Conwy Golf Club
I know that North Wales’s climate is inclined to be damp. I knew our tee time was only a couple of days after Saint Davids day. I knew, too, that the forecast was not good. But when even the Welsh don’t turn up for a game on a Sunday morning you fear the worst. I was not disappointed.
Conwy or Caernarfonshire Golf Club is probably the toughest golfing test along this stretch of coast. Next year it hosts the Curtis Cup and I cannot think of better surroundings to take on an American team.
There is certainly more space than either North Wales or Prestatyn golf club and although it is open it is also rather longer. This is a proper test of golf without some of the drama of North Wales where you are asked to drive across the beach head, or the old fashioned virtues of Prestatyn, this is more regular and more demanding.
I can see from the cartography that there are excellent views across the river mouth, out to sea, and back into the mountains. However the blackout blinds of rain forbade more than a glimmer of the scenery. The holes themselves are beautifully laid out on flat ground in two loops. The green complexes take advantage of whatever contours are available with well placed bunkers adding to the difficulties.
There is no settling in hole here. The first demands you go straight at it, at full stretch, with out of bounds down the left.
I have a fondness, not usually requited, with par-3s where the green is narrow and set across you. The second is one such and is a fiend in the wind. No reverting to a GPS guide or a Strokesaver will help you here. Proper links golf.
Hole three curves along the shoreline to a raised green in classic links mode before four heads inland again. I am preternaturally inclined towards holes that have the closest relationship with the sea, as do many of my golf balls. My senses are heightened and my competitiveness rises, not always to the challenge, but to the possibilities.
I am less inclined to favour the holes that follow the inland boundary of the course where the noise of cars rather than gulls can be heard. The grass is thicker and the turf more receptive to the abundant rainfall. That is not to say that these are any less well designed or challenging for it represents a formidable lineup.
This was the toughest course of the weekend and represents an excellent test of golf as the course can be lengthened to provide a challenge to all bar the longest professionals. It accommodated those who hit shots affected wildly by the conditions and those who just hit it wildly.
In the cold and torrential rain we were sustained by my daughter making frequent returns to the clubhouse and returning with hot chocolate to thaw the fingers and lighten the mood. Thank you
The sheer volume of rain that fell while we were playing made a mockery of the damage caused by last summer’s drought. Wisely, and insufficiently replicated elsewhere, small mats were provided on those fairways suffering most severely from sun damage. These allow you to play the course as designed without roping off areas entirely and maintaining the flow of the game. As we left the last green puddles started to form so it is a huge credit to the course and to Links courses in general that it was able to absorb all the tears of storm Freya.
I can also thoroughly recommend Conwy town as a base for golf in the area. I had no appreciation of its history, charm, or beauty before I went there and found it a most welcoming and entertaining place to stay. Indeed, even those who are not charmed by golf would find plenty to amuse, entertain and inform themselves.
You must indulge me my photograph. The only break in the clouds came as this building hoved into view. I was kind of hoping someone would be selling me baked potatoes or a pizza perhaps, but no, an eco loo which actually sits rather well in the landscape.