I tend to get that quite often due to the nature of courses I visit and I therefore immediately knew I was going to have a fun round. And after the monstrosity of the first hole Welshpool is a cracking little hilltop golf course.
Less said about the blind, hogged-back, 360-yard opener the better. I’m still not sure if my perfectly struck drive, just to the right of the marker post with a hint of draw on a tail wind, was lost to the left, to the right or if it simply ran into the farmers field behind the hole that the fairway unfairly plummets towards from 100 yards out with little to stop it except sheep dung. Before you ask I did check in the hole and even if I’d made an albatross I’d still be cursing this rotten par four.
On a more positive note The Club moved to its present location on Golfa Hill in 1930 and was designed by the talented James Braid. Voted Club of the Year in 2012 by the Golf Union of Wales Bernard Darwin once wrote of it, “The fact is that it is almost as impossible to describe the course as to describe the view; it is so unexpected, so unlike anything else, perched on the roof of the world. It is a beautiful place and I realised how incomplete had been my golfing education until I had seen it”.
I’d already played Church Stretton and Kington earlier in the day and was expecting more of the same at Welshpool and it certainly didn’t disappoint in this regard. The quality of turf wasn’t quite as good as the two aforementioned venues, in fact it was surprisingly wet in places, but the type of golf is certainly a family relation and I found it extremely enjoyable. Your ball might not always end up where you expect it to, or even where it deserves to, but so long as you don't take this personally you'll have a great time up here.
The first real touch of class comes at the par-three third where the green site screams quality. And you don’t have to wait much longer for more good stuff. The next two holes are both wonderful two-shotters yet so different in style. The fourth is played to a plateau green up in the gods whilst the tempting fifth arches round to the right to a splendidly located green across a small ravine.
The remainder of the front nine simmers quite nicely but without reaching the heights of the three-hole run from three to five although the eighth green is a thing to behold; long, narrow and sloping steeply from back to front at the foot of an enormous hill – don’t go long! The ninth green is also exceptional with a back-left ledge that would require the most accurate of approaches if the hole were to be located there.
The tenth continues the upward march to the summit of the hill where a number of the holes are then played. This part of the course is all about the green sites and their surrounds. The 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th all have superbly located putting surfaces with all sorts of dicey recovery shots required if they are missed. Approaching the 12th green feels like you are playing towards the end of the Earth!
It’s unusual for stroke-index one to be a par three but that is the case with the 192-yard 14th and whilst I’m not quite sure this delectable green complex is played to from the best angle it is certainly a memorable and difficult hole.
The final three holes of this par-70 golf course are played on the opposite side of the escarpment to the earlier holes on the back-nine but they produce more of the same good golf, if not better. The par 5-3-4 finish is wonderfully worked although I can’t help thinking that the drive at the 16th would be improved if the tee were to be moved higher up the ridge so that you fire towards the fairway at a slight angle. The 17th is a stellar par-three across the slope whilst the 18th is a real jaw-dropper where choosing the correct line to the snaking fairway in the distance, across a gigantic valley, is crucial. The only downside to this hole is that you have to trek down the valley and then back up the other side to get to the fairway – not exactly what you want on your 54th hole of the day!
So that’s Welshpool; 5,806 yards of pure enjoyment, fun and entertainment (except for the first!).
The course features in our best golf courses under 6,000 yards.
Eyemouth is an easy-going, golf course with many different sections but mostly plays along the clifftops of the beautiful coastline close to the England-Scotland border.
There is something about Elie that puts you under a spell. It is a truly magical links that, after just one round, has won a place in my heart and mind forever.