Best Golf Courses In Dorset

Spearheaded by its Bournemouth big names, the best golf courses in Dorset include many lovely and well-priced alternatives

Best Golf Courses in Dorset - Isle of Purbeck
The Dorset coast is packed with beautiful views such as here on the par-4 fifth at Isle of Purbeck
(Image credit: Rob Smith)

Best Golf Courses In Dorset

For a county that doesn’t immediately spring to mind for golf, Dorset has some surprisingly big names. While there are only just over 30 clubs affiliated to the county union, no fewer than four of these have a place in the Golf Monthly Top 100 courses of the UK&I. These are all in and around Bournemouth, which until 1974 was actually a part of neighbouring Hampshire. Beginning with the big four, and then the county’s one Next 100 course, we take a look at the best golf on offer in Dorset.

Parkstone

Parkstone Golf Club - Hole 6

The lovely heathland course at Parkstone is the leading Top 100 course in Dorset

(Image credit: Parkstone Golf Club)
  • Location Bournemouth
  • Founded 1909
  • Architect Willie Park Junior, James Braid
  • GF Round £135
  • Par 72, 6,282 yards
  • Contact Parkstone Golf Club (opens in new tab)

Willie Park Junior is credited with the original design back in 1909, but it is largely James Braid’s modifications in 1937 that define this seriously top-drawer course which offers that perfect but often elusive balance of examination and enjoyment. The alluring vista from the patio outside the clubhouse almost physically drags you down onto the first tee, and from there until you finish your round, every hole presents a new and stimulating challenge. Just as importantly, all eighteen are a delight to the eye. This is a distinctive, attractive and memorable course.

Read full Parkstone Golf Club course review

Ferndown

Ferndown Golf Club - Hole 1

A sea of sand awaits on the fine opening par 4 at Ferndown

(Image credit: Rob Smith)
  • Location Bournemouth
  • Founded 1913
  • Architect Harold Hilton
  • GF Round £140 Mon-Fri
  • Par 71, 6,529 yards
  • Contact Ferndown Golf Club (opens in new tab)

The course here was designed by renowned amateur champion and Golf Monthly’s founding editor, Harold Hilton, and it runs through towering pines which make each hole separate and distinct. It is one of the best heathland golf courses in England. The opening hole sets the tone perfectly, with a congregation of bunkers waiting for you at the end of the fairway. Arguably a little less dramatic than some Dorset courses, what it lacks a little in this department is more than made up for by its mature, scenic and stately setting, its fine conditioning and presentation, and that indefinable atmosphere that marks all that is special about a true members’ club.

Read full Ferndown Golf Club course review

Broadstone

Broadstone - Hole 14

The par-4 fourteenth at Broadstone, one of many beautiful holes on an excellent course

(Image credit: Rob Smith)
  • Location Bournemouth
  • Founded 1898
  • Architect Tom Dunn, Harry Colt
  • GF Round £110 Mon-Fri, Sun (after 14:00)
  • Par 70, 6,393 yards
  • Contact Broadstone Golf Club (opens in new tab)

This very lovely, undulating, heathland course on the outskirts of Bournemouth covers a vast acreage that could easily accommodate another 18 holes. It was designed by Tom Dunn, and has a number of very inviting drives with probably the most scenic coming at the medium-length par-4 14th. Over the valley, a string of bunkers stands guard on the rising fairway, but only the longest golfers will come close before a tricky uphill pitch to a sloping green. Packed with character and constant surprises, this is an excellent course that is also very scenic.

Read full Broadstone Golf Club course review

Remedy Oak

Remedy Oak - Hole 2

The ever-improving Remedy Oak belies its youth and is packed with attractive golf

(Image credit: Remedy Oak Golf Club)
  • Location Ringwood
  • Founded 2005
  • Architect John Jacobs, Jonathan Gaunt
  • GF Round £150, £130 for groups of 12 or more
  • Par 72, 6,466 yards
  • Contact Remedy Oak Golf Club (opens in new tab)

This glorious blend of mature woodland and expansive heathland first opened for play 17 years ago. Here, the sense of anticipation and seclusion are heightened by the mile-long entrance road, at the end of which the characterful clubhouse overlooks the 9th and 18th greens. The course will test both length and accuracy, with strategic and attractive bunkering throughout as well as water regularly in play. The many highlights include two par 5s; the 2nd which is an absolute beauty, and the 15th which offers a thrilling journey through the valley and over water. It is a first-class course kept in immaculate order, full of warmth, wonder and welcome, and returned to the Golf Monthly Top 100 for the 2021/22 rankings.

