Royal St David's - North Wales - Wales

Royal St David's Golf Club,
Harlech,
Gwynedd,
LL46 2UB,
Wales


  • +44 (0) 1766 780361

  • Golf Club Website

  • A496 on the lower Harlech road

  • Current handicap required – book in advance

  • Trefor Davies

  • Harold Finch-Hatton, William Henry More

  • Gareth Lewis


The glorious setting for the Royal St David’s links at Harlech is nothing short of beautiful and romantic. The forbidding medieval Harlech castle and towering sand dunes guard the course. Behind the dunes, to the northwest, is the sweeping bay of Tremadog and to the north are views across to Snowdon and the lesser peaks of Snowdonia. “Small wonder if the visitor falls in love with Harlech at first sight,” wrote Bernard Darwin in The Golf Courses of the British Isles, “for no golf course in the world has a more splendid background than the old castle, which stands at the top of a sheer precipice of rock looking down over the links.”

Did you know that Royal St David’s came out top in an analysis of your favourite Welsh courses? Click here for more.

According to folklore, Harold Finch-Hatton reputedly identified the links upon his return from Australia, originally using the area for boomerang practice. Finch-Hatton teamed up with William Henry More and in 1894 St David’s was born. It seemed poignant that Wales should have a golf club called St David’s, after all, Scotland has St Andrew’s and England has St George’s. Edward VII granted the club royal patronage in 1908.

Locals regard Royal St David’s as the world’s toughest par 69. Who would argue with them? The course measures 6,500 yards from the back tees. It’s not your usual out-and-back links – the holes zigzag in all directions, subjecting each shot to the vagaries of the prevailing westerly wind.

The opening dozen holes are fully exposed to the elements. They play back and forth across fairly flat and at times, open ground. When the 13th hole is reached, the landscape changes dramatically and at last we enter rippling undulating dune land. The bunker free par four 15th requires a long carry across dunes from an elevated tee to a narrow fairway, Mount Snowdon is in the distance. A decent drive leaves a partially blind approach shot to a raised green nestling between sand dunes. You might catch a quick glimpse of the Irish Sea from the 16th tee before turning back inland towards the clubhouse. Unusually, Royal St David’s closes out with a fairly ordinary, but tough 200-yard par three with the green directly in front of the clubhouse.

Royal St David’s has hosted many major amateur championships over the years. There are a number of famous names on the roll of honour, including Cecil Leitch. In 1926, she beat Mrs Garon 8&7 to win the Ladies’ British Amateur Championship. More recently, in 1994, Sweden’s Freddie Jacobson won the British Youths Open Amateur Championship here at Harlech.

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Reviews for Royal St David's

