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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Les
Just came off the course and both myself and my son felt the course was excellent. Each shot makes you concentrate. From the need for accuracy to hit the fairways, to the daunting approach shots to greens protected by deep bunkers. When you get to the greens, they are subtle, in perfect condition with a true Roll. Well worth the £80 green fees and a must to play.
July 27, 2007
8 / 10
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michael frankel
played here twice in may 2007, after a long absence. still a great layout but a stretch of poor weather clearly has impacted the condition of the fairways in particular. visitors who want/need caddies will probably be disappointed, as we were.
July 18, 2007
6 / 10
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Joe
Royal POrthcawl is one of the best courses I've ever played on. They have recently extended the 12th hole which is now even more challenging. The course is looking fabulous. Even though the wind causes a few problems, its gets you to concentrate, which leads to a better shot, to a better game. Every one visiting Wales should play a round at this marvellous golf course.
November 24, 2006
10 / 10
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jon dougherty
Played the course as part of a society last week and thoroughly enjoyed it.The place oozes class.the first three holes are probably the only true 'links 'holes and are tight to the sea on the left.The course then turns inland and becomes more heathland in nature.We found the course very hard and fast and had great difficulty holding the balls on the greens downwind.The bunkers are penal and some of the slopes on the greens are severe (especially 1,9 and 18) .I thoroughly enjoyed it.The 5th is fantastic,the par 3's are very tough and there really isn't a weak hole on the course.A friendly welocme from the pro shop helped and they let us play off the white tees also.If you are in the area swallow your pride,pay the hefty green fee and enjoy.The walk down the hill to the 18th green will lift the spirits.
September 12, 2006
8 / 10
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Neal Garnett
Unlike other reviewers we found the staff to be universally friendly especially in the Pro-shop and bar. Our poker habit was accomodated by giving us the keys to The Committee room with no curfew!The course is wonderful. The greens look patchy but 'putt well'. Only grumble (like a previous reviewer) is that there was insufficient sand in the bunkers..many a bouncing sand iron.Our parties handicap's were 5, 9, 9 and 27 and we a scored between 25 and 30 stableford points each off the white tees. This is a fair reflection of the course that is certainly difficult but not brutal.
July 27, 2006
10 / 10
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Andrew Fearn
One of those subtle courses that grows on you.No stunning holes but no poor ones either.All very classy,interesting and varied.Lovely sea views and a nice low-key sort of feel to the place.Wonderfully quirky old wooden clubhouse-if you've never seen red roofing felt before then that's because Royal Porthcawl grabbed it all ! We sat out on the veranda with a few beers at the end of a very hot 36 holes and watched the surfers do their stuff on the beach below.All very pleasant.Would definitely come again.One little grumble...could the club maybe spend some of our not inconsiderable green fees (£120 for the day) on a bit more sand for the bunkers? Whenever we tried splash shots we seemed to hit a hard base below the soft top layer.S'pose the answer is don't go in them in the first place !
July 19, 2006
8 / 10
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Peter Stephens
October 21, 2010
Just to let you know the "old quirky" clubhouse was originally one half of the Chinese pavillion at The Great Exhibition, Swansea Bay GC had the other half.
Fred du Plessis
An excellent links course! This course deserves to be included on the Open rota - however space limitations between fairways and around the 1st and 18th could make spectator logistics difficult. If you venture west of the Severn bridge, don't miss this one!!
May 27, 2006
10 / 10
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Rod Wiltshire
Great layout and very tricky in the wind which always seems to blow. Greens and fairways however very dissapointing even for this time of year. Should be far better to justify the current ranking.Staff could also be more attentive and where else can you order your sandwich by phone.remote and sometimes offhand. Such a pity but still worth a visit
May 10, 2006
4 / 10
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Gareth Williams
Undoubtedly the finest course west of the Severn Bridge. Hardly a weak hole on the course, truly spectacular bunkering and superb greens. In my experience the finest set of par 3's I've yet to come across on any course. Just a shame the green fees have rocketed over the last few years so our annual pilgramige is not so annual any more!
November 07, 2005
10 / 10
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Peter Lacey
Played yesterday for first time this year. Warm, sunny, high winds, typical links conditions and a traditional golf course deserving to be in the top 10 of British Golf Courses!! Well grassed but fine and wiry unlike many of the current top courses ive played, which to me are over-grassed and have lost some of the true seaside links character. Must be the best three starting holes on a golf course worldwide.
August 04, 2005
10 / 10
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