Best Golf Courses In Oxfordshire

With fewer than 30 courses in the county, the best golf courses in Oxfordshire still manage to conjure up plenty of beauty, challenge and fun

Best Golf Courses In Oxfordshire - Tadmarton Heath
Tadmarton Heath is one of the prettiest courses in Oxfordshire
(Image credit: Tadmarton Heath Golf Club)

Best Golf Courses In Oxfordshire

Although it currently has no Top 100 golf courses, Oxfordshire does have plenty to offer elsewhere that celebrates its peaceful, rural topography. It is one of the smaller counties, and there are relatively few chimney pots compared with many others. While there are certainly courses capable of hosting championship-standard golf, for those who value scenery and who like to smell the roses, there is also much to explore and enjoy. Beginning with a pair of clubs with Next 100 courses, here is a brief introduction to some of the best golf courses Oxfordshire...

Huntercombe

Huntercombe Golf Club - Hole 13

Bluebells alongside the par-4 thirteenth at Huntercombe in the early morning light

(Image credit: Jason Livy)

Willie Park Junior was one of golf course architecture’s founding fathers. Twice Open Champion, his first design was the magnificent Old Course at Sunningdale. He actually owned the course at Huntercombe which allowed him to extend his creativity to the full. It remains a real one-off, a fine test of golf and a beautiful place to play. One of his key features is the pots - hazards that can best be described as grass bunkers. Varying greatly in size and shape, some are tricky to see from a distance and some are lined with or contain gorse and other trees and shrubs. They greatly add both to the visual impact and the strategic approach.

Read full Huntercombe Golf Club course review

Frilford Heath

Frilford Heath - Blue Course - Hole 16

A view back down the fairway of the sixteenth hole on the Blue Course at Frilford Heath

(Image credit: Frilford Heath Golf Club)
  • Location Abingdon
  • Founded 1908
  • Architect JH Taylor, JH Turner, Cotton & Pennink, Simon Gidman
  • GF £95 Mon-Fri, £120 Weekends
  • Par Red 72, 6,785 yards - Green 69, 6,025 yards - Blue 72, 6,557 yards
  • Contact Frilford Heath Golf Club (opens in new tab)

Frilford Heath is blessed with not one but three fine courses. The Red Course is the original, and is also the most highly-regarded, commanding a place in the Golf Monthly Next 100 in the UK&I. This is a traditional and challenging heathland championship test that calls for both length and accuracy. Club professional and similarly-named JH Turner adapted JH Taylor’s original nine holes for the Green Course which was expanded to a full eighteen by Cotton and Pennink in the late 1960s. Local architect Simon Gidman designed the Blue Course in the mid-1990s and this adds elements of parkland and a slightly more modern feel with water coming into play. Overall, this is a fabulous golfing facility with a great deal to offer.

The Oxfordshire

The Oxfordshire - Hole 17

Treble Chance - the exciting par-5 seventeenth at The Oxfordshire

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)

Rees Jones, son of Robert Trent Jones Senior and brother of Junior, designed this modern, American-style course. In its early days, it hosted a number of Tour events such as the B&H International, won by the likes of Bernhard Langer and Colin Montgomerie. As you might expect, water comes very much into play on a good number of the holes, adding greatly both to the challenge and the visual appeal. The most notable hole is probably the par-5 17th where there are two fairways playing either side of the lake. This is a course packed with risk-reward and very well suited to matchplay.

Tadmarton Heath

Tadmarton Heath - Hole 10

Looking down on the tenth hole and wonderful, idyllic Oxfordshire countryside at Tadmarton Heath

(Image credit: Tadmarton Heath Golf Club)

Celebrating its centenary this year, this beautifully off-the-beaten-track course enjoys a very tranquil setting. It was designed by Cecil Hutchison, who had not long before been involved in the creation of the King’s Course at Gleneagles. Everything about Tadmarton Heath both on and off the course exudes charm, especially the characterful clubhouse. The course just scrapes 6,000 yards from the very back tees, and there is a solitary par 5 which comes at the 5th. It is best to make a score on the front nine as the return home is tougher with gorse a regular companion.

Read full Tadmarton Heath Golf Club course review

Badgemore Park

Badgemore Park - Hole 16

The sixteenth green at Badgemore Park with the clubhouse beyond

(Image credit: Press Material)

The course at Badgemore Park opened for play half-a-century ago and is an easy-walking parkland design that is kept in very good shape. Challenge comes from the mature trees that line many of the holes and from the demands of positional play created by a number of dogleg holes. There is just the one par 5, which comes early on at the 2nd, and four short holes. There is also on-site accommodation in one of eight bedrooms set within a walled garden.

