Top: The view from the first tee. Above: Dont be short, long or wide at the tough par 3 11th
I love links golf and that smell when you first get out of your car and breath in that salty sea air. It’s day two of my tour and this morning its Royal Porthcawl, a course I’ve waited so long to play and heard so much about. It certainly lives up to it reputation.
It’s another gloriously sunny day and I’m thanking the golfing gods that there’s no wind. I normally love playing in a good breeze but today I want to enjoy the course with the sun shining down on this beautiful stretch of coastline. There are five teeing options here from 7,065 yards off the blacks to 5,840 yards off the reds. The SSS off the blacks is 76. I opt for the white tees which have a SSS 73 and play the par-3s off the blacks.
The first is a gentle opener at 353 yards, but you need to aim at the right side of the fairway as the ball rolls down its slope – and don’t go too long as the bunkers will catch you. If there is a hidden hazard here it’s the sheer beauty of the view as you look out to the links and listen to the waves crashing on the sandy beach a wedge shot away to your left. Golf is a game where you need to concentrate on so many things, but if I were you I’d forget all that. Don’t take any bets or play any matches – just soak up the air, the history and the great design and enjoy the majesty that is Royal Porthcawl.
It’s two weeks away from the Welsh Senior Open and only a year till the Senior Open Championship, and the course couldn’t be in better condition. You can feel the hard running fairways underfoot and the billiard table-like greens. The bunkers are deep and many. Ramsay Hunter, who also designed Royal St Georges, has produced a course that has and will stand the test of any time. Royal Porthcawl is an honour and a privilege to play and there are not many courses in the world that I would say that about.
Looking back down the 5th
Don't miss the green at 7thDeep bunkers at the 9th
All golf photography taken on the day of play © James Mason