Fergus Bisset takes a tour of six ‘must play’ courses in the UK, from lesser-known favourites to prestigious Open Championship venues…
The Best In Britain: Six Golf Courses To Pay A Visit
The depth and variety of golfing prospects in this country is incredible and the UK’s golfers are hugely fortunate to have such fantastic choice on, or just beyond, the doorstep.
Here, we look at six magnificent golf courses from right across the impressive spectrum of golf that this country has to offer.
Related: Golf Monthly UK&I Top 100 Courses
Make this the year you sample more of the golfing delights the UK has to offer by adding these great courses to your 2018 ‘must play’ list.
- All green fees quoted are high-season ‘from to’ rates for 18 holes
GF: £120-£230 per round
Stoke Park is set over some of the finest parkland in England.
The Buckinghamshire estate dates from Norman times and the wonderful terrain over which the golf course is laid out evolved through the combined efforts of renowned landscape architects, Humphry Repton and Capability Brown.
Harry Colt was employed to design a course at Stoke Park in 1908 and it is testament to the quality of the template he had at his disposal that the great designer’s work was completed within a year.
This is a true parkland course, and one of the very best examples to be found anywhere in the country.
Mature trees frame the sweeping lush fairways as they lead to beautifully maintained putting surfaces.
There are many fine holes at Stoke Park, but the par 3s stand out, and the 7th in particular sticks in the memory.
It’s a superb short hole of just 150 yards but the narrow green is angled diagonally, and fronted by a newly remodelled brook.
It’s said that Dr Alister Mackenzie used this hole as inspiration for the original 16th at Augusta, where the green sat the other side of the pond until 1947.
The original course is made up of the Colt and Alison nines but there are three loops of nine at Stoke Park, with the newer Lane Jackson nine acting as a fine complement to the older pair.
When film buffs think golf, Stoke Park springs readily to mind.
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The striking white clubhouse was the backdrop for James Bond’s match against Goldfinger, while modern-day Bond, Daniel Craig, came to a sticky end on the clubhouse steps in Matthew Vaughn’s Layer Cake.
The food in Humphry’s Fine Dining Restaurant is of the very highest quality and it’s also possible to stay in one of the hotel’s super-chic rooms or suites.
Stoke Park is one of the UK’s very finest destinations for a luxurious stay and play golf break.
W: www.carnoustiegolflinks.co.uk GF: £175 per round
The Open will make a welcome return to the magnificent Championship course at Carnoustie in 2018.
Over the years, the Angus links has provided the stage for some of the most dramatic and memorable moments in the history of golf’s greatest individual event – from Hogan’s fabled triumph in 1953 to Sergio and Padraig’s nail-biting duel in 2007.
Ranked 5th in Golf Monthly’s UK and Ireland Top 100 Courses rankings, this links delivers a complete golfing examination.
The bunkers have a magnetic appeal; the greens are large and undulating; the fairways are narrow; and gorse and heather encroach ominously.
In the wind, there’s no sterner test anywhere.
The run for home is one of the most famous, and perilous, in the game.
The 16th is a monster par 3 that can stretch to 250 yards; the 17th a formidable par 4 requiring a strategic approach to avoid the snaking Barry Burn; and the closing hole a daunting prospect with OOB left and the burn once again posing a real threat.
GF: £110 per round
The British Masters was staged at Close House’s excellent Lee Westwood Colt Course last September, hosted by the man himself.
With several new championship tees in place, it provided a good test for the European Tour’s finest.
It is now recognised as one of the best new tracks in England, having recently climbed into Golf Monthly’s Top 100.
The course is set close to Hadrian’s Wall on a unique tract of land that rises and falls to the Tyne Valley.
The back nine delivers great variety with some stunning panoramic views.
A round here is quite a golfing experience.
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W: www.nottsgolfclub.co.uk GF: £85 per round
Notts is one of the country’s finest inland, heathland courses, presenting a stern test for even the most proficient of golfers.
With gorse and heather skirting the fairways, and striking birch and oak lining many holes, it’s also an extremely attractive place to play golf.
The course was designed by Willie Park Jr and opened for play in 1901.
Alterations were made by Tom Williamson in 1912 and since then, save for necessary additions to the length of the layout, the track has remained largely unchanged.
It’s a long course, and even from the forward tees it measures over 6,600 yards.
But with narrow fairways and testing targets, the requirement for accuracy is of at least equal importance to length.
The toughness of the Notts test has made it a popular venue for top-level competition over the years.
Related: Notts Golf Club Course Review
The course hosted the 2012 Boys Amateur Championship won by Matt Fitzpatrick and, in 2015, the Brabazon Trophy won by Cormac Sharvin.
GF: £190 per round
In 2019, following changes to the links by Martin Ebert, Royal Portrush will host the 148th Open Championship – the first time since Max Faulkner triumphed here in 1951 that golf’s most prestigious tournament will have visited Northern Ireland.
The Dunluce Links is regarded as one of the great Harry Colt’s masterpieces, and widely recognised as one of the world’s finest courses.
Set among towering sandhills on the North Antrim coast, this is a striking layout featuring some truly memorable holes.
‘Calamity Corner’, the par-3 14th (soon to be 16th), is one of the most famous.
The tee shot on this 210-yard hole must carry all the way to the green and anything struck poorly will leave you in serious trouble.
Par is an excellent return here.
GF: £85 per round
Broadstone Golf Club, just north of Poole in Dorset, was founded in 1898.
The course was originally laid out by Tom Dunn with later changes by Harry Colt.
Set over beautiful, rolling countryside, there are superb views of Poole Harbour and the Purbeck Hills.
Bernard Darwin once wrote, “It is, I think, rather an easy course to remember.”
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That’s a feeling shared by most after a round here, for the holes are extremely distinctive and stick in the mind long after you’ve left – a surefire sign of a top track.
It’s an attractive heathland layout, protected by heather and gorse.
It may not be long, but with a par of 70 and an emphasis placed on straight driving, it’s sufficiently challenging for players of all standards.
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Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly.
Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?
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