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Sean_A

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Braid's Brilliance: WELSHPOOL GC New
« on: October 22, 2016, 07:46:44 AM »




Welshpool is a scant 4 miles beyond Shropshire, set in the mountainous Welsh county of Powys.  While attractive and admirably set on the River Severn, there is little else notable about Welshpool other than the golf course a few miles west of town.  It is, however, interesting that the mighty (mighty for England and Wales anyway) River Severn flows through town.  The source of the river is the highest peak in the Cambrian Mountains, Plynlimon. The river meanders 220 miles through the county seats of Shrewsbury, Worcester and Gloucester before widening into the Severn Estuary (at the M4 bridge) and eventually dumps into the Bristol Channel. Incidentally, should you find yourself in or near Gloucestershire during the equinox, be sure to make time to see the Severn Bore. It’s quite a sight to see people surfing up the river!  But let us head back up river to Welshpool and the remarkable golf course.

After a few failed attempts on behalf of the club, the great James Braid was called in to design a new course on y Golfa (Welsh for hill) in 1929.  Two visits and a reliance on Braid’s trusted right hand man, John Stutt, was enough to ensure a quality design. Stutt likened Welshpool to Gleneagles and he should know as he built the two original resort courses. At times Darwin used to stop off and play Welshpool when travelling by “slow and devious trains” to Aberdovey, the course “his soul loved the most”. There is no exaggeration in saying that Darwin was impressed that Braid could fashion such a course on the remarkable terrain.

If folks are looking for a plush club, with a fancy proshop, fine dining, superb practice facilities and a course whose yardage is meant to impress; stop reading now, Welshpool isn’t the place for you.  The house is homey, the lockeroom basic, there is no proshop because there is no pro and the par 70 course doesn’t touch 6000 yards.   



The starting point for the 1st in front of the house as Braid designed the course was re-instated in 2020.  The tee is slightly awkward because of the walk from the house and being in play for the 18th tee shot.  For that it is a decent uphill par 4.  Left of the green.


Welshpool kicks off on the short 2nd.  At roughly 150 yards this hole is a provacative dandy whose narrow green is unforgiving.




#s 3 & 4 are workmanlike holes, extracting far more pain than their respective 387 and 285 listed yards suggest.  Both are steeply uphill and to targets which can be politely called severe.  Below is a look at the two holes from 18 tee.  3 & 4 are centre frame, 6 is high right and the area of the 11th green is left.


3rd green. Welshpool has highly interesting greens compared to most hilltop courses I enjoy. 


Seemingly wide open, the 260 yard 5th is reachable some days of the year, but into a northerly wind the water left is in play!  There used to be a bunker on the right corner of the green which would be a useful feature to thwart flat bellies. The green is also a good defense.


We are now on the highest section of Welshpool with the type of panoramic views usually reserved for hikers.  When looking east, toward Shropshire, we appear to be facing a tough par 3.  But no, we are going to play over the edge of the 5th green, blindly downhill toward the unseen sea.  The adjacent 7th to the left is OOB.  Once walking to your drive down the fairway you will discover why.  The 6th fairway is extremely tight with water on the right in the landing zone.  Most would obviously play blindly down the 7th, thus risking a hard hat situation.  As it is, the OOB serves to make the drive extremely narrow; one should definitely consider laying-up.  Mind you, the green is not one which wants to be approached from distance!


There is a blind step up to the fairway which can be used to guide the approach to the green.


The 7th heads back up the hill, but it is the 8th which lifts the eyebrows.  This confounding short hole is not unlike Prestwick's Sea Hedrig in that the green is angled in the wrong direction from the tee.  Even from the short tee the angle leaves a brute of a shot.  There is a little shelf just below the green which will hold some shots that come up short, perhaps this was an old bunker. 


Behind the green with the tee left.
 

