There are over 2,500 golf courses in the UK, all varying in levels of quality, difficulty and exclusivity. Filtering through the various review websites to find the top courses in the UK can be laborious. Even then, you may stumble on what looks like a golfers’ paradise only to discover that you need to be a paid-up member to grace the fairways, or shell out in excess of £100.
However, we’ve made things simple. We’ve collated the data from a number of different golf course review sites to bring you the top 10 courses in the UK that anyone can play without going over that three-figure price point.
We think you’ll agree there are some stunning locations for a round of golf amongst this list.
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1. Royal Portrush Golf Club
Average score: 94.74%
Cost of a round: £70 (November-March)
Home to two courses along Northern Ireland’s ‘Causeway Coast’, it is Royal Portrush’s Dunluce Links that takes most of the plaudits.
The host for the 2019 Open Championship, Portrush epitomises everything a British Links course should be.
High dunes tower over firm fairways, fringed with impossibly tough roughs, while the most challenging of greens awaiting your final putt(s).
All this as you look out to the roaring Atlantic coastline to the north and the ruins of 13th century Dunluce Castle to the east.
With preparations for the Open affecting the Winter opening times this year, this could be a course to add to your must-play list in the coming years.
2. St George's Hill Golf Club
Average score: 94.46%
Cost of a round: £95 (January & February)
Although the course itself is worthy of plenty of recognition (as it’s review scores show), the splendour of St George’s Hill’s clubhouse is the star of the show here.
From the moment you leave the building, you’re treated with an amazing panorama of the Surrey heathland. That’s juxtaposed by the view as you make your way back up the 9th fairway with the red brick behemoth appearing like a castle at the top of the hill.
Your 18 hole experience at St George’s Hill can be made up of two of the three nine hole courses that each pose a different challenge.
The Red Nine is arguably the easiest of the three, and a perfect starting point for visitors. The Blue Nine acts as a step up from this, while the Green Nine, although shorter poses more twisting, tricky holes that will really test your approach play.
3. The North Berwick Golf Club
Average score: 93.58%
Cost of a round: £85 (November, December & March)
Like many of the finest Links courses in Britain, the North Berwick makes full use of the crashing coastline that borders the fairways. The waters of the Firth of Forth are in play in six of the 18 holes that complete this fantastic course.
The course likes to make the most of the ancient walls and burns that dissect some of the holes, providing unique challenges to the golfers who treat themselves to a round on the near-200-year-old course.
A regular venue for Open Championship qualifying events, The North Berwick is a test that even finds the pros out sometimes.
4. Royal County Down Golf Club
Average score: 93.35%
Cost of a round: £70 (November-February)
Located in the Murlough National Park, with a backdrop of the Mourne Mountains, Northern Ireland’s highest peaks, the Royal County Down Golf Club has a lot going for it in terms of setting.
Your first shot on every hole is even more crucial here than at many other courses with a number of blind drives required in order to set up a simple approach to the green.
The front nine, and the extended par 3 fourth in particular, are truly spectacular holes of golf, alone worthy of attaining such a high review score.
It doesn’t let up once you pass half-way though, with another nine testing holes fringed by Bay of Dundrum bringing you back to the clubhouse.
5. West Sussex Golf Club
Average score: 93.05%
Cost of a round: £80 (November-March)
We’re swapping Links courses for an inland one, and a lengthy 18, for one a touch shorter with a total yardage of just 6,355 yards.
Nevertheless that doesn’t mean you should think any less of the West Sussex Golf Club.
A challenging course, with each hole posing golfers with a new riddle to overcome. From the 224 yard sixth with a huge pond sunk in front of the green to the blind drive required on par 4 seventh, this is a thinking man’s golf course.
The summer sees vibrant pink heather form an aesthetically pleasing contrast to the towering pine trees that mark the course on the edge of the South Downs National Park.
However, as an alternative the grand, sometime brash callings to the more well-known courses around the country, 18 holes here is pleasant any time of the year.
