I’ve Played 690 Golf Courses In England - These Are The 10 I Can't Wait To Go Back To

Golf Monthly’s most travelled golf course reviewer picks 10 English courses he is very keen to play again

I’ve Played 690 Golf Courses In England - These Are The 10 I Can't Wait To Go Back To - Perranporth - Hole 6
Perranporth is one of Rob’s favourite recent discoveries, but is it too quirky?
(Image credit: Rob Smith)

I’ve Played 690 Golf Courses In England - These Are The 10 I Can't Wait To Go Back To

I have been lucky enough to play a great many courses all over the world. Given a following wind and a few favourable bounces next year, I should take my worldwide tally to over 1,200. The majority of these… just… are quite naturally in my home country.

I generally subscribe to the idea that it isn’t always good to return to somewhere where you have great memories; it keeps that flame burning bright. I have therefore selected 10 courses that I would very much like to revisit not because they are my all-time favourites, though one is, but because each has an unanswered question.

There is no intended hierarchy or priority, so this is in purely alphabetical sequence, and with each I have tried to summarise the attraction.

Addington Palace

Addington Palace - Hole 15

Looking back up the risk/reward short par-4 fifteenth at Addington Palace

(Image credit: Addington Palace Golf Club)
  • Location Croydon
  • Founded 1930
  • Architect JH Taylor
  • GF Round £60 Mon-Fri, £65 Weekend
  • Par 71, 6,406 yards
  • Contact Addington Palace Golf Club

The first course in my list is at a club where I was a provisional member almost 40 years ago. A non-golfing friend’s father proposed me, with the idea that I had a few months to learn what membership is all about, and to find a few people my own age. This was the 1980s, and I failed in my quest as there were few members in their 20s. Instead, I joined elsewhere with existing friends who were just getting into golf. However, I remember being very taken with the undulating, tree-lined course, and I’ve occasionally wondered whether the JH Taylor design was really as good as I recall. It flies somewhat under the radar and borders on ever-improving The Addington.

Reason to Return - to see how the course at a club I nearly joined compares 40 years on

Beau Desert

Beau Desert - Hole 6

The sixth hole at Beau Desert is a narrowing, tree-lined par 4

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)
  • Location Cannock
  • Founded 1911
  • Architect Herbert Fowler
  • GF £80-£95 Mon-Fri
  • Par 72, 6,458 yards
  • Contact Beau Desert Golf Club

My only round over the excellent heathland course at Beau Desert was more than 15 years ago and was on a very rushed trip when my swing was at an all-time low. Some may argue that my golf couldn’t be worse than it is now, but I can assure you it was. It was also a competitive round, in a group of golf club secretaries, and I quite simply didn’t want to be there! While I have subsequently learnt to separate personal golfing ability and mood from how I view a course, I need to get back because I have heard many good things. I am generally a big fan of the golf courses of Herbert Fowler, and I could see it was a strong and challenging test of golf, but I also suspect there is a great deal more to it.

Reason to Return - strong recommendations from a number of golfing friends

Delamere Forest

Delamere Forest - Hole 6

Miss the green on the short sixth at Delamere Forest at your peril!

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location Delamere
  • Founded 1910
  • Architect Herbert Fowler, Tom Mackenzie
  • GF Round From £95 Mon-Fri
  • Par 72, 6,588 yards
  • Contact Delamere Forest Golf Club

This is another Fowler heathland design, and since I was there in 2000 for 18 holes on a very overcast day, Tom Mackenzie has returned the course to its original principles. As with Royal Ashdown, the forest is more out of play than in, and the long-term upgrade has made a great difference to this fine, heathland layout. This is one of the best golf courses in Cheshire and is fully playable all-year round.