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Description: The glorious setting for Royal St David’s Golf Club is nothing short of beautiful and romantic. The forbidding medieval Harlech castle and towering sand dunes guard the course. Rating: 7.7 out of 10 Reviews: 56
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Stuart Bendoris
I'm a keen golfer and have played most of the top courses in Scotland (88 out of the top 100) as well Birkdale/Lytham/Hoylake and various others at home and abroad. Royal St David's compares favourably to them all and I can honestly say hand on heart I have never played on better greens in February than I did last week - massive compliments to their green keeper. You always fear that some clubs may be a bit stuffy or snooty before you play them (for some reason even more so at a 'Royal' course) but this was certainly not the case at Royal St David's. From the very warm welcome of Head Pro Gareth Lewis (chatting away when I arrived early and even gave me a free strokesaver), to the friendly club steward and then chatting to the lady members (who'd been out playing) over lunch in the clubhouse including Ann Lewis (2013 British Ladies Senior Champion) - everyone was very friendly, which only added to the enjoyment I had from my 36 holes of golf. If only that birdie putt hadn't horseshoed out at the 18th for a level par 69 it really would have been the perfect day! Great course, great club, play it!
February 28, 2015
10 / 10
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DG
I first played at Royal St David’s seven or eight years ago in torrential rain and so was taken aback by the stunning scenery, which was obscured previously, when I returned in early August. The sea may not be readily visible but Harlech Castle and the mountains of Snowdonia are a decent substitute. This is a challenging course which requires all the clubs in your bag - seven of the eleven par 4s are comfortably over 400 yards. The condition of the course was very good although like the previous reviewer I found the greens a little slow. With the exception of the 18th there are no really weak holes and sorry Jim I disagree with you about the 14th. In my opinion Royal St Davids fully merits its 2nd place in Wales and I look forward to coming back in the future. DS
August 19, 2014
8 / 10
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David Baxter
Played in the open week at Rotal St David's. The welcome was excellant and the course in good condition, albeit the greens a touch on the slow side. Although the weather was wet on one day it was easy to appreciate this is a serious golf course with a tough back nine and a par of only 69. Reminded me very much of Saunton (my home course) located behind the dunes with the sea out of sight. Really enjoyed the front nine with the castle towering over you and the mountains in front of you as you play 5 and 6 (my personal favourite holes). Then the really tough back nine (which we played mainly into the wind) with dunes more in evidence on 14-16. Biggest drawback is on the last few holes where the 'eyesore' buildings as per the last review (although not the golf clubs fault) do detract from the course. Would rank a bit behind Porthcawl (for a championship course) due to lack of change in elevation/variety and also Pennard (personally still my favourite Welsh course). Thoroughly recommended. DB
July 07, 2013
8 / 10
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Paul Mortlock
Having now played Aberdovey, Royal Porthcawl, Royal St Davids, Pennard, Ashburnham and Celtic Manor 2010 I think I am reasonably well placed to review top Welsh courses.Royal St David's Golf Course - Photo by reviewer I would rate this third best after Royal Porthcawl and Aberdovey. Played the course in late May 2013 and a warm, sunny, breezy day. I have to say that it didn't wow me as much as Aberdovey did. Good condition and fun holes on the front 9 but it was a pity you don't start getting into the sand dunes until early on in the back 9. The bunkers are a little underwhelming and not what I would call classic links bunkers as the bunker lips were rarely raised up (which gives links holes real definition). Have to say that the 15th is a magnificent par 4 however, while the 220 yard par 3 14th was also an excellent hole. Some real eyesores (ex police headquarters & burned down hotel) spoil the view of the huge hill that flanks the course. A solid track, but I guess I was just expecting a bit more. 7/10.
June 06, 2013
8 / 10
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Joe
In my opinion, definitely the best kept course in North Wales (haven't played any down South). As a member of Royal Liverpool, and a frequent player at Conwy; Royal St Davids is a class above to Conwy, and is on par with Royal Liverpool. This all relates to the conditioning of the course. With respect to the enjoyment, I found Conwy and North Wales GC to be more enjoyable, i.e. better views. Relating to the toughness of the course, it's a difficult course, however, it will reward single figure players if they play well. If you get on a run, the front nine is quite scorable.
May 02, 2013
8 / 10
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Al
Played the course this weekend and was disappointed by the amount of standing water on many of the holes,most of the bunkers were also flooded and they even had a generator running a pump between two of the holes. Some of the visitor tees, and we are in the middle of March, were awful, basically just on the tufty marshland fairway. At the price point we paid as a group this wasnt great value. The greens were reasonable for the time of year. The course obviously suffers from poor drainage so I would not recommend unless theres been a dry spell...so when would that be ? In comparison Nefyn which we played in the same weekend was much better drained and at half the price I now think Harlech might be trading on their Royal status somewhat.
March 18, 2013
4 / 10
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james Lay
March 20, 2013
I'm sorry you had such a bad experience at Royal St Davids. Maybe you should ask for a green fee credit? It is worth noting that Everything on the sea side of the castle is land that has accrued naturally since the castle was built 700 years ago and so is very low lying land. You used to be able to sail up to the castle steps! I played with the green keeper here in 2011 in their open week 18 hole stableford at the end of July and he did say that although the greens are good in Winter the sea can swell the water table and fill the bunkers with water. The stableford open is great value and well supported. It's a great course with plenty of variety and challenge. Not to mention unique views of Snowdonia and the castle. give it another chance if you can. Maybe tie it in with Aberdovey and Nefyn?
dan
March 20, 2013
I think this is harsh, there are many courses around Britain that aren't playing their best right now, and whilst I have certainly played there with some flooded bunkers on the front nine, the rest of the course and experience makes up for it.
AJ
March 29, 2013
Dan You obviously didnt play that weekend as it wasnt just fairway bunkers that were flooded. James, a green fee credit should not have to be asked for, the golf club should be providing the group with something in the way of compensation, even if it was a £5 Credit in the bar to get something to eat, along with an explanation before we teed off. We booked well in advance and they are taking advantage of that. A little thought from the golf club would help in customer satisfaction, and would stop any negative reviews. I will give Harlech another go but wont be going out of my way to make that happen following their example.
Jim Robertson
Having been washed out at Aberdovey in the morning it was exhilarating to arrive at the beautiful town of Harlech as blue sky appeared. We were then able to enjoy this magnificent course in our shirt-sleeves. And boy did we enjoy it! Royal St Davids is definitely one of my top ten courses and reminded me variously of Muirfield and Carnoustie. There are so many outstanding holes that I could not begin to pick a favourite. But with the exception of the 14th (where I lost a ball off a reasonable drive) this is a course with no weaknesses and so many strengths. I'll be back!!
July 09, 2012
10 / 10
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Pär Larsson
We played here on a very windy day (October 2011) and we found the course in excellent condition. First 9 has some tougher rough and not as scenic or as much links feeling as the last 9. Last 9 has some great golf holes, among the best there is. Loved the course and we will be back.
October 23, 2011
10 / 10
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Keith Baxter

