"Not far from Porthcawl - as the aeroplane flies - is another excellent course, Southerndown," wrote Bernard Darwin, in The Golf Courses of the British Isles. "It is perched high aloft and looks down on Porthcawl, amid the many other glories of a beautiful view. You may look out far over the sea, or again over a wide stretch of English - or rather Welsh - landscape. The breezes blow cool and fresh here, and on a still and stifling August day, when the golfer is almost too limp to crawl round Porthcawl, he will be wise to refresh himself by a round on the heights of Southerndown."
Southerndown Golf Club's elevated site, high above the Ogmore River Valley, provides arresting views across the Bristol Channel. Over time, sand has blown up from the seashore, coming to rest on the rolling slopes and giving the turf at Southerndown a rather links-like character. In fact, you would be hard pressed to categorise the course - it's quite unique, but one thing is for sure, it's absolutely natural. There are no trees or artificial water hazards, just bracken, gorse and bunkers waiting to trap the wayward drive. Oh yes, we'd almost forgotten, there are a couple of other things – the ever-present wind and the sheep, serious hazards in their own right.
Willie Fernie originally laid down the course in 1905. But this wasn't the same Willie Fernie who won the British Open Championship in 1883 - it was his namesake - a fact we learnt from Southerndown's knowledgeable Secretary. The hands of a number of great architects have touched Southerndown over the years - Herbert Fowler, Willie Park and, more recently, Donald Steel - but its lineage remains intact.
"Bracken to the left of you, bracken to the right - and a fairway rising up to the sky," was how the great Henry Cotton saw Southerndown's opening hole. It's certainly a most challenging two-shot hole and it's followed by two more, which are equally tough. The four par 3s at Southerndown are noteworthy, especially the 5th hole, know as "Carter's Folly" - it's expertly bunkered and calls for an accurate iron shot.
James Braid and Harry Vardon predicted that Southerndown would become a great course, and they were right. It's hosted a number of important events including the Piccadilly Masters and the Martini International. The most notable current event is the Welsh amateur competition, called the Duncan Putter, an annual 72-hole competition, which has seen Peter McEvoy and Gary Wolstenholme emerging as winners.
No trip to South Wales would be complete without a game at Southerndown - it's an exciting experience with a warm and inviting clubhouse, which completes the perfect day.
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Southerndown is a pleasant course. We arrived and were surprised by the tight entry up the hill…And then the fence which keeps the sheep in…And they love to sleep in the shaded deep face bunkers. The course is nice and playable for all. It has some great views as it sits on the hillside overlooking Swansea Bay in the distance. I am very glad we got to play here but not so sure a return to the area would create a return. The course is just average and whilst we travel thousands of miles to play great links golf. I’m not gonna say this one deserves a great. As I sit here now I can honestly only remember 4 holes in entirety. I pen my reviews from memory. My standard bearer to great courses is how many sit in my memory bank…Great is more than 4…
I last reviewed Southerndown 4 years ago and I notice I awarded a 6 ball. In hindsight as much as I enjoy this course that may have been slightly high.
I played again yesterday in a strong wind and enjoyed it very much, not a lot has changed. However I think I have to take one mark away, for the simple reason I could not see one distance marker on the course, although I'am fairly sure they must have some. I would also like to query with Southerndown members or non members why the 460 yard par 5 6th hole that almost always plays downwind is rated stroke index 2, I think it is about the easiest hole relative to par on the course. One of my partner's with the luxury of a double shot comfortably knocked it on in 2 and was putting for 6 points! He did four putt mind but still walked away with 3 points. Fine course, very friendly club as well.
Southerndown was the first course we played on our tour through South Wales and North Devon, and it turned out to be the perfect place for a nice afternoon-round. The club is set in a very tranquil atmosphere between peaceful sheep, just chilling in the bushes, which can be awkward when, hypothetically ofcourse, you have to retrieve your wayward ball there. The course is very undulated and you’re required to hit some blind shots, especially when you’re out of position. The conditions were a little scruffy around the edges but that never really bothered me. As the curse isn’t overly long, positioning is of great importance. Especially towards the end of the round there are some really good golf holes that wouldn’t be out of place on some great classic courses. The two leveled fairway on the dogleg-right finishing hole for example, is an absolute cracker. The par 3s are often played from a raised tee over a chasm. The Carling afterwards tasted delicious, while enjoying some beautiful views over the coast. That about sums up my memories of Southerndown: it’s an ideal club for a laidback summer-evening-round and an ideal warmup for the other great courses in the area. Maarten (MO)
Great course. Played here on a very wet and then very windy day, but this did not detract from the course. The 5th hole is the stand out, but it finishes very well as well, standing on the 18th with the sun shining and a 25 mile an hour wind blowing into your face made this very difficult. Overall go and play it you will enjoy.
Played Southerndown on 30th November 2011 on a sunny 12c day. The wind was blowing a hooley at 25mph gusting up to 35mph. When I fancy a knock around a links course living in Cardiff I normally pay a visit to Royal Porthcawl. RP is a world class links course, and I feel that Southerndown SD is somewhat is hidden in its shadow. But don't be fooled, SD is an excellent course in its own right. I found the course in excellent condition, I understand it is one of the only courses in the UK that has limestone base. This allows excellent drainage. Fantastic views some, very solid holes 1,2,3,5,15,16,17,18 stand out. Lovely time matured clubhouse and friendly staff. An underrated course that deserves a higher rating in my opinion.
I have to say I always find Southerndown a treat to play so I'am overdue writing a review. Played yesterday on a fine late August day, the third time this year and although the green had been recently spiked it did'nt detract from a very enjoyable round.
All holes at Southerndown are interesting, some obviously more challenging than others, the highlights for me are the last four holes, four very challenging par 4's. On this occasion however they were made slightly easier due to the wind being in a different direction to usual.
The only slight drawback with the round was the amount of 2 balls being played, my four having to let several groups through, anyway it was a lovely day so not that important.
Very friendly off course welcome.
This is a decent track, with its main defence being the wind. Greens and fairways in excellent condition, especially for April. Friendly welcome from both the staff and members. My only slight grumble is that the tee's and greens are so close to each other it makes it hard to concentrate on your tee shot or putt as you can hear other golfers very clearly! I know there is very little that can be done about this and a lot of old courses are like that, but I noticed it more here than I have elsewhere. Nice course, well worth playing and watch out for the sheep!!
Very nice course with superb views and greens. Course was generally a little bit scruffy when we played it but with a bit of TLC it would break into top 50 easily. Not in the same league as it presigous neighbour Royal Porthcawl but then again, not many courses are!!
What a course!
Our four ball played here last week and the wind did not stop blowing. Very good greens for the time of year, and the fairways were very good- the greenstaff were divoting the course as we visited. Excellent course- testing but fair. Good welcome from the locals- great views and a good time had by all