Affectionately known as P and K, Pyle and Kenfig is a wonderful old links course on the south coast of Wales that is blessed with a good deal more elevation than you might reasonably expect to find among the dunes. In that respect, it rather resembles its near neighbour, Royal Porthcawl, but the hills here are even more significant and testing.
It’s been compared with both Hoylake and even St Andrews principally because, like those two famous Open venues, it’s a good way back from the sea. Although the Bristol Channel can clearly be seen from many points on the course, the fact that you never get very close to the water’s edge is the only slight disappointment in what is otherwise a truly wonderful experience.
However, there are plenty of compensations for not being able to watch the waves, not least the fabulous views that such an elevated course has in abundance. As well as the Bristol Channel, there’s the Gower Peninsula, Sker House and the magnificent Welsh Mountains to be admired. Things to be avoided include the punishing rough and the penal bunkers.
Historically, the flourishing rabbit population has also posed problems and there was a local rule which was quite generous in allowing players to drop out of holes excavated by rabbits on the green. However, it was rather harsher on fairways. A free drop was only allowed on fairways if a club could be placed in every direction without touching the ball. In other words, the hole had to be pretty deep!
Another hazard in those bygone days came in the form of gin traps placed in holes to catch the rabbits. Because of these, golfers were understandably rather wary of retrieving balls that had rolled into rabbit holes.
Legendary architect Harry Colt played a significant part in laying out the course very nearly one hundred years ago. The design has been tweaked a bit and the course has been reconfigured a couple of times but it has always been comparatively tough. The back nine is considerably tougher than the outward half, particularly when, as it often does, the wind whips in from the sea.
Despite being much harder, the back nine will appeal to those who love pure links. The dunes are more towering and the holes have that magical authentic feel that can give a golfer goose-bumps and maybe a few goose-hollows as well.
Playing the back nine you can’t but help notice an extensive area of duneland rippling out towards the sea. The club has several times explored the possibility of using this land for what God created it for… golf. But, very sadly, environmental concerns mean that it will almost certainly remain idle for the foreseeable future and beyond.
Used for the qualifying rounds of the British Amateur Championship, P and K has a wonderful pedigree and has produced some outstanding golfers in its time. One of the best known is Trish Johnson, a very successful professional who has played in the Solheim Cup.
Other famous players who have walked upon P and K’s spring turf include such illustrious names as Dai Rees, Ken Bousfield, Dave Thomas and Peter Alliss.
Why We Like It
The first editor I ever worked for famously instructed me, “To avoid clichés like the plague,” and you will notice nowhere above have I used the term ‘hidden gem’. Although doubtless laudable, it’s a shame that I couldn’t call it an HG as that is precisely what P and K is. It’s fortunate that same editor never said anything about avoiding initials.
Golf writer Clive Agran, 65 and a journalist for more than 40 years, Clive Agran still wonders what he’ll do when he grows up. Nicknamed ‘Silky Swing’, he travels the globe looking for the world’s best golf courses.