Read full Remedy Oak Golf Club course review

Isle of Purbeck

Isle of Purbeck - Hole 7

The par-4 seventh hole on the Harry Colt design at Isle of Purbeck

(Image credit: Rob Smith)
  • Location Swanage
  • Founded 1892
  • Architect Harry Colt, Tim Lobb
  • GF Round £60 Mon-Fri, £80 Sat, £70 Sun
  • Par 70, 6,295 yards
  • Contact Isle of Purbeck Golf Club (opens in new tab)

This is one of the county’s most attractive and different courses. It is located on a beautifully elevated expanse of heathland to the south of Poole Harbour in the very heart of Thomas Hardy country. The Harry Colt redesign offers fabulous panoramic vistas out over the sea and the Isle of Wight, and at a shade under 6,000 yards from the yellows, it is perfect for holiday golf and competitions alike. Now, with the help of leading architect Tim Lobb, the club is working hard to fulfil its undoubted potential.

Bridport & West Dorset

Bridport & West Dorset - Hole 6

Blessed with a fabulous setting, the short sixth at Bridport & West Dorset

(Image credit: Rob Smith)

Some of our loveliest courses are also our least well known, and while this charming clifftop course on the Jurassic coast will never stage The Open, it’s a terrific place for golf. The beautiful location came to greater prominence when it featured in ITV’s Broadchurch, and although this very friendly and unassuming club is the oldest in Dorset, it has moved with the times. The feature hole is the short but extremely sweet 6th, played from an elevated tee down into a lovely valley.

Came Down

Came Down - Hole 12

Evening sunlight over the par-3 twelfth green at Came Down

(Image credit: Geoff Ellis/Golfworking)
  • Location Dorchester
  • Founded 1896
  • Architect Tom Dunn, JH Taylor, Harry Colt
  • GF Round £55 all week
  • Par 70, 6,261 yards
  • Contact Came Down Golf Club (opens in new tab)

The club was renamed in the mid-1920s shortly before a redesign by Harry Colt. The result is a fine downland course up in the hills, with far-reaching views of Poundbury to the north, and the coast and the Isle of Portland to the south. Samuel Ryder was a member and it is thought that plans for his Ryder Cup were conceived here. Feature holes include the 8th and 17th, each played around a deep pit. This is a lovely club with particularly friendly members.

The Dorset

Dorset Golf Club - Aerial View

A springtime view of the attractive golf on offer at The Dorset

(Image credit: The Dorset Golf Club)
  • Location Wareham
  • Architect Martin Hawtree
  • GF Round £50 Mon-Fri, £60 Weekend
  • Lakeland Par 36, 3,306 yards
  • Parkland Par 36, 3,309 yards
  • Woodland Par 33, 2,601 yards
  • Contact The Dorset Golf Club (opens in new tab)

The Lakeland and Parkland nines make up the primary course at this fine 27-hole complex midway between Wareham and Bere Regis. Water comes into play often on these two nines with the biggest expanse on the Parkland nine, where the testing long par-4 12th loops sharply around it. Big greens and eye-catching bunkers are a real feature, while the shorter Woodland nine meanders through the rhododendrons and is pretty as a picture when they’re in flower. This is one of those 27-hole set-ups where it is definitely best to play the lot!

Dudsbury

Dudsbury Golf Club - Hole 12

The par-4 twelfth at Dudsbury is played from an elevated tee and crosses a stream

(Image credit: Rob Smith)
  • Location Bournemouth
  • Founded 1992
  • Architect Donald Steel
  • GF Round £49 Mon-Fri, £65 Weekend
  • Par 71, 6,606 yards
  • Contact Dudsbury Golf Club (opens in new tab)

Peacefully situated just to the north of Bournemouth, not only is the hotel at Dudsbury close to the county’s premier league golf, but its Donal Steel course is a fine attraction in its own right. Never too narrow or intimidating, the gently undulating design twists and turns its way through specimen trees with ditches and ponds regularly in play throughout the round. Highlights include the short 2nd played over water, the par-4 7th which crosses two ditches on the way to a well-protected green, the scenic 12th played from an elevated tee, and the scary 16th which skirts not one but two lakes.

