Ashburnham, the demanding seaside venue where the great welshman and winning Ryder Cup Captain, Dai Rees won the PGA title in 1959, has long been regarded as one of the best links courses in Britain. Indeed it won that rating from no less authority than the immortal Harry Vardon. He twice played the course, enjoying himself immensely and was compelled to record soon afterwards that “The course I like best in Wales is Ashburnham”
Vardon, the first of the game’s superstars, played here first in 1904, alongside his great rival and friend James Braid. They formed two-thirds of the game’s Great Triumvirate of the early days, but it was its third member that Ashburnham members and visitors have to thank for the pleasure of dredging deep into their reservoir of talents to meet the demands of 6,910 yards of vintage golfing terrain.
The course that you tackle today is basically the layout, which the redoubtable J. H. Taylor designed in 1910 after paying a visit to suggest further alterations to a course then 14 years old. He returned three years later to inspect progress and suggest further alterations. The results pleased the great man, who commented with great pride: “It stands comparison with many of the best seaside courses in the country”.
If this is your first visit to Ashburnham, it won’t take you long to appreciate what Taylor meant all those years ago. Ahead of you stretches a pleasurable test of your shot making ability. Ashburnham, which takes its name from the 5th Earl of Ashburnham who once owned the land and became the club’s inaugural President in 1894, is one of those straight out and straight back courses. The front nine are played in a westerly direction into the prevailing wind, which can vary from a mild breeze into a formidable near gale.
The first hole unusually is a tough par three and the ninth a tough dogleg par four with a narrow entrance green. The second nine, usually wind assisted, opens with a long par five, and takes you into a slightly longer, but equally testing inward stretch. This has a testing last few holes culminating in the eighteenth with its elevated treacherous green. Two further Ryder Cup Captains have been successful in their playing careers in Ashburnham in the shape of Bernard Gallacher who won the Schweppes PGA Championship in 1969, followed by Sam Torrance’s win in the Martini Tournament in 1976.
Ashburnham has also hosted many of the major amateur tournaments having first held a Welsh Amateur Championship in 1904. In more recent years it has been the venue for both the Men’s and Ladies Home Internationals; British Youths, British Ladies and British Senior Ladies Championships; Welsh Golfing Union Championships and also Welsh PGA events. Ashburnham is proud of the tradition of Championship Golf held on the course whilst at the same time welcomes all golfers to share in the experience of a challenging links course.