Top: The stunning 9th hole from the tee. Above: The 10th green looking down to the Clubhouse
I arrive on the tee after a three-hour drive from London, and what a view awaits me on the first tee at Southerndown. The sun is out and below me a river runs out to sea reflecting the sunlight like jewels in a diamond ring. To the right is Porthcawl and its beautiful sandy beach. It looks like my four days in South Wales are off to a great start.
With this kind of panorama I’m not sure you could suffer from first-tee nerves, but this first hole is not as gentle as the 366 yards would suggest. There is a wide fairway to hit, but you need to be on the right tier of the green or you could leave yourself with a tricky putt.
The second shot to the second brings you back to those breathtaking views, but concentration and patience is what’s required at Southerndown. I’m here in early June and the fern is down so you can afford to miss the fairways and still find your ball, but come August the fern is up and Southerndown becomes a totally different and tougher prospect.
Missing the fairways then will no doubt result in a lost ball or three. But no matter how you play, you’ll find this track a joy – the rolling fairways and ever-present wind will challenge every part of your shot-making ability, and although the par-3s are not overly long there are not too many courses that have a set tougher than these. The only one that offers a bit of respite is the 10th which shares its green with the 16th, and if you miss the green at both the 5th and 7th making bogey becomes a good score.
Aesthetically both the finishing holes to each nine are beautifully designed. Willie Fernie designed the course with modifications from Herbert Fowler, Willie Park and Harry Colt. There can’t be many finer examples of work on their CVs.
View from the back of the 1stMore great views on the 2ndMother and Kid on the 17th
All golf photography taken on the day of play © James Mason