Gareth, Ian and David all nominated the Rolls of Monmouth Golf Club as a gem and we added the course to the site in October 2006. Since then “Rolls” became a ranked Welsh course after we published the first Top 20 for Wales back in 2008. We didn’t feel the need to write an article on the Rolls of Monmouth because the nominees say it all.
Gareth writes: “Rolls of Monmouth is a strange place in that when you first visit you wonder why on earth nobody told you about it before. The reality is that it’s so well hidden and they’re so low-key in their marketing that you have to make the effort to find it, but when you do what a treat you are in for.
The views of the magnificent building, part of which forms the clubhouse, are just stunning from the elevated parts of the course and everything to do with The Rolls oozes class. The starting holes are long sweeping par fours through mature avenues of trees. Come the 7th and you are faced with the most spectacular rollercoaster par five which sweeps downhill and doglegs to a green protected by water. It really is just stunning and you’d play the hole over and over if you didn’t have to walk back up the hill.
The back nine starts with a tough uphill dog-leg then tempts you with a driveable par four through a tight avenue of trees to a green set in a natural bowl. Another great par three from an elevated tee to a green protected by water and trees is followed by a nice mix of holes before a great finishing par three over a stream in front of the great clubhouse which was once the home of Mr Rolls of Rolls-Royce fame. The greens are generally superb and with the big undulations can be a real test of your short stick.
All in all it’s one of those places that reminds us all why we play golf - just stunning and so affordable too.” David writes: “Beautiful parkland course, superbly manicured with water, huge oak trees and undulating greens to contend with. The old mansion of the Rolls Royce family provides a stunning backdrop to a number of holes including the 9th & 18th.” Ian writes: “The Rolls of Monmouth is in every sense a hidden gem given that perhaps it is not that accessible to the golfing masses. It is however a golfing gem for all the right reasons – firstly the setting is within Mr Rolls (of Rolls Royce fame) former country estate and the course meanders around glorious mature woodland with the back drop of the Black Mountains.
At 6,700 yards from the back tees it is challenging and snakes through this woodland and around various lakes that come in to play on the flatter area of the course close to the old stately home (which is now the clubhouse). There are so many good holes on the course all with individual characteristics and great opportunities for risk and reward golf. For example the par five 7th, where a good drive to the ridge of the hill gives you sight of the pin and the opportunity to go for the green in two but it needs an extremely accurate shot to a narrow entrance with water front and left.
There are some great two shot par fours that require a focused drive and the right club in to tricky greens (6th SI1, 10th, 14th and 15th are all lovely holes). The 17th and 18th offer a great finish – the 17th a par five of over 550 yards with an approach to a narrow well guarded green and the 18th a great par three requiring a 200-yard carry across a lake in front of the spectacular listed mansion. The other par three that has real wow factor is the 12th – fairly short down hill to a small green with water front and to the side and a pine forest to the left – well guarded it is and very satisfying to hit close.
When I played (start of October) the course was not at all busy and we were able to play all day for £40. The course had taken some rain but was in fairly good condition given the time of the year. I will be playing this course again soon and would recommend it to anyone – just for the setting and sheer tranquillity of getting away from it all.”
Let’s start with the rankings - the course is ranked about right, I would put it ahead of most parklands in South Wales, on a par with Newport and ahead of both the Montgomerie and Roman Road at Celtic Manor. 4 = good course to seek out, 4.5 =one of the best, worth an overnight stop – so I am between the 2 as I did travel 1hr and a half to stay overnight and play twice. On balance a 4 is right, and I would recommend for the experience…
In response to previous comments, I don’t find the hills here an issue, not like on other courses, like Celtic Manor or Castle Combe for instance. They are never so severe as to spoil a hole, the contours add to the challenge without being excessive.
There are no recent reviews, so it’s good to report that the conditioning was excellent throughout, with the possible exception of the consistency of the bunker sand being a bit variable, but that’s a small gripe.
I am a 7 handicap and found the course to be stimulating and challenging – most of the holes have a puzzle to solve, be it position off the tee or a good green complex, so I would not be as harsh as some of the others about ‘average’ holes – the round flows well and each hole is different. Not every course needs to be (nor can be) a world beater and throw 18 world class holes in. I would argue there is shot making required – not every tee is a driver, not every 2nd shot to a par 5 is a wood – you have to plot your way round – which is refreshing.
