Royal Porthcawl was described as being one of the twelve finest courses in the world by the late Tom Scott, a leading writer on golf and former editor of Golf Illustrated. Since his day the club has acquired a large practice area and further improvements have been made to the course, developments which keep Royal Porthcawl firmly among the world’s top golf courses. The status of the course is sustained by the many prestigious professional and amateur events held at the club over the years. Michael Williams of the Daily Telegraph summed it all up with; “Royal Porthcawl epitomises all that is best about the game, as it once was, even down to a creaking clubhouse that is as unchanging as the magnificent links and unrivalled hospitality.”
Having built a further 9 holes and therefore creating South Wales’ first 18 hole golf course, albeit, with quite a walk between the two nines it was soon decided to abandon the original nine holes and build 18 holes and a clubhouse on the recently acquired land. The club called upon the services of Ramsay Hunter, a Scottish greenkeeper who had earlier laid out Royal St Georges, to design the new course. The club received its greatest honour in 1909, it was bestowed the rare privilege to use the prefix “Royal” and became the second course in Wales and only one of 25 clubs in the world to have that mark of distinction.
The course underwent a number of alterations in the period between the Wars, nevertheless, following a visit from The R & A Championship committee with a view to adding the club to the Championship rota, in 1933 J Simpson was asked to bring about some major alterations. No sooner had the alterations bedded in than WW2 broke out, and there must have been a degree of anxiety within the club that, once again, the course was going to be appropriated for agricultural use. Fortunately, that was not the case but, no doubt, for many members the bigger problem of rationing, in particular whisky, was introduced. Members were only allowed one tot per day, although this was very much at the discretion of the secretary, who must have enjoyed the sort of popularity never experienced before or, indeed, in the future.
The Club didn’t really establish itself after the war until 1950 and hosted its first major tournament, The Amateur Championship in 1951. This brought about a real enthusiasm for the game and, under the watchful eye of the Head Greenkeeper, Marcus Geddes, the course improved dramatically and this was quickly reflected with a raft of good tournaments held at the club in the early sixties, both amateur and professional, including various International Matches and the Curtis Cup. More recently, extensive improvements to the clubhouse, offices and pro shop, as well as alterations to the course, have ensured Royal Porthcawl is still as challenging and hospitable a club as you will find in the British Isles.