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We are blessed with many 9-holers, but what are the best 9 hole golf courses in GB&I? We share our thoughts here from inland treats to coastal beauties
What Are The Best 9 Hole Golf Courses in GB&I?
Golf may have become a predominantly 18-hole game in the 20th and 21st centuries. But we are still blessed with hundreds of nine-holers, all fiercely proud of what they have to offer. And there are some absolute crackers too.
There is often something quirky, or at least a real talking point, among the holes. And, of course, in our time-pressed society, nine holes can be an attractive proposition for many.
About 20% of all Scottish courses are nine-holers. If you really want to make a nine-hole day of it, try playing the Perthshire trio of Comrie, St Fillans and Killin in a day. All absolutely delightful and all within half an hour of each other.
Many rank Royal Worlington and Newmarket on the Suffolk/Cambridgeshire border as the king of the UK’s nine-holers. Home to the Cambridge University Golf Club, the course plays beside a quiet back road.
One of the biggest tests comes on the mid-length par-3 5th, blessed with one of the trickiest ‘hogs back’ greens around.
Views to die for
If views are your thing, then Corrie, one of seven courses on the Isle of Arran, is hard to beat. The course itself is a mere 2,000 yards and, in all honesty, a bit criss-crossy. But the mountain backdrops are among the most spectacular in the UK.
Every now and then you stumble across an unexpected golfing delight. The little nine-holer at Wooler in Northumberland is a fine example, with its modest clubhouse, an honesty box and a hugely enjoyable moorland course. The 360˚ panorama from the 7th tee is simply immense.
The course at Tobermory on Mull enjoys a gloriously elevated setting above the colourful town. It serves up wonderful views out over the Sound of Mull and on to the mainland mountains beyond. It’s a fun rollercoaster ride free from both bunkers and par 5s.
Close to Maidstone in Kent, the nine-holer at Leeds Castle gets up close and personal with the magnificent building from the 5th to the 7th. But you’ll need your wits about you over the short but tight opening holes and again on the short par-4 9th, which doglegs left before rising to the green.
On the heath
In places, Leeds Castle feels like a heathland course waiting to get out, as does Royal Worlington.
For a good nine-hole heathland experience. Holtye in Sussex features several changes in elevation, and fairways that wend through trees and heather. The long par-4 3rd is not for the faint-hearted, with its green sitting right in the apex of a road junction – a real heart-in-mouth approach shot.
Reigate Heath in neighbouring Surrey has two distinct sets of tees making for a very different round if you go round twice. The charming clubhouse sits beside a windmill in the centre of the course.
Heathland golf may not be that prevalent in Wales, but one exception is the James Braid course at Machynlleth in Powys. Unlike some nine-holers, there’s a real feeling of space here. It could just as easily have sat in our ‘views to die for’ section with splendid rolling hills all around.
Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside
Finally, we arrive on the coast, starting out at Anstruther in Fife, where you’ll remember the nigh-on impossible 245-yard par-3 5th - The Rockies – for a very long time.
Par 3 in name, par 4 in nature, with a knoll obscuring the distant green at the end of a wafer-thin fairway, which slopes alarmingly towards the sea.
Across the Irish Sea, and well off the beaten track in County Donegal, lies the extraordinary Cruit Island. The setting is truly spectacular, with the par-3 6th the most dramatic hole. Probably not one for the design purist, but a must for anyone who loves golf and life.
In south-west England, Burnham & Berrow's Championship course rides high in our UK&I Top 100. But its Channel course is one of the best nine-holers in England.
The first four holes hug the watercourse edging the marsh. You then climb on to the dune ridge for a memorable run for home from the 6th.
The Isle of Skye and Isle of Harris Golf Clubs in the Hebrides are both stunningly beautiful and hugely enjoyable nine-holers, while the first three holes in the tall dunes on the Old Tom Morris course at Warkworth in Northumberland rank among the most intriguing on any links nine-holer.
Final shout goes to Durness, the most north-westerly course in mainland Britain. This mesmerising layout will see you strolling beside a crystal clear loch one minute and along a stunning coastline the next, all the while looking across to the mountains.
Your last act before reaching the sanctuary of one of the game's most splendidly appointed clubhouses is a closing par 3 to really test your bottle – not long, but straight across a rocky Atlantic inlet. A word of advice - don’t look up too soon!
We hope you've enjoyed our round-up of what we feel to be the best 9 hole golf courses in GB&I.
A nine-hole course doesn’t ‘only’ have nine holes, as some are inclined to say – it simply has nine. And many of them are well worth your attention.
Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly across the whole spectrum from courses and Rules to equipment and even instruction despite his own somewhat iffy swing (he knows how to do it, but just can't do it himself). He also edits The Golf Club Secretary Newsletter, has authored or co-authored three books and written for a number of national papers including The Telegraph and The Independent. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 89 of the Next 100. He has played well over 900 courses worldwide in 35 countries, but put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content. On his first trip to Abu Dhabi a decade ago he foolishly asked Paul Casey what sort of a record he had around the course there. "Well, I've won it twice if that's what you mean!" came the reply...
Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf
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