Vale (Wales National) - South Wales - Wales

Vale Hotel,
Golf & Spa Resort,
Hensol Park,
Vale of Glamorgan,
CF72 8JY,
Wales


  • +44 (0) 1443 665899

  • Gareth Bevan

  • Peter Johnson

  • Clive Coombs


Visit Golfbreaks.com for a golf holiday at Vale (Wales National)

Peter Johnson, the Wales National designer and former professional at the Cardiff Club, first began the development of golf within the former estate of Hensol Castle, a Grade I listed 17th century stately home, when he built Vale’s other 18-hole layout, the 6,700-yard Lake course.

Following a visit to USA, he returned with the idea that Wales required a tougher, longer course to test the modern day golfer. Hence the Wales National course stretches to more than 7,400 yards over nearly 200 acres with five lake areas coming into play at half the holes on the card. A standard scratch score of 75 against a par of 73 lets you know that this course has been constructed with some serious golf in mind.

As Johnson says, “new golf technology has seen top golfers destroy the reputation of some of our traditional courses with their huge driving and we have to develop more challenging courses. However, I am a bit of a traditionalist and set out to mold the course into the countryside, making the most of the land's natural contours, features and waterways”.

Set within some beautiful Welsh countryside, the course contains a mix of wooded areas, wide and narrow fairways, along with some enormous water features and bunker complexes, with all putting surfaces constructed to USGA standard. The 495-yard 16th is rated by some as one of the best par fours in the UK with an incredibly undulating green that sees more than its fair share of three putts.

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Reviews for Vale (Wales National)

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Description: Opened in June 2003, the Wales National course measures 7,413 yards from the tips and it's one of the longest courses outside the USA. Rating: 3.8 out of 10 Reviews: 10
TaylorMade
Conor Beasley

I was a bit sceptical in what to expect when going to play the wales national as the last few reviews were not good ones but also were from back in 2012.

This golf course is SEVERELY UNDERRATED!!!

I have played RSD, Conwy, Pennard, Aberdovey and P&K and the Wales National is up there with all of them. I think if this one wasn't on a big resort and was a normal members Golf club it would be rated much higher.

We played the day after a massive down pour and i was a bit worried after reading all the reviews about it being soggy,etc... the course was basically bone dry. The fairways were some of the best i've played on, the green rolled amazing, maybe just a bit slow but i guess they have to be with how undulating they are. And the bunkers were perfect, even after the rain.

I wanted to play off the Tips but we were playing with my friends dad who is off 22 so we agreed to play off the whites. It is very much a risk and reward golf course which i love, if you are willing to cut off corners and go over tree's, it really does pay off. But if you make a mistake, you get punished severely.

The opening hole is a dogleg left, you can hit driver over the corner and have 130/140 in or play safe and hit a 3 irons or something, leaving 190/200 in. This kind of sets the tone for the round.

The second is an absolutely stunning par 5, you hit your tee shot just over the ridge then there's a big drop down to the green with water in front, the whole fairway is lines with trees on both sides and makes for a very daunting tee shot.

There are some other fantastic holes on the front 9, 6 is a drivable par 4, is about 270/280 down hill, luckily we had it down wind as well so i went for it with me 3 wood and was safely aboard the middle of the green about 20 foot from the flag, this is very much risk and reward as it's a really tight hole with water all across the front of the green. You can hit 6/7 iron and leave yourself a flick of a wedge in or go for it!

7 is a very reachable par 5 if you're willing to take a driver over the corner again, 8 is an uphill par 3 with a very undulating green, you need to make sure you get your ball on the same level as the flag and 9 is a great par 4 to end the front 9, you take your drive over the corner and you'll have nothing more than a wedge to this green.

The back 9 in my eyes is definitely the better/harder of the 2, it begins straight away with a tough par 5, this is one i went for the safer option on as i was on a good score, i hit 3 iron so i was short of the water, you can hit driver but you'll be aiming in a fairly tight gap. The lay up is tough as theres water all the way down the left up to the green and trees all down the right. Not an easy start to the back 9.

11 is one where you can cut the corner with a drive over the trees or hit 5 iron to the big tree in the middle of the fairway, then you have a short par 3. 13 is a very tough, long par 4 with lots of bunkers and water down the right.

14, 15 and 16 are a fantastic stretch of holes. 14 is a short down hill par 3 with water all in front and a 2 tier green, if the pins at the front you can use the slope behind the flag to bring it back down to the hole, one of the best par 3s ive played, 15 is a long par 5, have to carry your tee shot over water, then your shot into the green is also over 2 lakes, this is another risk and reward kind of hole, where you can go for it in 2 or just lay up and have a flick into the green. 16 is a long par 4, dogleg right. A good drive will give you a chance of getting it near the green in 2, be aware there is also water down the right of the green.