I played Royal St David’s last month for the first time during a trip that included Aberdovey, Nefyn and Conwy. There’s nothing particularly negative to say about RSD except that the 220-yard par three 14th needs re-thinking as Jim McCann has already mentioned. It’s not often the case, but this par three is a far better hole from the ladies tee. Unfortunately I doubt the club will want to shorten the 14th because that would drop the total yardage from the back tees to less than 6,600 yards. St David’s is certainly not short however, and it is indeed a very tough par 69 but I actually think that is the heart of the issue which will prevent RSD from moving much higher in the Britain and Ireland rankings. The course is not well balanced, with the only two par fives on the card coming back-to-back at holes 7 and 8. RSD relies on the strength of its long par fours for teeth. With no fewer than seven 400+ yarders this is no easy course on which to score and it’s plain to see why many call this the toughest par 69 in Britain. But variation for me is more important than long par four after long par four. If the club could find another couple of hundred yards to create two more par fives on the homeward nine then RSD might give Royal Porthcawl a run for its money. Porthcawl offers a much sterner test on a more conventionally configured course and, of course, fantastic sea views from virtually every hole. I enjoyed RSD very much and recommend it thoroughly, however, on balance I think Aberdovey is my pick of the north Wales courses… but only just. Both are well worth the trip from wherever you live in the world.

July 30, 2011
7 / 10
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Gary Abberton
Myself & a group of friends played Royal St Davids whilst on a golf tour of N. Wales, what we found was a very demanding golf course. The weather was great but the wind proved difficult. Past reviews suggested this was the hardest Par 69, they were not wrong there. The condition of the course was great although the greens were a touch on the slow side. Our group found the rough to be on the extreme side almost knee high & thick, miss the fairway here and you will spend a lot of your day looking for balls. A lot of great holes, to mention a few 3rd, 4th, 7th, 10th, 12th & the last four.The only criticism I had was that the rough was too penal, the course seemed to be set up too tough and with a lot of the holes having cross winds & little extra room would have made the day more enjoyable. But on the whole a great course.
July 18, 2011
8 / 10
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