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: 65
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Chezza
You can see the sea from every hole lads. Enjoy yourselves, she's a beauty". And as if by magic those enthusiastic words from a member, as he walked off down the 1st stirred the Welsh mist which came rolling in and had consumed us by the time we'd teed off on the 2nd. With visibility down to at best 150 yards, at worst 100, a course with an already hard reputation became a whole lot harder. I think this is the 1st time I've ever found myself asking for a breeze. I'd just presumed from my limited links experience that 25mph cross winds were a given. However, having spent 2 hours in the car to get here we were determined to not let it spoil the day. So, adopting Arnold Parmers attitude of, hit it, go find it and hit it again we preceded to have great time. Stand out hole for me was the 120 yard 7th, but that's down to it being literally the only hole to stand out in the mist. The course condition was really beginning to come alive after the winter and the greens were in tremendous shape. It’s hard to judge the 2 nines but in the mist the front nine felt that little bit wider where as the back was placing more demands on accuracy off the tee, I'm not sure if this rings true on a clear day though? We had been warned about 15 and 16 being card wreckers but in the mist 12 and 13 were brutal with both approach shots truly being hit and hope after much study of our course guide. The much talked about bunkers here are tough although it was the fairway Bunkers on 17 rather than the 2 greenside (9th and 14th) I visited during the round which cost me dearly and just took the edge off a cracking stab at this course 1st time out. But I have to say they did not ruin what was a very funny afternoon for myself and playing partner. A special mention must go to the members at this fine course, they are a credit to themselves and their club, I can truly say I've never meet a friendlier bunch in 10 years of playing.
March 24, 2011
8 / 10
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Andrew Whiteley
I played Royal Porthcawl on 8th February 2011 on a sunny, 7C breezy day. The course is massively under rated in my humble opinion. It’s simply a beautiful course , literally all the holes have a view of the sea. I’ve played Royal Birkdale and it’s up there with this great course. I just can’t understand why it hasn’t hosted The Open? It’s a steal £75 for a day ticket including lunch in the Winter & £140 for the same deal in the Summer.
February 16, 2011
10 / 10
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DF
February 17, 2011
Sounds fantastic. Quick question - during the winter months do they play off mats/close the fairways etc. Thanks.
DP
February 18, 2011
The course is fully open, except where they are repairing, some bunkers etc. But all tee boxes, all fairways and all greens are open. And I agree, this course is highly under rated!
J Sorrenti
On our most recent trip to Wales, out of the 8 courses we played, this was out top rated course. The golf professional was most friendly, the course, while being overseeded and greens recently aerified was in good condition (workers everywhere grooming the bunkers, which were PERFECT), and the golf course was an outstanding test of golf. Picturesque, difficultl, but fair.Do NOT MISS playing this course on your tour of Wales.
September 17, 2010
10 / 10
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Paul Mortlock
Royal Porthcawl is a stunning links course. I have been fortunate enough to play most of the UK's finest links courses and I would put it in the same league as Royal County Down, Royal Birkdale, Turnberry and Waterville. The course smacks Royal Porthcawl - Photo by Paul Mortlockof class the second you arrive and set eyes on the first hole which has fabulous riveted bunkers (a feature of the course) and hugs the beach. In fact, my playing partners and I struggled to identify any weak holes (which is not the case at RCD and Waterville). All the short holes are marvellous and you will feel a hint of relief if you manage to avoid the many cavernous bunkers that surround them. Other than the 2 or 3 blind drives, everything is there in front of you and it really is a real treat to play. The greens were running extremely quick and very smooth when we played it mid-August 2010. I would advise getting there at least an hour early to make use of the excellent driving range (5 minutes walk from the clubhouse). The bar feels nice and old school however the food was perhaps not quite in keeping with the best course in Wales. If you are reading this and considering playing it, do not hesitate. It is a steal at £98 for a round, as the course itself would be more than worthy of hosting an Open Championship (it has held just about every other Amateur event including the Walker Cup and British Amateur).
August 13, 2010
10 / 10
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Will
April 12, 2012
it's my house the White one
Michael Budgen
In a word, class! Royal Porthcawl to my mind is the best of both worlds, a big course yet with a small club feel. A marvellously tough but honest test of Golf in a stunning setting so that you don't mind being beaten up by the rough, bunkers or greens! Off the course the members were friendlyness personified and rightly proud of their fine course and clubhouse. Make the effort and go visit.
March 10, 2010
10 / 10
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papa rabbi
Royal Porthcawl is a MUST PLAY golf course. I am fully in love with the place. In my humble opinion this is the second best course in the UK (of those which I have played…57 of the top 100 in this list). It is magical. Just sitting here writing this makes me homesick for the place! I have only played there 3 times but I would pay double the 90 odd quid a round costs…without blinking…and I’m a poor bugger! There is such a wonderful selection of golf holes and all angled differently so that the wind is never from the same place, the staff are some of the friendliest around and the club house has to be seen to be believed! If ever you are in south Wales go there and play. You must. I implore you. You will not regret your decision. In fact even if you are not going to south Wales make plans to. It is awesome!
January 18, 2010
10 / 10
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John G. Holbrook
One of my favorite links courses, I have played Royal Birkdale, Royal Liverpool, Royal Portrush and Royal County Down. The day we play was sunny and 65 degrees, this course offers wide variety of holes. The greens were often elevated and quite fast if you get above the hole. The 2 par fours on the back side 15 and 16 were very challenging especially against the wind. The par 3 on the front nine were also very difficult. I would recommend the course to anybody wanting a challenge and beautiful surrounding.
October 19, 2009
10 / 10
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Bobo
What a superb golf course!! This is links golf at it's magnificant best. The bunkering is probably the best I have ever played and really makes you think your way around the course. The greens were not the best and quite long but this was because they were holding the European Seniors open the week later so they were letting them grow before cutting them. The views from nearly every part of the course are spectacular, with the sea being visible from nearly every tee. I have played a few of the courses that are on the open rota and this is every bit as good if not better than the likes of Royal Lytham etc. If they could add the infrastructure required to host an Open then I can see no reason why it couldn't hold an open championship, it really is that good!! Bit Pricey though; £95 a round, but worth every penny!
June 04, 2009
10 / 10
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Ivan
After a weekend in St Andrews, Royal Porthcawl was slightly disappionting. It was in excellent condition dispite heavy rain. It is a bit flat and lacks spectacular dunes. But against that you d get a view of the sea and some interesting holes. It is not a out / in links course which means you get the wind helping some holes and not on others. All in all an enjoyavble experience.
October 05, 2008
8 / 10
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David Gollaher
Played late June 2008 on a clear day with the breeze blowing 25-30 mph. The course played difficult, particularly the rough, which was so dense that any ball into it was at risk of being lost. Though it is fairly flat, Royal Porthcawl stands up well to the Open courses of Scotland and England.
July 03, 2008
8 / 10
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