More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: December 31, 2021, 12:05:04 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, Malone, Cruit Island & St Pats

Thomas Dai

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Re: 2016-17 Winter Tour: Braid's Brilliance at WELSHPOOL GC 1-3
« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2016, 08:10:10 AM »
Glad to see that you're travels have now taken you to Welshpool which I've been mentioning for a while and on a seemingly fine day as well.


Nice Mid-Wales colours as the days move through autumn.


An interesting start and more to come.


atb

Mark_Rowlinson

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Re: 2016-17 Winter Tour: Braid's Brilliance at WELSHPOOL GC 1-3
« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2016, 11:54:09 AM »
Can't wait for the rest - some fantastic golf to come. Wish I had been there, but you are right to have disposed of me.

David_Tepper

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Re: 2016-17 Winter Tour: Braid's Brilliance at WELSHPOOL GC 1-3
« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2016, 09:07:48 PM »
"Perhaps best of all, this is only one of a stunning set of 3s."

Sean -

Based on what I have seen at Brora & Golspie, Braid's par-3's are generally very good. In addition, he is known for pointing his par-3's in all four directions of the compass. Is that the case at Welshpool?

DT

Sean_A

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Re: 2016-17 Winter Tour: Braid's Brilliance at WELSHPOOL GC 1-3
« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2016, 06:31:26 AM »
David

Because of the site, much of the layout runs either east or west so the 3s don't cover the compass. 

Mark

Sorry I didn't invite you, it was a last minute arrangement. 

WELSHPOOL TOUR CONT

9 & 10 are not holes which most would commit to memory.  However, from the 9th there is a great view of Breidden Hill (right) and Moel y Golfa (left).  Each peak has a monument, but it is the monument to the King of the Gypsies atop Moel y Golfa which intrigues.  Dedicated to Bartley Gorman,  the most celebrated bare knuckle boxer of modern times, the Irishman won the "title" of Bareknuckle Champion of Great Britain at the age of 28 and remained the king from the years 1972-92.   


A short, cunning hole, the 11th is yet another remarkable par three. The micro-undulations witnessed elsewhere are much in evidence on this hole.




The 12th is an equal measure of braun, beauty and brains.  In Braid's day, this was a par 5 and its easy to see why.  The hole must have been re-labelled as a par 4 in recent history.  The 442 yards can be reduced somewhat by cutting the corner, but I suspect that flat bellies need to be careful not to over play the length card. 


Looking back to the tee from the fairway.


Other than the obvious sherpa expeditions required here and there, perhaps the main weakness of Welshpool is the incredible number of par 4s between the yardages of 260 and 350.  In total there are eight and only three holes stretch beyond 400 yards.  Of course, adding teeth to these holes is the hilly and windy nature of the site!  The short two-shotter 13th begins rather inconspicuously behind the car park, but the same can't be said for the hole.  One looks up and sees nothing but gorse on the left, ferns on the right and a pole down the middle.  Our eye is eventually turned to the 15th green just off the tee on the left which features a hard-nosed false front.  But our full concentration must be on the 13th. The fairway is domed until the terrain flattens for the green. If going for the green one had better be on target as losing the egg after an aggressive approach is all too easy. The view of the hole from the 10th fairway.
   

   

More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: September 22, 2020, 06:46:58 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, Malone, Cruit Island & St Pats

Thomas Dai

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Re: 2016-17 Winter Tour: Braid's Brilliance at WELSHPOOL GC 1-8
« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2016, 07:58:57 AM »
Wonderful stuff. 😄


The pulpit green on the 4th - a spot from which to preach to the whole of Mid-Wales - or even a place stop for a while, sit down, have sandwich and a cuppa and take in the views.


Good point about the number of holes between 260-350 yds. Mind the uphill and into the prevailing wind holes that are relative toughies now would have been pretty brutal back in the day when the course was first laid out, hickories and all that.


The drive up to the course from the main road is an experience. Without the sign I doubt you'd even find the course. Extremely narrow, high hedges and trees on both sides and curving severely uphill for quite some distance before reaching the course and clubhouse. It would have been an 'interesting' drive back in the 1920's, up a bumpy unsurfaced track in a vehicle without a synchromesh gearbox. Some lovely photographs hanging in the clubhouse of the course/clubhouse/members during the early years.


