Monday, July 29, 2019

Becoming Enchanted From Afar - Royal Porthcawl

I travel a few times a year chasing golf courses and as part of my travels I do a ton of research, often on areas of the world I might never travel to. I often create itineraries in my head, "well if I ever DO make it to the Caribbean, here are the courses I am going to play" and I always tune in to the TV if a professional tournament is playing at one of those far-flung areas I've been researching.

There are a thousands golf courses in the world each offering their own variation on the fantastic game of golf. Golf can be set amongst the pines, or the desert or beautiful parklands.

For me, the ultimate golf course has to involve the sea. I love salt air, really enjoy wind and don't mind the rain (what am I made of sugar?). Given all of those elements, links golf is the ultimate golf for me.

In all of my research, there is one golf course I keep coming back to time after time and that is Royal Porthcawl in Wales, UK. Every so often I stumble across something on the web that reminds me about RP and then I fall down an internet rabbit hole and research the course all over again. This time around it was Mark Crossfield's excellent video about playing the course

The more I think about it, the more RP checks all the boxes I am interested in for a golf course. It is nestled right up on the coastline of Wales assuring me all the salt air and wind I can handle and sea views on every hole. It is also ranked in the Top 100 in the world by Top100 which is no small feat. Watching it on TV it looks like it has a great variety of architectural features that are fun and could keep me interested during repeated play of the course.

It is also drop-dead gorgeous

(picture via Links Magazine:

It is also under the radar and seems very chill for a Top 100 course. After watching The Open last week, of course I want to play Royal Portrush but the shoulders slump a bit when hearing the news that they are booked up on visitor play seemingly through the next year (!?!).  Porthcawl has a great pedigree with tourneys (hosting several Amateurs, a Walker and Curtis Cup along with a British Senior Open) but doesn't have the looming capacity issues that Portrush has.

Of course, my mind also wanders to the thought, well what if you play it, fall in love and then want to play it every year? If it really does live up to the hype that I am seeing through my screen is there any world which my mania would extend into membership?

Aside from being a 13 hour flight from LA, there is a lot of mystery about the club (and clubs that have a "royal" in them). Unlike private clubs in the US, the "private" clubs of the UK/Ireland are upfront about their membership requirements and fees. Often these clubs offer a very reasonable membership since they are heavily subsidized by foreign visitors. The royal clubs including RP play all of this close to the vest which makes the starry-eyed golf researcher who has dreams of an overseas membership wonder if there is even a chance of membership happening.

First things first, I want to play the course. When am I going to go to Wales? I have zero idea. When I get there, do I just play RP for like 7 straight days or do I also wander over to P&K, Southerndown, Royal St. David's, etc. that Visit Wales suggests to make it a proper Welsh getaway? Probably, although I would want to earmark at least 2 rounds if not more at RP (considering I am devoting an entire blog post to the club).

There are some golf "breaks" for a Welsh tour that look interesting via Wales Golf Holidays:

Since I don't know the hows or whys or whens for now I just check out RP's course via their awesome first tee webcam.

Do you have any courses you are enchanted by but have never played? Let me know in the comments!

For more information about Royal Porthcawl check out this link:

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