News:

This discussion group is best enjoyed using Google Chrome, Firefox or Safari.


Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Hard by the confluence of Cardigan Bay and the Dovey Estuary and hemmed in by the Cambrian Mountains, the links of Aberdovey fit neatly between a long range of protective dunes and the railway line.  Not more than a few minute's walk from the 1st tee one can easily alight a train and head for an afternoon game at Harlech some 30 minutes away.  The medley of Aberdovey and Harlech with lunch on the train between games is surely a compelling summer day's golf which is hard to argue against.

It is said that Aberdovey was the spiritual home of Bernard Darwin and that one of his uncles, Colonel Ruck, helped lay out the original course using flower pots for cups.  However, this original effort is a long forgotten memory.  The general course as we know it today was completed by the turn of the last century, but significant improvements were made between 1910 and 1940 by Colt, Fowler and Braid.  In recent years a thorough overhaul of the bunkers was completed and the look echoes back to what bunkers resembled all those years ago when Darwin traipsed the links.  Although, as of 2018 the club has decided to modify some of the bunkering to be more player friendly.  Let us hope the aesthetic isn't compromised too much because it was one of the best bunker jobs I have seen. 

The opening quintet are classic links holes made all the more appealing for their use of the land and thoughtful tinkering from the hand of man. The opening drive isn't terribly onerous, but the hole is nonetheless a stiff two-shotter when played into a cool winter breeze.  Before making the trip into the deepest of Wales I re-read Dickinson's account of Aberdovey.  His description of rather flat or gathering greens matched my recollection and thus it was a great surprise to see the opening green.  There are a handful of greens which are of great interest. 


A wonderful short par 4, the 2nd must be within reach from the tee in favouring conditions.  This is also one of the mere handful of holes in which the dunes play an active part in the design.  Left is dead. The golfer gets his first look at the new bunkers and not only are they handsome, but they are perfectly placed to harass the player who bails right off the tee. Before heading to #3 tee, notice how narrow this section of the course is.  Despite this lack of space, the clubhouse end of the links contains the most engaging terrain and most of the best holes.   


There are plenty of narrow fairways at Aberdovey.


Behind the green the reader will notice oodles of space in the form of the 17th fairway to the left.  I imagine going that far right off the tee is a very common play.


Despite the famous Cader being subdued compared to its heyday, the hole remains excellent and just one of a superb set of short holes, all of which are totally different from the other.  Below is how the hole looked in Darwin's day. One can see the tee shot played directly over the high part of the hill for a totally blind shot.  Today, the hole covers a lower part of the hill to the left which then allows for the 17th tee to share the space. 




Patric Dickinson's take on Cader.


...and today 




The fourth breaks free of the dunes and hummocky ground.  With few exceptions, the next twelve holes play over flat land with a marshy area separating two strips of playing corridors.  Most of the interest for these holes is due to architectural acumen.  The tee shot for #4 must challenge the line of bunkers down the left to earn a good view of the green.


The 200 yardish fifth feels very modern.  The use of the huge bunker to the right can deceive the golfer into thinking this hole is shorter than its yardage.  There is a sharp rise at the front of the green then it falls to the rear.  The use of tees to create different angles is often a neglected aspect of design.  On the most recent visit, we played off a forward tee some 30 yards shorter than the main tee, but with a far more difficult angle.  There are elements of great charm about Aberdovey as evidenced by the cemetary in the distance.  There is a crossing point from here to the aptly called Cemetary Beach. 


Unfortunately, the upgraded bunkering is not enough to lend any real interest to #s 6 & 7.  These holes highlight why bunkering alone is not sufficient to create imaginative holes if there is the abundance of flat ground that Aberdovey possesses.  Now past the weakest holes, the remainder of Aberdovey with the possible exception of #14 is a succession of good to very good holes. The highlight of #8 is a nest of centre-line bunkers which may give pause to the flat belly trying to bang one home on this short par 4. 


The side finishes with a terrific short hole played over raised bunkers to a green which runs away from play.  Once past the bunkers, there is a gap to the green and loads of space long. 

 
Aberdovey can rightly be called an out n' backer and in perfect proportions because the 10th points the golfer home.  However, the shape of the property resembles a hockey stick making it seem like the wind has changed direction when that isn't the case.  Gorse can be a nasty hazard if used too often, but if called upon sparingly, the whins are a cracking feature.  My memory is that the 10th offered a brave line over the gorse for a drive which is created rather than made, but after a recent play there doesn't look to be any advantage to risking the shot.  One architectural element Aberdovey is not short on is bunkering placed well short of greens.  They not only serve to catch out recovery play after a poor drive, but the bunkers also protect the accurate gauging of distance when conditions call for run-up shots. 

