Top: The gorse surrounding the 3rd green. Above: More views and gorse at the 18th
Well, it’s the final day of my South Wales sojourn and it’s become the tour that just keeps giving. Next up is Cardigan and as you pull into the car park and get out, you know you’re in for a memorable day’s golf. The view across the course to Cardigan Bay and the clear blue skies on the horizon are jaw-dropping, and if you’ve been following each course in order you will know I have seen some stunning views on this tour.
We’ve had a horrible winter in Britain and a lot of courses have suffered. But it seems that Cardigan has not only survived but truly blossomed. The gorse is in full bloom and frames the holes beautifully. I’m standing on the back tee at the par-5 ninth hole, with Cardigan Bay below and the stretch of beach that reaches another bay below in the distance. The sun is high in the deep blue sky. When they advertised for this course’s designer, it must have read something like: ‘Ability to create views that can stop an ogre in his tracks and make him smile, a prerequisite’.
Actually, a Tenby golf professional named JE Grant designed the course in the 1920s. It’s not a long course at 6,455 yards from the white tees and is a mixture of parkland/links and sits on the side of a hill above Cardigan Bay. I’m playing the course on yet another beautiful day and I know how lucky I am to have caught this week of blue skies and temperatures in the low 20s. Some holes are still playing 2/3 club difference because of the ‘gentle’ breeze and I can imagine how tough this course can be when the wind really does blow.
The third and fourth are probably my two favourite holes. I just love the way the gorse frames the holes. The green at the fourth is raised and surrounded by the bright yellow flowering gorse bushes and anything short will be rolling off into one of the bunkers waiting to collect your ball. Looking down the fairway from the tee of the fourth is a beautiful and frightening sight at the same time – the fairway slopes from right-to-left and the gorse bushes line the fairway waiting to collect a stray tee shot, and of course the front nine comes to a close with those aforementioned views.
The highlight of the back nine has to be the par-3 16th with the illusion of the green seemingly perched on a precipice with only the sea and bay behind. The green is long and thin, feeding into a raised round portion at the back. Anything long, you are looking at bogey. Anything short, you’re looking at least three-putting. And miss it left or right and you’re in a bunker. If I was you, I’d soak up the views from the tee and throw your card in the bin on your way past!
Stunning views at the 4th
More great views at the 9thTough pin placement at 16
All golf photography taken on the day of play © James Mason