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Best Golf Courses in England

from the Experts in Golf Holidays

✍️ Sam Brooks | ⏰ 8 min read

Royal St George's, Kent, England

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Our Guide to the Best English Golf Courses

When debating the best golfing destinations in the world, outside of the United States, it is common to jump straight to Scotland or Ireland, often overlooking the fact that their neighbour offers some of the most topographically diverse golf around. The variety of world-class golf available in England is truly outstanding, ranging from spectacular yet challenging links tests up and down the coast to serene parkland or heathland courses.

It could be argued that the most majestic courses are the links, from the Kent coast in the southeast to the rolling sand dunes of Southport, you will find golf courses of the highest calibre. However, there are also stunning inland courses that showcase the natural beauty of the English countryside.

Read on to discover the courses our experts have played and consider the best in England or check out some of the best golf holiday deals in England >>

BEST ENGLAND GOLF TOURS with Mark Crossfield & Coach Lockey

Royal Birkdale Golf Club

The pedigree of Royal Birkdale Golf Club is beyond doubt, having hosted The Open 9 times, the Ryder Cup twice and a multitude of other championships including the Walker Cup and Women's British Open.

Ranked 15th in Golf Digest's 'World’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses 2018' the magnificence of Royal Birkdale cannot be overstated, arguably the crown jewel of English golf, this course should be on every golfer's bucket list.

More info on Royal Birkdale >>

Royal Birkdale facts
Location Merseyside, England
Length 7,156 yards
Par 70
Designed by Frederick G. Hawtree / J.H. Taylor
Established 1889
Hosted Ryder Cup 1965, 1969
Hosted The Open 10 times
Hosted Women's Open 6 times (1982, 1986, 2000, 2005, 2010, 2014)
Where to stay Southport

"Playing into the 17th you appreciate how amazing Harrington's shot was to claim his 2nd Open. From start-to-finish, this is a great day of golf."
Sam (UK & Ireland Team: Handicap 1)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Sam about playing this course.

Royal St George's Golf Club

Nestled in the dunes of the beautiful Kent coast, Royal St George's Golf Club is a course of outstanding natural beauty and, since it’s establishment in 1887, it has been considered one of the best courses in Britain and indeed the world.

Dramatic undulations, thick, heavy rough, upturned saucer-shaped greens, and devilish pot bunkers all add to the challenge but it is perhaps the routing of the holes at Sandwich that provides the toughest conundrum for the golfer. Unlike many classic links courses that have a "9 out and 9 back" design, the holes at Royal St George's point every which way, meaning that when the wind us up, the golfer has to constantly be on their toes, assessing its direction and speed. Follow in the footsteps of Open Champions past including Collin Morikawa, Sandy Lyle, Greg Norman, and Darren Clarke, and see if you are up to the test.

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Royal St George's facts
Location Sandwich, Kent, England
Length 7,204 yards
Par 70
Designed by Dr. Laidlaw Purves, Hugh Alison, Frank Pennink, Alister MacKenzie
Established 1887
Where to stay Kent

"A serious test of golf, regardless of the tees you play off or the wind on offer."
Rob (UK & Ireland Team: Handicap 16)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Rob about playing this course.

Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club

This brilliant seaside layout is renowned for the quality of the course design, something which has been maintained and developed over the years.

A difficult test for all who grace the fairways, Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club is a brilliant destination for golfers looking to play a royal course and an Open Championship venue.

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Royal Lytham & St Annes facts
Location Lancashire, England
Length 7,118 yards
Par 70
Designed by George Lowe / Harry Colt
Established 1886
Hosted The Open 11 times
Hosted Women's Open 5 times (1998, 2003, 2006, 2009, 2018)
Granted Royal status King George V in 1926
Where to stay Southport

"Get there early and visit the clubhouse to experience the history, you are bound to by a souvenir from the clubhouse too. It begins with a gentle par 3 but beware this is one of the toughest courses in the Country."
Gareth (UK & Ireland Team: Handicap 12)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Gareth about playing this course.

Royal Liverpool Golf Club

As one of the oldest seaside courses in England, Royal Liverpool naturally has tonnes of history and heritage behind it; in 1871 the course was extended to 18 holes, paving the way for the royal title in the same year.

The course is rather unprotected which can cause conditions to feel more severe, although elites like Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods have won Open Championships here, so they must like it.

More info on Royal Liverpool Golf Club >>

Royal Liverpool Golf Club facts
Location Wirral, England
Length 7,218 yards
Par 72
Designed by Robert Chambers, George Morris, Harry Colt
Established 1869
Hosted The Open 13 times
Granted Royal status Queen Victoria in 1871
Where to stay Southport

"A great example of links golf. I think the opening tee-shot (the 3rd when they play The Open) is one of the toughest you'll face."
Rob (UK & Ireland Team: Handicap 16)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Rob about playing this course.

