Some dreams, if you work hard enough, become reality. This is the case of the Ty Coch Inn, which is located on the small beach strip, on the left side, right at the foot of the small road that winds its way down from the 16th hole.
The pub is considered one of the 10 best “beach bars” in the world, according to the very credibly named site “Cheap Flights”. But in this case, they are right. People flock to the pub even though you have to walk 20 minutes to get there. There are no roads to the village of Porthdinllaen. None you can drive on if you are a tourist. You have to cross the golf course or walk along the beach to grab a pint here.
And when you do, you can in your imagination travel back in time the 1890s when some men thought that they would use that peninsula behind the pub to make something sensible. A golf course, that is.
“Here, the sea is visible from every green”
We are in Wales, the northern part. The course is called Nefyn & District Golf Club, and its location is quite unknown. Which is quite strange. And the number of holes is also odd: 24. The original holes are 1 through 10. Then you can choose to play two different 8-hole loops as the finish. One loop is called New, the other Old. How they manage their schedule is beyond me.
The course is on the Llyn Peninsula, just two and a half hours drive southwest of Liverpool. It is a course whose greatest asset is its location. The course itself has been described as both comical and bizarre. But we do not complain about that when it comes to, for example, Cruden Bay in Scotland and the unsteady cable cars in western Ireland.
On the contrary. It gives these places their charm.
But it seems to be the fate of the Welsh golf - to be overlooked, a little forgotten and plagued by misfortune. The Open Championship has never been played in Wales. By the way, no Welshman has won that competition, not even in its early years. And when Wales and Celtic Manor arranged the 2010 Ryder Cup on the course built for the occasion, the Twenty Ten Course, in just a few days, half of all the rain that they get annually fell in just a couple days. That was bad timing.
The rain overshadowed most things, and the stories that always arise in connection with these matches were unfortunately all about the rainfall: We all remember that it rained so much that the U.S. team’s raingear from Sun Mountain started leaking water. This was allegedly due to Captain Corey Pavin's wife embroidering the players' names on their backs. The American players ended up having to buy European Pro Quip gear in the souvenir tent.
The match was finished on Monday – a first in Ryder Cup history. But after all the rain came the fog, and the start was delayed when players were unable to see the flags they were shooting for.
Afterwards, someone tried to claim that the match was “the greatest ever”. The applause was fleeting, even though the closing ceremony in the glorious sun was better than a BBC thriller. However, from a European perspective, it was a happy ending.
“Those seeking the genuine have extremely good reasons to schedule some golf days in Wales”
Wales has 200 golf courses on an area two-thirds the size of Småland. The first course appeared in the 1880s. Of course, which club was first is disputed. No one denies that Pontnewydd in Monmouthshire was the first actual course. Golf was played there as early as 1875, but the course was a short one and is hence not considered a true contender by many.
Royal Porthcawl, visible on this page, is at least one of Wales' oldest. All early courses were links, built on hard-to-use land which was considered useless. Porthcawl grew to be one of the more successful courses in Wales. Here, several major competitions have been played.
The Amateur Championship on six occasions, the Walker Cup in 1995, the Curtis Cup in 1964, the British Masters in 1961 and the Welsh Golf Classic in the 1980s. This year, the track hosts the Senior Open Championship.
In 2002, 30,000 golfers came to Wales. In the wake of the Ryder Cup, there were 200,000, of which 76,000 were from the USA. Most people who were there found it very fun: that the type of golf played is more like an adventure on dramatic topography with sheep, horses and cows that roam freely over playing surfaces that only rarely offer shots from a level surface. The shape of the course is just as wavy as the ocean beside it.
And despite 76,000 Americans have visited, there hasn’t been nearly the same green-fee price hike that the rest of the UK has experienced.