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Ashburnham

Yardage
6880
Par
72
SSS
74
Built
1894
Architect(s)
Gibson, JH Taylor, Hawtree, Ken Cotton
Nature:
A JH Taylor flat championship links. Founded 1894 and has fine grasses.
Location/Address:
At Pembrey, west of Swansea. Postcode SA16 0HN
http://www.ashburnhamgolfclub.co.uk
Secretary
Damion Gee
Telephone
01554 832269
Professional
Martin Stimson
Green Keeper
Paul Hopkins
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Access Policy:
Visitors welcome. Great value
Dog Policy:
No dogs
Open Meetings:
Carmarthenshire Open - April
Fees in 1960s
20p
Fees today
£49

Review

Ashburnham and Southerndown are much as I remember them from a trip in October 1994 and they are in Frank Pennink’s Golfer’s Companion. Both are championship courses, one being moorland over Ogmore Down overlooking Porthcawl and the other a flat links inside the sandhills along the coast at Pembrey, west of Swansea.

This very fine club takes its name from the 5th Earl of Ashburnham who once owned the land and was the club’s inaugural President in 1894.

JH Taylor at Ashburnham, finest  courses

JH Taylor at Ashburnham

The course is predominantly straight out and back,  the layout designed by the great J.H.Taylor in 1910 who added to the initial Charles Gibson (the famous clubmaker from Westward Ho!) course. Taylor felt it stood comparison with the best seaside courses in the country and with the superb condition the course is now in,  I cannot disagree.

Fred Hawtree after the first War and Ken Cotton after the second War also had a hand in a few changes but basically the routing is as Taylor layed down.

Many professional Championships were played here in the 1960s and 70s before  the ‘lush target‘ inland courses like The Belfry built near conurbations to be economically more profitable, took over the  professional game.

When one meets greenkeepers of fine courses on one’s travels, some give the impression they know what they are doing but have had difficulty communicating it.  Some, to temporarily save their jobs, have surrendered to the members’ call for greens to be shaved, with the growth of Poa annua (meadow grass) and all the extra costs that involves, the outcome.

Peter and Helen on the 15th

Peter and Helen on the 15th

Others have benefitted from the training courses administered by the Greenkeeper Training Committee (GTC) and have learnt how to communicate within their clubs. They balance the pressures with an agreed long term policy of renewing their courses with a natural greenkeeping regime that encourages the fine running game and  bent and fescue grasses. These latter keepers are the ones who are raising standards and lowering costs.

Huw Morgan has been at Ashburnham for three years and is just such a one. He knows exactly which, of only a handful of his greens, are the problem ones with an unacceptable percentage of meadow grass (Poa annua) and has the necessary improvement policies in place. The aprons to his greens are immaculate and so promote the running game. (As an aside to this subject, I have been critical of Northamptonshire County’s green aprons but, playing in the Club Championship recently, was delighted to be able to bump and run with almost consistency across much improved aprons)

The long 10th

The long 10th

We played round Ashburnham with the Vice-Captain, Tony Washer, who showed all his guile from 100 yards out and, though the closing holes are of a different character to the real beauty at Ashburnham, nevertheless they gave us a wonderful stage for a great halved match.

Two big tournaments have come back to Ashburnham this year, to this classic flat links course with stands of scots pine and gorse. The layout provides a formidable challenge while still giving every level of player a chance.

There are plans, when finance is available, to incorporate more of the duneland into the course, as has been done with the relatively new twelfth hole.

The Club, among the first  established in Wales, unfortunately falls somewhat under the shadow of Royal Porthcawl when people think of the very finest in South Wales (and being beyond Swansea does not help), but it is not far behind, and RPGC would not be so cruel as to remind their friends that the scoreline between the clubs on their first match back in the 1890s was 45 holes to zero!

The course may not have the movement in the land that Burnham and Berrow and Saunton, across the Bristol Channel, enjoy but as a testing links, of fantastic value, it has those ‘joy to be alive’ factors.”

See ” The Ash ” by Norman Lewis, A centenary celebration of The Ashburnham Golf Club 1894 -1994.

Mini-Review by Lorne Smith in 2010.

Reader Comments

On June 24th, 2011 chris sandham Said:

Lorne
I have just returned from a very enjoyable MCC golf tour to South Wales playing Porthcawl, Ashburnham,Pyle and Kenfig and Southerndown. I couldn’t agree more with the comments on Ashburnham. Not only was the course in great nick we also enjoyed wonderful hospitality with one of the best after match dinners we have had. As captain for the day my partner and I had the honour of playing with Toni Washer , the current Ashburnham Captain. I also had an interesting chat with Huw Morgan. This club thoroughly deserves ranking alongside Porthcawl particularly because they offer different experiences. So lets hear it for Ashburnham and their very friendly members.

On March 22nd, 2014 Ian Douglas Said:

My son and I have played Ashburnham a couple of times, the last being August ’13. It is always very enjoyable and we have stayed at the dormy house the last visit. This is fine except for the entrance round the back of the clubhouse! The course has some really challenging holes needing well executed shots.