Royal Porthcawl - South Wales - Wales

Royal Porthcawl Golf Club,
Rest Bay,
Porthcawl,
Mid Glamorgan,
CF36 3VW,
Wales


  • +44 (0) 1656 782251

  • Golf Club Website

  • M4 J37, 3 miles to Porthcawl

  • Contact in advance – weekdays only


Royal Porthcawl Golf Club is located off the beaten track, east of Swansea and west of Cardiff. Despite being the highest ranked course in Wales, it remains relatively unknown.

The club was founded in 1891 and Charles Gibson, Royal North Devon’s professional, laid out a 9-hole course on Lock’s Common. In 1895, an adjacent piece of land became available and Ramsey Hunter created an 18-hole layout. Porthcawl was granted its royal title in 1909 by King Edward VII. Over the years, the layout has been extensively modified, primarily in 1913 by Harry Colt, F.G Hawtree and J.H. Taylor in 1925 (when the duo added for new holes) and by Tom Simpson in 1933.

The first four holes and the last six holes represent classic links golf, but the holes in the middle rise up onto higher ground, offering fantastic views across the Bristol Channel. This middle section of the course, with plenty of gorse, has distinct heathland characteristics. Darwin completely disagrees with our sentiments. He wrote about “the very excellent links of Porthcawl. Links they may worthily be called, for the golf at Porthcawl is the genuine thing – the sea in sight all the time, and the most noble bunkers.”

Royal Porthcawl measures 7,065 yards from the back markers, but position from the tee is just as important as distance. Gary Wolstenholme will vouch for this. Wolstenholme played Tiger Woods in the 1995 Walker Cup here at Porthcawl and despite being constantly out-driven by Woods, Wolstenholme controlled and positioned the ball better and secured a famous victory at the last hole.

The Bristol Channel acts as a funnel for Atlantic gales and the course is fully exposed to the wind. It’s not a traditional out and back layout – the holes loop back on one another, playing in various directions. With an absence of trees and dunes, the wind plays a powerful role.

In 2014, the Senior Open Championship was hosted at Royal Porthcawl. This was the first time a Major Championship had been staged in Wales. The event turned out to be a one man show when Bernhard Langer cruised to a 13-stroke victory over nearest rival Colin Montgomerie and, in doing so, the German broke the tour record for the largest winning margin in a 72-hole event.

Three years later, the event returned to Royal Porthcawl and once again the evergreen Bernhard Langer emerged victorious, claiming his third Senior Open title with a four under par aggregate score of 280, three strokes better than that of runner-up Cory Pavin from the United States of America.

Architect Martin Ebert sent us this exclusive quote in August 2020 regarding work his firm had undertaken at Royal Porthcawl:

“The recent project at Royal Porthcawl has followed on from Course Manager Ian Kinley's resurrection of a wonderful old rough edged bunker to the right of the 5th fairway. This is something Mackenzie & Ebert had proposed as part of an overall masterplan some years ago. With the bunkering, old aerial images showed them as being much larger and rough edged hazards. Many of them had been lost over the years as well. The information was supplemented by the wonderful plan which the great Tom Simpson had drawn up which hangs in the men's changing room. This depicted some tremendous rough edged bunkers sketched out in his talented drawing style.

Some highlights of the project have been the full restoration of the carry bunkers at the par three 4th hole and the huge cross bunkers at the 16th. Some new bunkers have also been added to ensure that the course poses the right questions for the modern day elite players. They can be found at the 2nd (down the left and right), the 5th (two to the left), the 13th (down the right), the 15th (to the left) and at the 18th (to the left).

In addition, the flatness to the left of the 6th hole has been completely transformed with the construction of a range of dunes into which a bunker has been set. Some ecologically valuable sand areas have also been created where it was necessary to win material for the construction works.”

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Reviews for Royal Porthcawl

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Description: Royal Porthcawl Golf Club is located off the beaten track, east of Swansea and west of Cardiff. Despite being the highest ranked course in Wales, it remains relatively unknown. Rating: 9.1 out of 10 Reviews: 64
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Doug Roberts
Royal Porthcawl is presented as the best of Wales….and it is. Our groups only miss was not realizing the attraction to Porthcawl as a place to stay as well. RP delivers everything you expect. Great conditioning in all aspects of turf/greens/bunkers. Quite challenging bunkers with fairly deep faces at both fairway and greenside. A few bunkers which are at the sides of crowned greens could use a tad more depth to the sand. The one par 5 up the hill is a miss. But it seems it is being replaced. With the prevailng wind the clubhouse is in play on 18 as much as any I have ever played. Our one mate put a dent in the roof…Ha. In many respects this is an underrated course. It seems the membership is motivated to bring some changes and it will be interesting to see them take place. As Wales goes this is an expensive round…As world ranked great links courses goes…It’s a bargain. Why haven’t you played here yet..? Getyourbutttherenow. Ha
October 09, 2015
10 / 10
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6 people found this review helpful