6. Hillside Golf Club
Average score: 92.31%
Cost of a round: £65 (November & December)
We’re back to the coast for the sixth-placed course in our list, but a first visit to the Southport area which is home to many top golfing institutions.
It’s the back nine that steal the show here. The first half of your round simply whets the appetite for what’s to come later on.
That’s not to say that your round doesn’t ‘get going’ until half-way, with the opening holes skirting around the fringes of the more illustrious Royal Birkdale next door.
The dunes overlooking the north-west coastline are interspersed with towering pine trees, with some of the most ruggedly beautiful holes on offer in the country on Hillside’s back nine.
The 11th is the most highly regarded hole on the course, with a testing dogleg rewarding those that choose to play sensibly and often punishes those who go big, with a number of deep bunkers lining the edge of the fairway.
7. Notts Golf Club
Average score: 91.81%
Cost of a round: £55 (December-March)
This pleasant inland course is characterised by pretty lakes, tee shots from wooded hillsides which challenges golfers to avoid the heather and gorse foliage that lines the fairways.
Don’t let it’s picturesque setting lure you into a false sense of security though. While the drive from the 11th tee down the valley onto a bottle-necked fairway may look aesthetically pleasing, it’s not the easiest shot to master.
Throw in the par 3 13th which tests visitors with an imposing elevated tee shot down to the green 241 yards away. The only thing in the way is the six sunken green-side bunkers each waiting to end any hopes you had of getting away with a birdie two.
8. Western Gailes Golf Club
Average score: 91.55%
Cost of a round: £70 (Winter)
Located on a stretch of Ayrshire coastline home to many top Links courses, none including Royal Troon, it’s a testament to Western Gailes that it comes out on top of it’s neighbouring clubs.
The clubhouse here is central, not only figuratively, but also literally. With the course performing a hole-by-hole loop of the relatively understated building.
Compared to many Links courses Western Gailes is fairly flat, though plenty of well-placed hazards and regular menacing westerly winds will put your mettle to the test.
The par 5 sixth hole is the highlight for many visitors to the course. The long fairway snakes it’s way towards the beach with views of the green only coming into play at the last minute, meaning only the most accurate of pitches will leave you with a chance to putt for birdie.
9. Coombe Hill Golf Club
Average score: 91.43%
Cost of a round: £75 (November-March)
Located just six miles from central London, Coombe Hill provides a green haven a stones throw from the capital.
The course of the fringe of the city, near New Malden has plenty of historical nous to shout about. A certain Winston Churchill was an early member, and during the second World War General Dwight Eisenhower, subsequent President of US was based at the golf course in the lead up to D-Day.
Away from the interesting history of the course, Coombe Hill makes up for a thrilling 18 holes. A quartet of par 3s are generally thought of as the gem in the crown of this course, while the undulating fairways on the longer holes provide a stern challenge.
Though it may not be a Championship level test compared to some others on this list, Coombe hill is clearly a popular course to play among the nation’s golfers.
10. Gleneagles Hotel & Golf Club
Average score: 91.39%
Cost of a round: £80 (November-December)
Lee Trevino once stood on the first tee at Gleneagles’ Kings Course and proclaimed “If heaven is as good as this, I sure hope they have some tee times left.” And in that sentence, the six-time major winner perfectly sums up Gleneagles.
The aforementioned Kings Course is the star of the show with sweeping fairways appearing as if the golf course appears naturally within the landscape, such is it’s flowing appeal.
Views of the Ochil Hills and the peak of Ben Vorlich rewards those who make the journey to Perthshire.
Though beautiful, Gleneagles isn’t a walk in the park. On King’s Course, no fewer than 12 of the 18 holes see your drive head over a ridge with the landing side not in view.
Challenging and picturesque, it’s easy to see why Gleneagles is regarded as one of the world’s finest Moorland courses.
Average scores are calculated taking rankings from Today’s Golfer (magazine and reader’s scores), Golf Shake, Top 100 Golf Courses and UK Golf Guide and Golf Empire. Scores correct as of September 14th 2018.
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