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Tony_Muldoon

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Aberdovey. Photo tour.
« on: January 14, 2010, 04:49:03 PM »
Aberdovey

All writers on the course pay homage to the fact that this was Bernard Darwin’s personal favourite course, one about which he wrote on many occasions.  So stealing form Tom MacWood's IMO piece here’s a selection of some of his writings on Aberdovey.
“There are several very excellent course in Wales, but I am quite determined to put Aberdovey first-not that I make for it any claim that it is the best, not even on the strength of its alphabetical pre-eminence, but because it is the course that my soul loves best of all the courses in the world. Every golfer has a course for which he feels some such blind and unreasoning affection. When he is going to this his golfing home he packs up his clubs with a peculiar delight and care; he anxiously counts the diminishing number of stations that divide him from it, and finally steps out on the platform, as excited as a schoolboy home for the holidays, to be claimed by his own familiar caddie. A golfer can only have one course towards which he feels quite in this way, and my one is Aberdovey.

http://www.golfclubatlas.com/images/DarwinAberdovey.jpg
Darwin, second from the left, watches his uncle prepare to hit at Aberdovey.

I can faintly remember the beginning of golf at Aberdovey in the early ‘eighties. Already rival legends have clustered round that beginning, but the true legend says that the founder was Colonel Ruck [Darwin's Uncle Arthur], who, having played some golf at Formby, borrowed nine flower-pots from a lady in the village and cut nine holes on the marsh to put them in. The first five holes as the visitor knows them now were then but a wilderness. There was no ‘Cader’ and no ‘Pulpit’; we had a long weary walk along the road to the level-crossing, and began with the present fifth hole, which was then guarded by a fine clump of gorse, long since cut to pieces by merciless niblicks. Then came a period when we began and ended on the piece of land which now serves Aberdovey as a recreation ground, and there was a wonderful last hole in which we drove off from a spot near the present eighteenth tee, carried with our second shot the railway line and a mighty pile of sleepers, and holed out on the cricket pitch. Finally, at the time of the first meeting at Easter, 1893, the course had taken something like the shape which it has kept ever since, save for the later introduction of the new home-coming holes.”
“I have told of the flower-pot beginnings of the Aberdovey course; but our first meeting did not come till some years afterwards. It took place at Easter, I think, in 1892, when I was fifteen, and was a great occasion. I have a photograph of the players grouped in front of the curiously castellated rampart which guarded the twelfth green and was the pride and masterpiece of John Jones, the green keeper. There is a considerable assemblage of the inhabitants, mostly in bowler hats, but of players I can count no more than eleven, of which my own relations make up a considerable part. Our best player was Mr. AB Sanders, then at Winchester, a boy rival of mine and a better golfer. He was a very good player for a boy, with a neat and graceful style, and though he afterwards played for Oxford, never came nearly up to his early promise. I think a rash imitation of Hugh Kilkardy’s tremendous swing proved his undoing. He and his brother and father and uncle were our faithful supporters, and, in addition, we had two strangers who dropped from the clouds on Aberdovey and helped to make us feel our meeting was really open to all England, and not merely a parochial affair. They were called Mr. Harrison and Mr. Richardson, and though they never came back to see us again we always hoped that they would, and for years their names were freshly remembered as the two earliest of our patrons.
Before the meeting we met in a room in the village and handicapped one another by mutual consent. I well remember how, when the whisky and soda were produced, a local member rushed to the window and pulled down the blinds, lest the supporters of temperance should be shocked. On the first day Mr. AB Sanders returned what we all thought a marvelous score of 93 and carried off the handicap prize with many strokes to spare. I must have done very badly, for I know that, to my secret indignation, my handicap was raised the next day from 9 to 13. It was a bitter, if no doubt salutary, wound to my vanity. However, I scored in the end, for when it came to the scratch medal something happened to my rival and I won. I had broken my solitary wooden club-not over my knee-and so drove with a cleek. My score would not now be considered a good one, being exactly 100. However, nothing could alter the fact that I won the scratch medal, and with it an electro-plated candlestick tastefully intertwined with a laurel wreath and crowned by golf clubs.
Toward the end of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth, our summer meeting became the really considerable one that it has been ever since…Our chief event was the Allcock Bowl, a match-play tournament under handicap. It never attained to quite the status of the Harlech Town Bowl, of which we were very jealous, but we had sixty or seventy entries and much good fun and good golf. I managed to win it two years running, I think in 1904 and 1905 from a handicap of plus 4. I never played in it again till after the war, when I won it again. In the year after that victory I again got into the final, but lost to a clerical adversary to whom I had given rather too many strokes. When he beat me on the seventeenth green my then small son exclaimed passionately, ‘I shall pray for his damnation.’ But I trust these prayers have not been answered, for he was a most gallant enemy.”
