What’s the single best thing about the game of golf?The fact that it can be enjoyed by absolutely anyone. Open to men and women of all ages, golf’s handicapping system technically levels the playing field between the most capable professionals and rank amateurs. Not only this, but even if you’re less than proficient with a five-iron, a round of golf really is one of the most enjoyable experiences imaginable.
Gaze upon a handful of golf posters and it’s hard not to want to get out and about for a round or two. Particularly during the warmer months of the year when the weather isn’t quite so unpredictable. But assuming you’ve only a short amount of time to spare – where should you focus your attention? Or to put it another way, where should you be looking to find the very best golf courses in the UK?
The short answer…well, it all depends on how you define the ‘best’ course. In our opinion, the best golf courses in the UK are those that are challenging on just the right level, stunningly beautiful, packed with all the amenities you could ever wish for and (if possible) easily accessible.
Having ticked all the right boxes, we’d highly recommend checking out any of the following while the weather is on your side:
St Andrews (Old)
Referred to by its fans and followers as no less than the official ‘Home of Golf’, St Andrews has a history spanning six centuries. Home to some of the most famous holes in the world, it’s the kind of prestigious and exclusive course every keen golfer should play at least once in a lifetime. Be warned however – St Andrews is also notoriously challenging and never fails to take even the most experienced golfers by surprise!
Speaking of which, Carnoustiecould be a contender for the top 10 most challenging courses in the entire world. This is the kind of course that takes absolutely no prisoners whatsoever and is out to get you at every turn. Famed for its formidable bunkers and water hazards, some of the biggest names in golf (John Van de Velde springing immediately to mind) have had horrible experiences here. Hence, it’s an absolute must for any golfer looking to test their mettle.
Royal St George’s
Adding nothing but beauty and serenity to the Kent countryside, this famed course has been delighting and terrifying pros for decades. The views out to the White Cliffs of Dover are particularly memorable, but don’t let the majesty of your surroundings distract you. Remember – this is also home to the infamous Himalaya bunker, which as the name suggest is the deepest and tallest of any in the UK! One wrong move at the wrong time and this one feature really can annihilate even the most impressive scorecards!
Occupying an absolutely beautiful spot in the midst of the Surrey countryside, the huge oak by the 18th hole at Sunningdale really is a picture postcard snapshot of golf at its best. This really is an absolute treasure of a course to enjoy from spring right through until autumn – the halfway hut serving up refreshments by the 10th green being a particular highlight at Sunningdale.
Royal Lytham & St Anne’s
A brief bit of trivia for you – Royal Lytham & St Anne’s is the only course on the Open Championship Circuit to start out with a par three. Boasting an unusual and genuinely compelling layout, what’s great about Royal Lytham & St Anne’s is how each hole just seems to get better and better as you progress. Once again, this is an extremely challenging course that is not to be underestimated – even if you’re confident you know what you’re doing.
Royal County Down
Over in Northern Ireland, Royal County Down serves up one of the most spectacularly scenic and atmospheric experiences of any course in the United Kingdom. With majestic mountains to one side and the drama of the Irish Sea to the other, the golf itself almost takes a backseat to the breath-taking backdrop around you. An extraordinary opportunity not to be missed, though with the potential to get a little windy on those wilder days outdoors, so be careful!
Last but by no means least, this highly exposed course, positioned around 20 miles from Swansea, is undoubtedly the most challenging golf experience in Wales. Particularly if you turn up on a breezy day, which is – in this neck of the woods – more likely than not! A gorgeous course you simply have to check out.