In my eyes 17 is probably the weakest hole on the course, as when you're stood on the tee, its not easy to work out where you need to go, this is a dogleg right, again you can cut off some of the hole by going over the tree's which lives a mid iron into probably the flattest green on the course! 18 is a good finishing holes, uphill par 4 with a daunting tee shot as the road up to the hotel is all down the right, there is also water up near the green again and a par on this hole is a great way to finish.

To summarise, i genuinely don't know how this course isn't in the top 10 in Wales? It is a fantastic course in fantastic condition with some of the best holes i have played. I hope this rating will mean the Wales National course will be reviewed and moved up 20 odd spots to where it belongs.

The Vale resort is fantastic, the 'lakes course' is also a great course to go with this one, it has some fantastic holes and the 1 night, 2 rounds package is well worth the driver, wherever you are.

June 25, 2019
8 / 10
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pete soper
All i can say is dont bother if it's been raining for any time. This is by far the wettest course i have ever played, some holes are more akin to a bog if you venture more the a yard off the green. I complained by email that in my opinion the course wasn't playable but after 3 weeks and 3 emails later all i got back was that they did have a few problems with drainage but in their opinion it was ok.
November 29, 2012
1 / 10
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Raindog
November 29, 2012
This club is not worthy of this website. Even if the weather has been good please save your money and go and play the best course in Newport, Newport golf club.
Mark
August 24, 2015
I’m not generally a lover of resort courses, but the Vale and the Wales National course in particular blew me away (although the Lake course is not bad either). I suspect that the anonymity of Peter Johnson – the course designer – had something to do with the quiet and unassuming way that this course slipped on to the scene. If the names of Kyle Phillips or Jack Nicklaus were associated with this course, things would probably be different. Nevertheless, Peter Johnson has done a pretty good job fashioning the course out of rolling land that’s flanked by mature woodland. There’s a distinct American feel here with sand based greens and tees and yet the course blends nicely into the landscape. There are good golf holes straight from the off, with a long doglegged par four to start followed by the 2nd which is the longest hole on the course, a tight tree-lined par five measuring more than 600 yards. I’ve played and stayed at Celtic Manor on a number of occasions but I prefer the Vale because it has a much cosier feel and, given the stay and play choice, I’d choose the Vale every time.
Roland Teare
I played here earlier this month and although there was unseasonal July weather at the time I can echo the comments in previous reviews about the soggy fairways. It certainly played out its rather large yardage which did not make for a very rewarding day. It's also clearly a course designed around buggies which as a walker added to the feeling of going up hill the whole way round. On the plus side there are some interesting greens (maybe too interesting on some of the back nine) and the long downhill par 5 second through trees is exciting if a bit too penal. All in all a course that probably deserves no more than ints current rating on this site.
July 28, 2011
2 / 10
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Adrian
I played here at Easter and found it to be a bit of a slog. I'm a pretty long player but the fairways had no run and I've never hit so many 3 irons in my life. From memory one par 4 hole was about 480 yards and in wet conditions it was impossible. The second hole is a par 5 that is over 600 yards yet the fairway seems to be only 15 yards wide with out of bounds all down the side. On the plus side the tees and greens have fantastic drainage, it's just a shame that all the drainage budget was spent on that and none on the fairways. Unless it hasn't rained for a month or so I would say stay away....
May 11, 2010
4 / 10
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David Freeman
Played the National a few times now at various times of the year and to sum it up in a few words '' An Absolute bog'' you'll definatly need your wellies to play here at any time of the year. the layout itself is not bad but there are far better course than this in the area at half the price. If you are going to make a visit here i would recommedn playing the 2nd course (The lakes) it is in far better condition and a lot cheaper. Personally the National course is well over rated and i can see why there Solheim cup bid failed
September 06, 2009
1 / 10
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William Dunne
January 11, 2016
I am led to believe that the Lakes course was not designed by Peter Johnson, as it was designed by Landscape Architects Celyn, who were part of the team that secured planning permission for the Hensol site. It is somewhat disingenuous therefore for Johnson to claim credit for it. I found the course to be far nicer and more interesting than Johnson's National course, which as one comment rightly states is a complete bog throughout the year!
M Aspinall
January 13, 2016
The Lakes course was in fact designed by Golf Course Designers, Celyn, who have since been taken over by a larger outfit. It is somewhat disingenuous to say that the course was designed by Peter Johnson, who may have played a part in its construction. Celyn was part of a team that secured planning permission, and produced route plans and detailed specifications for the Lakes Course. Indeed many golfers prefer the layout of the Lakes course as it cleverly follows the topography of this beautiful landscape. I understand that Celyn also designed two other courses in Wales - Woodlake Park, Cwmbran and Alice Springs (Kings Course),Usk. Good courses, but not as good as the Lakes Course, which is one of their best designs. I am given to understand that the resort was formerly owned by horse breeder, Howard Joyce, who obtained Planning Permission for a golf course and hotel on the land in the 1990s. Still, if Mr Johnson wishes take credit for the design of the Lakes course, well good luck to him - but just check the Planning records at the Vale of Glamorgan Council to confirm that CELYN were in fact the actual course designers. Happy swinging!
Peter Johnson
March 05, 2019