Burford

Burford Golf Club - Hole 1

The pine-lined opening hole at Burford sets the tone for the challenges ahead

(Image credit: Geoff Ellis, golfworking.co.uk )

The course at Burford was designed by JH Turner, the professional at nearby Frilford Heath, in the mid 1930s. Although it was then without trees, it is now very different with the holes clearly defined and separated by mature and very attractive woodland. If the walking is easy, the golf is less so. Both length and accuracy are required and there are gentle doglegs, plenty of bunkers and highly regarded greens. The three par 5s each offer the chance to get one back on the card, while the closing three holes provide a tough finish.

The Cotswold Club

Cotswold Club - Hole 13

Looking back from behind the green at the 550-yard par-5 thirteenth at the Cotswold Club

(Image credit: The Cotswold Club)

For most of its life, this entertaining downland/parkland mixture was known as Chipping Norton Golf Club. In recent years, a change of ownership and the addition of a large, modern hotel with all mod-cons coincided with the name change. Here again there is great variety with water in play courtesy of the River Glyne on the short 3rd and again at the par-5 5th. There are driveable as well as full-length and demanding par 4s, just-about reachable par 5s, and plenty of fun all the way.

Henley

Henley Golf Club - Hole 16

The par-3 sixteenth at Henley, The Valley, with the sun setting in the distance

(Image credit: Jason Livy)

The very pretty course at Henley is a James Braid design that works its way through the valley, up onto higher ground, and then back down again. With three short holes on each nine, there is plenty of variety. Indeed, the 6th is the only hole that plays to the same par as its predecessor… unless your match goes to the 19th! With some reachable par 5s, there is the chance to score well if you manage to keep it straight. Regardless, it is still a very attractive layout that should keep you smiling and interested all the way.

Heythrop Park

Heythrop Park - Hole 6

The green on the exciting risk-reward short par-4 sixth at Heythrop Park

(Image credit: Andy Hiseman)

Tom Mackenzie of the very highly-regarded Mackenzie & Ebert firm designed this course a dozen years ago and it runs through the mature, parkland grounds of the stately home. It covers a vast acreage of undulating terrain with lakes, streams and magnificent specimen trees. At the 6th, the green nestles beside a fishing lake, while the 14th works its way from right to left around an ancient woodland. The closing hole has the impressive mansion house as its beautiful backdrop.

Oxford

Oxford Golf Club - Hole 1

Looking back down the 397-yard opening hole at Oxford Golf Club

(Image credit: Oxford Golf Club)

Although golf here dates back to some time before his intervention, this charming course is largely the work of the great Harry Colt in 1922 with a smattering of James Braid thrown in for good measure. Formerly known as Southfield Golf Club, it’s also one of the oldest clubs in the country and now comprises Oxford City Golf Club and Oxford Ladies Golf Club. The star feature is the course’s handful of top-drawer short holes, particularly those on the back nine at 12, 15 and 17. Strong par 4s are the other main feature, and Joe Pepperell, brother of recent Golf Monthly contributor Eddie, is the head professional.

Rye Hill

Rye Hill Golf Club - Hole 9

The challenging parkland course at Rye Hill borders on Tadmarton Heath

(Image credit: Rye Hill Golf Club)

Now thirty years old, the rolling parkland course with touches of heathland at Rye Hill could pass for much older. It borders the lovely design at Tadmarton Heath, but covers a larger footprint of some 200 acres which results in a real feeling of space. This is a long and challenging design that has hosted the EuroPro Tour. With only three short holes and three par 5s, strong two-shotters dominate proceedings and provide the sternest test. Modestly priced, the course caters for golfers of all standards and there is a welcoming, large, Cotswold stone clubhouse.

There are several other charming, playable and enjoyable courses in this very rural and quintessentially English county. These include Feldon Valley, Studley Wood and The Wychwood (which started life as Lyneham Golf Club). Some offer excellent value for money, and for golfers seeking peace in the countryside, Oxfordshire has plenty of appeal.

Rob Smith has been playing golf for more than 40 years and been a contributing editor for Golf Monthly since 2012 specialising in course reviews and travel. He has now played 1,150 different courses in almost 50 countries. Despite lockdowns and travel restrictions last year, he still managed to play 80 different courses during 2021, 43 of them for the first time. This included 21 in 13 days on a trip to East Lothian in October. One of Rob's primary roles is helping to prepare the Top 100 and Next 100 Courses of the UK&I, of which he has played all but nine. Rob is a member of Tandridge Golf Club in Surrey where his handicap hovers around 16. You can contact him at r.smith896@btinternet.com.