Thursday, August 25, 2011

Play Royal Porthcawl for the Ultimate British Isles Golf Experience

One of my all-time favorite golf experiences was playing Royal Porthcawl Golf Club in Wales. My son and I played this magnificent seaside layout on a brutal March day with 30 mph winds and rain blowing in our faces. 

Despite the torturous weather conditions, our round was an enjoyable one because the course and its setting are as good as it gets in the British Isles. Though it has hosted numerous important tournaments such as the 1995 Walker Cup, Royal Porthcawl is often overlooked for some reason.

You can see the sea from every hole and there are inspiring views south to Somerset and Exmoor, and northwest across Swansea Bay to the Gower Peninsula. The holes are designed facing every direction and you’ll never know when the wind will blow directly in your face.

Though it’s a private club, the members are very welcoming to visitors and you don’t feel like an interloper. Royal Porthcawl opened in 1895 and you’ll experience its 19th century character at every turn.

After a round, the quaint, cozy bar has a wide range of whiskies for a bit of a warmer as you try to defrost from a chilly day and an excellent selection of draft beers. The clubhouse is perched some 40 feet above the sea affording stunning views as you enjoy your drink. It’s a great place whether you’re celebrating a round or drowning your sorrows.

You can stay at the on-site Dormy Lodge, which offers six single and three twin rooms. Each room is furnished with an en-suite bathroom, remote control TV, DVD player, wireless Internet and tea and coffee making facilities.  Twin rooms/double occupancy cost about $80 a night.

We stayed about a mile away from the course at the Atlantic Hotel in the village of Porthcawl, a friendly bed and breakfast with 25 rooms. In addition to a fantastic full English breakfast each morning, the property has an excellent bar and restaurant, tastefully decorated rooms, complimentary parking, and views of the Bristol Channel to North Devon and Somerset. Room rates for a standard double room are in the $100 to $150 range, depending on the season and other factors.

If you’re looking for an undiscovered gem that’s welcoming to visitors, Royal Porthcawl is a must play on your next visit to England.