Golf Course Review of Pennard Golf Club
Pennard Golf Course
Reviewed by Ed Battye -
Quick Summary: Fun, quirky and magical links golf
Our 5 Star Rating: 4.3
Pennard is one of those fantastic links golf courses that has a little bit of everything.
Its remote and rugged location on the Gower Peninsula mixes strategy and quirkiness to good effect and boasts a handful of truly excellent holes. The high cliff-top setting also provides some of the best views you're likely to see from a golf course.
The par three holes at Pennard are particularly strong with the fifth and 11th both contenders for the best hole on the course. The former is played downhill to a delightful green, bunkered on both sides, with multiple pin locations that change the dynamic of the hole whilst the latter is played over a wide, barren expanse to an angled green with a solitary bunker cut into the hill just short of the green. The slope of the land and placement of the green allows a ball to be fed in from the left for those not brave enough to fire straight at the heart of the green. Holes two and 15 are also sound short holes, the 15th has a wonderfully long green with three subtle levels.
The first and third are both solid enough two-shotters but it is the four holes that complete the front nine which catch the eye the most. Each has varying degrees of right-to-left shape to them and being on the correct side of the fairways is important to obtain the best line into the flag. The fairways at Pennard generally, but on these holes in particular, are littered with swales and hollows creating a feeling of magical golf. The 14th hole on the back-nine is another that matches this quartet for quality and strategy.
The seventh is worthy of special mention. The drive from the high tee has a picturesque backdrop with castle and church ruins on either side of the fabulously contoured fairway and the putting surface is nothing less than brilliant with a top tier to the left and a deep basin to the right. In fact everything about this medium-length hole is just perfect.
As for the par fives, the fourth is an odd driving hole but benefits from an interesting green with two well-placed bunkers just short and to the right. The drive at the next par five, the falling and then rising 10th, also limits from the tee before excelling as you near the raised green. Unusually both the 16th and 17th are par fives and have some of the best views on the course. The back-drop to the 16th is outstanding and worth taking a couple of moments to savour. The 17th is a superb hole that snakes up the hillside with gorse threatening on both sides and a long but secluded green.
Pennard, however, isn't without fault and some of the holes border on unplayable at times when the fairways are baked dry and hard thanks to the undulating fairways.
The 12th is an unusually short par four with a large gathering bunker just short of the green and this is probably the weakest hole on the course. The 13th can play as a very long par three or as a short par four. I wasn't sure which worked the best although on reflection I think the longer par-three is perhaps the preferred option as it follows the driveable 12th. Consecutive holes on the edge of par create drama and can make or break a round. The final hole would be a good finishing hole but unless the ground is wet and soft (a rarity at Pennard) the fairway simply cannot be held and a well-directed tee-shot could easily find a heathery lie down left.
New blue tees have added over half a kilometre of length to the course and whilst these are used sparingly they have added a real bite to the course with the aim of making it a true championship test. That they indeed have but personally I'm not sure if Pennard is the type of course that needed them. It was great fun and more than demanding on a fairly benign day off the white tees.
Dubbed the 'links in the sky' because of its elevated position Pennard is a true links course worthy of a visit and one you are sure to have great fun playing. Just don't expect to find your ball exactly where you think it should be because of the fabulous rising and falling fairways!
Pennard is featured in the National Club Golfer Top 100 under £100 Golf Courses of Great Britain.