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

  • ¼ mile W of Harlech

  • 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 appropriate that Wales should have a golf club called St David’s, after all, Scotland has St Andrews 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: 60
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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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James
I absolutely Loved playing this course and Would highly reccomend you play here. A true links course with some beautiful holes and spectaluar views inland to Snowdonia. Too many good holes to mention! JCB LAY
July 03, 2011
8 / 10
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Jim McCann

You only have to consult your scorecard before you drive onto the 1st rumpled fairway at St David’s to know you’re in for a tough test – the SSS rating for the back tees (a relatively modest 6629 yards) is four over the par of 69!

I enjoyed the routing here with holes laid out in a far from obvious pattern. It’s fair Royal St David's Golf Course - Photo by reviewerto say a score has to be made on the outward half as the course just gets stronger and tougher on the back nine.

The first three short holes are all very good but the blind par three 14th is one of the silliest I’ve played in a long time. Played slightly uphill, through a gap that’s been cut in a dune to a distant green (at least 209 yards away from the gents yellow tees), it sticks out like a sore thumb from some other very impressive holes – why the club can’t site all the tees for this hole up to the right on the dune ridge beside the ladies tee, I (and the person I spoke to behind the counter in the pro shop) have no idea.

The run for home through the only real elevation changes on the course starts at the 15th and ends, unusually for a top track, with a rather nondescript par three at the 18th. All in all, a very solid links test but, if this is the second best course in Wales, it has some way to go to match the top dozen I’ve played in each of Scotland, England or Ireland.

A GB&I ranking around the 50 mark probably flatters St. David’s.

Jim McCann

June 11, 2011
8 / 10
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Response
Galvin Green
July 31, 2011
I've just read your comments about St.Davids and have to say I'm very surprised! This a fantastic links and a true test for any golfer, with one bad swing on one of the long legendary par four's you can easily make a 7,8 or a 9. The 14th hole is a great and challengiing par 3 and I can only assume you couldn't score or hit it straight on this hole due to the remarks you've put here. I can honestly say that all holes here are awesome, even the 18th as you need to hit a good mid iron to finally get that good score. Royal St Davids is up there with the best of the courses in the UK, I would say definitely top 10 not 50.
Billy
July 31, 2011
I think Jim is about right in his assessment. RSD should never make the Top 10 in GB&I and I think the snazzy Mr Galvin Green may well be a member at St David's and needs to take off his rose-coloured, wrap-around, sports sunglasses!
Jim McCann
August 03, 2011
I can only say to Mr Green (nice nom de plume) that the distinguished gentleman in the pro shop (who looked like he's played RSD a good few times) agreed 100% with my comment about the daft 14th hole. Play a few more of the top 50 in GB&I and you just might grudgingly agree that this course is never top 10 material but is worth a very creditable top 50 position.
dan
March 20, 2013
I think the 14th is a great hole, very intimidating, original and utterly memorable. Maybe not as classical as the wondrous 15th, but I will keep going back until I get at least a bogie on the 14th.
Tom Briggs
September 19, 2013
I would agree with most, if not all, of the comments in this review. I have played all of the top courses in Wales with the exception of Tenby and in retrospect I would not have put it on our itinerary last year! Royal Porthcawl is leagues ahead in quality. I am not saying it is an easy course, but it is was certainly disappointing. I play at Burnham & Berrow and have played about 70 of the UK top 100 and would not put this course in my top 50. Before 'Galvin Green' makes another unecessary insulting response - I can hit straight shots at par 3s - you don't play at Burnham if you can't! I suggest he plays a few more golf courses if he thinks this is a top 10 course!! :o)
J Sorrenti
We played this on our tour of 8 courses in Wales---first, I am a scratch player in the US, and have played close to a thousand courses in my life--and this is THE MOST DIFFICULT par 69 course I have ever played. Before our round, one of the members befriended us in the bar while we were having lunch, and once he learned we were low handicap players, called the grounds superintendent to get us permission to play the back tees...well, that was quite a treat, and very nice of the member to do such a thing. Unfortunately, I found the golf course to be a bit unfair---the places you needed to hit a shot to get close to a pin or on the proper side of the fairway were usually bunkered----so from that perspective, it will be hard to shoot a low score. I've read here that number nine is a favorite--and while hitting a 200 yard shot into a par three is not that difficult, having the pin perched on a ledge is completely unnecessary after a long shot in. Number 10 is a par 4 from 450 yards playing into the wind--I hit a good Drive and a 17 degree hybrid to the front of the green---VERY long and difficult. The course was in good condition (the firmest turf/greens we played in Wales), and the landscape with the castle is beautiful--just be ready for some difficult golf.
September 17, 2010
8 / 10
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Andy Newmarch
It is easy to see why the course at Harlech is ranked highly, this is a quality links course without doubt with many great holes. In saying that I did have an expectation that I would be giving this a top mark 6-ball rating, but I can only go to a 5-ball. Arrival into the car-park was a new experience...as you leave your car one side of a single-track railway and walk across the line to the course.Royal St David's - Photo by Andy My impression of the first eight holes was that they were all pretty good but nothing standing out as anything that I had not seen before on other courses. The 9th hole is a par-3 around 175 yards and is a beauty - bunkers protect the right side of the green and with a left to right prevailing wind this a testing tee shot. Another great par-3 is the 11th; huge dunes on either side of the hole define the narrow entrance to the green but a par-3 that I think is rather unfair is the 14th... is it much fun to play a 'short hole' at 221 yards, blind, into the wind and only with a stroke-index of 13? - not a good hole in my opinion. The 15th is the best hole on the course - it is a very tough par-4 and both the tee-shot and approach have to be perfect, anything less and a big score will soon be on your scorecard - it is a slight dog-leg with dunes everywhere and a fairway that gets thinner as the hole develops. Hole 16 has an elevated tee, which invites an attacking drive but you need to watch-out for the cross bunkers 30 yards short of the green on the approach shot. The 17th is a tough par-4 with the newly extended practice ground on the right at driving distance, this obviously is out-of-bounds so aim well left is the tip. I always feel a little cheated on courses that end with a par-3 and RSD has one that is a little straight forward and for such a well regarded course this is a disappointment - current ranking is No. 2 in Wales which I can understand but No. 48 in GB&I, I think is a little too good; around 65th sounds more realistic.
August 27, 2010
8 / 10
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DavidM
Played this in sunny, calm conditions last week. For the money (£30 for a "twilight" ticket after 3pm) RSD can't be beaten. This is a great and very fair test of golf, with exceptional views. As others have said, the holes from 12 in are as good as any links anywhere. Personally, I like undulating fairways so would always prefer somewhere like Deal to here - but Deal costs £140/day and is almost as remote. Greens very true but a bit slow midweek after heavy rain.
August 17, 2010
8 / 10
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Tom Sleater
Having just returned from pretty lethal trip to North Wales - I have to say that Royal St David's was an excellent way to finish. There is no comparison in my view with Nefyn - where it is easy to get carried away with the unique layout. Royal St David's is all about the golf. The greens are true and pacy, the rough hungry - and fairways tight. Club choice is paramount as you cannot afford to step up and bosh it wildly off the tee. The welcome we got was fab - as despite our golf company booking not being registered the club were very accomodating and actually got us off 40mins early. I would say this was a must play and would rate the difficulty to somewhere like Royal Cinque Ports.
March 15, 2010
10 / 10
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