Well done. Really enjoying this photo-tour.


Atb


PS - Sean mentions the Severn Bore above. If you have the opportunity go and see it. The best spots are around Gloucester. Very dramatic and impressive...surfers, driftwood flowing upriver and the noise as it crashes along the banks. The Sept and March equinox are the best times to see the highest bore.

« Last Edit: October 23, 2016, 08:03:47 AM by Thomas Dai »

Richard Fisher

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Re: 2016-17 Winter Tour: Braid's Brilliance at WELSHPOOL GC 1-8
« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2016, 09:32:23 AM »
Sean

This is wonderful. Thanks so much. I have passed by the entrance road at least one hundred times and never gone up the hill, to my shame.
Have you ever played at Llandindrod Wells? I did about 20 years ago, and thoroughly enjoyed it. A little bit busier and less entirely natural than Welshpool, I suspect, and Vardon, not Braid, but v good fun. It was also for many years the regular venue for the Welsh Boys Championship, as (presumably) roughly half-way behind Glamorgan and the Llandudno coast, the two great population centres for Welsh golf...
http://www.lwgc.co.uk/index.php


Mark_Rowlinson

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Re: 2016-17 Winter Tour: Braid's Brilliance at WELSHPOOL GC 1-8
« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2016, 10:40:59 AM »
Yes, Llandrindod is another cracker, blessed also by hundreds of red kite.

Thomas Dai

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Re: 2016-17 Winter Tour: Braid's Brilliance at WELSHPOOL GC 1-8
« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2016, 11:14:33 AM »
Llandrindod Wells is worth a visit although it's aspect is not as open as it was once (more trees/less heather/bracken now) and certainly not as open in aspect as is Welshpool - http://m.lwgc.co.uk - great views at Llandrindod though and an 18th hole - known as 'Death or Glory' - you are unlikely to forget.


I looked at the website for Welshpool GC, and a much improved website it is now, including some quite wonderful photos - http://www.welshpoolgolfclub.co.uk - Worth having a look at, just let the photos on the home page roll through, they scroll quite slowly, but are terrific.


Now here's another yee olde hill-topper in (South) Wales that needs a visit report - West Mons at Nantyglo - a Ben Sayers layout from the early 1900's - http://www.westmongolfclub.co.uk


Note that whereas WMGC overlooks both open moorland countryside and former mining communities/workings both Welshpool and Llandrindod Wells are in very much rural and agricultural areas.


Satmap of Welshpool GC location  - https://www.google.com/maps/@52.657647,-3.2259323,17z/data=!3m1!1e3


Streetview of Welshpool GC entrance - https://www.instantstreetview.com/@52.650496,-3.23101,311.4h,-7.57p,1z


Atb




« Last Edit: October 23, 2016, 05:41:29 PM by Thomas Dai »

Jon Wiggett

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Re: 2016-17 Winter Tour: Braid's Brilliance at WELSHPOOL GC 1-8
« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2016, 02:29:48 AM »
Sean,


Lovely photos of the eighth which looks like a cracking green. The hole reminds me very much of the 3rd at Boat of Garten in the challenge it presents.


Jon

Sean_A

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Re: 2016-17 Winter Tour: Braid's Brilliance at WELSHPOOL GC 1-8
« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2016, 03:11:28 AM »
Jon

Despite the stunning scenery and 18th, the most surprising aspect of Welshpool is the par 3s.  All four (and especially 14) have an unforgiving edge which can easily lead to doubles and more.  I am glad I was able to see the course with virtually no wind to really get an idea of how hard the holes are by what is simply on the ground.  The four threes add up to 620 yards...thats an average of 155 yards. With that in mind and there being no hazards...this set is bloody challenging.  Add in 12-15 mph of wind and its more than easy to see how shots would leak away.

