Fernie, Fowler, W.Park jnr, Colt
Championship moorland course. Magnificent views and fine turf.
On Ogmore Down south of Bridgend. Postcode (CF32 0QP)
Alan Hughes
01656 881111
John Peters
Green Keeper
Andrew Mannion
Access Policy:
Visitors welcome
Dog Policy:
No dogs
Open Meetings:
The Duncan Putter - April
Fees in 1960s
Fees today


Southerdown is a formidable challenge of championship calibre, where the wind always blows and where the old-fashioned one iron comes into its own.

I played recently in a northerly wind (the very one that brought the ash cloud from Iceland!), which was perhaps unfortunate in being the opposite to the prevailing direction and, therefore, not giving the golfer a true feel of its design. Nevertheless, the direction of the routing is so varied over the top of this moorland area across which sheep graze that it did not really matter and this tremendous course truly uplifted me again after my earlier acquaintance in the mid 1990s.

The clubhouse

The clubhouse

Geologically speaking it lies on sandy, acidic soil, blown across a limestone heath back at the end of the Ice Age, and as such is ideal for growing crisp, fine turf. There is little heavy rough and the intimidating gorse provides the main dangers on the undulating scenic topography.

Indeed whereas for example  Ashburnham’s beauty (west of Swansea) is within the play of the land, Southerndown has tremendous views over the river valley below and the sea beyond which may not help the concentration but it certainly helps settle any nerves or stresses.

There is an ongoing programme of overseeding with fine fescue grasses and, cut at the sustainable height of 5mm, the greens run smoothly at a stimp around 9 to 10.

The Club was founded in 1905 and Willie Fernie of Penarth, Herbert Fowler, Willie Park Jnr and Harry Colt all had a hand in the course design that remained virtually unaltered for 70 years until Donald Steel made some recent minor changes.

The 5th, Carter's Folly

The 5th, Carter's Folly

It measures 6449 yards (par 70/sss 72) and there are many testing par fours though “Carters Folly”, the short fifth across a valley, is likely to stay in the mind longest. Into the prevailing wind the first two holes are renouned for giving a most difficult start with bracken and gorse close at hand.

I must mention that it did surprise me to walk onto a lush, green, meadow grass first tee from a fast ‘brown’ practice putting area. These green tee-ing islands were dotted over the course and seemed rather incongruous and not particularly attractive to the traditional eye nor a good advertisement for this otherwise beautifully sustainably maintained course. I can’t believe Jim Arthur would have approved when he helped the Club out of a compaction problem in the mid 90s nevertheless they are only played-off rather than on to!

The 15th Ladies tee

The 15th Ladies tee

I am advised that with so many of the tees being small and suffering from constant use it was decided to change to quicker growing grass to provide a better uniform coverage and quicker recovery from wear and divoting, and apparently they grow with little water or fertiliser needed and no pesticides.

All year round golf is enjoyed at Southerndown and it is one of the finest courses in South Wales. Who would disagree with Frank Pennink in descibing it among the finest six in Wales ?”

See ‘1905 to 2005, a century of memories’ by Tony Williams, who has collated an engaging and well presented history of this club that has been at the forefront of Welsh golf.

Mini-review by Lorne Smith  2010

Reader Comments

On August 30th, 2010 Paul Dolton said:

Hi Lorne,what did you think of the 18th.Some people are not keen, with the split fairway, but i would rate it very highly. Along side Wallasey it’s one of my favourite finishing holes. regards Paul

Understand why you mention Wallasey and Southerndown’s 18th has majestic views, plenty of quirky character on the drive into the prevailing wind and to judge the distance to the pin, well positioned in front of the attractive traditional clubhouse, is beguiling. Not sure though it is quite the classic you suggest but I guess I haven’t played it as many times as yourself and as any great hole it might grow on me! Regards Lorne

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