Reason to Return - to see all the good work that has gone on since I was last here

Read full Delamere Forest Golf Club course review


Enville - Highgate - Hole 4

The fourth hole on the Highgate Course at Enville plays from right to left and over a cross-bunker

(Image credit: Enville Golf Club)
  • Contact Enville Golf Club
  • Location Stourbridge
  • Founded 1935
  • Architect Alf Pagham, Frank Pennink, Ron Hinton
  • GF Round £90 Mon-Fri, Day £150 Mon-Fri
  • Highgate Par 72, 6,491 yards
  • Lodge Par 71, 6,253 yards
  • Contact Enville Golf Club

My vague memories of my one trip to Enville 11 years ago concerned me until I looked for the reason. While I can picture snippets of the Highgate Course including a par 3 over water, the rest is all a bit of a blur. However, I made the 360-mile round-trip in a day, shortly after returning from playing 11 courses in 8 days in Ireland. Sensory overload! I know that Enville is home to two fine courses with the Highgate being one of the best golf courses in the Midlands. Now I need to see it, and the Lodge Course, properly!

Reason to Return - to enjoy the Highgate with a clear mind, and to play the Lodge which is also highly-rated


Kington - Hole 7

Far-reaching views from the seventh green at Kington

(Image credit: Geoff Ellis, golfworking.co.uk)
  • Location Kington
  • Founded 1926
  • Architect CK Hutchison
  • GF Round £20-£30 - check website for details
  • Par 70, 5,873 yards
  • Contact Kington Golf Club

I wasn’t going to include any courses that I have played relatively recently, but with Kington, I couldn’t resist. Golf is supposed to be fun, and fun is exactly what golf here is all about. Despite its hilltop setting, the walking is surprisingly easy, and this is a totally natural design that is situated high up in the middle of nowhere. There are genuinely (cliché alert) sensational and far-reaching, panoramic views. I don’t know anyone who has played and not thoroughly enjoyed this unbelievably well-priced course. This was justifiably one of Golf Monthly’s 100 Hidden Gems in 2022, and is more than worth any effort required to get here.

Reason to Return - to glory in the views again… and hopefully get some photographs on a blue-sky day

Read full Kington Golf Club course review


Perranporth - Hole 4

The green on the par-3 fourth at Perranporth

(Image credit: Rob Smith)
  • Location Perranporth
  • Founded 1927
  • Architect James Braid
  • GF Round £55 Mon-Fri, £65 Weekend
  • Par 72, 6,293 yards
  • Contact Perranporth Golf Club

If I have received universal gratitude from people who have visited Kington on my recommendation, then the same cannot be said for Perranporth! There have been a few long faces who weren’t happy with the number of blind shots or balls lost “after a perfect drive!” This James Braid design is on the Cornish coast and runs through some of the best dunes in British golf.. in my opinion! I feel confident that it is a brilliant, exciting place for golf, and need to see if there was something I missed as some of my golfing friends who have been more recently have expressed frustration. I think this is one of the very best golf courses in Cornwall, and for now I am sticking to my guns and thoroughly looking forward to returning.

Reason to Return - to see whether the doubters, some of them way better golfers than I, have cause for complaint…        probably not!

Read full Perranporth Golf Club course review


Sandiway - Hole 18

Sandiway finishes with a fine and challenging par 3 bordered by scary white posts

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location Northwich
  • Founded 1920
  • Architect Ted Ray, Harry Colt, FW Hawtree
  • GF Round £100 Mon-Fri
  • Par 70, 6,437 yards
  • Contact Sandiway Golf Club

I feel a little guilty about selecting Sandiway as I played two rounds here on the same trip as Delamere Forest well over 20 years ago. This was before I worked in golf, and so I would be returning for roughly the same reasons. In this case, I know that I really enjoyed the course, but unusually for me, I cannot remember any details. It is in Golf Monthly’s Next 100 Courses, and I therefore need to reacquaint myself with it. I know there is plenty of variety, a key factor for me, and I am looking forward to seeing what else is here!

