Course reviewsLead article

Top 5 Links Courses for Open Competitions

By January 30, 2012No Comments

Royal St. David's Golf ClubA quick glance at one of the many ‘top 100’ golf course rankings will reveal a host of links courses near the upper echelons of the list.

The Open Championship rota exclusively includes some of these top links courses and you don’t have to travel far from the Major venues to find a cluster of other lesser known, but top class nonetheless, seaside venues.

Although none of us will ever get the chance to play these top links courses in the Open Championship there is nothing stopping us from entering Open Competitions for the mere mortals! These tournaments are open to golfers of all shapes and sizes and may well be the closest thing to the Open Championship as we, as players, will ever see! Fortunately tournaments at links courses are plentiful, and due to the fast draining nature of the links turf, competitive golf is playable all year round.

Links golf holds a truly special place in the game of golf. It throws up challenges, excitement and drama that inland courses simply cannot provide yet it remains untested by many who have not ventured to the coast and experienced the purest form of the game.

We at Your Golf Travel have teamed up with Golf Empire – the open competition experts – to bring you five of the top Links Opens that you can play in in the UK in 2012. Although marquee names have been left out you will find the below golf courses provide fabulous value whilst not losing any of the charm of classic links golf.

1. Royal North Devon

Royal North Devon is England’s oldest golf course. Founded in 1864 it can rightly claim to be the cradle of English Golf and is regarded as the St Andrews of England – not a bad accolade when it comes to links golf!

This historic club hosts over 20 open events during the season and with prices starting from as little as £10 per person they offer a splendid opportunity to experience this magnificent course in all its glory and at the same time make a substantial saving off the normal green-fee rate of £60!

Royal North Devon

Royal North Devon

With so many to choose from it’s difficult to single out one event but the Team Open on Saturday 21st April catches the eye. It’s open to men and ladies in any combination and has a cost of £100 per team of four, a fantastic price for weekend golf!

Why not combine your competition at Royal North Devon with a few more rounds in the Devon area? Our Devon Golf Tours will see you visiting some of the finest links courses in the UK & Ireland. Saunton, Trevose and Burnham & Berrow are all worth a visit and are within driving distance of Royal North Devon.

2. Littlestone

Kent is not short of top class links courses and while it may be largely in the shadow of its illustrious neighbours such as Royal St Georges, Royal Cinque Ports and Princes GC, Littlestone is one of the very best. Renowned for its intriguing layout and outstanding greens, Littlestone has previously been chosen to host final qualifying for the Open Championship and its remote location adds to its appeal. One is certain to enjoy their round at this southern gem.

The course provides a really true test and has one of the most challenging closing stretches in the UK. Punch shots, knock downs and bump and runs are all called for here!


Like any classic links course Littlestone features many humps, bumps, dips and hollows and, of course, those devilish pot bunkers!

Amongst the many open events here the Pairs Open on Friday 10th August is a fairly unique one. The format is Greensomes Stableford. This involves both players driving off and then playing their partners ball for the next shot. One ball must then be chosen and alternate shots played until the hole is completed!

It’s open to men and ladies in any combination and costs £60 per pair. A 2-course meal can also be pre-booked for just £10 per person making this an excellent opportunity for a good value day of golf.

3. Seascale

Seascale has the proud honour of co-hosting the 2012 English Amateur Championship, along with nearby Silloth on Solway. It’s recognition for what is a fine example of links golf in the north-west of England and thus the course promises to be in first class condition this year.

This stretch of coast is arguably the best in the British Isles and Seascale often goes unmentioned, but it shouldn’t! Whilst it isn’t the longest course the wind rolling in from the Irish Sea can certainly make it play that way and the varied terrain places an emphasis on shot selection and imagination.

Royal Birkdale

Royal Birkdale – Just a couple of hours from Seascale

The club provide what I describe as ‘no-nonsense opens’ – simply good value golf on a very good links course, which is well worth making the trip for!

Those that are quick could still grab a tee-time in one of their popular winter team competitions. Texas Scrambles are popular in this part of the world and the ones on Saturday 11th February and Saturday 10th March are great examples. Entry is just £50 per team of four into each one and can consist of any combination of gender.

Although Seascale is a rather secluded course the golfing delights of Southport aren’t a million miles away. Royal Birkdale, Royal Lytham & St Annes and Royal Liverpool are all within a stone’s throw of each other and along with hidden gems like Hillside, Formby and Formby Ladies make Southport a fantastic option for a golf tour in the North West.

4. Royal St. David’s

One of the finest courses in Wales can be found at Harlech on the west coast of Wales. Royal St. David’s is true links golf and is claimed by many to have one of the best back-nines in the UK.

Open tournaments are held all year round but places fill up very quickly so golfers wishing to take part need to book early. The club host the annual St. David’s Gold Cross, a prestigious Amateur World Ranking event, and whilst most of us will not qualify for this there are plenty of other opens to choose from.

Royal St David's

While Royal St Davids isn’t the most accessible golf course in Wales it is certainly wirth the trip.

The Morfa & Patterson Cups – a men’s individual tournament – will be played on Saturday 30th June 2012 and has an entry-fee of just £25. It’s a Stableford format and open to men with handicaps up to 28 and offers an enjoyable yet competitive day of golf.

Combining an open competition here with rounds of golf at other stunning courses including Aberdovey and Nefyn & District will certainly be a memorable Wales golf tour.

5. Cruden Bay

A feature on links golf that doesn’t include a course in Scotland would be remiss and while there are plenty of competitions at the most famous of links courses I have gone for one of my favourites; Cruden Bay.

This north-easterly course in Aberdeenshire winds through towering dunes offering a feel of seclusion on each hole as well as protection from the wind! Like many golf courses in Scotland, Cruden Bay hosts several tournaments during the season. Once again you can’t fault the value for money – the Mixed Pairs Open in August costs just £20 per couple!

Cruden Bay

Cruden Bay

However, our pick of the bunch is the Men’s 4-day Challenge Cup that runs from Tuesday 17th to Friday 20th July. The format is strokeplay followed by matchplay for those who qualify.

To make the trip to Scotland worthwhile why not combine your competition at Cruden Bay with rounds at Royal Aberdeen, Inchmarlo or even the brand new Trump International Links? Scottish golf tours are some of the best in the world so be sure to explore the home of golf!

Click here for information on Open Competitions throughout the UK.

Golf Empire

For information on UK & Ireland golf breaks please visit or call 0800 043 6644.
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The resident golf geek at Your Golf Travel. Have been lucky enough to have travelled far and wide playing golf and if I’m not writing about it at work, you will probably find me hacking it around my local course. Owner of 2 holes in one and some of the most crooked drives you have ever seen!

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