Having just seen the response to this review i feel the need to correct both Messrs Dunne and Aspinall with regard to their comments about my involvement with the development of the Lake course at The Vale Resort.

I formed the Vale of Glamorgan Golf Club Ltd with 3 others and acquired the land at Hensol from Mr Howard Joyce who had achieved planning for a golf course, hotel and equestrian centre.

My company then applied for a totally different development which included two golf courses , a driving range and the hotel.

The plans eventually approved by the Vale of Glamorgan planners were completely of my design with the equestrian centre being dropped. At no time were Celyn landscapes involved after my company acquired the land or had any input in the layout of the course.

On a small point the course is named "The Lake" not Lakes, and gets its name from HENSOL LAKE which was the only lake on the land prior to construction.

I'm pleased to say that both courses are maturing very well and the playing conditions have drastically improved following a very substantial investment by the present owners.

I must say I stronlgly object to being called disengenuous and I would ask these two gentlemen to retract their comments which are totally untrue

Peter Johnson FPGA

Honorary Member

Mike Davies
Oh dear- what a let down. Like similar reviewers, we were spoiled by playing Porthcawl and Southerndown before visiting here- both far better courses in much better condition. This was a route march- long walks between tees and greens and some poorly designed holes- how can a par four be two nine irons?- the sixth?Shame really as the setting is good and the staff really do try hard
March 18, 2008
2 / 10
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Andrew
A bit of a slog - some of the par 4s seem to just have length for the sake of it rather because it makes the hole any better. Some nice par 3s (although the bunkering on the 8th is a bit gimmicky), a really nice second and some memorable holes from about 13-16. The 18th is a weak finish. Very tiring even when you are firing long.
November 06, 2007
4 / 10
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Kevan Voce
We played this as part of the Waverleys tour and was a bit of a letdown after P&K and Southerndown. To be fair, if you like all that corporate golf-thing it is probably not a bad course - the 2nd being a bit special. However, proper golfers are surely going to give this a wide berth with P&K, Southerndown and Porthcawl only 25 mins away. The staff were all friendly but be prepared for a bit of a hard-sell on the old "timeshares". We were approached on the course and told we'd a get a free upgrade to a de-luxe jacuzzi if we signed up before the 17th tee!!
July 03, 2007
4 / 10
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Andy
The resort at the Vale is a welcome addition to the M4 golfing corridor that includes St Pierre, Celtic Manor, Porthcawl, and Pennard to name a few. The Vale will be hoping take resort business certainly from St Pierre and Celtic Manor and I think it is doing a decent job. All of the modern resort facilities that you would expect including two golf courses. The Wales National course is only three years old (2003) and some of the early holes (1st, 4th 5th) have a decidedly young look about them. With some TLC over the coming years I am sure they will mature and evolve correctly as right now they are a touch bare in terms of trees for example. The 2nd is a long par 5 and already a great hole, the 3rd is a par 3 and in my mind is routed the wrong way around (if the tee and green were swapped, the flow would be so much easier). There are some really great holes after crossing the track behind the 6th with the pick probably the 16th, although it does have a bit of a comedy green (huge humps and bumps that should be flattened a little to be honest). The National course at the Vale is well positioned to become a true great course in south Wales, but not just yet…give it time though and this has chances to become the first choice for stay and play and not just an alternate to the others mentioned earlier. Worth a visit.
October 12, 2006
6 / 10
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Played the Wales National last October and it's a pretty good test of golf and enjoyable too for an American styled course. The 2nd is as tough a par 5 as I've come across, a massive 607 yards from the back tee. My only real critisism is that the 18th hole is a bit of a letdown. It finishes behind the car park and it's probably the weakest hole on the course... if only they could somehow create a closing hole half as good as the excellent 16th this course might be a Top 100 contender.
January 03, 2006
6 / 10
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