wonderful links track