"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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Average Reviewers Score:
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
A good course but not as good as its neighbour P&K but both worth playing. The views here are terrific. We played it in strong winds (which I guess are fairly common) which made it more of a challenge. Not typical links but very enjoyable. Hole 2 and the Par 3 5th are great holes. The 18th is also a great hole - ideal for the "Greg Norman bottle-job" challenge - a tradition in our golf society whereby anyone who fails to get 2 points on the last hole pays £20 into the tour kitty!
Played Southerndown recently, an excellent course though they have a problem with people not replacing their divots - if the users of the course could do this there would be a significant improvement to the condition of the fairways.
Played on a sunny,warm,light-breeze day and Southerndown just seemed a most wonderful place to be.Don't know if it's the lovely views and airy feel of the place,or the friendliness of the locals (we must have been asked half a dozen times if we had enjoyed ourselves) or maybe it's because there's hardly any rough,thanks to the sheep eating it ! But whatever it is,Southerndown has definitely got it.
Can't put this in a specific class of topography. Could be links or heathland but definitly not parkland.
In great condition and better than some of its neighbours this is a challenging course that most will simply love.
great variety of holes, excellent clubhouse and very helpful staff. a must visit and very much a top 100
A great course in a great location. Fully deserves to be in the top 100 in all surveys.·Lovely springy soil, great views, a good test and something of the x factor. It felt “right”. ·A tough but fair test, but with a few good opportunities to score, especially the par 5s which can play quite short. Saying that, no one in our group of 10 played to handicap and it wasn’t even that windy.·The lady serving the food was a bit officious – “you will have to eat in the dining room as the ladies are playing bridge in the lounge and they don’t like the smell of chips”!! The rest of the staff including the pro were great and very welcoming.
Southerndown is a very enjoyable, hilly and exposed course, perhaps not in the same league as Royal Porthcawl in terms of the collection of holes or the condition…but the common land and the sheep account for that. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting layout with some fine views. Definitely worth playing…and hold on to your hat!
Is it a Links, a downland or heathland ? Probably a bit of all three ....
Good fun to play at Southerndown and a fair set of decent holes. 1st, 2nd and 18th my pick of the bunch. The views from the 2nd are amongst the best. Not an easy place to play to handicap and if the weather is against you, then this is really tough. A little disappointed with the quality of the greens but as the sheep are allowed to graze on the course it has to be described as a feature ! Enjoyed my round at Southerndown...a warm clubhouse welcome and very friendly members...well worth listening to over a small libation.
You feel on top of the world here at Southerndown - the course is really exposed to the elements. Watch out for the sheep - they never respond to "fore". The views from the friendly and welcoming clubhouse are simply outstanding. The opening and closing holes are superb, as is the par three 5th, known as "Carter's Folly". Well worth playing if in the area.