Feature Review: Bull Bay Golf Club

Published 23/09/2013 06:52:32

Byron Kalies is a golf writer and photographer. catch up with his writing at www.byronkalies.com

"God builds golf links and the less man meddles the better for all concerned." -  W. Herbert Fowler

Bull Bay Golf club perched on the most northern point of Wales, on the edge of the Irish Sea is one of the most spectacular courses in the whole of Wales.  It is one of the best looking and enjoyable courses in the country. The course combines elements of heathland and links type courses. The land itself is lush and fertile with a mass of interesting gorses, flowers and grasses. The views are spectacular from the number of raised tees.

The weather plays and important part, exposed as the course is to the elements of the Irish sea. It can be incredibly difficult in bad conditions. Talking to members though one of the many attractions of the course is the changeability of the weather. "It's like playing a different course every day", said one of members, " It's a course you could never get bored with."

With the rugged Irish Sea coastline to the north and the Snowdonian mountain ranges visible in the south Bull Bay is an outstanding place to play golf. It's little wonder David Lloyd George played regularly during the early days of the course and described it as one of his favourite courses.

bull bay golf club 13th

The course looks sensational with the greens and fairways immaculately maintained. Although it is not a long course it is difficult and challenging. It's a course where you need to think. It's a course where you need to aim for certain parts of the fairway, certain places on the green. I suspect a little local knowledge will go a long way at Bull Bay.

Bull Bay, the most northerly golf course in Wales is within a mile from the most northerly town in Wales, Amlwch.  Traditionally this was an area of ship building and copper mining. Today new industries, including tourism have replaced these.   

The club motto is; ""Her Deg ar Hen Dir (An honest challenge on an ancient land)". The ancient land refers to the area around the course. It has been inhabited since prehistoric times and is a place associated with the ancient druids of Wales.  

The honest challenge of the course comes from its design. The course was designed in 1913 by William Herbert Fowler.

W. Herbert Fowler was a fascinating character. His sporting career began with cricket. Born in London in 1856 he played first class cricket for Essex, then Somerset and the MCC.

His golf career began in 1879 with a visit to Westward Ho! and although his cricketing career left him little time for golf he improved dramatically, competing for England against Scotland and eventually developing a career as a golf course architect.

He designed the superb Walton Heath golf course in 1899. Whilst a member at this prestigious Surrey club he met a number of Welsh golfers including David Lloyd George and the 6th Marquess of Anglesey who were also members.  Other members included Winston Churchill, King Edward VIII and King George VI. There must have been some interesting discussions with Lloyd George and the Marquess because in 1913 Fowler was commissioned to build the golf course  on land owned by the Marquess. The Marquess was a keen golfer and contributed the land, money for the development of the courses and clubhouse.

bull bay 3rd

Fowler had a unique and enigmatic way of working. At a time when golf course were designed and developed as quickly as possible he spent a great deal of time working with the land. He frequently rode a horse around the land, acclimatizing himself to the features, the lay of the land, the ‘feel' of the land. He was a golf architect who let the land dictate the course.

Amongst the quirks Fowler had was to design the par 3s first and then the rest of the course. At Bull Bay each of the par 3s is different and are a real challenge. He was also responsible for the positioning of bunkers of the green rather than in front of them. He was a radical course designer for his time and Bernard Darwin, probably the finest golf writer of all time, described him as "the most daring and original of all golf architects ".  

The course seems to have changed relatively little over the years. There are the same elevated tees that tempt golfers into reaching for drivers. The natural dangers of thick gorse and rocky outcrops still play a large part in the wisdom of choosing each shot. The courses undulates its way around the land giving amazing views of the Irish Sea, the small village of Bull Bay the Snowdonian mountains, and even the Isle of Man on a clear day.

The clubhouse has a history all of its own it was originally the cricket pavilion at the home of the Marquess of Anglesey at Plas Newydd. It served the club well for many years but was replaced in 1994 with a modern clubhouse offering panoramic views of the course and a close view of three greens that congregate close to the clubhouse.

The course hosts local, national and international fixtures including the Ryder Cup 2010 Young PGA professional Open Championship and is clearly continuing to flourish as a prime course within Wales.

The other aspect mentioned by all visitors to the club is the amazing feeling golfers get from the club. Reading the reviews from a number of publications and visiting myself it is unanimously agreed that the welcome is sincere, warm and welcoming and many, many people have made Bull Bay a regular venue on their visits to Anglesey.

Bull Bay Golf Club ,

Bull Bay Road,
LL68 9RY
01407 830960

Images courtesy of Byron Kalies



1.  Hello, although we haven't - as yet -played your course, we did today enjoy an excellent lunch and welcome! Thank you to your President, ladies' Captain, and members who made us so welcome.Also a big thank you to the lady who photocopied the poem for us - enjoy Bath - to where we return in 10 mins! A merry Christmas to you all and all good wishes for 2014.

comment by Una McCullough - 03/12/2013 16:47

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