On Harry Colt and the infamous Cader: “Colt was a great admirer of all that was old in golf. His architectural views were largely founded, I think, as have been those of his contemporaries and successors, on the Old Course at St. Andrews and its great holes. He was by nature traditional and austere, but his sense of humour and his business sense alike forbade him to be too fierce to those who did not agree with him. He himself had some contempt for admirers of blind shots over hill-tops and ‘gathering’ greens in craters, but he was ready to make reasonable concessions to the weaker brethren who liked them. I remember very well an occasion when he was called in to advise at Aberdovey and I was asked to accompany him as amicus curiae. I was naturally anxious that he should approve of the links, but I was terrified lest he should too violently disapprove of the third hole-it was then the fourth-well known to all who have ever played there as Cader. This is a perfectly blind one-shot hole over a big hill, with a black-sleepered crest, to a green set in a wilderness of sand. It is a very old friend, regarded with some local pride, and if he should propose to alter this hole it is I who would be lynched. I was relieved when he accepted it in almost complete silence. He gave a withering glance at a low bank behind the green, said ‘Take that back-wall away’ and passed on.”
The Great Revulsion of 1933: “It has often been said that the limit has been reached in the lengthening of courses and that some fine day the rabbits will rise in their wrath, hurl the tigers into the tumbrels, and put the tees forward to please themselves. Yes, it has been said often, but has anybody really believed that it would happen? I hardly think so, and yet it has happened. In the words of the enterprising reporter, ‘I am now able to reveal’ that a well-known and highly respectable golf club has decided to chop some 500 yards off the length of its course. The great revulsion has begun.
This tremendous event has come about, but not quite in the expected way. The reader who has got so far probably pictures to himself a group of wild-eyed, triumphant, bloodthirsty, ‘carmagnole’ dancing rabbits. He is quite wrong. Those tame, down-trodden animals would have endured for ever had they not been led on by the tigers, nor poor, old ex-tigers growing yearly stiffer in the back, so that base personal motives could be imputed to them, but the most infantile and slashing tigers of the whole club ‘in the vicious pride of their youth.’
I know that this surprising thing is true because I am writing from the place where it has just happened. This is Aberdovey, and I make no apology for mentioning my King Charles’s head among golf courses because the phenomenon would be interesting wherever the course. Till a week ago Aberdovey at full stretch measured hard on 6,700 yards; now it will measure just under 6,200. I ought to add for those who do not know the course that the turf is always extremely slow; save only in the most hard-baked weather there is very little run on the ball, and 6,200 yards at Aberdovey meant a great deal more in the way of honest hitting than it does on any other seaside course that I know.
Admittedly 500 yards is a big cut and it may turn out to have been a little too big, but it means no more than a reverting to what the course used to be. Not very long ago there was the usual and apparently inevitable movement in favour of lengthening. Treasures of care and thought were spent on the project and I wish to speak with the most respectable sympathy of those [James Braid] who worked so hard at it. They were, I think, just a little too zealous and they made a course full of tremendous qualities on which most of us would have loved to see Bobby Jones play, but on which we found it a little backbreaking to play ourselves. Still we endured, murmuring a little sadly now and again and slogging our poor little hearts out until there came along these noble young tigers who sent a round robin to the committee. Their names deserve to live in our annals for evermore ’surrounded by a rich halo of enthusiastic cheering.’
I will not go into tiresome details. Enough to explain that the short hole, which has lately been the fourteenth, is again to be the fifth, and that we shall play the old sixth hole along the railway line. Apart from that, which I mention for those who know the course, the 500 yards will be nibbled away here and there by a process of putting tees forward. As an example I may give the twelfth, the long hole home and one of the most varied and interesting long holes of my acquaintance. It was discovered that this hole from back tee in the sandhills was over 600 yards long and this against a wind was as Mr. Samuel Weller might say ‘Rayther too rich.’ Quite a comforting little chunk of yards will come off here and there will be smaller chunks elsewhere. Probably we shall not perceive any great differences, but during the round we shall think we are not quite so short, and at the end of the round not quite so old as we had begun to fear we were.
Every golf course has to face its own individual problems, and I am far from saying that all other clubs in the world ought to follow this courageous example. I hope, however, that the news of it may make golfers reflect a little, that golf is played for fun, and that the mental part of golf is at least as good fun as the physical. It so happened that we had at Aberdovey several holes that were played in rather open country and called for very long wooden club shots. Very few people could hit those shots far enough to get up in two, and at the same time there was no great skill required in keeping out of trouble, nor was there any particular problem to be solved in the matter of alternative routes. In short, there was nothing to think about except the depressing and obvious fact that we could not hit quite enough. These holes were steady-going, inglorious fives. With the tees forward I think it highly probably that we shall take more sixes than we used to do, but we shall at least have has the fun and the glory of trying for fours. We shall no longer play the hole in what Mr. Arthur Croome used to call ‘two of those and one of them.’
Jasper Petulengro thought that the chief danger to his race (I have to quote from memory) lay at their being bitten ‘by that mad puppy called gentility.’ It seems to me that a mad puppy threaten golfers. The gentility that wants its course called ‘a championship course.’ I am not thinking of any particular course, but I hear this foolish phrase constantly used. Most courses are not fit for a championship, never will be fit for one, never will get one-and nobody wants to see one there. Then why in the name of goodness should we set up this nonsensical standard and then spoil our courses and break our backs in trying to live up to it. And so Hurrah for our tigers, say I, and Hurrah for the great revulsion!”


