Genius Ideas To Play Top 100 Golf Courses For Less

The top-end rack rates at the premier courses in the UK and Ireland can be a touch eye-watering, but there are various ways to play the best for less.

Hillside Golf Club 18th hole
Hillside Golf Club 18th hole
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The very top-rated courses in the UK and Ireland can, understandably, command high green fees. These are the best of the best and, as such, tee times for visitors are in high demand.

Some of the high season, full rates are on the pricey side, but there are ways to visit the top courses and pay a little less than that top-end rack rate.

One of the best ways to get value is to play outside of high season. Most clubs and courses in our UK & Ireland Top 100 Golf Courses list offer reduced rates for winter golf, many will also offer shoulder season rates that are lower than top price for golfing in early spring and autumn.

Play Away From Peak Season

Royal County Down - Hole 3

Royal County Down - Hole 3

(Image credit: Getty Images)

As an example, our number 1 ranked course – Royal County Down (RCD) has a summer rack rate of £325 but had a winter rate (from last November to this February) of just £150. That’s less than half the price of the full fee.

Admittedly winter golf can be challenging, but if you can be flexible and pick a day when the weather is kind, the top golf courses will generally still be in fine condition – particularly those with sandy sub soil, the links and heathland tracks. RCD offers shoulder rates too – In March this year, rates were £170 per round and in April, £195.

Other clubs in our top-100 offer similarly attractive off-season deals. A winter round on the Rosemount course at Blairgowrie costs £36 compared to a rack rate of £120 in the summer. At Hillside, midweek winter rates are half price - £110 compared to £220.

Twilight Golf


13th at Saunton East

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Another good option many clubs offer is to play later in the day. At Saunton, twilight golf in the summer (tee times after 2.30) costs £100 per round as opposed to £130.

At Royal Dornoch, a twilight ticket this summer is £150 against the full rate of £250. The brilliant Ganton Golf Club does a twilight rate of £90 compared to rack rate of £175.

Other ways to play the best for less

Rosapenna St Patrick's

The 16th at Rosapenna St Patrick's Links

(Image credit: Clyde Johnson)

Some of the premier clubs and courses offer reduced rates to locals. At Rosapenna Hotel and Golf Resort, Irish residents pay just €80 to play the brilliant new Tom Doak designed St Patrick’s Links compared to a visitor rate of €200. At historic Prestwick Golf Club, Ayrshire residents are charged just £85 for 18 holes, compared to between £240 and £270 for other visitors.

Prestwick also offers a replay rate which is a good way to save money if you’re in the vicinity for a few days. If you play at Prestwick for a second time within the same week, you only pay £85 for the round.

Courses with their own accommodation will sometimes offer lower rates for residents. At Royal Lytham & St Annes, guests staying in the Dormy House will pay a weekday fee of £196 for 18 holes, against £260 for those not staying. Hotels like Gleneagles will also offer lower rates to hotel guests than regular visitors.

Courses and clubs may offer packages to groups and societies which can be a cost-effective way of playing a top course. If you’re lucky enough to know a member of a top-100 course, then most will offer discounted rates for member’s guests. Some courses will offer fourball rates. This March West Lancashire Golf Club was offering a fourball rate of £320 (£80 per player as opposed to a summer midweek fee of £175 per person.

Other venues in the top-100 simply offer a relatively low rack rate green fee, see the box below.

There are various ways to play the top-100 courses for less than their top-rate green fee. If you can be a little flexible in when you play, there are options to find a deal.

5 of the best value courses in the top-100:

Cheap memberships


(Image credit: Getty Images)

Silloth on Solway Golf Club - £80

Aberdovey Golf Club - £65-£90

Royal North Devon Golf Club - £100

Princes - £135

Royal St David’s Golf Club - £70-£115

All prices are midweek round rates for high season 2023

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

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?