The beauty of the surroundings is a big factor for many golfers, but what are the most scenic golf courses in GB&I? We share our thoughts here...

What Are The Most Scenic Golf Courses in GB&I?

Where to start? There are golf courses set in beautiful countryside and amid spectacularly wild landscapes the length and breadth of the country.

We will all have played many that have simply wowed us, whether on the coast or inland. This article could have been filled 20 times over with Scottish courses alone!

But to spread things around a little, we’ve selected three from each nation, some well-known and some less so…

Scotland

Perthshire may not be blessed with the higher mountains of the north. But the more subtle grandeur of the Ochil Hills near Auchterarder is equally alluring.

The course at Auchterarder sits right beside Gleneagles (Photo: Jeremy Ellwood)

The town’s course sits right beside Gleneagles and is a fine example of a sub 6,000-yarder that can look after itself! Among the many strong holes is the lovely long  9th, playing straight towards those stirring distant hills.

Further north, Spey Valley represents Speyside golf on a slightly grander scale than the delightful short courses at Boat of Garten and Grantown. It plays right beside the mighty river, which seems to separate the 1st and 18th from the main body of the course. In reality you never actually cross it.

Spey Valley is a big golf course with majestic backdrops

This is a big golf course playing over majestic, rolling terrain, with glorious backdrops all round.

Our final Scottish course is a relative unknown. Aigas near Beauly in Inverness-shire is blessed with an idyllic setting for golf.

Little-known Aigas enjoys an idyllic setting (Photo: Jeremy Ellwood)

The course plays in a kind of bowl between wooded slopes and the River Beauly. The signature dogleg-right 6th tees off right beside the river before doglegging sharply right to mirror the river bend. A little gem of a course.

Ireland

Old Head in Kinsale, County Cork probably enjoys the most dramatic setting of any golf course in GB&I. It is laid out on a headland separated from the mainland by a slender neck partly occupied by the 12th and 13th holes.

Old Head – our most dramatic setting of all

Perched atop 300ft cliffs, with visual drama all around, it’s a scenic treat from start to finish.

Druid’s Glen in County Wicklow is a magnificent parkland course that has been likened to Augusta.

Just a hint of Augusta on the par-3 8th at Druid’s Glen

That may be stretching things a touch, but the course is blessed with several gorgeous par 3s and the fearsome and thought-provoking long par-4 13th where water comes into play on both the drive and daunting long approach. Par is exceptional here.

Then it’s back to the coast and Arnold Palmer’s mind-blowing 1980s creation at Tralee. The course is a mix of links and clifftop golf, with the visual drama ramping up a notch over the spectacular back nine. The front nine is not without stirring visits to the cliffs, too, on the 2nd and 3rd.

Tralee in County Kerry was co-designed by Arnold Palmer and God! (Photo: Kevin Murray)

Arnie willingly admitted that God did the lion’s share of the design work here!

England

For England, we’re going hilltop, clifftop and moorland. We start at Kington in Herefordshire, England’s highest course at 1,284ft on Bradnor Hill.

It offers up some of the most spectacular views of any inland course in the country. The fairways gaze out over Hergest Ridge (of Mike Oldfield fame for those old enough) and then beyond to seven different English and Welsh counties.

Kington is England’s highest course at 1,284ft (Photo: Geoff Ellis)

This is golf on a landscape of freely grazing sheep, springy moorland turf, intriguing shelf greens, grass bunkers aplenty, and stunning 360˚ panoramas. For more of the same, Church Stretton in Shropshire and Cockermouth in Cumbria are from the same mould.

Thurlestone, laid out over the clifftops between South Milton and Bantham beaches in Devon, was once likened to Pebble Beach by Peter Alliss.

Drama around the clifftops over the early holes at Thurlestone

The views may at times rival those of its Californian counterpart, especially at the far end where you gaze across to Burgh Island. But the green fee is mercifully a mere 9% of Pebble’s. Mullion in Cornwall has a similar feel.

Slaley Hall’s Hunting course is another to have been likened to Augusta. This former tour venue has a rugged moorland feel in places, with beautiful azaleas and rhododendrons lining the fairways elsewhere.

The beauty of Slaley Hall’s Hunting Course

The final hole is one of the best, a testing long par 4 that plays gently back up to a raised green. This fine course has a wonderful away-from-it-all feel in many places.

Wales

The country’s most-photographed golf course is undoubtedly Nefyn & District on the Llyn Peninsula. Rolling into the car park and gazing down over the course is a real ‘great to be alive’ moment.

Yes, there really are golf holes down there on The Point at Nefyn (Photo: Getty Images)

There are 27 clifftop holes here, with the most memorable laid out over a slender headland christened The Point. Think Old Head on a slightly lesser, but no less dramatic, scale – golf with a real wow factor.

The Harry Vardon course at Llandrindod Wells in the heart of Wales is perched high above the Victorian spa town. It enjoys a wonderful moorland setting.

Llandrindod Wells is a Harry Vardon course, with later input from James Braid (Photo: © Crown Copyright (2021) Visit Wales)

There are few better places to play on a fine day. It’s under 6,000 yards, too, so your game won’t end up too battered and bruised when the wind gets up.

Our final stop is the parkland course at Cradoc just outside Brecon. It enjoys spectacular views across to the Brecon Beacons and their highest peak of Pen-y-fan.

The 11th is a tricky par 4 with a worryingly tight drive thanks to a copse on the right and the course’s perimeters on the left.

Looking across to the Brecon Beacons from the 12th tee at Cradoc (Photo: © Crown Copyright (2021) Visit Wales)

The short par-3 12th that follows then demands extra attention for no other reason than the breathtakingly distracting mountain views you feast your eyes upon from its tee.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our thoughts on the most scenic golf courses in GB&I, and are only sorry that space didn’t allow us to include more of our countless scenic treasures!