WELSHPOOL TOUR CONT 

The 14th is a decent par 5.  Fifteen, however, is cracking par 3.  As previously noted, the false front is the main feature.  What wasn't mentioned is the small nature of the green and the protective gulley on the right.






More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: September 22, 2020, 06:47:20 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, Malone, Cruit Island & St Pats

Thomas Dai

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Re: 2016-17 Winter Tour: Braid's Brilliance at WELSHPOOL GC 1-13
« Reply #11 on: October 24, 2016, 04:02:23 AM »
My smile widens as I scroll down the thread 😄 Delighted you've got to Welshpool, I thought you'd rather like it.



The photos show some delightful tiny micro undulations, maybe even hint of rig and furrow.


The sentence "In fact, compared to the other hilltop courses I enjoy playing, Welshpool has by far the most interesting set of greens" is very high praise indeed when we appreciate how highly you regard the likes of Kington and Cleeve.


For those heading to Aberdovey or Royal St David's stop off and play Welshpool on the way there or on the way back.


Nice narrow gauge stream railway line nearby as well - http://www.wllr.org.uk - "Toot, toot!"


and more golf at -


Machynlleth (9 by Braid) - http://www.machynllethgolfclub.co.uk - and GCA - http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,58792.msg1410693.html#msg1410693


Newtown (9 by Vardon) - http://www.stgilesgolf.co.uk


Llanymynech - https://llanymynechgolfclub.co.uk - part in England, part in Wales and the course where Ian Woosnam learnt to play.




Atb

Neil White

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Re: 2016-17 Winter Tour: Braid's Brilliance at WELSHPOOL GC 1-13
« Reply #12 on: October 24, 2016, 04:40:05 AM »
Thomas,

You are quite right about the micro-undulations and ridge & furrow, most of which has softened through time but there is still some in strong evidence on the home hole.

As Sean alluded to, the course is short - but as the greens are both small and in some instances severely pitched and undulating combined with a false front they are extremely exacting.  Find yourself above the hole at your peril and one can only imagine them in high summer.

Going back to the micro-undulations - these make for some interesting lies, in the low pockets especially and which prove troublesome when trying to play pitch and run shots into the greens.  A number of times a promising chip can make a sharp turn or pop up and come up short.  Most will cry 'unfair' but it all adds to the charm and challenge at Welshpool.




Courses played 2020 - ................!

Sean_A

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Braid's Brilliance at WELSHPOOL GC New
« Reply #13 on: October 25, 2016, 05:15:01 AM »
Yes, Welshpool gives us some interesting lies, but for the most part its quite managable. The micro undulations are Kington-lite which makes one wonder what happened with K's greens? 

WELSHPOOL TOUR CONT

The 16th is quite severly uphill, but only about 300 yards...strikes me as a perfect example of a Spion Kop and not to be confused with other battles used for golf hole namesakes....Redan and Majuba  8) .  The dogleg against the lay of the land is very awkward. An awesome and forboding preview is on offer from the 4th. If the reader can divert his eye away from the 11th in the foreground, from this position the pulpit nature of the 16th green...mid/left in the frame is unmistakable. 






Behind the banked green.


I am terribly impressed with the 17th.  Most archies would look for a way to push the tee forward and create a dramatic par 3.  Instead, Braid allows the golfer to enjoy the views for a few extra minutes by using part of the pulpit to design a superb two-shotter which for today's flat bellies is within reach some 320 yards in the distance.  The shared fairway with #18 essentially creates an unlimited safe landing zone. 


The home hole isn't special, but it does take some playing. 17 on the left and 18 right. In this photo the moguls fronting the 17th green can just be made out.


Well, Braid strikes again!  Given his resume of Pennard, Perranporth, Gleneagles Kings & Queens, Lundin, St Enodoc,  Tenby...and now Welshpool...why the devil isn't Braid given his rightful place alongside the Oxbridge lot? 

