11-20 Top 100 Golf Courses UK & Ireland 2023/24

Golf Monthly's full list of the UK and Ireland's Top 100 courses

Ballybunion Golf Club Old Course with the top 100 UK and Ireland logo
(Image credit: Evan Schiller / Ballybunion Golf Club)

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11-20 Courses


Royal St George's Golf Club aerial view

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Sandwich, Kent, England
  • Founded: 1887
  • Designed by: Laidlaw Purves
  • Green fee: £125-£275
  • 23/24 ranking: No change

Host to The Open Championship for a 15th time in 2021, an event won my Collin Morikawa, Royal St George’s was founded in 1887 and was the first English course to welcome the great old championship, which it did in 1894.

A great feature at St George’s is the fact the holes point in multiple directions, so the background is always changing, so too the wind direction. Picking an aiming point from the tee is crucial. The course offers a full test of golf, asking for power, creativity and discipline.

The green complexes are famously appealing, beautifully presented but also highly challenging. Many of the greens were made larger for the 2021 Open and many feature subtle breaks and tricky run-offs.

- Royal St George's review and key info


The 15th hole at Royal Liverpool

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Hoylake, Wirral, England
  • Founded: 1869
  • Designed by: Robert Chambers, George Morris and Harry Colt
  • Green fee: £215-£265
  • 23/24 ranking: No change

Built in 1869, on what was then the racecourse of the Liverpool Hunt Club, Hoylake is the second oldest of the English seaside courses, after Westward Ho! The club has played host to The Open Championship on 12 occasions with recent winners Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods demonstrating the quality of golf demanded by this excellent course.

For 2023, significant course enhancements have been undertaken with advice from renowned course architect Martin Ebert. Hoylake is a club with a proud history, but they are also always looking to the future.

The redeveloped 15th, which will play as the 17th in The Open Championship, is the perfect example of that. It’s a fabulous little par-3 with an elevated green set in the sand dunes.

- Royal Liverpool Golf Club review and key info


Woodhall Spa Hotchkin Course pictured from above

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire, England
  • Opened: 1905
  • Designed by: Harry Vardon
  • Green fee: £90-£205
  • 23/24 ranking: Up 5

Only the two Sunningdales eclipse Woodhall Spa’s Hotchkin layout among the inland courses in our rankings, with Harry Vardon, J.H. Taylor, Harry Colt, and Stafford Vere Hotchkin all contributing on the design side. More recently, Tom Doak’s highly acclaimed renovation, completed in spring 2019, has elevated the course’s status yet further. Doak was guided by a vision to restore more of the Hotchkin’s original heathland character, with many long-lost bunkers also reinstated.

Indeed, reinstatements account for much of the increase in bunker count from 110 to 143. Many holes now play over relatively open heathland once more, while others, especially on the back nine, venture in among the trees a little more – and plenty of trees remain!

- Woodhall Spa Hotchkin review and key info


Royal Lytham par 5

(Image credit: Geoff Ellis)
  • Location: Lytham St Annes, Lancashire, England
  • Founded: 1886
  • Designed by: George Lowe and Harry Colt 
  • Green fee: £180-£315
  • 23/24 ranking: Down 1

Although surrounded by urbanisation, and some distance from the sea, the course at Royal Lytham & St Annes is a true links, famous for its punishing pot bunkers and rolling terrain.

Originally designed by the club’s first professional George Lowe, the course has changed little since Harry Colt was employed to oversee alterations to the layout in 1919. The routing has stood the test of time and consistently been proved to deliver one of the finest tests of golf in the British Isles. It's a thinking-golfer’s links – one where trouble lurks from start to finish, as Adam Scott discovered in 2012 when he faltered down the stretch, finishing with four consecutive bogeys, to lose The Open to Ernie Els.

- Royal Lytham & St Annes review and key info

Kingsbarns Links

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Kingsbarns, Fife, Scotland
  • Opened: 2000
  • Designed by: Kyle Phillips
  • Green fee: £374 (£225 for replay within 7 days)
  • 23/24 ranking: No change

A creation of Mark Parsinen and Kyle Phillips, Kingsbarns was opened in 2000 and swiftly earned a reputation as a modern classic.

Perhaps no other contemporary links has managed to blend the old with the new so effectively. The course features several highly memorable holes. A standout is the par-5 12th, hugging the rocky coastline as it curves left to fit the shape of the bay.

When the pin is to the left side of the sprawling green, your approach must be fired over the beach to reach the flag. In an age when par-5s tend to offer respite, this is a true three-shotter where par is an excellent score. Then there’s the par-3 15th where the tee shot must carry rocks and sea to reach the green.

