10 Best Inland Courses In The UK

Within these shores we are blessed with a rich variety of courses both around the coast and inland. Here are what we feel to be our 10 best inland courses

Sunningdale New course pictured
Sunningdale's New Course
(Image credit: Getty Images)

BEST INLAND COURSES IN THE UK

It’s true that the best links courses in the UK dominate the upper echelons of the Golf Monthly Top 100 courses rankings, but that’s not to say our inland courses don’t cut the mustard. Far from it, for we are also blessed with some of the finest heathland and parkland courses in the world too, with heathland courses also particularly well represented in the top 50.

Here are what we believe to be the 10 best inland courses in the UK according to our rankings, made up of nine of the best golf courses in England and one from Scotland…

1. Sunningdale - Old

Sunningdale Golf Club Old Course 18th hole pictured with clubhouse beyond

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Sunningdale, Berkshire
  • Opened: 1901
  • Designed by: Willie Park Jr
  • Green fee: £300

The Old will always be the choice of many at Sunningdale on account of the history, tradition and great championships that have been staged there over the years. It plays over a simply wondrous piece of golfing terrain, via heather, broom and a whole spectrum of elevation changes. The magnificent 10th is a fine example of this, sweeping down and up to the fabled halfway hut, where the sausage sandwich is guaranteed to bring a smile however well you’re playing. It's undoubtedly the pinnacle of inland golf in the UK, and perhaps even Europe, and is one of the best heathland golf courses in the world.

- Full Sunningdale Golf Club Old Course Review

2. Sunningdale New

Sunningdale New Course Review

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Sunningdale, Berkshire
  • Opened: 1923
  • Designed by: Harry Colt
  • Green fee: £300

Few would dispute that a day out at Sunningdale is one of the finest golfing experiences there is, full stop. But many would argue as to which is the better of its two magnificent heathland layouts. Some feel the New edges it for the many visual and strategic thrills it serves up from start to finish. Is there a finer duo of back-to-back holes anywhere than the gorgeous par-3 5th (pictured above) and expansive par 5 that follows? It's considered the tougher of the two and features more open expanses of beautiful heathland.

- Full Sunningdale Golf Club New Course review

3. Woodhall Spa - Hotchkin

Woodhall Spa Hotchkin Course pictured from above

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire
  • Opened: 1905
  • Designed by: Harry Vardon
  • Green fee: £70-£135

Mention Woodhall Spa to any reasonably travelled golfer, and it’s likely the first thing they will say in response is, ‘What about those bunkers?’ What indeed, other than that no other inland course in the UK, bar perhaps Ganton, serves up a more challenging, and indeed, deep collection of bunkers both fairway and greenside. Suffice to say that any round over this beautiful and challenging heathland course, which has been significantly upgraded in recent years, becomes as much about positioning and strategy as it about ball-striking and length off the tee. Keep out of the sand!

- Full Woodhall Spa Golf Club Hotchkin Course review

4. St George's Hill - Red and Blue

St George's Hill clubhouse pictured

(Image credit: Jason Livy)
  • Location: Weybridge, Surrey
  • Opened: 1911
  • Designed by: Harry Colt
  • Green fee: £225

This glorious heathland course boasts wonderful variety among its holes, and countless memorable moments like the par-3 8th on the Red nine that plays across a valley, whose far bank is heavily bunkered – but considerably less so than once it was! The unusual red-brick clubhouse, one of the best in the country, stands proud over proceedings, looking out over the opening and closing holes of both Red and Blue nines. There is drama, variety and challenge aplenty at this beautiful heathland club, which is number one when it comes to the best golf courses in Surrey.

- Full St George's Hill Golf Club review

5. Walton Heath - Old

Walton Heath Old Course par-3 pictured

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Walton-on-the-Hill, Surrey
  • Opened: 1904
  • Designed by: Herbert Fowler
  • Green fee: Contact club

Herbert Fowler’s Walton Heath masterpiece is famed the world over for the quality of its test. This classic course plays over an expansive tract of Surrey heathland, with the opening stretch providing a sterling test in any sort of breeze, not least the 200+ yard opener. There are chances to score over the closing holes with three par 5s from the 13th onwards, but staying out of the sometimes-thick heather is essential if you are to take full advantage.

- Full Walton Heath Golf Club Old Course review

6. Hankley Common

Hankley Common 6th hole pictured

(Image credit: Jason Livy)
  • Location: Farnham, Surrey
  • Opened: 1897
  • Designed by: Harry Colt and James Braid
  • Green fee: £130

Another Surrey heathland treat that just keeps getting better on account of all the work that has been carried out here over the past decade, both in clearing trees and scrub and in significant improvements to many holes. There’s a real sense of peaceful seclusion to any game here, and a whole host of holes that will linger in the memory, among them the superb par-3 7th that plays across a heather-clad gully to a well-bunkered green.