Today Aberdovey is too short for a modern championship and too far out f the way to be seen by those who are limited by time but its charm lies in the lack of change it offers. I thought of it when I posted the new course pictures as for the most part it’s also ‘grade level’ architecture to use Sean’s phrase.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2010, 04:51:15 PM by Tony_Muldoon »
on 29th May I am riding 100 Miles to help raise funds for Dementia Research. All donations are welcome.
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Tony_Muldoon

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Re: Aberdovey. Photo tour.
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2010, 04:49:53 PM »
These pictures are a couple of years old and again it as an overcast day. As I didn’t take pictures of tee boxes apologies if I got any mixed up but I think they give a flavour of the course.  I don’t recall seeing any other photos on here.

Darwin also wrote of his excitement taking the train along innumerable little stops to reach Aberdovey.  I drove from the south, the opposite direction to him, but it gives a flavour of the place. The village is a delight.  Is there a railway stop closer to a clubhouse?







« Last Edit: January 14, 2010, 04:53:47 PM by Tony_Muldoon »
on 29th May I am riding 100 Miles to help raise funds for Dementia Research. All donations are welcome.
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Tony_Muldoon

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Re: Aberdovey. Photo tour.
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2010, 04:55:45 PM »
http://www.aberdoveygolf.co.uk/

The course is out and back but it follows a curve and angles do change so it keeps you guessing a little about the wind.
1st 441 yards is not the gentlest start especially into the prevailing wind.  Aberdovey must be the original home of the ‘crumpled eiderdown’ but the burn is really only in play when the wind is howling at 300 off the tee. No bunkers.






2 332 yards

This drive from on high favours those who lay up with a view of the green. The photos start closer in and then offer a view from the green looking back.




3 the famous Cader, 173 yards and these days the dune in front has been reduced so you can at least see the top of the flag form the tee. The most famous blind hole in Golf?








NB the excellent website guide says the hole is bunkerless!
Final picture features my opponent on the day and his grandfather. I have told the tale of what a great round of golf this was before. Until now I haven’t revealed the course and this reminds me, ANY course is less important than good company!
« Last Edit: January 14, 2010, 05:27:51 PM by Tony_Muldoon »
on 29th May I am riding 100 Miles to help raise funds for Dementia Research. All donations are welcome.
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Tony_Muldoon

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Re: Aberdovey. Photo tour.
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2010, 04:58:00 PM »
4  401 yards “Dunes to the left of me, bunkers to my right...



5th  202  So far the course has played parallel to the sea (not that you’re really aware of it) this turns us 90 degrees and due inland.

The green is sloped at the front but flat on top. Selecting the right club is essential.




