Conwy Golf Club is located on the coast in Northern Wales not far from the English border. The medieval town of Conwy ( previously known as Conway under Engllish rule ) grew around the castle built for King Edward 1 in the years from 1283 to 1289. In the nineteenth century a number of proposals were put forward to develop the low lying marshlands to the east of Conwy, but nothing eventuated. In 1869 or thereabouts locals roughed out a few golf holes on that land, and two members of Royal Liverpool who were staying in the area saw the potential and arranged for their professional ( Jack Morris ) to lay out 12 holes. But it wasn't until 1890 that the golf club was formalised and John Morris engaged to construct 9 holes proper, which became an 18 hole course when he returned in 1895.
Despite the well regard afforded the course, it has had it's battle to survive. In the first World War the site was used for training soldiers, and for camps, and much of the course was devastated, almost beyond repair. But by 1919 the course was in play again, although it would be a number of years before it was back in top shape. The course was also badly affected by World War 2, and then in 1970 a different threat emerged with plans to make a tunnel for a proposed expressway which would go under the estuary and impact the golf course. This tunnel eventually opened in 1991 affecting the golf course in three different areas. Frank Pennick was employed to oversee the changes, and by common assent the changes are viewed as having maintained the quality of the links.
Conwy does have a unique location for it's links with the site being surrounded on three sides, by sea, village and the imposing mountain range to the west.
Although the land is relatively flat the two nines have distinctly different characters with the front nine travelling through some low lying dunesland with the village and the sea ever present as a striking backdrop. Favourite holes include the impressive par 3 second hole with green lying at an angle to the tee, and 5 pot bunkers at the front of the green providing protection and requiring a precise approach.
I also liked the long par 4 seventh hole with its classic links style green partially hidden behind a dune.
The back nine has a different feel altogether as we move away from the sea, into an area dominated by gorse, and mountain backdrops. For me the two par 3's stood out. I thought the long par 3 thirteenth hole was an all world hole. It really is that good, and extremely challenging. Not only is it long, but the green has a serious swale through the centre ensuring a tee shot to the wrong level is no certainty for par.
The other par 3- the fifteenth hole is also surrounded by gorse but is a little shorter. It is protected by 5 pot bunkers on the front of the green.
Conwy is a quality links course in a lovely setting. It is also a pretty decent test of golf, and is known for the variety of it's links holes, quite a number of which are long par 4 holes running in different directions. Perhaps the most challenging is the long par 4 seventeenth hole. Just wide enough for the golfers to walk single file between the gorse bushes framing the fairway, the hole is long and hard!
Conwy has hosted many amateur events over the years, and in 2006 hosted the Open Championship qualifying- the first Welsh club to do so.
It is that good.
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