Golf, for me, should be, first and foremost, fun and played in beautiful surrounding and this course ticks those boxes… I love the peace and the tranquillity and the views – so much so I forgot about Covid and Brexit for 2 days!
I should also say that its excellent value for money – at £40 the green fee is remarkable value for a good course, so they are not pitching themselves to be something they are not and full credit to them.
The greens are the main defence, challenging due to slopes and contours and add massively to the fun and challenge - there are no easy putts and you need to miss in the right places and they were certainly running fast.
A few issues I would raise regarding the layout - the tree on the corner of the 12th is too big, the yellow tees on 3, combined with the dogleg made the drive too short to be meaningful (just put them back on the white box, sorted), and 11 is a driveable length par 4 but there is too much risk and not enough reward in going for it, but I am picking.
Other complaints about the 7th for instance I don’t necessarily agree with – it’s a par 5 that you have to plot your way down; a really good drive can get on in 2 but if not then you need to think carefully about your shots – variety is the spice of life and there are other par 5s where you can go for it in 2 and there are genuine 3 shotters… so it works well for me. The view off the tee is sensational anyway!
Yes, there are a number of blind shots, but again not so much as to impact the fun or challenge. There are a number of drives over the brows of slopes, but there are no blind shots into greens if you have got your drive away. More marker posts could help those that haven’t played the course before.
I should add that here is excellent on course accommodation – there 3 self-catering lodges, well-appointed and fully equipped. Rolls is therefore a special place to stay – to open your bedroom curtains and see deer outside your window is a great start to your day!
The place also has excellent, helpful staff who helped make our stay very welcoming.
So all in all, a really good course in a magnificent setting – what’s not to like?
Came here with my Dad as part of a weekend rugby trip and I must say, having read some glowing reviews beforehand, that we both left pretty disappointed.
The house is of course magnificent and the grounds as picturesque as you would expect in this part of the UK. The long, atmospheric driveway past the 1st and 2nd into the car park and signing in to a welcoming and helpful pro shop taking up a wing of the awesome house gets it off to a good start, but from the portacabin like clubhouse onwards things were less inspiring.
The first and second are straightforward and solid enough opening holes, with blind tee shots down and then up a hill with short iron approaches though the handsome grounds, but from then onwards the plot of land didn’t really seem to fit a golf course, with an unconvincing layout and a few too many so so holes. The 3rd saw my dad and myself both lose what we thought were decent drives, running out of fairway on what turned out to be a near 90-degree dogleg left up one of many slopes, setting the tone for what was to be a frustrating round. While it seems a stupid criticism, the frequency and severity of the hills does get boring – the fairways slope down, up, left and right, with trouble in often unfairly penal places and a ridiculous lack of marker posts, making for some weird holes, a lot of blind shots (including to greens) and in our case a handful of lost balls. However, the lowlight of the day came after the 18th, with some of the worst food I can remember eating since my school canteen in a monstrosity of a building that would be better described as a plastic and concrete tumour on the main house than a clubhouse.
The courses main defence are its greens, which were consistently good throughout the round, and a strong collection of par 3’s, along with the phenomenal manor house. All in all, it’s worth playing if you are up in the area and after a round, just remember your packed lunch.
Not sure if you was at the rolls of monmouth it is probably one of the best courses I have ever played and I've played a few
Ian, I assume you haven’t played many of the top courses.
I enjoyed Rolls but it’s hardly a great course. Lots of very average holes.
Could everyone stop raving about this course please?I have been making an annual pilgrimage to this "best kept secret in golf" for years - but the secret will be out if everyone keeps going on about how wonderful it is.Truth is, its magnificent - holes 14 to 16 perhaps a little weak (by comparison) but the rest is as good as any I have played anywhere in the world. 5, 6 and seven among the toughest stretches you'll ever find, and everywhere those breathtaking views!It's usually pretty quiet as well, so please, if you do play it, don't tell anyone else!!!!
This is without doubt the best golf course i have ever played.I live near Heathrow and there are a few of us now that travel every year to play this course for 3 days ( 36 holes a day ).We have just come back from there and it was yet again superb!.The course is a fair test of golf, with some excellent views of the welsh coutryside.The holes that will impress you are.....well all of them, 1 thru 18The par 3's are second to none, the best by far being the 13th, but only just from the stunning 18th.This course truly is a must and at such good prices you cant go wrong.