Oxfordshire is one of the smaller counties in south east England, but it has plenty to offer in terms of peaceful, rural topography, even though it does not have any Top 100 golf courses in the country at the moment.
There are, of course, championship-level golf clubs in Oxfordshire. Those who want to take it slow and smell the roses, however, will also find the links welcoming. With the best places with much to enjoy and explore and the stunning views of the Spires of the oldest university of the English speaking world.
Here is a quick rundown of some of the finest golf courses in Oxfordshire according to the experts at My Golf Travel.
Location: Nuffield, Henley-on-Thames RG9 5SL
The golf course design has been based on the work of three men, two of whom were members of the Park family, who founded the profession in the late 19th century. William Park Junior was one of those men, and his design for the Old Course at Sunningdale was his first. Because he owned the course at Huntercombe, he was able to experiment to his heart’s content.
This is still a fantastic test of golf and a wonderful location to play in, despite being a one-of-a-kind course. The grass bunkers, also known as pots, are one of its most fascinating features. They vary greatly in size and shape, some of them being hard to see from a distance and some of them being lined with or containing gorse and other shrubs. They add both visual impact and tactical strategy.
Location: Abingdon OX13 5NW
There are three excellent courses at Frilford Heath Golf Club, and the Red Course is the original one as well as the most prestigious, earning a place on Golf Monthly’s Next 100 UK&I list. This is a challenging but traditional heathland championship test that requires both length and precision, and is rightly considered one of the best golf courses in Oxfordshire.
Club professional JH Turner altered JH Taylor’s original nine-hole layout to develop the Green Course in the 1960s. Cotton and Pennink later expanded it to 18 holes. In the 1990s, local architect Simon Gidman developed the Blue Course, which includes parkland and water hazards. There is a great deal to enjoy here.
Location: Thame OX9 2PU
This course, designed by Rees Jones, son of Robert Trent Jones Senior and brother of Junior, is an American-style modern course. It once hosted B&H International tournaments, which were won by Bernhard Langer and Colin Montgomerie, among others.
The holes where water comes into play are among the most visually appealing as well as the most challenging. The riskiest hole is the par-5 17th, where there are two fairways on either side of the lake. This course is excellent for match play because it involves such a high degree of risk and reward.
The hotel also has a notable spa, so makes for a great weekend trip.
Location: Hook Norton OX15 5HL
The Tadmarton Heath Golf Club is celebrating its centenary this year. This course, which is off the beaten track, is beautifully situated. A short time before he created the King’s Course at Gleneagles, Cecil Hutchison created this course. The atmosphere on and off the course at Tadmarton Heath is charming, especially the clubhouse, which is full of character.
The front nine is much more difficult than the back nine, as gorse bushes are frequent companions. The course is short at only 6,000 yards from the very back tees, and there is only one par 5 (hole 5).
Location: Henley-on-Thames RG9 4NR
Fifty years ago, the course at Badgemore Park opened for play, and it remains a meticulously maintained parkland design. The mature trees that line many of the holes as well as the positional play created by the doglegs present a challenge. The 5th hole is the only par 5, and there are four short holes. There is also on-site lodging in one of eight rooms in a walled garden.
Location: Burford OX18 4JG
The holes at Burford were created in the mid-1930s by professional golfer JH Turner of nearby Frilford Heath. The course was then without trees, but now the holes are clearly separated by mature, attractive woodland. Your golfing skills will be highly tested on this course. Both length and precision are required, as well as gentle doglegs, numerous sand traps, and world-class greens. The three par 5s provide an opportunity to get a hole back on the scoreboard, while the last three holes provide a tough finish.
The Cotswold Club
Location: Chipping Norton OX7 5QH
Chipping Norton Golf Club has been a popular destination for golfers since the early 1900s. This parkland/downland course is now owned by a new group, and a large, luxurious hotel has been added. The River Glyne flows through two of the holes, making the short third hole and the demanding par five fifth hole even more captivating. A wide variety of holes are present, ranging from short and easy to long and difficult.
Location: Henley-on-Thames RG9 4HG
The excellent layout at Henley was designed by James Braid where the course meanders through the valley, climbs to higher ground, and then descends again. With three short holes on each nine, there is a lot of diversity. The 6th hole is the sole par 5 on the course that replicates its predecessor. You might be able to post impressive scores if you keep it straight on some reachable par 5s. This charming design should keep you occupied and content from start to finish.
Location: Horton-cum-Studley OX33 1BF
The 44-acre Studley Wood is situated in a parkland setting with ancient woodlands in its heart. Their Par 73 course, designed by Simon Gidman in 1995, is a challenging test for all types of golfers and is renowned for its excellent greens. The course plays in opposite directions around the wooded centre, where great care has been taken to set out the 18 holes so that each fairway and green has its own unique character and presents its unique challenge. The result is a course that blends a sense of maturity with the thrill of playing golf!
Location: Chipping Norton OX7 4NF
This course was designed by the very highly regarded Mackenzie & Ebert firm 12 years ago and runs through the stately home’s mature parkland grounds, which cover a wide expanse of undulating terrain with streams, lakes and stunning specimen trees. On the 6th hole, the green hugs a fishing pond, and the 14th meanders from right to left through an ancient wood. The final hole has the magnificent mansion as a wonderful backdrop.
Oxford Golf Club
Location: Oxford OX4 1PF
Located just two miles from the centre of the city in an oasis of 143 acres of greenery, you’d be forgiven to thinking you were in the middle of the countryside. With muntjac deer and rabbits running wild, it’s a stunning location and one to visit. It’s not just the best golf course in Oxford, it rivals many in England.
Originally the Oxford University Golf Club in 1875, it was known as Southfield Golf Club until 2014 when it changed to it’s current name. Originally designed by champion golfer James Braid (the highly acclaimed architect) and then redesigned in 1922 by famed Harry Colt.
The stand-out holes on the back nine at numbers 12, 15, and 17 are where the real star quality lies in this course, we’ll let you pick the signature hole. The other prominent aspect of the course is the strong par 4s that make for challenging but fun rounds of golf.
Location: Banbury OX15 4RU
Thirty years after it was built, the rolling parkland course with small areas of heath at Rye Hill gives the impression of being much older. Tadmarton Heath is adjacent, but the course covers 200 acres and therefore feels spacious. It has been used for European Professional tournaments. The course is a demanding test for two-shotters because there are only three short holes and three par 5s. The clubhouse is large, Cotswold stone, and inexpensive, and the course caters for golfers of all standards.
Hinksey Heights Golf Club
Location: Oxford OX1 5AB
Hinksey Heights opened in 1996 with stunning views of the Dreaming Spires of Oxford. Complete with an on-site driving range, putting green and chipping green, there is even a Footgolf course. It’s a great choice for links near Oxford.
So there you have it, some of Oxfordshire’s finest golf courses for any golfing beginner or those who play off the expert tees.