PORTHCAWL, Wales – It's been nothing but sunshine and dry fairways on my Wales golf trip this week. That is, besides the two days spent at Celtic Manor for the Ryder Cup Matches.
Golfers from all over the world have taken to Wales this summer. Everywhere I go, from restaurants to golf clubs, I run into a group from a different part of the world. Last night at my dinner at El Porto near Royal Porthcawl, a Dutch group was handing out their own little faux Ryder Cup trophy over dinner and drinks.
In total, I've enjoyed four links courses this week without a drop of rain, even though the forecast called for it (though I think in the U.K., the forecast always calls for it).
The links golf courses in Wales couldn't be more different compared to the more controlled, pro-style design of the Twenty Ten course at Celtic Manor. For starters, the links are set on sandy soil and can manage more rain. But many are also set on common land, like two traditional clubs, Pennard Golf Club and Southerndown Golf Club. At Pennard, we played through cows lounging in the 17th fairway and tip-toed around cow pies. At Royal Porthcawl, a steady stream of walkers pass beside the three beachfront holes to open the round, and one even happily tossed me a Pro-V1 from his side of the fence.
Southerndown bills itself as the closest links to Celtic Manor, and they said last Friday, when the Ryder Cup was under water, golfers were turning up here to play. The course's sandy, sloping hilltop location helps it drain instantly. If only the yardage was longer than 6,400 yards, perhaps Friday fourballs could have been staged here.