After being too long away, I returned to play Royal Porthcawl some eight years after my last visit. The reason for the relatively short trip from my home in Devon was to meet up with Fergal, our US Consultant, who is significantly more than mid-way through an epic journey, whereby he’s aiming to become the youngest person to play the World Top 100. The recent inclusion of Royal Porthcawl in a notable American magazine’s World Top 100 rankings made me smile, as we were the first publication to rank Porthcawl in our World 100 back in 2006.
Playing golf with Fergal is firstly a pleasure; secondly it’s a rather daunting experience for the average golfer (of which I fall squarely into that category). My rather paltry 10 handicap is no match for a +1 golfer who wants to see every course from the back tees. Under normal circumstances, I play off the regular mens tees or perhaps, if I am feeling lucky, off the mens competition tees. Fergal naturally wanted to experience the Walker Cup course, so off we went on the first, all the way back along the side of the pro shop to the tips where only fools and scratch golfers care to tread.
Since I last played Porthcawl, David Williams extended the course and, more recently, Mackenzie and Ebert have been advising the club on various aspects including bunker changes and greens modifications. Indeed, both the 5th and 9th greens were out of play in March 2012 as they have been reshaped and re-laid over last winter. These latest changes are sure to make Porthcawl a wonderful test and will stretch the field when the Senior Open Championship comes here in 2014.
There are so many things I love about Porthcawl… the uninterrupted sea views, the revetted bunkering, the topography (which is an easy walk but could never be described as flat), the magnificent greensites, the one-shot holes, the brutal closing stretch and, last but not least, the conviviality of the wonderful club itself. If I lived within a 30-mile drive of Porthcawl, I’d join. It’s the best course in Wales by a comfortable margin and it’s perhaps the best Welsh golf club too. A worthy World Top 100 course and, in my book, it’s outstanding. 9/10. Keith Baxter, Editor-in-Chief
Date: March 25, 2012