What Are The Best 9 Hole Golf Courses in GB&I?

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

Durness is the UK mainland's most north-westerly course (Photo: Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

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.

You'll find the odd quirky hole or two on some of our best nine-holers as here at Cruit Island in Donegal

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.

Beautiful Comrie, one of three nine-holers within 30 minutes of each other in Perthshire

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.

The 5th green at Royal Worlington & Newmarket

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.

Glorious mountain backdrops at Corrie on the Isle of Arran (Photo: Getty Images)

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.

On top of the world at Wooler in Northumberland (Photo: Jeremy Ellwood)

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.

Tobermory's nine-holer is perched above the famous town on Mull

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.

The unique backdrop to the 6th hole at Leeds Castle in Kent (Photo: Jeremy Ellwood)

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.

Heather galore by the 9th green at Reigate Heath in Surrey (Photo: Kevin Murray)

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.

Machynlleth is a James Braid nine-holer in west Wales (Photo: Rob Smith)

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.

Where on earth do you hit it on the 5th at Anstruther in Fife? (Photo: Kevin Murray)

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.

Burnham and Berrow Stay And Play Review

The 9th hole on Burnham & Berrow's Channel course with the 1st fairway to the left

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.

The Isle of Harris Golf Clubs enjoys a glorious setting (Photo: Jeremy Ellwood)

And finally...

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!

Your final test at Durness in the north-west of Scotland (Photo: Getty Images)

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
Contributing Editor

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 instruction. He also edits The Golf Club Secretary Newsletter, a highly regarded trade publication for golf club secretaries and managers, and 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 91 of the Next 100, making him well-qualified when it comes to assessing and comparing our premier golf courses. He has now played well over 950 golf courses worldwide in 35 countries, right across the spectrum from the humblest of nine-holers in the Scottish Highlands to the very grandest of international golf resorts, but put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content.

Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf

Jeremy is currently playing...

Driver: Ping G425 LST 10.5˚ (draw setting), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 55 S shaft

3 wood: Ping G425 Max 15˚ (set to flat +1), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 65 S shaft

Hybrid: Ping G425 17˚, Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Orange 80 S shaft

Irons 3-PW: Ping i525, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Wedges: Ping Glide 4.0 50˚ and 54˚, 12˚ bounce, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Putter: Ping Fetch 2021 model, 33in shaft (set flat 2)

Ball: Varies but mostly now TaylorMade Tour Response