- Kingsbarns Golf Links review and key info


Royal Aberdeen

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)
  • Location: Aberdeen, Scotland
  • Founded: 1780
  • Designed by: Robert and Archie Simpson
  • Green fee: £95-£215
  • 23/24 ranking: No change

Archie and Robert Simpson from Carnoustie designed the first layout at Balgownie, before James Braid advised on alterations to the greens and bunkering in 1925. Hawtree and Company have more recently added their touches. It’s a classic out-and-back links with a front nine offering a stretch of holes to rival any in the country.

From tees set in the dunes, play forges out up the Aberdeenshire coastline via an eclectic selection of holes asking for either power, precision or both. After the extremely tough, 9th the course turns back and strong holes, many that have been recently improved, take you back to a clubhouse full of character and history.

- Royal Aberdeen review and key info


Royal Troon's Old course

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)
  • Location: Troon, Ayrshire, Scotland
  • Founded: 1878
  • Designed by: George Strath, Willie Fernie and James Braid
  • Green fee: £315
  • 23/24 ranking: No change

Huge skies stretch above as you forge out from the clubhouse at Royal Troon, over the front nine towards the loop and famous “Postage Stamp” 8th hole.

The course could be considered in three distinct sections – the first six head out along the coast. Then holes 7 to 12 ask more technical questions, moving through the dunes. The challenge ramps up as you head for home with the last six generally played into the wind.

Host to the thrilling 2016 Open Championship in which Henrik Stenson outduelled Phil Mickelson, then to the memorable AIG Women’s Open in 2020, won by Sophia Popov. Royal Troon will play host to The Open Championship once again in 2024.

- Royal Troon Old review and key info

par 4, 12th hole at Trump International Golf Links

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Balmedie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
  • Opened: 2012
  • Designed by: Martin Hawtree
  • Green fee: £195-£365
  • 23/24 ranking: Down 4

Course designer Martin Hawtree spoke of how fortunate he was to work with the terrain at Trump International and how keen he was to use the lie of the land to the greatest possible effect. He has managed it fantastically well. From the par-3 3rd where the beach is revealed just yards behind the putting surface to the stunning 14th where the elevated tee looks down upon a sweeping fairway forging through the dunes, this is a stirring and hugely memorable layout.

Set in beautiful, natural dune land north of Aberdeen, Trump International Golf Links, Scotland, has earned a reputation as one of the very best modern coastal courses in the country.

- Trump International Scotland review and key info


The European Club

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Brittas Bay, County Wicklow, Ireland
  • Founded: 1987
  • Designed by: Pat Ruddy
  • Green fee: €140-€275
  • 23/24 ranking: No change

Back in 1987, Irish golf writer and course architect, Pat Ruddy undertook a helicopter reconnaissance mission to find the perfect spot for a new links course.

The fruits of that mission turned out to be Brittas Bay in County Wicklow, and six years later, dream became reality when his European Club opened for play, serving up glorious sea views and wow-factor golf.

The widening of fairways in recent years has made it more playable for all, but the creator’s quirky touches remain, including distinctive sleepered bunkering, two cracking extra par 3s you should play if at all possible, and a green on the 12th that is full wedge distance from front to back at 127 yards.

- The European Club review and key info

Castle Stuart Golf Links

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Inverness, Scotland
  • Opened: 2009
  • Designed by: Gil Hanse and Mark Parsinen
  • Green fee: £210-£405
  • 23/24 ranking: Up 1

Now part of the impressive Cabot portfolio, Castle Stuart Golf Links is one of the most spectacular modern links courses to have been created anywhere this century. The work of entrepreneurial golf designer Mark Parsinen and renowned course architect Gil Hanse, the layout played host to three consecutive Scottish Opens between 2011 and 2013 and then again in 2016.

Set over an incredible stretch of coastline, the links at Castle Stuart is incredibly natural and the holes make fabulous use of the terrain. Hanse and Parsinen utilised what nature provided and tweaked it subtly to produce a course that is ostensibly simple yet far more complex when closely examined. It’s striking and beautifully maintained.

- Cabot Highlands Castle Stuart review and key info

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Elliott Heath
Senior Staff Writer

Elliott Heath is our Senior Staff Writer and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news, features, courses and travel sections as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as four Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. His first Open was in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, when he walked inside the ropes with Jordan Spieth during the Texan's memorable Claret Jug triumph. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Western Gailes, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 2-5. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!

Elliott is currently playing:

Driver: Titleist TSR4

3 wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Max

Hybrid: TaylorMade SIM Max

Irons: Mizuno MP5 4-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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