Read full Dudsbury Golf Club course review

Knighton Heath

Knighton Heath - Hole 3

The fine par-3 third at Knighton Heath calls for a solid connection from the tee

(Image credit: Rob Smith)
  • Location Bournemouth
  • Founded 1932
  • Architect Cecil Wren
  • GF Round £45 Mon to Fri, £55 Weekend
  • Par 70, 6,074 yards
  • Contact Knighton Heath Golf Club (opens in new tab)

Originally Northbourne Golf Club, Knighton Heath was bought by its members and renamed in the late 1970s. The course runs over a compact parcel of land on the outskirts of Bournemouth, and is defined by its tight, pine-lined fairways, heather, and frequent doglegs. There are several elevated drives, and positioning is key for the approach into a number of the greens. Strong holes include the right to left 2nd, the long par 3 that follows it, and the left-to-right holes at the 12th and 13th.

Lyme Regis

Lyme Regis - Hole 16

Beautifully situated along the Jurassic coast, Lyme Regis has lovely views all the way

(Image credit: Rob Smith)
  • Location Lyme Regis
  • Founded 1893
  • Architect Not Known
  • GF Round: £45-£55; Day £80
  • Par 71, 6,264 yards
  • Contact Lyme Regis Golf Club (opens in new tab)

If setting and scenery are high on your golfing priorities, then Lyme Regis is a must-play. Perched way up high on the cliffs above the town, there are fabulous views to the east over the Jurassic coastline and the lush green, rolling Dorset hills. The tough opening hole leads you up the slope to a terrific scenic reveal, following which there is great variety as you work your way back and forth to the cliff’s edge. Fun with a capital F.

Read full Lyme Regis Golf Club course review

Meyrick Park

Meyrick Park - Hole 1

The first at Meyrick Park is an excellent and particularly demanding short hole

(Image credit: Rob Smith)
  • Location Bournemouth
  • Founded 1894
  • Architect Tom Dunn, Harry Colt
  • GF Round from £29 Mon-Thu, from £39 Fri to Sun
  • Par 69, 5,689 yards
  • Contact Meyrick Park Golf Club (opens in new tab)

Meyrick Park is 120 acres of attractive and gently undulating parkland that is home to a short but engaging and noteworthy golf course. The course itself has one of the hardest opening holes the country. It’s an absolute monster of a par 3 played over a valley to a green cut into the hillside that appears to be several miles away. It is an excellent hole, one of several here that include a second supersized ‘short’ hole at the fourth, and another tough but very attractive par 3 at the eighth. The back nine is tighter with the trees constantly closing in, but despite its length, playing to handicap is a real achievement.

Rushmore

Rushmore Golf Club - Hole 4

The fourth hole at Rushmore is 162 yards over water to a relatively shallow green

(Image credit: Rob Smith)
  • Location Salisbury
  • Founded Mid-1990s
  • Architect Not Known
  • GF Round £30-£40 - check website for details
  • Par 71, 6,349 yards
  • Contact Rushmore Golf Club (opens in new tab)

Although the club is affiliated to Dorset, nine of the holes here - the 4th to the 12th - are actually in Wiltshire, as is the clubhouse. The first three holes run through a former deer park before you then cross the Shire Rack into Dorset. The next nine are of an entirely different nature where water acts as a frequent but visually attractive deterrent to scoring. The best of these is the 8th where the pond demands a well-struck and usually long approach. Wildlife is a feature throughout, and once back in Wiltshire you wend your way through the most mature Scots pine and sequoia before getting back to the excellent hospitality in the clubhouse.

Sherborne

Mike Hyde

Looking over the fourteenth green towards the par-3 fifteenth at Sherborne

(Image credit: Sherborne Golf Club)
  • Location Sherborne
  • Founded 1894
  • Architect James Braid
  • GF Round £50 all week
  • Par 72, 6,436 yards
  • Contact Sherborne Golf Club (opens in new tab)

The course at Sherborne is pretty and peaceful, and opens with a mid-length, downhill par 4 with far-reaching views. These views return on the par-5 6th, while the long and memorable par-3 9th plays across a slope into which the green is cut. The 12th is a strong downhill par 4 with a hog’s back fairway and pretty much every hole from there in has its own unique character. Big hitters may be tempted to go for the green at the 14th, but severe trouble awaits anything heading left. This is a lovely club to visit that deserves to be better known.

Dorset is blessed with a beautiful coastline, and lush, green, leafy scenery further inland. For such a small county, the quality of golf on offer is remarkably strong and it still manages to be home to some of the best golf courses in England. Even at some of its less well-known clubs, the views both on and off the course, the variety, the value and welcome have a great deal to offer.