The United Kingdom is home to some of the world’s most prestigious and revered golf courses. From the windswept classic links courses of Scotland to the manicured parklands of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, golfers are spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing where to play in Great Britain.
The country’s rich golfing heritage has produced countless memorable moments, stunning views and many highlights from the historic Open Championship venues to the Ryder Cup, and continues to attract players from around the golf world.
And while we have some great golf courses right here in Oxfordshire, for championship quality you do need to look a bit further afield for the best of British. So if you want to follow in the footsteps of Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer on the best links and smoothest putting surfaces, read on.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the best golf courses in the UK, each with its own unique character, challenges and allure. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a casual player, there’s something here for everyone.
St Andrews – Old Course
Location: St Andrews, Fife
The St Andrews Old Course, widely considered the birthplace of golf, is undoubtedly one of Scotland’s finest golf courses. Its popularity draws golf enthusiasts from around the world to play from sunrise to sunset, year-round. It’s the ideal course for any serious golfer looking for a UK Golf Break to bask in the rolling landscape and sand dunes.
The course’s rich heritage and history offer visitors an unforgettable experience, and memorable holes beginning and ending in the charming Auld Grey Toon with its opening, and closing holes. Legends of the sport have competed over this historic stretch of links land and back tees, making it a must-play for any avid golfer and the ultimate destination for true golf aficionados.
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Royal St. George’s
Founded – 1887
Location – Sandwich, Kent
Website – www.royalstgeorges.com
The Royal St. George’s course is among England’s top links courses and made history as the first non-Scottish venue to host The Open in 1894. With rumpled fairways across open space, the course boasts a distinctive feature of no two holes being the same, plus being popular due to it’s close proximity to London.
Golfers navigate around the largest dunes along the Kent coast, with notable holes, including the 6th and 14th greens located dangerously close to the Out of Bounds area.
Royal County Down – Championship
Founded – 1889
Location – Newcastle, County Down
Website – www.royalcountydown.org
Ranked as one of Northern Ireland’s best courses with a tough test from the Irish Sea winds, the Championship course at Royal County Down offers a thrilling ride through the towering dunes from the first tee. Natural bunkering and blind tests challenge players with world-class holes, creating a roller coaster-like experience.
With its unique windswept terrain, rough-edged bunkering, and stunning Mountain of Mourne backdrop, Royal County Down is one of the world’s most photographed courses. It’s no surprise like many classic links courses that golfers have had unforgettable golfing experiences here.
The course in 125 years old and was given a redesign by Harry Colt but still maintains the native and plentiful gorse that gives the rumpled land a beautiful colour on a sunny day. The courses dramatic moments and excellent bunkering make it a true test to play golf on.
Woodhall Spa – Hotchkin
Founded – 1905
Location – Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire
Website – www.woodhallspagolf.com
The Woodhall Spa golf course is a hidden gems that poses a significant challenge to golfers of all levels due to its demanding bunkers. With an abundance of bunkers scattered throughout the greens and fairways, golfers must be at their best to avoid the sand traps. Recently, the heathland course has undergone significant upgrades, requiring players to focus more on their strategy, ball position, and accuracy, particularly with their tee shots.
Sunningdale – Old Course
Founded – 1901
Location – Sunningdale, Berkshire
Website – sunningdale-golfclub.co.uk
The Old Course is an iconic choice for golfers seeking a rich history and tradition, having hosted numerous championship events. One of the top golf courses in England, the terrain features hills, heather, and broom, providing a range of elevation changes throughout the course.
The 10th hole showcases the course’s varied terrain as it stretches down and up to the famous halfway hut, where you can enjoy a delicious sausage sandwich. As one of the top inland great golf courses in the UK and possibly Europe, it’s no wonder that the Old Course remains one of the most sought-after heathland courses worldwide.
St George’s Hill
Founded – 1911
Location – Weybridge, Surrey
Website – www.stgeorgeshillgolfclub.co.uk
The heathland course offers a thrilling golf experience with a variety of holes that will leave you with many memorable moments. One of them is the short par-3 eighth hole on the Red nine, which requires you to play across a valley with heavily bunkered terrain on its far bank. The iconic Surrey inland golf club boasts a tough first few holes and a unique red-brick clubhouse that overlooks the opening and closing holes of both Red and Blue nines. With its blend of variety, drama, and challenge, this course is suitable for golfers of all skill levels.
Founded – 1869
Location – Hoylake, Wirral
Website – royal-liverpool-golf.com
Royal Liverpool on England’s golf coast in the north west is a renowned golf course with many iconic holes that has played host to many championships, including the 2019 Walker Cup and the 2006 and 2014 Claret Jug, where Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, respectively, emerged victorious. The course is known to be the home of English golf and has a challenging layout and rich history and will once again host the 13th Open Championship in 2023.
The Hoylake Golf Club, which is a wonderful links that overlooks several flat holes that used to be a racecourse, provides a picturesque starting point for players. The course has some unique features, with the middle section moving closer to the Dee Estuary, offering a more dramatic and exciting links golf experience.
Founded – 1897
Location – Vale of Pickering, Yorkshire
The 1974 Ryder Cup was held at this remarkable course, where the USA overcame Team GB in an intense competition. Some people call it an inland links course, despite the uneasy feeling this description causes, as it still embodies many of the characteristics of a true links course.
The winds that sweep over this course place a great emphasis on accuracy due to the numerous bunkers and wide fairways like those at Woodhall Spa. Ganton boasts several stunning holes, including the 6th and the par-3 10th, where the green is covered by bunkers and concaved to capture golf balls.
We could list literally hundreds of the best golf courses in the UK including Royal Birkdale Golf Club, Royal Lytham St.Annes, and The Royal Aberdeen to mention a few. And of course, more locally we have Huntercombe Oxfordshire.
So whatever you want in a golf course, whether it is classic links courses or a championship links or just somewhere to go on your next golf break, there a more to choose from than you would imagine.