I remember Ann Robinson on the BBC programme consigning Wales to Room 101, and when 20 minutes after my SatNav took me on to the B4407 through Snowdonia, the road suddenly disappeared under a snowdrift as I went over the brow of a hill and it looked like I was going to be stuck in the middle of nowhere literally fearing for my life, I was inclined to agree with her.
Getting back on the A5 and then making my way the long way round, I finally made it to my hotel in Abersoch and had a good few drinks to calm my nerves and my still shaking hands. But the next day I knew I was to play Nefyn and if everything that I had been told and read about Nefyn Golf Club was true, this is one place that was going to soothe my soul.
Nefyn and District Golf Club
There have been many poetic words said about Nefyn. Talk to any golfer that has played there and they will rave about its beauty. When it was confirmed at GM towers that I would be playing Nefyn on this tour of North Wales some of the Golf Monthly staff were telling me how much of a treat I was in for.
After meeting up with the pro John Froom I was on my way, the wind was up and the 1st tee was calling me. My heart skipped a beat as I looked down the hill with the sea as the back drop, from my first drive down to the marker post, to my last drive up the hill at the 18th, Nefyn was everything I had ever read or been told and more.
The 12th is as tough a tee shot you will play, especially from the back tees and the drive over the cliffs at the 13th. Will see you reload just to see how much you can carry, This is golf at its most enjoyable, risk reward on nearly every shot and you will want to risk everything just to say you have done it.
You also have to visit the old Ty Coch Inn, which is in a cove just below and to the right of the 12th green, or before you play the 16th or both!!!
On the rocks the 12th Green
Tough tee shot at the 12th tee
Heading back to the 17th tee
If you play around Christmas time the mulled wine will go down a treat and warm the cockles of your heart.
What can I add to all that has been said about Nefyn? Play it before you go to the big clubhouse in the sky, it will live with you forever when you do, and your heart will skip a beat when you recall to friends the day you teed it up on Nefyn.
Abersoch Golf Club
This little gem of a track wasnít on my itinerary to play, but I had a free day and Mark and Sue, who are the proud owners of the Neigwl hotel, said I should play it if I had the chance and am I glad I heeded their advice. Harry Varden, the six times Open Champion no less, designed what is known as the old nine with five holes running along the side of the dunes with some spectacular views along the beach at Abersoch and across to Snowdonia.
Marker post on the 7th fairway
Looking our to see at the 8th 9th, play to the right of the tree
At 5847 yards itís not the longest track, but what it lacks in length it more than makes up for with its beauty, undulating fairways, blind tee and second shots. The stretch of holes from the 5th to the 9th are a joy to play and a worthy legacy from the six times Open champion.
Any track that has its own ale has got to be worth a shout.
Bull Bay Golf club
Set high above Bull Bay on the isle of Anglesey you will find this the only Welsh creation of W Herbert Fowler - designer of Walton Heath and the blue and red courses at the Berkshire and Saunton. The track was opened in 1913 with an exhibition match between JH Taylor and James Braid, illustrious company indeed.
2nd Looking back at the bay
Looking down the 10th hole 16th green with stunning views
Although you can see the sea from many holes and the wind plays a major factor, this is more a heathland track than a links. The thing that will last long in the memory once you reach the 18th is that no two holes are similar which makes for a really interesting round of golf.
Itís hard to pick out individual holes because it was such an enjoyable round, but for me a contender is the par four 4th hole at 383 yards from an elevated tee with views of Snowdonia as a backdrop. Itís a great driving hole, your second is to a steep sloping plateau green.
The par five 11th hole at 505 yards is a great risk and reward hole with its undulating fairway that twists and turns. Go for the green in two and eagle could be yours, but only a well struck shot will hold this plateau green.
The 18th is a classic finishing hole back down to the clubhouse. From an elevated tee and the highest point on the track, there are stunning views of Bull Bay and out to the Irish Sea and on a clear day you can see the Isle of Man.At 446 yards this hole is at the mercy of the wind.
If the wind is in your face and whistling up from the bay you wonít be hitting the green in two, down wind you could be hitting as little as a wedge for your second. At 6276 yards itís not the longest but itís a great track that will challenge you and one, when youíre sitting in the clubhouse perched just behind the 18th green, you will long to return to.
Conway Golf Club
As most of Britain descended into the next ice age, I was fortunate that Conway has its own micro climate as within the space of the following three hours I would experience a bitter cold and biting wind, sunshine, and heavy snow. What more could one want when playing one of North Walesís premier tracks.
With club secretary Aled Jones to guide me round we set out on our adventure. It was literally the calm before the storm when we teed it up on the par four 1st.
A 3 wood down the middle and we were off. Set in the foothills of the Conway mountains at the end of the Snowdonia mountain range and the Conway estuary and the Great Orme, you couldnít want for a more beautiful setting.
Taking aim at the mountains
The tough par 3 15th Position not power at the 17th
Even in the biting wind and snow I could not help but enjoy the experience. Seeing my ball soaring towards the snow capped mountains from the 8th tee just made me smile. Stand-out holes for me were the par four 4th hole with the tee next to the beach at 379 yards. Itís not the longest but affords you great views from the tee and just wills you to hit a great tee shot.
But like all great courses the finishing stretch from the 15th to the 18th are not only some of the best on the course but will test your nerve and skill. The par three 15th kicks off this run of holes at 162 yards to a fairly new green surrounded by gorse and five bunkers and at only 29 yards in depth you will need a well struck iron to hit and hold the dance floor. With narrow fairways on 16 and 17 position more than power is needed here.
The 18th is a great finishing hole, and with a dogleg right at 382 yards it is is a great risk and reward hole. Bite off as much of the corner as you choose to set yourself up for your second to the narrow but long green perched just beneath the clubhouse, where you can enjoy the views back across the estuary and the Great Orme range of hills.It doesnít get much better than this.
Unfortunately due to the severe weather conditions I didnít get to play Porthmadog (under snow), North Wales (severe frost) and Rhuddlan (under snow). This just goes to show the wealth of great tracks in such a small but stunning catchment area.
I wouldnít recommend B roads in severe weather conditions across Snowdonia, but unlike Anne Robinson I would heartily recommend North Wales. The people are very friendly and the courses are some of the best youíll ever play, enjoy.