The eleventh turns back on #10 and presents the golfer with a seemingly wide open fairway.  Instinctively the golfer should know that challenging the centre-line bunker could reap dividends if successful.  The bunker shoulder creates a large crook in the green which can make putting a trial when caught on the wrong half.


The 12th is yet another showcase par 3.  Once on the green there are magical views of the expansive beach and Cardigan Bay.


The greens could be pushed out much more toward the sprinkler heads and thus offer some stormer hole locations which are currently unavailable. 






Unlike the lackluster 7th, #13 is an excellent three-shotter.  The drive is hemmed in by marshy land to the left and gaping bunker right.  If one cannot reach the green in two, it is difficult to know where best to place the second.  This is due to a green which doesn't reveal itself until one is quite close.  This is the look at a far right hole location after laying up right.  The green is sunken below the fairway and wraps around a solitary bunker middle-rightish....which from afar looks like it is behind the green.


The 14th is perhaps too much like a par 4 version of the 13th.  I find it surprising that doglegs angling away/toward the dunes or with a green or two tucked under the dunes haven't been designed on the back nine.  I can envision that fairway bunker being pushed 15 yards left, splitting the fairway and creating a green which is more receptive from the right, but one is approaching toward water.  The familiar left/right bunkering does little to distinguish the approach. The final par 5, number 15, is a corker.  The rail line begins to narrow the course and there is also a ditch running near the right bunker which helps to concentrate the mind. 


A good drive leaves one with the option of going for the green by playing over broken ground.  Interestingly, most of the trouble is hidden by a front left mound.  Below is a look at the green after laying up.


From the 16th tee the reader gets a better feel for how narrow the green is because of flanking bunkers. 


We now come to #16.  This hole should be mentioned in the same breath as Foxy, Alps and Road Hole. 






Most holes would suffer in comparison to the 16th, but the final holes are sound.  There is plenty of ground movement despite appearances. 




The approach to the home hole is easier than it looks as the green is a bit of the gathering type.




Aberdovey isn't a top class links, but it does have certain advantages.  The design is tightknit which makes for a good walk.  There is a combination of splendid terrain and architecture which provides the golfer with enough of a test without taking liberties with the often all too fragile ego.  The handful of grand holes, especially the All-Wales 12th &16th, and wonderful Welsh welcome will handsomely repay the effort  for "a round at Aberdovey is always a brave and gay adventure, whatever the wind's quarter".   2018

Ciao
« Last Edit: September 04, 2020, 03:03:34 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

David_Tepper

  • Karma: +0/-0
Sean -

Thanks, as always, for the tour & the pics, including the requisite shots of the nearby caravan park and graveyard.

DT

Philip Gawith

  • Karma: +0/-0
Thanks Sean - I very much hope to get to Aberdovey and Harlech before too long. I have decided the Welsh don't get a fair crack of the whip and this must be remedied! You have done your normal great job of talking up the course, notwithstanding what looks like a fairly gloomy day and - as David points out - the obligatory caravans.  I am very happy to see you using the phrase "soul golf" which really takes us to the heart of the matter!

Philip

Emil Weber

  • Karma: +0/-0
Sean,

Again a great photo tour - thanks for sharing. I was really surprised when I saw the bunkers - it must be the first classic links to return their bunkers to the original eroded look?

John Mayhugh

  • Karma: +0/-0
Thanks for the tour.  I wish I had more time in September to make it up to see Aberdovey & Harlech. 

I really like the look of the approach to the first.  That seems like a really wild green. 

Interesting to look at these pics alongside the ones that Tony Muldoon posted earlier this year (though the pics were a couple of years older than that).
http://golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,42867.0/


Jon Wiggett

  • Karma: +0/-0
Sean,

great tour as per usual. I always look forward to reading about your latest course visits. I liked the look of the course but felt the tufts planted around the new bunkering looked just that, planted. Maybe the look will mellow with time but at the moment I would say it would look better without the marrum grass tufts.

Jon

jeffwarne

  • Karma: +0/-0
Sean,
Nice work as usual.
I'm giving Aberdovey a star for you.
In fact I prefered it to Harlech.
"Let's slow the damned greens down a bit, not take the character out of them." Tom Doak
"Take their focus off the grass and put it squarely on interesting golf." Don Mahaffey

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Sean,
Nice work as usual.
I'm giving Aberdovey a star for you.
In fact I prefered it to Harlech.

Jeff

I don't think there is much between Harlech and Aberdovey though I probably ever so slightly prefer Aberdovey. 

Jon

The new bunkering looks far better than the old style and it does dramatically improve the overall look of the course.  I would say they play tougher as well because they are deeper and its easier to get awkward lies in them.  My only worry is erosion and I suspect the grass planted on the edges is to help thwart that problem. 

Emil

I don't know of another old-time links that has gone to the dinosaur footprint style.

Philip and David - cheers.

