- +44 (0)1654 767493
West end of Aberdovey on A493 adjacent to railway station.
Welcome - contact in advance
Herbert Fowler, Harry Colt and James Braid
“If one dare write about Aberdovey at all,” wrote Patric Dickinson in his book, A Round of Golf Courses, “one must begin by letting Bernard Darwin through on the way to the first tee. For this links is ‘his’, and it is all and more than one would expect from a writer and golfer of such style; for it is both a ‘classical’ and ‘romantic’ links.”
Aberdovey Golf Club is set enchantingly within the Snowdonia National Park at the mouth of the Dovey Estuary, and the links are wedged between the Cambrian Mountain range and the shore.
“I can just faintly remember the beginning of golf at Aberdovey in the early eighties,” wrote Darwin in his 1910-book The Golf Courses of the British Isles. “Already rival legends have clustered round that beginning, but the true legend says that the founder was Colonel Ruck, who, having played some golf at Formby, borrowed nine flower pots from a lady in the village and cut nine holes in the marsh to put them in.” A great deal has changed since then and the hands of many great architects have touched Aberdovey: Herbert Fowler, Harry Colt and James Braid. It is not surprising that it is such a revered links.
Despite its old age, Aberdovey is no shorty, measuring over 6,700 yards from the new "Darwin" back tees. It will test, and has tested, the very best golfers, playing host to a number of amateur championships over the years and it was here as a youngster, that Ian Woosnam developed his craft. It isn’t the hardest links course in the British Isles by any stretch of the imagination, but when the wind blows, it can throw the ball off line and into the punishing rough. Only the skilful will score well.
There is so much history at Aberdovey that you cannot help but fall in love with the place. Running alongside this classic out-and-back links is the railway line, reminding us of the days when the trains were full of travelling golfers. Darwin’s short story entitled “Aberdovey” tells an enchanting, romantic and amusing tale about his many pilgrimages to this Welsh links and how he used to love writing down the names of the stations as they passed by. Or as Patric Dickinson said: “A round at Aberdovey is always a brave and gay adventure, whatever the wind’s quarter.”
I’ve been meaning to make the pilgrimage to Aberdovey for many years to see for myself whether Bernard Darwin’s affections were simply romantic or founded on real substance. Well I can say, in a similar vein to Rye, there is still a little bit of Darwin’s soul here and Aberdovey is the real golfing deal.
Aberdovey is understated in every way but the quality and challenge hits you hard in the face from the opening tee shot. The back (black) tees are called “Darwin Yards” and the course measures some 200 yards longer from these tiger tees. I watched numerous people tee off on the 1st from the clubhouse balcony and nobody got anywhere near the green in two on this monster 400+ yard hole, which was playing into a two club wind on the day I played here. The second hole is one of those joyful short par fours requiring a much more subtle approach than the one I adopted. The elevated 2nd tee in the dunes got my adrenalin going and I duly pulled my drive into dunes down the left and then carded a triple with a second ball. Then you come to the infamous, bunkerless, blind par three, the “Cader” hole. In my opinion this is the best blind par three I’ve ever played and pushes the Dell at Lahinch into second place. Don’t come up short on the Cader otherwise you’ll have a blind chip too.
Things get a little easier when you reach the pulpit tee on the 4th but par is never easy at Aberdovey. The home holes, from the excellent risk-and-reward short par four 16th, to par fours at 17 and 18 (both measure more than 400 yards) are supremely testing. I was expecting Aberdovey to be a gentle test of links golf on an old-fashioned course. What I found was a thoughtful, entertaining and challenging course that simply does everything rather well. Finally, I must mention the par three 12th which is one of the best short par threes I’ve ever encountered on a links… it gives the Postage Stamp a run for its money.
I’m sure Darwin would have been chuffed to bits had he seen the new clubhouse, which is a fitting recent addition. I really enjoyed the trip and recommend the golf, the value and the welcome. I will venture back to the Principality of Wales but I’ll probably spend a little longer at Aberdovey than anywhere else… I’d like to get to know this course a lot better.