Nestling on the north side of the Dyfi estuary in West Wales, the seaside village of Aberdovey is worth a visit with the family or just the girls! Adam Ruck explains why..
Nestling on the north side of the Dyfi estuary in West Wales, this seaside village is worth a visit with the family or just the girls! Adam Ruck explains why Aberdovey's course is a treasure...
Is there a better golfing view – other than the sight of your ball disappearing below ground - than the Trefeddian’s?
From its perch on what can only be called a bluff, Aberdovey’s stand-out golf and beach hotel looks down on a bend in the beautiful Cambrian coastal railway line, a narrow strip of inviting golf holes, a tangle of sandhills, the broad sweep of Cardigan Bay, and the shining ocean.
The Trefeddian is one of the great British family holiday hotels, with masses to do for all weathers: tennis, putting, an indoor pool and spa, board games and rumpus rooms. All summer its corridors echo with the laughter of excited children, and the screams of tired ones, sent to bed too early.
“Precious moments not to miss, Trefeddian holds the key to bliss,” wrote one loyal customer in the Visitors Book. Memories are made of this.
When school reclaims its own, the Trefeddian takes out the ear plugs and settles for a quieter autumn lifestyle. Golfers enjoy its pampering spa for a swim and a massage before heading for the bar and a good supper, well-earned after a day on the links.
Aberdovey’s course is a treasure, first laid out in the 1880s with 9 flower pots for holes. If it wasn’t the first Welsh course, it was one of the first and it grew into one of the best in the Principality, home of many fine women golfers and host to important championships including last year's Ladies Home Internationals (Sept 17–19) and soon after that would be a good time for a visit, with the greens running fast and the course in championship trim. Steep hills shelter Aberdovey from the north wind, and its mild winter climate is ideal for Christmas golf, with no need for that aberration, the winter green.
The layout is usually described as an old-fashioned 'out and back', but it is not quite that simple, with zigs and zags where short holes cross the course. In his 'A Round of Golf Courses' (1951), Patric Dickinson likened it to "a badly tied bow tie, with the knot at the 3rd and 16th holes, like Scylla and Charybdis waiting to shipwreck golfers."
This knotty crux of holes is precisely where the Trefeddian looks down on our flukes and disasters with scornful amusement or an indulgent sigh: there but for the grace etc.
The 3rd is the once-infamous Cader, a blind short hole with a sand dune to clear. Sixty years ago Dickinson could still call this hole a ‘hideous Caliban of a creature’ but since then Cader has seen its teeth blunted. The wind, the tramp of caddies and the hacking of furious golfers have taken their toll on the mountainous dune. The cavernous waste bunker has become a grassy bank, and the green is now a generous crater.
The 16th, by contrast, hides nothing: the railway’s curve sweeps across the direct line from tee to green. It makes a fascinating short par 4 (270 yards) needing only – fateful words - an iron shot to the fairway and a precise approach to the most complex of Aberdovey’s greens.
Afterwards, relive your ups and downs in the warm glow of the welcoming clubhouse, and rehearse your lines for the Visitors Book. It may be your first visit to Aberdovey, but surely not your last. “Refreshed, restored and so content, Holiday time that's been well spent.”