Ciao   
« Last Edit: October 15, 2018, 05:40:05 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

Dónal Ó Ceallaigh

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: "The Course My Soul Loves Best": ABERDOVEY
« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2012, 06:54:30 PM »
Just bumping this thread as I was browsing through some of Darwin's writings.

Great photo tour (as always) and the bunkers look great. Do you know who did the bunkering?

Sean (or Tony, I was looking at your photo tour as well, but just decided to bump this one), do you know which hole was named "Crater". Darwin has a lovely chapter titled "An Extinct Crater" in his book "Out of the Rough", where he laments its demise. The Crater was the name of the 15th hole, the reason being that the green was "a perfect crater with a bank all round it". There's no date on the book, but I think it might be from the 1940s. I presume the course has changed a bit since then.

EDIT: "Out of the Rough" was first published in 1932.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2012, 07:44:53 AM by Donal OCeallaigh »

Bill_McBride

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: "The Course My Soul Loves Best": ABERDOVEY
« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2012, 08:40:47 PM »
Interesting to see a few of those semi-buried sleepers that you see at Rye.   I was not a fan there, just a bit too artificial to me.   

Jay Flemma

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: "The Course My Soul Loves Best": ABERDOVEY
« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2012, 08:45:30 PM »
What a nice thread, a nice sentiment, and a nice job writing it up!  Great stuff, Sean.  Those green contours looks realy cool.

We ought to do a whole thread on this thought where we all write in the course our souls love best.
Mackenzie, MacRayBanks, Maxwell, Doak, Dye, Strantz. @JayGolfUSA, GNN Radio Host of Jay's Plays www.cybergolf.com/writerscorner

Joey Chase

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: "The Course My Soul Loves Best": ABERDOVEY
« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2012, 09:04:42 PM »
Sean,
Thanks for refreshing my memories!  I loved the visit to Aberdovey.  It is real old-fashioned links golf.  The flatter parts of the course reminded me of Westward Ho!.  It was the surprise on a big golf trip.  I did, however, prefer Aberdovey to Harlech.  Both are very fun golf though!

jeffwarne

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: "The Course My Soul Loves Best": ABERDOVEY
« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2012, 09:29:07 PM »
Just bumping this thread as I was browsing through some of Darwin's writings.

Great photo tour (as always) and the bunkers look great. Do you know who did the bunkering?

Sean (or Tony, I was looking at your photo tour as well, but just decided to bump this one), do you know which hole was named "Crater". Darwin has a lovely chapter titled "An Extinct Crater" in his book "Out of the Rough", where he laments its demise. The Crater was the name of the 15th hole, the reason being that the green was "a perfect crater with a bank all round it". There's no date on the book, but I think it might be from the 1940s. I presume the course has changed a bit since then.

Stop posting porn again Donal ;) ;D
"Let's slow the damned greens down a bit, not take the character out of them." Tom Doak
"Take their focus off the grass and put it squarely on interesting golf." Don Mahaffey

David_Tepper

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: "The Course My Soul Loves Best": ABERDOVEY
« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2012, 09:30:12 PM »
Looking thru these pics again, it occurred to me that none of the bunkers we see are of the pot/stacked-sod type. Is this the case all around the course or are there pot bunkers on the course not in any of the pics?

Most of the links courses I have seen & played do have put bunkers. If Aberdovey does not have them, that makes the course somewhat unique. Personally, I do like the look of the bunkers there.  

Robert Thompson

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: "The Course My Soul Loves Best": ABERDOVEY
« Reply #14 on: January 17, 2012, 11:15:23 PM »
I have a great deal of affection for Aberdovey, as I stayed in the clubhouse two years ago, had dinner with the club captain and secretary, and thought the course to be very good, though Sean is right -- not on great enough ground to truly be exceptional. In that regard, I think Harlech has it beat, but not by much, and I'd suggest anyone who is a fan of links golf would benefit from seeing both of them.

I did find the lack of interaction with the dunes perplexing, with the exception of the turning par three that has a green set near the beach. Apparently the club had tees on the dunes, but erosion ruined some of them and the club was not allowed to put them back in place. At least that's how I understand it.

Some found the new bunkering a bit off-putting, but I thought it looked terrific.

I found the location of the course charming and hope one day to return. It is a course that was great fun.
Terrorizing Toronto Since 1997

Read me at Canadiangolfer.com

Dónal Ó Ceallaigh

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: ABERDOVEY GC: "The Course My Soul Loves Best"
« Reply #15 on: January 18, 2012, 03:30:46 AM »
Here's the link to Tony's photo tour. The difference in bunker style is dramatic.

http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,42867.0.html

Adam Lawrence

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: ABERDOVEY GC: "The Course My Soul Loves Best"
« Reply #16 on: January 18, 2012, 04:06:39 AM »
John Kemp of Islander Golf, based in the Orkneys, did the bunker work. John's now taken a job working for Askernish as development manager, so I don't know if he (and his partner Neil) are still actively pursuing design work.
Adam Lawrence

Editor, Golf Course Architecture
www.golfcoursearchitecture.net

Principal, Oxford Golf Consulting
www.oxfordgolfconsulting.com

Short words are best, and the old words, when short, are the best of all.

