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Given the courses in our top-100 ranking are the very best in the UK and Ireland, it follows that they are also the most expensive to play as a visiting golfer. The higher the quality of your product, the more you can reasonably charge for it.
The rack rates for courses in the main listing are occasionally a touch eye-watering, but there are opportunities to play many of these tracks for less by being flexible, or by taking advantage of package deals that are available. There are also courses in our list that offer excellent value for money, even at top whack. Here we consider the options.
Firstly, summer rates are generally the highest on offer, but most courses have reduced rates in the winter and sometimes shoulder seasons. As an example, let’s take our Number 1 course, Royal County Down. The full summer round rate for 2022 is £290, but the rate from November to February is just less than a third of that at £90. Even in March, with the chance of a pleasant early spring day, the cost is only £110.
The Old Course at St Andrews, arguably the world’s most famous, and Number 2 on our list, offers an excellent rate of under £100 up to the 31st March, albeit with mats required on fairways.
Some of the premier clubs will offer special rates to local golfers. Prestwick is a good example. The historic Ayrshire club will charge Ayrshire residents £85 per round this summer, compared to a rack rate of £220 for visitors from further afield.
There are packages available at a number of the top clubs that can reduce costs. Nairn Golf Club for example offers a special fourball package to UK golfers at a rate of £380 (£95 a player): Half price compared to the rack rate of £190.
Twilight rates can offer a great way to play a top course for less. If you’re prepared to wait until the end of the day, you can get a great deal. Ganton offers one of the best twilight deals – They have an £80 rate, representing a £70 discount. At Royal Cinque Ports you’ll pay £65 less than the full rate of £175 if you tee off after 4.30 on Monday to Thursday while Saunton offers a twilight rate of £90, that’s a £40 discount.
Silloth on Solway offers perhaps the best value of any course in our top-100 list. The excellent Cumbrian links, ranked 51st has a full rate, weekday green fee of just £70. It’s only £80 on the weekend.
Aberdovey on the Welsh coast offers great value this summer with a rack rate of just £75 per round, with a twilight option of £55 after 3pm. It’s only £90 if you want to play 36 holes.
At £125 per round, St Enodoc in Cornwall is one of the cheapest courses to play within the top-50, as is Royal St David's – they have a standard rate of £105 per round with a twilight option of £65. Discounted rates are available if you book online.
Green fees at The Machrie are £130 but if you stay in the hotel, that comes down to just £80. Prince’s in Kent offers a reasonable rack rate of £110 in high season this summer. Trevose in Cornwall is £89 for a round this summer but, perhaps even more appealing is the £375 weekly ticket that would suit holidaymaking golf-lovers.
Royal North Devon – The oldest golf course in England – still has a rack round rate of under £100 this summer, it’s £90 Sunday to Friday (£100 on a Saturday). One option to play the best courses for less is to enter an open competition. Royal North Devon is a great example for that method. If you enter an individual open at Royal North Devon this year, the fee is just £40. Play the 36-hole Kashmir Cup and it’s still just £40. Many of the clubs will offer similar levels of discount for open events.
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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?
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