Reason to turn - to remind myself why a course I can barely picture remains such a fond memory

Read full Sandiway Golf Club course review

Seaton Carew

Seaton Carew - Hole 4

Dunes is the par-4 fourth at Seaton Carew played to a 2-tier green

(Image credit: Seaton Carew Golf Club)
  • Location Hartlepool
  • Founded 1874
  • Architect Alistair MacKenzie, Frank Pennink
  • GF Round £50-£80 (check with club for details)
  • Par 72, 6,658 yards
  • Contact Seaton Carew Golf Club

Seaton Carew was the 545th golf course worldwide added to my CV, and I had driven up from Sussex in the morning with various traffic issues en route. This was before my time with Golf Monthly and naively I let the industrial surroundings overshadow the links itself. Since then, I have more that doubled my tally and learnt a great deal more about the value of return visits. Unusually, there are 22 holes which can be played in a variety of configurations. The original MacKenzie holes make up the Old Course and I am keen to play the lot! This is one of the best golf courses in England under £100.

Reason to Return - to view it with more fairly... and not immediately after a 300-mile drive

Sherwood Forest

Sherwood Forest - Hole 17

The penultimate hole at Sherwood Forest is a strong par 4 which is 423 yards from the back tee

(Image credit: Sherwood Forest Golf Club)
  • Location Mansfield
  • Founded 1895
  • Architect Harry Colt, James Braid
  • GF Round £125, Day £145
  • Par 71, 6,685 yards
  • Contact Sherwood Forest Golf Club

My only game so far at Sherwood Forest was over the Christmas holidays 15 years ago with my mother-in-law who is member and past captain at nearby Hollinwell. This was way before the course made it into the Golf Monthly Top 100, and very sadly, my abiding memory is of the cold! The course itself has great pedigree - Harry Colt and James Braid - but like so many heathland courses back then it had become somewhat parkland in nature with the trees dramatically changing its nature. Careful woodland management and the odd hurricane has done a great restoration and clearance job, and I am very keen to play it again now that it is more the course its architects intended.

Reason to Return - to play the course in better weather and see how it looks with fewer trees

Read full Sherwood Forest Golf Club course review

St Mellion

St Mellion - Nicklaus Course - Hole 11

Looking back up to the tee from behind the green on the tough but beautiful par-3 eleventh on the Nicklaus Course at St Mellion

(Image credit: Andy Hiseman)
  • Location Saltash
  • Founded 1988
  • Architect Jack Nicklaus
  • GF £90 Mon-Thu, £100 Fri-Sun, discounts from 14:00
  • Par 72, 6,561 yards
  • Contact St Mellion Golf Club

The Nicklaus Course at St Mellion is regarded as one of the finest courses, but also the toughest, in the south-west. Having played it with friends more than 25 years ago in strong winds, it thoroughly beat us up. While I do remember being greatly impressed by its visual beauty and dramatic architecture, it was simply too tough given the conditions. There is plenty of excellent Jack Nicklaus bunkering, lots of water, and dense and impenetrable mature woodland. I am keen to play it again… on a calmer day… now that I should be able to appreciate it in a different light.

Reason To Return - to see how playable, and enjoyable from a mid-teen handicap perspective, it really is

Preparing this article has really whetted my appetite and got me thinking about these ten courses. For the varied reasons stated, I am keen to get back to them all. Planning will be key, and I already have a few of them in my 2023 sights. Hopefully, a return visit will answer some questions.

Rob Smith
Contributing Editor

Rob Smith has been playing golf for over 45 years and been a contributing editor for Golf Monthly since 2012. He specialises in course reviews and travel, and has played more than 1,200 courses in almost 50 countries. In 2021, he played all 21 courses in East Lothian in 13 days. Last year, his tally was 81, 32 of them for the first time. 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 seven and a half... i.e. not the new 9 at Carne! Of those missing, some are already booked for 2024. He has been a member of Tandridge in Surrey for 30 years where his handicap hovers around 16. You can contact him at r.smith896@btinternet.com.