Not quite the final word, but this is what Darwin had to say: “The fact is that it is almost as impossible to describe the course as to describe the view; it is so unexpected, so unlike anything else, perched on the roof of the world. It is a beautiful place and I realised how incomplete had been my golfing education until I had seen it“.

The walk is demanding and some holes are resolute, especially when a cold northerly blows.  For these reasons it is perhaps a bit much to praise Welshpool too highly.  That said, should one make the trek into Wales, the reward will be several class holes, an eclectic set of short holes and views which are photo worthy.  Stop looking at photos and go play Welshpool. 1*  2020

Ciao
« Last Edit: March 02, 2021, 03:07:23 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, Malone, Cruit Island & St Pats

Thomas Dai

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2016-17 Winter Tour: Braid's Brilliance at WELSHPOOL GC
« Reply #14 on: October 25, 2016, 06:25:41 AM »
Excellent tour Sean. Well done for highlighting this course.


Some of Welshpool's plateau greens have small upslope lips around the sides and rear of the greens, something I recall Braid's course at Perranporth also having. Not dissimilar terrain in many respects.


Early in the thread you mention the number of par-4's between 260-350 yds and then the evil/lovely 14th comes along at 180 yds or so and it's a par-3 on the card but in practice I imagine probably more of a short par-4. Sometimes holes balance out cards, sometimes they don't.


The closing comment of "go play Welshpool." sums things up rather nicely.


atb

Sean_A

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Re: 2016-17 Winter Tour: Braid's Brilliance at WELSHPOOL GC
« Reply #15 on: October 25, 2016, 06:35:39 AM »
atb

I considered the "par 4" route of the 14th....the lay-up out left is a bloody difficult shot!  I wonder if something went amiss when the course was built.  Its easy to see how the sequencing could have remained the same, but with a tee behind the 11th green.  Do you think its possible that was the original idea and it was changed in the building stage?  I do note that the map shows a dotted line legging right from what appears to be the current ladies tee.  Strange thing to show a dogleg when the hole is virtually the same distance as from the men's tee. 

Ciao
« Last Edit: July 01, 2019, 06:40:57 PM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, Malone, Cruit Island & St Pats

Mark_Rowlinson

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Re: 2016-17 Winter Tour: Braid's Brilliance at WELSHPOOL GC
« Reply #16 on: October 25, 2016, 06:53:33 AM »
Sean, I last played Welshpool in the early 1990s. The 18th was a par 4 (a big brute) then.


As well as the railway there is also a major branch of Tanner's, the excellent Shrewsbury wine shop. I think it's now incorporated into the big warehouse which is their main storage and distribution depot.


We returned home from Ludlow through Welshpool a few months ago and the place, which had once been a rather refined, old-fashioned market town seemed to have gone downhill rather a let - a seedy place - so we didn't stop for lunch, but found instead an excellent butchers in Oswestry.

Sean_A

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Re: 2016-17 Winter Tour: Braid's Brilliance at WELSHPOOL GC
« Reply #17 on: October 25, 2016, 07:10:44 AM »
Mark

In true Welshpool fashion, the course planner has a card listing the 18th as a par 5 from the white and green tees...the white tees are all of 5 yards longer than the yellow!  Now par is 70 on all the men's tees, whereas previously par was 71 for white and green tees.  Perhaps even more interesting is that from the green tees, all of 5806 yards, the par and SSS are the same!  I think this gives the reader some idea of how tough some of the shots are.  Have you ever heard of a 5800 yard course having an SSS of 70?

Was the 14th the same as now?

Ciao
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, Malone, Cruit Island & St Pats

Thomas Dai

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Re: 2016-17 Winter Tour: Braid's Brilliance at WELSHPOOL GC
« Reply #18 on: October 25, 2016, 07:31:14 AM »
Re the current 14th - zoom in using a satmap and there are several tees at different lengths and slightly different angles visible to the left and ahead of the current men's tee. Curiously the old course plan (where the holes are numbered -6) in Seans opening post shows the tee in it's current area. Presumably it's only the location of the men's tees that are shown in the old plan. Worth noting that on this hole the prevailing wind is from behind.


