Golf in the Heather and Gorse: book review

An exploration of 71 golf courses in England and Scotland

Sunningdale Golf Club New Course Pictures
Sunningdale New plays over simply glorious golfing terrain
(Image credit: Getty Images)

book cover

Golf in the Heather and Gorse David Worley, foreword by Peter Thomson Published by the author, £55

Golf in the Heather and Gorse is the latest of David Worley’s books. In it he reviews 71 golf courses in England and Scotland.

How to classify his particular selection of courses is a moot point, as the author readily acknowledges.

Not all the courses covered are heathland. The cover describes the book as ‘a guide to the inland courses of England and Scotland’, yet not all the tracks are inland either– some are cliff top; one is a links.

The best summary is courses that-Mr-Worley-has-not-written-about-in-his previous-books-on-links-courses, hence the inclusion of Skiskine links in Golf in the Heather and Gorse.

As a 12-holer, it had escaped the attention of his pen before, but is included here in the chapter on Arran. The author excuses himself in his introduction ‘I could not revue [sic] the best courses on Arran and not include Shiskine’.

David Worley lives in Melbourne and is a member of three golf clubs there. The magnet for his various golfing pilgrimages to and around Britain had been this island’s links layouts.

This style of course is little found beyond these shores but reasonably abundant here, and promoted across the globe through television coverage of The Open Championship.

He has explained that: ‘Coming from Melbourne I am used to playing on some world-class courses so, generally speaking, I wouldn’t travel to the UK to play inland courses’.

Yet his interest in heathland layouts was piqued by two visits to the Old Course at Walton Heath which ‘oozes charm and history and made me want to discover more of the heathland gems, particularly those in the south of England’.

The star of Golf in the Heather and Gorse is undoubtedly the photography. There are more than 300 colour photographs, mostly by the author. This is a handsomely produced book.

Flicking through the book and being arrested by one of the sumptuous photographs, the caption often does not make it immediately clear what the course is, only the hole number. So you have to scan around the text to divine what the course is.

It is a book designed to be read through, not dipped in and out of. There is no index. The courses are grouped within broad geographical chapters, but within these chapters the courses are ordered by the date the author played them which, to the reader, gives a slight randomness to it all.

Roderick Easdale

Contributing Writer Golf courses and travel are Roderick’s particular interests and he was contributing editor for the first few years of the Golf Monthly Travel Supplement. He writes travel articles and general features for the magazine, travel supplement and website. He also compiles the magazine's crossword. He is a member of Trevose Golf & Country Club and has played golf in around two dozen countries. Cricket is his other main sporting love. He is the author of five books, four of which are still in print: The Novel Life of PG Wodehouse; The Don: Beyond Boundaries; Wally Hammond: Gentleman & Player and England’s Greatest Post-War All Rounder.