It’s amazing to me that golf courses that are hundreds of years old can still lay down a world-class challenge to golfers of today. As a group, golfers tend to geek out on all the tradition and history that comes with the game too, so let’s take a look at the oldest golf courses in the world.
They’re not all on the list, but here’s a handful that you might fancy ticking off your list when the time comes to tee it up once again…
The Championship Links at Royal Aberdeen is an established tournament host that has been worked on over the years by golf design greats including James Braid and Donald Steel. This is raw links golf at its best. Nine holes take you away from the clubhouse before your journey home is completed over the back nine.
Boasting views over the city of Aberdeen this course also features everything a classic links should including punishing rough, monstrous sand dunes and of course exposure to the elements. The Balgownie Links is a must on any Scottish golf break.
The Old Links at Musselburgh has been officially recognised by Guinness as the oldest golf course in the world; a fact that should immediately place Musselburgh atop any avid golfers wishlist. The Old Links may have lost some of its lustre in a tournament sense but the history behind the course should persuade any golf aficionado to make the pilgrimage to Scotland.
Mary, Queen of Scots is said to have played the links here as far back as 1567 and the official measurement for the width of a hole stemmed from a piece of equipment used to cut the holes at Musselburgh all those years ago.
For information on Scottish golf breaks to play Musselburgh Old Links please call 0800 043 6644
Founded in 1864, Royal North Devon is officially the oldest golf course England and it’s still using its original fairways! Royal North Devon is a fast-running links so the natural undulations and the prevailing wind are the main considerations for the golfer looking for a solid score.
With crashing waves in the background links golf doesn’t come much better than at Royal North Devon where you will be walking in the footsteps of some of the game’s pioneers including the likes of J.H. Taylor.
St Andrews Old Course needs little introduction and is widely regarded as the spiritual home of golf. The Old Course is the oldest golf course in the world. The first documented rounds of golf here date back to 1552 and since then the course has become the most famous golf course in the world and an absolute must for any golf fan.
The Old Course is the standard-bearer for all modern golf courses as this is where the 18 hole formant of the game we play today was born. A round on the Old Course will see you walk in the footsteps of the greats of the game from centuries past and more recent champions including Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros and Tiger Woods.
Considered to be the 5th oldest course in the world, Montrose is also the 3rd oldest royal golf club in the world; making it more than welcome on this list.
Golf has been played here 1562, the club was formed in 1810, and in 1845, Prince Albert granted the club its royal patronage. Like most classic links courses, Montrose very much follows the lay of the land, designed by Mother Nature you could say, but throughout its history, it has also been lucky enough to have the notable trio of Old Tom Morris, Willie Park Jnr, and finally, Harry Colt, sprinkle their magic dust over the springy links turf.
Golf history buffs clearly have a lot to discover and enjoy at Montrose, but perhaps its greatest strength, along with the world-class layout of course, is its location on the Angus coastline. Montrose is within easy driving distance of the world-famous Carnoustie, as well as the likes of Panmure and Monifieth. In short, this neck of the woods is a golf historian’s paradise, and definitely should be on the hit list if you fall into that category!
Here is an extra bonus one thrown in from Wales……
Tenby is just one of many classic golf courses in the design portfolio of the great James Braid and like many of Braids courses it is an absolute classic. Measuring just 6,300 yards Tenby isn’t long by modern standards but it still remains as a truer test of links golf.
Small, firm greens are well protected by lush rough and devilish pot bunkers and great banks of gorse call for precision from the tee. As the oldest golf course in Wales Tenby is a must for any avid golfer on a golf tour of Wales.
The Oldest Golf Course in Spain
The man responsible for the resurrection of the incredible Ailsa Course at Turnberry also designed this course in the Canary Islands.
Mackenzie Ross created a course within a crater of an extinct volcano that stretches to 6,468 yards from the back tees. Las Palmas is a delightful blend that will challenge every golfer and remain manageable for everyone.
The Oldest Golf Course in Portugal
Located 17 km to the south of Porto beside the beautiful beaches of Espinho sits Oporto Golf club. Established in 1890 the course is the closest you will find to a links layout in Portugal with small, challenging greens that will test golfers of all abilities.