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New look for oldest golf club in Wales with £1.7m development

The oldest affiliated golf club in Wales has just finished one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken by a Welsh golf members club, opening a £1.7 million redevelopment at Tenby.

The new facilities overlooking the links course are aimed at preserving the club’s future. “We have been going for more than 135 years, we hope this project will enable us to be going for another 135 years and more,” said Tenby golf manager David Hancock.

“It is very ambitious, we are aware of that, and it will have its challenges, but we are excited about the future.”

Above the clubhouse sits The Dunes, a new ten room 4-star guest accommodation that offers panoramic views of the town, dunes, and fairways. This luxury accommodation is designed to cater to guests and tourists in the area.

The club has converted an additional four on-site golf dormy rooms to create a total of eleven twin rooms. This expansion significantly enhances the club’s ability to accommodate golfers, societies, and groups, allowing them to enjoy the inclusive stay and play packages.

The project started at the beginning of the year and includes the introduction of a new dining establishment, ‘The Links,’ welcoming residents and tourists while celebrating Pembrokeshire’s culture and cuisine.

As part of the redevelopment, new car parking facilities have been added for customers of the complex, including 4 EV charging points.

“I have been working here for 20 years and I have to pinch myself every day that I am walking into the same place,” said Hancock.

“There is a sense of symmetry that 10 years ago we started the project for the dormer rooms with some unused buildings.

“We started with just three dormer rooms thanks to a grant from Ryder Cup Wales, plus an extensive development of the practice area, so we added four more which meant we could take up to 14 people. That proved very, very popular.

“Now we have 21 rooms, a standalone four star guest accommodation with a top quality restaurant, which has been a £1.7 million development.

“There are five new dormer rooms, 10 four star hotel bedrooms, plus the existing seven rooms, so it is quite a place.

“It has involved funding through loans and grants, but the business plans are in place ready for next year and looking to build on a good start. We have got a good team and we are really proud of the place.”

The ambition of the club has been commended by Wales Golf. “This development is not just an asset for Tenby, but also an asset to golf in Wales,” said Theo Baker, Wales Golf Regional Club Development Officer (West & Mid Wales) and Coach Education Lead.

“The transformation at the club is incredibly impressive. It shows how golf clubs can think outside of their traditional roles to raise revenue, using the space and advantages they may have.

“When I visited the hotel after it had opened, I was very impressed at the quality of the place. It is a great venue overlooking the golf course and the club are to be congratulated for their ambition.”

It is a considerable investment for a golf club which has been voted one of the top 10 best value courses in the UK by Golf Monthly magazine, as well as being regularly voted one of the top courses in Wales.

Hancock says they are taking advantage of the strong local tourism, the golf club being a few minutes from Tenby’s beaches and town centre.

“We are a fairly typical, semi-rural golf club with a finite number of chimney pots around us, while the main businesses in the area are tourism and agriculture,” he said.

“We need to look at ways to keep the oldest golf course in Wales thriving, and to do that we needed a stronger revenue stream which had to come from accommodation and hospitality.

“It was about three years ago the Board started thinking this was what we wanted to do, we thought of a franchise but in the end decided to keep it in house to keep control of what we wanted to do going forward.

“We are still a members golf club, but very welcoming to visitors to come and use all the facilities. There is still the facility to stay and play, but the hotel is more than just a place for golf breaks while the restaurant stands alone.

“We call this ‘The Birthplace of Golf in Wales,’ we are the oldest affiliated club dating from the 1880s and there is evidence of golf being played on this piece of land long before that.

“It is a quality course, we will be hosting the Welsh Men’s Open Stroke Play again next year for instance.

“Whatever income we can generate will be re-invested in the golf club and the golf course itself because it needs to be maintained to a high standard.”

Tenby became the first affiliated golf club in Wales in 1888. The first records of golf being played in Wales are at Tenby and Pontnewydd, both in 1875, while the first recorded examples of established golf courses in Wales are at Tenby, and Borth and Ynyslas, both in 1885.