Wales Still on Ryder Cup High

Royal Porthcawl, Wales (Image: Royal Porthcawl)

Royal Porthcawl Golf Club is one of the world’s classic links. (Image: Royal Porthcawl)

(Last updated October 2021.)

It’s no exaggeration to say that the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor Resort, a thriller won by the Europeans, finally established Wales as a golf destination to rival Scotland and Ireland.

Revenue from golf tourism in Wales increased 21 percent over the previous year to more than US$66 million. And in the subsequent boom years prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, approximately 200,000 foreign golfers visited Wales annually, compared to about 30,000 in the years before the Ryder Cup.

Outside of Cardiff, the bustling capital, visitors discover a largely pastoral and ruggedly picturesque countryside dotted with medieval castles, charming inns and more than 200 courses—ranging from parkland beauties set in the shadow of towering mountains to coastal links that remain open year-round. Though part of Great Britain, Wales remains fiercely independent, retaining a distinct cultural identity and the native Welsh language, which is spoken by more than 580,000 of the country’s three million citizens.

Here, five must-play courses in Wales:

  • Royal Porthcawl Golf Club
    One of the world’s classic links, wind-battered Royal Porthcawl thrillingly—and unusually, even for a seaside layout—offers ocean views from every hole. Dating from 1895, the venerable beauty hosted the Senior Open Championship in 2014 and 2017, and is scheduled to host again in 2023.
  • Royal St. David’s Golf Club
    Overlooked by magnificent Harlech Castle and the mountains of Snowdonia, Royal St. David’s is a links renowned for its seaside beauty and its superb, large greens.
  • Aberdovey Golf Club
    A classic links beloved by legendary golf writer Bernard Darwin, Aberdovey follows a graceful figure eight routing through the dunes near the sleepy seaside village of the same name. But tread carefully around the single-strand electric fences used to keep grazing cattle off the putting greens.
  • Pennard Golf Club
    Perched high above Three Cliffs Bay, Pennard Golf Club was designed by the immortal James Braid on linksland that wends around the ruins of a twelfth-century Norman Castle and offers spectacular views of plunging sea cliffs and deserted beaches.
  • Celtic Manor Resort
    The big attraction at this 400-room North American-style luxury resort in the picturesque Usk Valley is the Twenty Ten course, a parkland-style brute specifically built to host the Ryder Cup. Also offered is the excellent Montgomerie Course, designed by 2010 Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie; and the Roman Road, a solid layout offering lovely views across the Severn Estuary.