- Full Hankley Common Golf Club review

7. Ganton

Ganton Golf Club

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Vale of Pickering, Yorkshire
  • Opened: 1897
  • Designed by: Tom Chisholm and Robert Bird
  • Green fee: £75-£170

Ganton’s heathland course in the Vale of Pickering hosted the 1949 Ryder Cup when USA just edged out Team GB. It’s often referred to as an inland links, and while such a description may sit uneasily with some, it certainly exudes many of the playing characteristics of a links. The winds that often blow across the course place a great premium on accuracy, for the bunkers are almost up there with Woodhall Spa’s! There are many excellent holes, among them the 6th, with shades of Gleneagles, and the pretty par-3 10th, whose inherently fair green is heavily bunkered, yet slightly concave to gather balls in.

- Full Ganton Golf Club review

8. HOLLINWELL THE HOME OF NOTTS GOLF CLUB

Holinwell Golf Club

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)
  • Location: Kirkby in Ashfield, Nottinghamshire
  • Opened: 1901 (club founded 1887)
  • Designed by: Willie Park Jr
  • Green fee: £75-£200

The club that now officially goes by the name of Hollinwell boasts the finest course in the East Midlands. It presents a fittingly grand stage for our great game, playing over a vast landscape via a wonderfully diverse collection of holes, among them the fiercely demanding long par-4 2nd, which doglegs round to a green set at the foot of a pine-clad hill, and the stunning par-3 13th that cascades back down from the higher ground via a heather-lined valley to a green encircled by sand. A course that can test the very best.

- Full Holinwell Home of Notts Golf Club review

9. GLENEAGLES - KING'S

Gleneagles King's course pictured on a sunny day

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Auchterarder, Perthshire
  • Founded: 1919
  • Designed by: James Braid
  • Green fee: £140-£300

James Braid’s Perthshire masterpiece, one of the best golf courses in Scotland, may no longer have what it takes to host tour events like the Scottish Open, but it is just a breath-taking place to play golf amid some of most majestic scenery. The opener is memorable for the sharp incline up to the green, and raised greens are a common defence courtesy of Mr Braid, many of whose original features have recently been reinstated during an extensive improvement programme. Once a classic, always a classic.

- Full Gleneagles King's Course review

10. SWINLEY FOREST

Swinley Forest GC pictured

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Ascot, Berkshire
  • Opened: 1909
  • Designed by: Harry Colt
  • Green fee: Contact club

This very private club is a hidden delight. Magnificent hole follows magnificent hole from start to finish through beautiful Berkshire heathland that’s ablaze with colour in the heart of the season courtesy of the flowering shrubs that adorn a number of fairways. It may not look long on the scorecard, but don't be fooled – the par 5s are few and far between, and a number of lengthy par 4s ensure a test well beyond the overall yardage. Several holes have recently been lengthened a little too. A day at Swinley is a very special day.

- Full Swinley Forest Golf Club review

What is the best inland golf course in the UK?

The best inland golf course in the UK is the Old Course at Sunningdale. The stunning heathland club to the south west of London is also home to the New Course, which many feel rivals the Old for both beauty and challenge. There are many exceptional inland courses in the UK, with a number of the best layouts located in close proximity in Surrey and Berkshire, although you'll find great inland golf all around the UK.

What is an inland golf course?

Inland golf courses are, as the name clearly conveys, golf courses that are located away from the coast. The game started on 'links' courses, which traditionally 'link' the land between the sea and arable farm land. Inland courses tend to be newer and play over a range of different terrains, from parklands to heathlands to woodlands and 'inland links' style courses. Links courses tend to be on fast-draining sandy soil whilst inland courses play over sand, clay, chalk and other soils. The best inland courses play over sandy soil, which helps create the best fast-draining playing surfaces all year round.

Jeremy Ellwood
Jeremy Ellwood

Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly across the whole spectrum from courses and Rules to equipment and even instruction despite his own somewhat iffy swing (he knows how to do it, but just can't do it himself). He also edits The Golf Club Secretary Newsletter, has authored or co-authored three books and written for a number of national papers including The Telegraph and The Independent. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 89 of the Next 100. He has played well over 900 courses worldwide in 35 countries, but put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content. On his first trip to Abu Dhabi a decade ago he foolishly asked Paul Casey what sort of a record he had around the course there. "Well, I've won it twice if that's what you mean!" came the reply...

Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf


Jeremy is currently playing...

Driver: Ping G425 LST 10.5˚ (draw setting), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 55 S shaft

3 wood: Ping G425 Max 15˚ (set to flat +1), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 65 S shaft

Hybrid: Ping G425 17˚, Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Orange 80 S shaft

Irons 3-PW: Ping i525, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Wedges: Ping Glide 4.0 50˚ and 54˚, 12˚ bounce, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Putter: Ping Fetch 2021 model, 33in shaft (set flat 2)

Ball: Varies but mostly now TaylorMade Tour Response