6th 431 Now we are on the inside track alongside the out of bounds railway. "Train, what train." Cool green





« Last Edit: January 14, 2010, 05:29:16 PM by Tony_Muldoon »
on 29th May I am riding 100 Miles to help raise funds for Dementia Research. All donations are welcome.
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Tony_Muldoon

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Re: Aberdovey. Photo tour.
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2010, 04:59:38 PM »

7th 518 and a bit of a letdown after the cracking start. Long and comparatively flat.




8th  335 yards. Based on one round I think a feature of Aberdovey is choosing how far to drive. Again the prudent golfer will lay back
 




9th 160 yards
Green surface is blind and its 40yards long. This plays towards the sea at the far end of the course. The rough and ready look just added to the appeal.




on 29th May I am riding 100 Miles to help raise funds for Dementia Research. All donations are welcome.
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Tony_Muldoon

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Re: Aberdovey. Photo tour.
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2010, 05:16:18 PM »
10th  440 yards.   Another flatter hole.





11th  407 yards and local traffic.





12 149  What a corker! Plays to a dune overlooking the sea, but don’t be distracted, the green is slippery as seaweed.  
That’s Jim.







« Last Edit: January 14, 2010, 05:27:12 PM by Tony_Muldoon »
on 29th May I am riding 100 Miles to help raise funds for Dementia Research. All donations are welcome.
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Mac Plumart

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Re: Aberdovey. Photo tour.
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2010, 05:30:32 PM »
Very cool stuff!!!
Sportsman/Adventure loving golfer.

Tony_Muldoon

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Re: Aberdovey. Photo tour. New
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2010, 05:32:07 PM »
13 557  Yards, I liked it but again its very flat.






14 401 yards.  Like many holes here there’s a better side of the fairway to approach the green from . This time its the left.



15   509 yards and we switch back to the railway side. Now I think of it I like this one as well!
Unusual layout. Really wide fairway narrow down at 150 mark and then disappears, light rough the rest of the way.

From the end of the fairway



« Last Edit: January 16, 2010, 10:19:30 AM by Tony_Muldoon »
on 29th May I am riding 100 Miles to help raise funds for Dementia Research. All donations are welcome.
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Tony_Muldoon

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Re: Aberdovey. Photo tour.
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2010, 05:57:13 PM »
A mix of interest and strength makes for agreat finish.

16 only 288 yards but perhaps the one of the very few holes in golf I’d kill to play again.  Hard to be sure after jsut one play,  but I think it’s true love.

Basically the nearer the green you hit it, the more loonar the terrain becomes.  Any view of the green is tiny, so you are best laying up to your favourite distance...and then hoping for a flattish lie.   And to add a little spice for those who figure why not flail away with a driver, the railway runs down the left and its OOB. But approach from the right and the ball won’t stick. Genius.





17 428 yards wide open fairway... but go left. Strong hole.






18  443 yards and a great finisher. With the largest green on the course right outside the clubhouse how many nervy putts have been missed on this one?





« Last Edit: January 14, 2010, 05:59:09 PM by Tony_Muldoon »
on 29th May I am riding 100 Miles to help raise funds for Dementia Research. All donations are welcome.
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Dale Jackson

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Re: Aberdovey. Photo tour.
« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2010, 06:34:41 PM »
Tony,  great stuff!  I had always wondered about the course, having read a lot of Darwin over the years.  And 16, based on the photos, is really neat, would love to have a go some day.
I've seen an architecture, something new, that has been in my mind for years and I am glad to see a man with A.V. Macan's ability to bring it out. - Gene Sarazen

Mark_Rowlinson

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Re: Aberdovey. Photo tour.
« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2010, 05:50:14 AM »
Thank you, Tony. I am very fond of Aberdovey, but it doesn't get much praise on this site, presumably because it has a number of apparently featureless flat holes. But they are natural holes and all the better for it. The same criticism is often levelled at Royal St David's. In both cases they were not able - without expensive earthmoving - to utilise fully the dunes, and now it's too late. Did you spot any flower pots on the greens?

It is said that there are as many different theories for how best to play the 16th as there are members of the club.

Tom MacWood

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Re: Aberdovey. Photo tour.
« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2010, 05:57:28 AM »
Tony
Those pictures are fabulous. It is no wonder Darwin loved the place so much and loved the journey there too.