Colin Macqueen

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: ABERDOVEY GC: "The Course My Soul Loves Best"
« Reply #17 on: January 18, 2012, 05:08:46 AM »
Donal,
An excelllent bump and Sean, thanks for the tour.

As a Darwin devotee I have been, at last, visually transported to his "beloved Aberdovey" and can see for myself this wondrous links course. It allowed me to vividly imagine a time back then, as the course looks so old fashioned, and Darwin's antics on this course.
Thanks very much!

Cheers Colin
"Golf, thou art a gentle sprite, I owe thee much"
The Hielander

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: ABERDOVEY GC: "The Course My Soul Loves Best"
« Reply #18 on: January 19, 2012, 05:02:54 AM »
I am very surprised Aberdovey hasn't had much more press with their new bunkers.  They are far more attractive than the old bunkers of which many were insipid excuses for pots. 

Ciao   
« Last Edit: October 17, 2018, 05:34:37 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

Dónal Ó Ceallaigh

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: ABERDOVEY GC: "The Course My Soul Loves Best"
« Reply #19 on: January 19, 2012, 07:07:33 AM »
Donal

Cader is probably the hole you are thinking of. 

I am very surprised Aberdovey hasn't had much more press with their new bunkers.  They are far more attractive than the old bunkers of which many were insipid excuses for pots. 

Ciao   

Sean:

I'll try to scan the chapter and post it here. But, I'm nearly certain it's not the Cader as Darwin mentioned that the Crater hole had existed for 40 years before finally becoming a plateau green with railway and road on the left.

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: ABERDOVEY GC: "The Course My Soul Loves Best"
« Reply #20 on: January 19, 2012, 07:27:18 AM »
Donal

Cader is probably the hole you are thinking of. 

I am very surprised Aberdovey hasn't had much more press with their new bunkers.  They are far more attractive than the old bunkers of which many were insipid excuses for pots. 

Ciao   

Sean:

I'll try to scan the chapter and post it here. But, I'm nearly certain it's not the Cader as Darwin mentioned that the Crater hole had existed for 40 years before finally becoming a plateau green with railway and road on the left.

Donal

It must be #16 then - a very good hole. 

Please do scan the chapter and post!

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

Dónal Ó Ceallaigh

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: ABERDOVEY GC: "The Course My Soul Loves Best"
« Reply #21 on: January 19, 2012, 01:39:25 PM »
The Extinct Crater by Bernard Darwin, taken from Out of the Rough (1932)










Tony_Muldoon

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: ABERDOVEY GC: "The Course My Soul Loves Best"
« Reply #22 on: January 19, 2012, 03:09:29 PM »
Thanks Donal interesting read.  I think he's describing todays 15th the narrow green near the tracks and the length seem to fit. 


I can't find a scorsaver and the card doesn't have hole names on it. 


One day. One day.
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

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: ABERDOVEY GC: "The Course My Soul Loves Best"
« Reply #23 on: January 19, 2012, 05:38:53 PM »
Donal

Cheers.  This description sounds like Cader to me when we consider the tee shot came from a different angle then compared to now. However, so far as I know, Cader has always been a short hole.  15 is a par 5 today and has been for some many decades. Perhaps the 16th fits the bill if at one time the green was a punch bowl. It does make much sense because

1. Darwin states the green is no longer...Cader still has a large element of the punchbowl. 

2. Darwin basically states the green is now a plateau...very similar to the current 16th. 

3. It sounds like a short par 4 description as an approach could be scuttled onto the green in the old days. 

Ciao
« Last Edit: October 15, 2018, 08:45:37 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: ABERDOVEY GC: "The Course My Soul Loves Best" - 2018-19 Winter Tour
« Reply #24 on: October 15, 2018, 06:09:35 AM »
I made a last minute trip to Harlech and Aberdovey with fellow GCAer, ATB.  Yes, not a great weekend for Wales in regards the weather, but what can ya do!  It had been about 9 years since my last visit to Aberdovey and it is as good as memory suggested. The superb bunkers are slowing being overhauled to be a bit more player friendly and probably easier to maintain.  This is a great shame, but looking at some of the new shapes, it is a reasonable compromise.  Anyway, the tour has been significantly upgraded so take a look.

Future Planned Stops

Westward Ho!
Saunton West
Saunton East

Ciao
« Last Edit: October 26, 2018, 05:47:16 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

Tags:
Tags:

An Error Has Occurred!

Call to undefined function theme_linktree()
Back