Nefyn in North Wales is the perfect destination for a golfing trip - you too could be a duffer in Duffy's back yard
Even the most hardened members of the anti-golfing fraternity can see the point of playing golf at Nefyn (http://www.nefyn-golf-club.co.uk/course.html). Dramatically set on the cliff tops of the Lleyn Peninsula in North Wales, it offers a great sporting challenge, although the old adage that golf is a good walk spoiled may be more relevant here than almost anywhere else I know. On a clear day, you can see the sun set over the Wicklow Mountains of Ireland. On a cloudy day, you’re experiencing the outer limits of that wonderful adjective – “bracing”. And, if you’re playing, you’ll lose a lot of balls.
But being the enthusiast you are, you’ll mark it down as a unique golfing experience. The first hole invites you to blast away towards the Irish Sea; the last is a gentle trudge up towards the quietly elegant clubhouse, where you can look back out of the wide bay windows, safe from that westerly for now, a beer in your fist. In between, you will have driven the ball over rocky coves, praying that that fairway isn’t as far away as it looks. The drive at the 13th, where the nervous golfer is aiming to bite off as much of the rocky corner as his ability, ego or the wind will allow, is one of the great challenges on this course. If your drive does find the close cut grass of the peninsula beyond, you're left with another nerve shredding shot at a green enclosed by rocks, situated close to the old lighthouse.
Pause at this point to offer up your prayers to the golfing gods, and look out over the Irish Sea. Back in the 19th century the bay below at Porthdinllaen was in contention with Anglesey's Holyhead as a proposed venue for the lucrative shipping port link to Ireland. As you watch the ferries cross on the horizon, well away from this quiet, idyllic spot, you may wish to offer up more prayers, this time to whatever god of economics chose Holyhead.
Golf was first played at Nefyn in 1907 after a meeting at the nearby Ty Coch pub on Porthdinllaen beach. (http://www.tycoch.co.uk/). Aficionados call it the best pub in Wales. It is set below the spectacular 15th fairway which the expert golfer will, of course, have found with a 200 yard carry over the whitewashed Life Boat Station.
It is perhaps hard to believe that a Hollywood production company would have found this place, but Half Light, a supernatural thriller starring Demi Moore was filmed here in 2003. Porthdinllaen became "Ingonish Cove" for a week and the Ty Coch became “An Taigh Ruadh” – meaning Red House in Gaelic.
But Ty Coch is, in fact, more cosmopolitan than its setting would lead us to believe – a survey at the bar recently revealed 124 different countries represented amongst its clientele. In order to stay for a period of time, rather than grabbing a quick half on your way round the course, you may wish to stay at the pub itself. The flat upstairs (Ty Coch Flat) offers residents a view of the bay and will accommodate six people. The nearby Cliffs Inn, a ten minute walk along the beach to the east, offers you a different perspective on this beautiful scene, and good food too.
The nearby village of Nefyn basks in the glory of being known as pop star Duffy’s home town, and the Nanhoron Arms Hotel is a comfortable, well placed bolt hole from which to see this quiet corner of Wales. If you want to move upmarket, Plas Bodegroes is the place to go. Situated between Nefyn and the sailing port of Pwllheli, Chris and Gunna Chown have established Wales’ first 5 star restaurant with rooms. Those who prefer to take the self-catered route might consider staying in one of the excellent beach chalets at the Warren in Abersoch, a 15 minute drive away on the other side of the Lleyn Peninsula (http://thewarren.haulfryn.co.uk). The owners rent these ideally placed bolt holes privately, but agents such as Menai Holiday Cottages (www.menaiholidays.co.uk) have Warren properties on their books, as well as a good selection of self catering accommodation on the Lleyn Peninsula.
If any of your golfing nerves are left intact after the challenge of Nefyn in a brisk south westerly, there are excellent courses set in stunning scenery all over this part of Wales. The links courses at Pwllheli (www.pwllheligolfclub.co.uk/), Abersoch (www.abersochgolf.co.uk/) and Harlech (www.royalstdavids.co.uk/) are all within driving distance – if you’ll excuse the pun…
For your days off the course, see what an awesome job Edward I, the “Hammer of the Scots” did in his warm up act in Wales by building Caernarvon Castle. Forty years ago, a gawky, red cheeked Prince Charles was made Prince of Wales within its walls.
Or if the sun is shining, and the beach beckons, try out some more of the Lleyn Peninsula’s uncrowded sunspots. Much of it may remind the dedicated beach bum of what Cornwall was like before it was overrun in the 1990s. Porth Ceiriad (http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/northwest/sites/surfing/pages/porthceriad.shtml) is a top surfing destination, but strictly in that understated manner that sets the tone for much of what happens in this wonderful part of Wales.