Ten Must-Play Courses In The UK&I

These fabulous courses are all in the Next 100 in the Golf Monthly rankings for 2021/22 - Rob Smith recommends them all

Dunbar - the approach to the 14th green with the old boathouse and 7th green beyond

These ten must-play courses in the UK&I are all in the Next 100 in the Golf Monthly rankings for 2021/22 - Rob Smith recommends them all

Ten Must-Play Courses in the UK&I

Golf Monthly's Top 200 features many world-famous courses, but also plenty that are a little less well-known.

This is especially true when looking at those in the Next 100.

These are ten must-play courses in the UK&I that are guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

Ardglass

Looking back down the opening fairway to the historic clubhouse at Ardglass

With its clubhouse a 15th-century castle, Ardglass is a special club (opens in new tab) with a course that is scenic and challenging.

Most of all, it is joyful.

There is a thrilling opening with five holes running along the cliffs, and great diversity thereafter.

Another terrific sequence awaits from the long 9th round to the picturesque par-3 12th.

You are a little more landward on the closing holes, but there are breathtaking views out to sea and of the surrounding mountains all the way.

Ashridge

The approach to the tricky green on the very pretty 9th at Ashridge

This beautiful and varied course dates back to the 1930s and has benefitted from the creative genius of various architects including the great Tom Simpson.

The opening pair of holes at Ashridge (opens in new tab) descend gently along a wide valley, and there is then great variety with the front nine closing with a picture-perfect, short par 4 to a green that is tricky to find and to read.

The back nine has perhaps even more variety and joy, with the 16th the prettiest of five diverse and intriguing short holes.

Dooks

The setting at Dooks alongside the estuary is both idyllic and peaceful

With such a wealth of golfing heavyweights on Ireland’s stunning west coast, the fabulous course at Dooks (opens in new tab) is sometimes overlooked.

This is a shame as it’s a first-class links in its own right and worthy of any golfer’s attention and time.

The views alone are worth the green fee.

On top of that, you get to play a challenging course kept in tip-top order, one that will test the best.

You will also spend time at a genuinely friendly club which is justifiably one of our ten must-play courses in the UK&I.

And if you are lucky, you may even spot one of the resident natterjack toads.

Dunbar

A blustery day at Dunbar with Bass Rock and the Firth of Forth beyond

Delicately laid out over a narrow strip of land fronting the North Sea, Dunbar Golf Club (opens in new tab) offers a cracking links that has hosted many important championships.

Following the unusual 5-5-3 opening loop, you head out and back via some very fine links holes.

The 7th follows an old deer wall which leads to the green by the Old Boat House.

As you work your way steadily home from the 11th, there are stirring sea views, particularly up towards Bass Rock.

This is the easternmost course on Scotland's Golf Coast (opens in new tab), an area packed with outstanding golf.

 Huddersfield

The beautiful par-4 12th at Fixby Hall hugs the hillside as it works right to left

One of golf’s greatest joys is discovering a course about which you know nothing but which turns out to be an absolute delight.

A perfect example is the gently undulating par 71 design at Huddersfield.

It is also known as Fixby Hall (opens in new tab), a lovely building that serves as its splendid clubhouse.

There are five excellent short holes, particularly at 11 and 13, and great variety and beauty from start to finish.

Herbert Fowler and Alister MacKenzie are among those who have contributed to the design which has become a favourite in the Golf Monthly Next 100.

Lundin

The green at the par-5 9th at Lundin with the beautiful firth beyond

Still at the peak of his playing career, the legendary James Braid visited Lundin in 1908 (opens in new tab) to design not one but two courses.

Over the road he laid out a short but very enjoyable 9-hole course for Lundin Ladies.

At the same time, he remodelled the existing nine and designed nine new holes over the railway line resulting in what is something of a links/parkland hybrid for the middle section.

There are blind shots, plenty of bunkers and ditches, and great variety throughout.

Most of all, it is terrific fun.

Nefyn & District

Nefyn & District runs along the clifftops and has fabulous views out over the Irish Channel

Although all 27 holes here are enjoyable, it is the reconfigured Point Nine that will always be the real talking point.

They run along the promontory, and there are four exciting short holes including the 6th which is played back over the famous blow-hole.

There are also three short par 4s, but the stunning views and eccentricity are guaranteed to make you smile.

The Old and New clifftop nines at Nefyn & District have a few blind shots but plenty more outstanding sea views.

Portsalon

The rugged dunes at Portsalon are surrounded by the most beautiful scenery

This dunesy links at Portsalon (opens in new tab) is one of our favourite ten must-play courses in the UK&I.

The course benefits from a substantial Pat Ruddy redesign 20 years ago as well as more recent input from former Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley.

The hugely entertaining course offers an exciting and challenging journey through the sandhills.

The opening holes hug the shoreline, with the par-4 2nd over the beach and then across a stream a sensational highlight.

The course is not heavily bunkered, but nor does it need to be.

There is natural challenge enough in this varied and engaging course.

Stoneham

The short 8th at Stoneham, one of a handful of excellent par 3s

This ever-improving heathland course is a Willie Park Junior design dating back to 1908.

It is rightly growing in reputation all the time.

With easy access on the outskirts of Southampton, the undulating design (opens in new tab) is full of variety with five short holes and five par 5s.

The back-to-back par 3s at 7 and 8 could hardly be more different.

The first is a brute, the other a real beauty.

The course is also beautifully presented and conditioned, particularly the greens.

Tenby

The par-3 12th at Tenby - Y Ddau Gwm - borders the town’s lovely South Beach

Dating back 130 years and later expanded by James Braid, this is both a proper championship test and a course that will appeal to golfers of all ability.

Tenby is also quite unlike many traditional links with more diversity, especially towards the close.

From the far end there are lovely views back to the town.

The three holes late on and on the inland side of the railway are quite different, but they provide genuine variety and panoramic views down over the course.

Tenby is great fun (opens in new tab) and should be on the hit-list of all keen golfers.

These ten courses are all wonderful and all recommended, but it is also fair to say that we could prepare ten such articles as the Next 100 is completely packed with top quality golf!

Rob Smith
Contributing Editor

Rob Smith has been playing golf for more than 40 years and been a contributing editor for Golf Monthly for over ten years, specialising in course reviews and travel. He has now played more than 1,170 different courses in almost 50 countries. Despite lockdowns and travel restrictions in 2021, he still managed to play 80 different courses during the year, 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. During the 2021-22 review period, Rob has played 34 of the Golf Monthly Top 200. He is a member of Tandridge Golf Club in Surrey where his handicap hovers around 16. You can contact him at r.smith896@btinternet.com.