Aberdovey Golf Club is located in The Snowdonia National Park at the mouth of the Dovey Estuary in Northern Wales.
The links are wedged between the mountain and the sea in a beautful setting..
It is one of the oldest golf clubs in Wales, having been formed in 1892.
Legend has it that Colonel Ruck from Formby GC was the driving force at that time.
The doyen of Golf writers, Bernard Darwin waxed lyrical about the charms of Aberdovey, and brought it to the attention of golfers around the world.
It was his 'little slice of heaven'.
While there have been many changes over the years, the course as it is set up today can be attributed to Harry Colt's work in 1913.
Over the years cosmetic work has been done by H.W. Fowler, James Braid and others, but the appearance of the course has not changed significantly.
However it has been lengthened to cope with the modern technology contantly emerging.
It does not play short even today.
The course starts strongly with a long par 4 which played even longer into the prevailing breeze.
It takes two strong hits to get anywhere near the green, but when you get there you will appreciate it.
It is a natural links green surrounded by small dunes in an almost punchbowl effect.
Hole 2 ups the ante.
It is a short par 4 with the tee on the back of the primal dune (see pic top of page).
The fairway tightens up closer to the green with serious links movement- dunes, swales, dips- all leading to another almost punchbowl green protected by 4 pot bunkers front right.
This is the sort of golf hole I would travel to play!
Hole 3 is a 167 yard par 3 with a basin green.
The tee shot must carry long rough and a ridge of dunes that run across in front of the green, and surround the green.
I could not even see a flag, and there are no pointers. It is quirky, but a true links style hole.
At this stage the course had me excited to see what was around the next corner!
Hole 4 was a long par 4 into the breeze reminscent of the first hole. The main aim was to avoid the 4 fairway bunkers and 3 greenside bunkers.
Easier said than done!
Aberdovey is set up as nine holes out, nine holes in- and the first 4 holes run away from the clubhouse on the beach side of the course.
However the par 3 fifth hole brings a change, running across the course away from the beach..
It is a lovely hole to boot.
Holes 6, 7 & 8 then continue away from the clubhouse on the train track side of the course.
The land is flatter now with less interaction with dunesland.
Rather than being set into the dunes as they are on early holes, the bunkers here are below the playing surface, but visible because each of them has both high lips, and whiskers of marram grass as well.
It looks good.
Apparently in early years this was the tradition at Aberdovey, and it continues with current management.
Hole 6 is a long par 4 and hole 7 is a par 5, and both battle against the wind.
Despite the clever bunkering the land does not have as much interest as the early holes.
Hole 8 is a short dogleg par in the same terrain, but is a hole that gives options, and I thought it a good hole.
The par 3 ninth hole heads across the course in the opposite direction of hole five- toward the beach- and requires a precise mid iron to carry the 3 pot bunkers on the front of the green.
It is a good hole, and one I would like to play over...
Holes 10 & 11 are set in similar terrain to 6 & 7, and are both long par 4's- one in either direction.
They are not memorable, but solid.
The par 3 twelfth hole is the signature hole at Aberdovey with the green sitting right on the beachfront dune.
It is not an easy shot in the wind, but it is a good test, and picture postcard stuff.
The road home starts to build here, and holes 13 & 14 run homeward behind the main dune.
Nice holes without that special ingredient, but nice all the same...
Fifteen moves back alongside the train tracks with out of bounds very much in play down the left side of what is a very long, strong par 4 with a compelling green structure- 3 pot bunkers down the left side, one on the right and a long, long green.
It looks great and the long narrow 16th tee running alongside looks for all the world to me like a station platform!
Hole 16 is a driveable short par 4 with the green, and last 80 metres of the hole set in some heaving dunes.
It is a brilliant hole.
The last 2 holes are long par 4's with water play on the left hand side, and a clutch of bunkers set to catch the errant shot.
And the closing hole has one of the biggest greens I have ever seen.
Aberdovey is a mix of quirky 'real links' holes set in the dunes, and some quality golf holes in flatter marshland.
It is an easy walk, and a very pleasant place to play golf.
After 5 holes I was ready to apply for my Welsh passport, but reality set in...now I plan to visit again soon.
The start and finish of the course are outstanding and the middle holes good quality without the same character.
In any conditions you will need to play well to post a score, with those long par 4's putting your long game under scrutiny.
Aberdovey is a regular host of amateur championships, and has hosted the Welsh Senior Open.
I now understand what Bernard Darwin was taking about!!
It is a beautiful setting and a wonderful course which has enough moments of brilliance to bring you back time and again..
Aberdovey has a good quality dormy house with 6 twin share rooms, all with ensuite.
It is a good option for groups of travelling golfers. And golfers can play Royal St David, and transfer to Aberdovey on the very scenic train line that connects the two.
How good is that?
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