Good spot about the SSS, pars and yardages Sean.



Welshpool is, as Mark indicates, not quite the town it once was. Indeed most rural areas seem to have been really hit over the last few decades......supermarkets have done them no favours in numerous respects. Hope things pick up as Mid-Wales is an extremely beautiful part of the world, as Seans splendid photographs highlight.



Atb

Mark_Rowlinson

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Re: 2016-17 Winter Tour: Braid's Brilliance at WELSHPOOL GC
« Reply #19 on: October 25, 2016, 08:52:25 AM »
I don't remember the 14th well enough, Sean, sorry.

John Mayhugh

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Re: 2016-17 Winter Tour: Braid's Brilliance at WELSHPOOL GC 1-13
« Reply #20 on: October 30, 2016, 10:05:57 PM »
I will never fully understand why golfers consistently pay top pound to flock toward dull modern designs when a course such as is the character of Weslphool can be had for a song and a dance. 

Keep steering me towards these places.  Another wonderful tour and reminder of how good Braid was. 

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2016-17 Winter Tour: Braid's Brilliance at WELSHPOOL GC 1-13
« Reply #21 on: November 03, 2016, 05:48:24 AM »
I will never fully understand why golfers consistently pay top pound to flock toward dull modern designs when a course such as is the character of Weslphool can be had for a song and a dance. 

Keep steering me towards these places.  Another wonderful tour and reminder of how good Braid was.

Tucky

Welshpool is right up your alley...give it a go one day.

Ciao
« Last Edit: June 07, 2018, 04:54:35 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, Malone, Cruit Island & St Pats

Thomas Dai

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2016-17 Winter Tour: Braid's Brilliance at WELSHPOOL GC
« Reply #22 on: April 11, 2018, 02:34:42 PM »
I have just been looking at Welshpool GC’s website.
It has been updated to include some wonderful photos and hole-by-hole flyovers. Viewing them really enhances the splendid photos incorporated in Sean’s fine phototour.
A delightful low profile, under the radar, rural and rustic James Braid designed hilltop course mowed by sheep.
Welshpool is certainly somewhere GCA enthusiasts ought to visit. Beautiful part of the world as well.


http://www.welshpoolgolfclub.co.uk/


Atb




Thomas Dai

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Re: 2016-17 Winter Tour: Braid's Brilliance at WELSHPOOL GC
« Reply #23 on: April 10, 2019, 02:37:47 PM »
After singing its praises to others for quite a while now I managed a return to Welshpool GC in Mid-Wales and I'm glad I did.
Cracking golf of the rural and rustic and fun with quirk and yet with challenge that many herein appreciate. Lovely turf too and of course outstanding views. Nice one James Braid!
Just a few photos to supplement those posted by SA above.
Go play this course. Your legs might be tired afterwards but your heart should be very happy.
atb


Below - from the 18th tee. 18th green to the right. The green that appears to be in front of the clubhouse but is actually quite a ways away is the 7th. 18th hole plays from a very, very elevated tee across a very, very deep valley and then up a narrow shoot to a pulpit green.



Below - pulpit 4th green



Below - par-3 8th green. It slopes downwards very significantly from back to front.



Below - 12th green. Don't go long!!!
« Last Edit: April 10, 2019, 02:39:51 PM by Thomas Dai »

Mark_Rowlinson

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Re: 2016-17 Winter Tour: Braid's Brilliance at WELSHPOOL GC
« Reply #24 on: April 10, 2019, 05:21:31 PM »
Other places Sean needs to see must include Bala (mad course with an impossible/sensational first hole), Holywell (fantastic moorland course with lots of old mineworkings [bit like Yelverton]) and Ffestiniog (even madder than Bala, but what a contrast to Royal St David's just down the road) - all courses easily in distance of something more world class.

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