In 1905 a group of local businessmen had the foresight to establish an 18-hole golf course on land overlooking the spa town of Llandrindod Wells to service the needs of the thousands of visitors that flocked to the town to “take the waters”.
The course was designed by six times open champion Harry Vardon, and altered some years later by James Braid, to produce, essentially, the superb course of 18 challenging holes, almost 5800 yards in length (par 69), that you see today.
Inaugurated in 1907 with a match between Vardon, James Braid and the legendary J H Taylor, this Club undoubtedly has an impeccable ancestry. Host club from 1954 to 1961 to the Welsh Boys’ Championships and from 2000 to the present time to the Welsh Golfing Union’s Individual Handicap Championship this mature and traditional course offers memorable golf and a warm welcome to all visitors.
It is pleasing to note that almost one hundred years later the club is showing the same initiative and foresight, as the founders, in further developing the Club and course for the rigours and demands of the 21 st Century, with the construction of a floodlit driving range, on land adjacent to the first fairway, and the enlargement of the Clubhouse to include modern changing facilities for both ladies and gents and during 2005 the provision of electric buggies to make playing this superb course even more attractive.
However one of the major achievements for the Club has been its nomination as winner in the Welsh Golfing Union/Towergate Leisure WELSH GOLF CLUB OF THE YEAR 2004 competition.
Those were the heady days of Cleeks, Mashies, Niblicks, Jiggers and Hickory shafts; when winning the Open was as much about the size of your hat as it was about your four round total; when it took guile and cunning to think your way round a tricky course; golf truly was a different game when this wonderful course was born.
Perhaps best described as an "Upland Links" course, it provides a true test for golfers of all abilities. Lush upland turf on which the ball sits up invitingly, turf banks and natural hazards, with well protected true greens, rated amongst the best in Wales, it offers the chance to play links type golf amongst the rolling hills. By the standards of today, the course is not long but do not be lulled into thinking that it is a push over; against a par of 69 the course record still stands at only 65.
Overlooking the town and the neighbouring valleys, you get a sense of timelessness as you look down from the first tee across the boating lake to the roofs of the Victorian town.
To play the course you almost need a new game plan each time that you step onto the next tee. Length is not the most important asset on the course.
If you fail to place the ball in the correct part of the fairway off the tee, many approach shots are played blind, and blind shots can be dangerous and often lead to ugly double bogies!
Out of bounds comes into play on eight of the holes and a solid 75 can soon become a disappointing 85 if you put a couple over the fence and lose one or two when going for dangerous shots.
This is the romance of playing golf at Llandrindod Wells. Linger a moment on your round and absorb the magic of the soft rolling hills which surround you. Admire the Buzzards and Red Kites which patrol the sky above the course.
To single out one hole is almost impossible but there has always been a certain notoriety attaching to the lucky 13th! From an elevated tee, you face a tee shot that has to carry an almost vertical bank some 200 yards away, with out of bounds tight to the left side and trees and deep rough to the right.
The approach shot from the fairway is a fairly simple one with a short iron to one of the more open greens on the course but, if you are standing on that tee with the wind in your face and the rain coming down, needing at worst a five to stay in the competition, you may well be just about to get the fright of your life ...
Not for nothing did Harry Vardon name the 297 yard, par 4, 18th "Death or Glory". Stand on the tee and make your decision, take an iron and play safe, or a wood and attack the carry of some 250 yards over a deep valley and the road beyond? But take heart, this hole has been aced, but only the once.
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