Maybe it’s my slightly eccentric taste in golf courses searching for something a little out of the ordinary, but I was dazzled by the opening holes at Tenby. Having read the modest reviews on this website before visiting and knowing very little about the course, my expectations were limited heading into my round. But Tenby presented my most pleasant surprise of all of the courses I visited on a week-long tour that had me passing through Wales and the golf coast of North West England.
From the off, Tenby provides quality and brilliant land movement. The 1st introduces you to some fabulously turbulent ground and this hardly lets up through the opening nine. The 3rd has a high dune protecting the green and some deep run-offs on the green’s sides, whilst the devilish 4th is a double blind big-dipper of a hole with a massive hollow mid-way along the fairway before playing up-and-over again to a sunken green. This is golf as I’ve come to love it, and pure James Braid at his insane best.
The 5th introduces you then to one of several teeing grounds that’s set alongside the sandy beach. 7 and 8 admittedly do visit some less interesting land away from the pure rolling links and towards the slightly unnerving firing range, before the 9th hole revisits the best of Tenby’s ground with a high elevated tee that comes with views to die for. This hole has another lumpy fairway where you hit towards a marker post in the distance and then a half-concealed but raised green.
11 and 12 then provide the highlights on the back nine. Both play over more humps and hollows with 11 a par four playing towards the shore and the 12th being a do-or-die long par three over a valley. The 13th then almost plays on top of the 5th and is probably where things start to become a little confused. Still an excellent hole, but the best of Braid’s work is now behind you. The much maligned stretch between 15 and 17 come at the wrong time, and whilst they wouldn’t be poor holes on a parkland course as they still carry some links characteristics, given what’s come before these holes, the closing stretch leaves a bit to be desired. The 18th hole would also be a much more grand finish if they still used the high tee which is sadly now closed and cordoned off.
Whilst it’s a shame that course ends on a low note, the majority of the course is blessed with the most wonderful rolling links land and sharp natural undulations that feed into various superb green sites. I felt comparisons with Machrihanish, Pennard, Perranporth and even Elie in places. It might not be for the faint of heart given that there are plenty of blind shots, but I’d suggest Tenby is a must-play for anyone visiting South Wales on a golf tour and for those who would like to play some interesting and thought provoking golf. Tenby is in a lovely part of the world and the town with its multi-coloured properties along the coast and thriving village life would also make it a great place to stay for a night or two, but if Tenby town’s too far away from the golf, the club comes complete with a seven room Dormy House.
I personally rate Tenby as a pretty special place to come and play golf. If only they could find a handful more golf holes in the dunes somewhere. Then it would be really something.
Date: June 01, 2021