Sean_A

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Re: Aberdovey. Photo tour.
« Reply #12 on: January 15, 2010, 06:08:05 AM »
Tony

Cheers!  I am a big fan of Aberdovey and will be there in March - staying at the dormie house.  Aberdovey is a big favourite of Midlanders.  I really like the 12th (picked it for my dream holes thread) and am happy to have another chance at the hole before the sea takes it.  I also really like the 16th and nearly took it for the dream holes - the one sticking point was the lack of fairway feeding from right down to the green - effectively turning what could be one of the king ground holes into an aerial hole.  My only real criticism of the course is nearly all of the long holes are on the flat.  I would like to see more variety in this department.  Despite this I put Aberdovey neck and neck with Portrush Valley - a lovely course.  I also have fond memories of taking the train between Aberdovey and Harlech a few times to tee it up.  I can't wait to get back as its been too long.

Ciao
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South & Crystal Downs

John Mayhugh

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Re: Aberdovey. Photo tour.
« Reply #13 on: January 15, 2010, 08:44:44 AM »
Tony,
I do wish you had posted this later on in the year.  I'm already struggling to get through each of the remaining 244 days before Buda in Wales, and this photo tour just makes it even worse.   

Golf with cows...........and people in the states make fun of us Kentuckians (shut up Arble).   ;D

The course looks like a blast to play, and your story about the kid and his grandfather makes the whole experience that much better.  That photo of the grandfather on the 12th green is poignantly perfect.

Two questions:
1.  Did you take the train or just walk down to the tracks for the opening pics? 

2.  Did you get "stuck in the middle" of the fourth fairway?

Sean_A

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Re: Aberdovey. Photo tour.
« Reply #14 on: January 15, 2010, 09:32:22 AM »
Golf with cows...........and people in the states make fun of us Kentuckians (shut up Arble).   ;D

Mayhugh

What, you still sore about the Taylortucky reference?  Anyway, ya gotta take your shots when you can.

Ciao
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South & Crystal Downs

John Mayhugh

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Re: Aberdovey. Photo tour.
« Reply #15 on: January 15, 2010, 10:51:32 AM »
Golf with cows...........and people in the states make fun of us Kentuckians (shut up Arble).   ;D

Mayhugh

What, you still sore about the Taylortucky reference?  Anyway, ya gotta take your shots when you can.

Ciao

I shared that reference with Jason Jones and he didn't dispute it. Next time I fly into DTW, I'll have to make a brief scouting trip to see how bad the insult is.

Sean_A

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Re: Aberdovey. Photo tour. New
« Reply #16 on: January 15, 2010, 02:31:26 PM »
Golf with cows...........and people in the states make fun of us Kentuckians (shut up Arble).   ;D

Mayhugh

What, you still sore about the Taylortucky reference?  Anyway, ya gotta take your shots when you can.

Ciao
I shared that reference with Jason Jones and he didn't dispute it. Next time I fly into DTW, I'll have to make a brief scouting trip to see how bad the insult is.

John

Save yourself the bother.  Taylortucky isn't very nice, but it does have a few decent municipals off I94 which are quite serviceable if you are looking for convenient golf near the airport.

Ciao
« Last Edit: January 16, 2010, 06:06:20 AM by Sean Arble »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South & Crystal Downs

Tony_Muldoon

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Re: Aberdovey. Photo tour.
« Reply #17 on: January 16, 2010, 05:43:02 AM »
Sean good call on the Valley Course.  Both of them go off the boil a bit on thier flatter holes, Wallasey as well.

John, I was in the now infamous silver chariot. I saw the tracks and pulled over for the pictures. Theres a huge estuary just south of the club and both the road and the railway follow it round.  Nearly made me miss my tee time but luck was on my side.


This is one of those courses that comes back to you long after you've played it. I think I was so into my match I forgot to take many pictures of the greens so I hope you bring your camera Sean.
I'm sure you know about asking for the key to the Darwin Room.  Although it’s not spectacular there’s a few nice photo’s and it’s an enjoyable place to enjoy a pint.




Herbert Fowler is credited with some redesign. Although I think more of the changes were by Colt.

 




on 29th May I am riding 100 Miles to help raise funds for Dementia Research. All donations are welcome.
https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ridelondon-tonymuldoon

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