Porthmadog – James Braid (1906)
To the busy harbor town of Porthmadog, a tourist hot spot with many attractions including its golf club, another James Braid N Wales design that makes perfect use of an enviable landscape.
Course of two halves
It’s the ultimate course of two halves, a golfing examination where the difficulty rating grows in tandem with Porthmadog’s dramatic setting. The opening nine is a straight-ahead parkland challenge with elements of heathland thrown in and water hazards featuring on five holes.
The back nine couldn’t be of greater contrast, tough and bumpy seaside links at its finest, a natural and exciting stretch of holes to test your skills to their fullest, all set around the spectacular rocky headland known as Black Rock Sands.
The natural terrain, with land reclaimed from the sea in years past, guarantees year-long play plus fine conditioning too, the putting surfaces are typically fast and consistently high quality throughout.
The likely key for success here is to gather a good score together early doors and hang onto it later when the elements will in all likelihood play a major role in your fortunes.
The opening stretch will give birdie opportunities notably at three shortish par fives, all reachable in two for the long hitters.
The par-three sixth treats you to a spectacular island green to guarantee you an early highlight, then closing the front nine is another short hole, the raised tee will give a good indication of the breezes that are about as you head towards the coast.
The holes by the coastline are true classics, towering dunes and thick seaside grasses gather ominously to provide stiff defenses as well as demanding a bit of typical links hit and hope shots to blind targets.
A stretch of holes to favorably compare with any of the classic coastal layouts the North Wales coast is blessed with.
On a windy day, short holes like the long 11th and the 13th with its beach edge raised tee may just prove too tough, club selection a lottery, yet the stunning setting makes it a rewarding experience even if the scorecard suffers a little.
Following that in quick succession and moving back towards dry land, encounter “Himalayas”, the 14th hole, a par four of 378 yards with a huge natural bunker that hides the fairway from the tee, the marker post is your only guide, and as you’ll find out it doesn’t mark a particularly wide target. We recorded our attempts to conquer it as part of our Wales Golf Signature Hole series, click below to find out how we got on.
Back towards the clubhouse, the closing holes ease in difficulty a little, finishing with a generous 18th, a nice wide fast running fairway to set up a potential birdie finish. After what’s gone before, you’ll be glad of it.
MG Pick, 12th Hole……. 358 yards Par 4 (back tees)
From this exposed back tee it’s an inspiring spot to drive a golf ball, yet it’s a formidable task to find a safe landing spot with a fair bit of beach to carry too.
Even if that’s achieved, total precision is required to find an undulating punch-bowl green carved out of the mounds, with a little pot bunker cruelly placed to punish anything under hit. The ultimate seaside golfing hole and a great challenge.
Porthmadog has a decent sized roomy clubhouse, space to accommodate large societies with ease. The club also has two large practice areas and a very nicely situated putting green that’s well worth a visit.
It’s the anticipation of knowing what’s coming your way as you chalk off the holes that makes Porthmadog so alluring. That’s not to say the first nine is a poor relation, far from it and the island sixth is a true highlight.
Yet it’s the links that many of us come for and it’s as spectacular here as anywhere around with some amazing sea and mountain views.
Always a friendly welcome here, Gwilym in the office and Mark in the pro shop can never do enough for us.
Tel: 01766 512037 – www.porthmadog-golf-club.co.uk