Royal St David's Golf Club is located in the town of Harlech in Northern Wales. The course is often referred to as simply 'Harlech'. The links occupies a beautiful stretch of low lying dunesland which is overlooked/dominated by the dark and foreboding presence of Harlech Castle. Apparently when the castle was built in the fifteenth century the sea lapped on it's castle walls. But as centuries passed the sea receded leaving dunes perfect for golf. And so in 1894 Royal St Davids Golf Club emerged. Nowadays the course is quite distant from the sea, begging the question: why isn't the course heading into the bigger dunes now available?
The front nine at Harlech covers the flatter ground with some delightful strategic links golf. The course measures 6629 yards from the back markers and is known for the number of long testing par 4's which vary in length and direction. The only two par 5's occur at holes 7 & 8.
Perversely I enjoyed the shorter par 4's- holes 2 & 6, and the two par 3's at holes 4 and 9. Hole 9 in particular caught the eye with the dunes and trees in the background creating a striking backdrop.
Things get more interesting at Harlech on the back nine as the course gradually moves into the dunes. The short par 3 eleventh hole is the taster, and it is delightful as good links holes are- surrounded by bunkers and dips and swales- it is an easy par...or not!
Hole 12 is also impressive. A long par 4 it angles away to the right from the elevated tees. Both sides of the landing area are protected by bunkers, so a precise long drive is required if one hopes to get home in two.
Hole 13 is another long par 4 bending right to left this time. Which brings us to the fourteenth hole...
It is a long par 3 measuring 221 yards from the tips. The green is partially obscured from the tee by a low sand dune in front of the tee, and the large bunkerless green is surrounded by low dunes and gorse. With the wind in your face it is a driver for many, and a well earned three.
Hole fifteen is another strong long par 4 angled slightly left to right. Again the green has no bunkers but is protected by low dunes, and gorse. It is a nice hole, but tough.
For me the highlight of the round came on the sixteenth tee, where you must climb up on the massive frontal dune to hit your drive to the short par 4 winding away below. The view is gorgeous, with sea on one side and Harlech castle as a backdrop. The hole is dotted with bunkers requiring an accurate tee shot and a precise short iron. It is a world class hole.
After another long par 4 at seventeen the round finishes with a 201 yard par 3 which has 6 bunkers defending it.
Royal St Davids consistently rates as one of the top 50 courses in the U.K., and is a delightful links course that will test all parts of your game, but in particular will give your long game a workout! If only they could replace some of the flatter, lower lying holes on the front nine with more holes in the dunes!
Royal St David's Golf Club also has a Dormy House which sleeps up to 9 golfers comfortably on site. And Travelling Golfers can connect directly with Aberdovey via the scenic rail. Perfect!
Other Golf Courses in the Area
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