For views, Conwy is difficult to top. But sweep aside the beautiful bay and the stunning mountains, what does the course play like? Steve Carroll went to play the Curtis Cup venue
We’ll have to wait for the Curtis Cup for now – the battle of the finest women amateurs from GB&I and the USA is expected to return to this corner of Wales next year after the tournament was a victim of the coronavirus pandemic. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy our Conwy Golf Club review.
The anticipation will only whet the appetite to see what those elite players can do on a course that has genuine star quality.
The setting is absolutely breathtaking. On one side is the mouth of the River Conwy and Conwy Estuary and the other is dominated by Conwy Mountain. There won’t be many prettier places to play golf but, before you get wrapped up in the environment, what’s the course like?
It’s worth noting that we visited Conwy in early March, before the coronavirus lockdown that closed courses in the UK and before the Curtis Cup was subsequently postponed by the R&A. Take account of Welsh Government Covid-19 rules if looking to secure a tee-time.
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What can we expect from Conwy?
Concentrating on what’s in front of you is quite difficult when so much beauty abounds but this traditional links, which dates back to the late 19th century, is up to the challenge from the very start.
The opening hole looks straight forward enough but out of bounds runs all the way down to the right hand side to distract any player touting anything more than a fade.
The short 2nd, protected by a pair of bunkers in front and a trio on the right, runs off on all sides if you don’t hold the green and gives you a sense of what is to come.
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There’s no particularly subtlety to the challenge – what you must conquer is laid out in front of you – but that doesn’t make it any less difficult.
The opening sextet of holes are tough, played into a prevailing and swirling wind that is yardage sapping. The 5th is particularly hard work. It wasn’t a particularly breezy day when I played Conwy but I watched a decent drive nose dive out of the air and leave 220 to a green that’s very difficult to hit thanks to three bunkers.
You get a little bit of respite around the turn but the finishing half dozen are in complete contrast to what’s come before.
Wide-open linksland becomes much narrower, with gorse and trees hemming you in – particularly on the 16th. Suddenly, getting the ball in play is the over-riding concern in a series of holes that reminded me quite strongly of Gailes Links in places.
Be in no doubt. While Conwy is lovely to look at, it’s a layout that bares its teeth – and it should prove up to the task of handling our exceptional amateurs in the early summer.
What were your favourite holes?
The sunken green on the 7th, which is tight against out of bounds on the left, runs right up to the beach and it’s quite a sight when you finish the hole and rise up to the 8th. There’s lots to like about the 3rd, where it’s one job hitting the fairway before trying to hit a slightly raised green that is guarded by a couple of very trappy bunkers.
But, for reasons that will become obvious, I felt the 13th was just a wonderful advertisement for Conwy – a sensational view, a tough one-shotter but a hole that gives you a chance if you execute correctly from the tee.
Tell us about your best bit?
My best shot of the day came at the very lovely par 3 13th where I nutted a 2-iron into the wind and found the centre of the green. I regret to say, though, I did not hole the putt. So the honours have to go to the closing hole.
I thinned the approach, if I’m honest, but it chased up to about 12 feet and a putt with the very slightest of left to right breaks found the edge of the hole and dropped. A birdie at the last, we’d like to finish every round like that, wouldn’t we?
Will you do anything different next time?
To get a sense of what the Curtis Cup players will face, I took on Conwy off the back tees. This was a mistake. At a shade under 7,000 yards from the tips, and some damper conditions that you’d normally face, I found even good drives were leaving me well short of a meaningful approach.
I kept asking if we were playing par 5s. We weren’t but, for a ‘normal’ hitter, they may as well have been. Next time, I’ll stick to the yellows (6,476) and give myself a chance of some greens in regulation.
Finally, where is Conwy?
You’ll find Conwy on the North Wales coast about an hour’s drive away from Chester and Wrexham.
For more, visit their website.
Have you played Conwy? Let me know in the comments below, or tweet me.
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