David Baxter
Please to report that after an annual visit RP is still a fantastic course, infact it just becomes better and better with more subtleties the more you play it. The first hole is just one of the best, picture postcard with the sea to the left, pot bunkers to catch the drive and a devilish green, and a hole that into the wind plays longer than the yardage. Holes two and three are tough par 4's into the prevailing wind alongside the out of bounds sea path. Thereafter the course moves inland with a variety of holes with a surprising change of elevation; great bunkering with concealed run-off's add to the difficulty. Conditioning always good, great practice facilities. Very worthy of it's high ranking
September 07, 2015
10 / 10
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4 people found this review helpful

Richard
There’s a unique feeling on arriving at Royal Porthcawl which is unlike any other ‘championship’ course I’ve played. It’s probably something to do with the unimposing (from the outside at least) clubhouse, or the fact that its views focus on the beach rather than the course. Whilst enjoying a drink before playing you look out at windsurfers and beachcombers rather than golfers. I should also mention the friendly welcome from the members and good food for the lunch that’s included in the £125 green fee.But it’s the course that really counts, and it starts with a cracking first 3 holes with a small stick fence on the left to separate the course from the beach. All the best links courses seem to use the same spindly ramshackle fences (e.g. Lancashire, Scotland) which to me add to the whole charm of a top links course. They can’t cost much and clearly aren’t much use in stopping the wind or preventing a ball heading out of bounds!In this opening stretch the 2nd hole in particular has a fantastic green set close to the fence with trouble all around giving the player a nerve-wracking 2nd shot, especially when the wind is up. From the 4th onwards the course winds inland towards the charming 7th, a very short par 3 (110 yards) but no pushover as the small undulating green is guarded by bunkers and small mounds. Beware if the green is missed!The remainder of the course is set on a ridge overlooking the sea and constantly twists and turns, routing up and down, whilst still retaining the sea views throughout. Conditioning of the fairways and bunkers was good in general but on the day we played in early June, the greens had been recently treated and didn’t have the speed and quality that others in our party had experienced in the past. This was unexpected and slightly disappointing in June, but didn’t stop our low handicapper (5) shooting a 3-over par 75.Overall a great experience and a cracking course although I think the greens on the day and a slight lack of ‘star quality’ for me stops this being a 6-ball course. RdD
August 12, 2015
8 / 10
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Kevan Voce
Played it in June as part of our annual Waverleys tour (together with P&K and Machynys). Easily the best course in Wales and up there with the Open courses (and Deal, County Down& Dornoch) as the best 15 links courses in the UK. The views of the sea are terrific and this really is a great test of shot-making. Errant shots are punished (particularly on the glorious set of Par 3’s) and deep bunkers numerous. We played it with virtually no wind and I’d imagine when the wind is up it is a real brute. The land is perfect and the terrain more up and down than your average links – certainly the likes of Muirfield , Hoylake, Lytham etc. The stand-out holes for me were the short 7th (as good as the 13th at Muirfield) and the dog-leg 9th – the latter a magnificent hole slightly downhill then played up to an elevated green. This great golfing country – very traditional – classy and understated. No pro-shops the size of a shopping mall and certainly no sign of any Premiership footballers. I guess we’ve got Celtic Manor to thank for keeping the likes of them away!!
July 11, 2015
10 / 10
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3 people found this review helpful

Duncan Marshall
What an amazing place! The course is fantastic, we played on a wet windy day and were tested throughout but such an enjoyably round of golf. The members and staff were some of the friendliest I have met and the club house although smaller than most is lovely with many features capturing the history of place.Highly recommend playing here!
April 04, 2015
10 / 10
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David Davis
Magnificent! For me that’s the best word to describe my first experience at Royal Porthcawl – right from the welcome to the club to lunch after the round out on the terrace in front of the sea. The course is very simply fun golf and a great mix of short and long holes. The very short par 4 first hole looks a breeze from the tee but given the right to left slope of the fairway nearly all drives end up left with a semi challenging line in the hole over the large front left bunker. Once up to the green, wow, anything center to left rolls way down to the left edge leaving a long uphill and heavily breaking putt to center pin positions. The 2nd and 3rd holes play along the waterfront and are both impressive visual treats to the beginning of your round. The par 5, fifth plays far longer than it’s number on the card given the severe incline up to the green. On our day it was playing firm and fast and we watched a man in the group in front of us putt off the green and about 80 yds down the hill. How this happened we are still not certain but that gives an idea of the steepness of the incline. The short little par 3 7th hole was one of my favorites playing into a cross wind to a tiny postage stamp green with two levels and a bit of neck in the middle not too mention heavy bunkering. The green is not visible from the tee which makes for a really tricky little flick.
September 28, 2014
10 / 10
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Dave Finn
On July 24th Wales will welcome their first ever major golf Championship when the 2014 Senior Open takes place at the Royal Porthcawl Golf Club. Wales has hosted many national and international events including the Walker Cup, four European Tour Welsh Classics and The Amateur Championship six times, but a Major has always eluded them, until now. Porthcawl dates back to 1891 and comes with a fine pedigree. It is currently ranked #1 in Wales and #86 in the world according to the Top 100 Golf Courses of the World. From the clubhouse, you can see the beachfront views to the south and across the Swansea Bay to the rugged coastline of the Gower Peninsula to the northwest. Being from the "other-side of the pond" I rarely have the opportunity to play a true links course. Royal Porthcawl Golf Course - Photo by reviewerSome golfers are more partial to the modified terrain and well groomed North American style but for me this is golf in its rawest form. I love the sheer ruggedness and natural setting. What you first need to realize here is that the yardage markers signify the distance to the front of the green on all par 4's and 5's but to the middle of the green on par 3's. This is not typical for us North Americans, and so it took me a while to adjust. I found the fairways to be wide, but the fescue mounding punishing. The greens are large and very irregular with swales surrounding them that funnel away your errant approach shots. And, the deep-faced bunkers must be avoided at all costs. Porthcawl is a very walkable course but has some elevation changes and best of all, each hole offers spectacular ocean views. There are only three holes here that have blind tee shots - 13, 17 and 18 but the rest are what you see. The 18th will become the opening hole for The Senior Open and is a great two-shot downhill par 4 that passes in front of the clubhouse to the ocean-side green. The Royal Porthcawl Golf Club is a top-notch golf course and deserves to have this great honor bestowed upon them. To read Dave Finn’s entire review with photos visit: http://golftravelandleisure.com/2014/07/17/tee-sea-royal-porthcawl-golf-club-wales/
July 18, 2014
10 / 10
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Response
Dave Finn
July 28, 2014
Is Royal Porthcawl now a consideration for The Open?
Anthony Daniels
July 29, 2014
Dave, unfortunately Porthcawl won't get the Open for three reasons; 1) the infrastructure (roads, hotels etc) is insufficient. This is also why the likes of Saunton East won't get the Open despite the course being good enough. 2) when you played the course I'm sure you would have realised that it's a relatively small plot of land. Therefore, the course would not be able to accommodate the number of spectators that an Open would attract. It also means the course can't be lengthened to be a sufficient test to the top pros. 3) the R&A generally don't embrace change and new things. Royal Portrush has just been added to the Open rota but it has taken a long time to come to fruition and there have been endless deliberations and conversations. It's a shame as Royal Porthcawl is certainly of a high enough quality to host an Open. I have been lucky enough to play it twice and found it to be a tough but very fair test of golf. What was the stand out hole for you? For me it was the 9th (dogleg left par four along the crest of a dune with a steep drop off on the left hand side).
Dave Finn
July 31, 2014
Thank you for your candid response. It was well thought out and your comments make perfect sense. Too bad though because it is one great track. My favourite has to be the 1st hole. I loved standing at the tee with the ocean views, prevailing crosswinds and deep faced bunkers staring you in the face. What a treat!
Maarten
A wonderful experience from begin to end. I loved that the course starts with 3 excellent par 4s along the sea. Every hole provides its' own challenge and every hole is different than the one before. It played really firm and fast and the fairwaysand greens were immaculate. When playing downwind, it was incrediby tough to let the ball stop on the greens as they were really quick and undulated. The finish is quite hard too with long uphill par 4s and the complimentary lunch in the cosy clubhouse was more than welcome. Definitely the best course in Wales.
June 27, 2014
10 / 10
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David Shepherd
Was in the area visiting my wife's sister. Everyone was telling me to play Celtic Manor, but online I read that RP was the best course in Wales. Everything from the online booking, to the gents in the pro shop, to my caddie, was handled perfectly. Make sure you have GPS so you can find the course as it's a little off the beaten path. Although it was raining fairly hard the first 9 holes, I thoroughly enjoyed the round, especially with a birdie on #6. Great golf course. In excellent shape. Gorgeous. BTW, the breakfast beforehand was lovely as well. Highly recommend.
May 14, 2014
10 / 10
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James Barton
Having played 36 at Pennard the previous day we had even higher hopes of R.P. based on the ranking and reviews. Very nice welcome and we were allowed to play off the blue tees. Overlooking the remains of the winter storm damage the course is amazingly manicured and greens excellent. Some amazing holes but I, like the rest of us (all single figure h'cap) just felt a little flat about the course. Maybe our expectations were a little too high or the lack of dunes etc dampened our opinions. Nice to see the sea but that's not how I rate a course. A great experience and we will return but all preferred Pennard for enjoyment.
April 16, 2014
8 / 10
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