Sunningdale Golf Club - Old Course

Whilst technically in Berkshire, Sunningdale is classed as Surrey in terms of golf as a host of the Surrey Amateur Championship and it’s members representing Surrey rather than Berkshire in amateur events. With a rich history including the likes of Harry Colt, Bobby Jones and most recently Stephen Dodd, The Old and New Golf Courses at Sunningdale are revered as some of the finest inland courses played anywhere in the world. The heathland layouts provide a stern test of golf that meanders through mature pine and oak trees that live long in the memory of any golfer fortunate to spend a day here.

While there are many stand out holes at Sunningdale, arguably it is the 10th hole on The Old which garners the most plaudits. The drive is one of the best in golf with an elevated position to a slanted fairway with bunkers ready to snare any shot left or right of the short stuff. The reward for anyone walking down this hole is a trip to the world-famous halfway hut with it’s sausage sandwich, arguably one of the most talked about snacks in golf.

More info on Sunningdale Golf Club >>

Sunningdale Golf Club (Old Course) facts
Location Sunningdale, Berkshire
Length 6,627 yards
Par 70
Designed by Willie Park, Jr.
Established 1900
Hosted Women's Open 4 times (1997, 2001, 2004, 2008)
Where to stay Kingswood Lodge

"Inland golf does not get any better than this, keep it in the fairway is the best advice I can give and when visiting why not play both courses!"
Rick (Marketing: Handicap 11)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Rick about playing this course.

Woodhall Spa (Hotchkin Course)

The Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa is undoubtedly one of the finest heathland courses in the United Kingdom, comparable to the Sunningdale Old Course for natural beauty at an inland golf course.

Widely renowned for its aggressive bunkering, the Hotchkin demands accuracy off the tee to gain any chance at a low score, those who do find the fairway will be rewarded with favourable approach shots. The English Golf Union adopting Woodhall Spa as their home speaks to the class of this British classic.

More info on Woodhall Spa (Hotchkin Course) >>

Woodhall Spa (Hotchkin Course) facts
Location Lincolnshire, England
Length 7,080 yards
Par 73
Designed by Harry Vardon
Established 1905

❝Easily one of the best heathland golf course you can play anywhere in the world. Would place it up there with Hankley Common or Walton Heath.❞
Oliver (Marketing: Handicap 1)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Oliver about playing this course.

Ganton Golf Club

Host to the 1949 Ryder Cup, Ganton has solidified its position in the story of English golf since its formation in 1891. Regarded as a true test of skill for even the most accomplished golfers, Ganton presents a dual threat; deep, stretching bunkers and hole encompassing gorse.

Classified as a heathland course, it is a popular opinion that course is closer to being an inland links. Either way, the risk-reward nature of Ganton guarantees a thrilling round of golf.

More info on Ganton Golf Club >>

Ganton Golf Club facts
Location North Yorkshire
Length 7,016 yards
Par 71
Designed by Tom Chisholm, Harry Vardon, James Braid, Alister MacKenzie
Established 1891
Where to stay Leeds or York

"The course has a rich tournament history and wil give a good test of your golfing ability, the gorse & bunkers will punish wayward shots."
Paul (UK & Ireland Team: Handicap 1)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Paul about playing this course.

Walton Heath (Old Course)

Much like Sunningdale, Walton Heath boasts a world-class 36 holes of golf, however, the Old Course is clearly the headline act. This storied track played host the 1981 Ryder Cup, a disaster for the European team, but cemented the Old Course as one of the elite course in England.

Anyone in London should play the Old Course, as it is rare to find such calibre of course inside the M25.

More info on Walton Heath >>

Walton Heath (Old Course) facts
Location Surrey, England
Length 7,331 yards
Par 72
Designed by Herbert Fowler
Established 1891
Hosted Ryder Cup 1981
Where to stay Surrey

"Whether playing it in the lows of winter of the heights of summer you were blessed with fast-running fairways and one of the great tests in heathland golf."
Oliver (Marketing: Handicap 1)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Oliver about playing this course.

Formby Golf Club

Formby is another course on our list located in the famous Southport area, as such its natural beauty parallels the likes of Royal Birkdale and other local neighbours.

Although flanked in some areas by pine trees, you will certainly still feel the sting if the wind picks up speed, it can be tricky to find the fast green from the rolling fairways.

More info on Formby Golf Club >>

Formby Golf Club facts
Location Merseyside, England
Length 7,031 yards
Par 72
Designed by Willie Park, James Braid
Established 1884
Where to stay Southport

"When the wind blows hard, the firm and fast greens are difficult to find, and the lengthy par-3s are some of the most challenging in the local area."
Paul (UK & Ireland Team: Handicap 1)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Paul about playing this course.

Royal Cinque Ports

One of three Open Championship hosts found in Sandwich Bay on the beautiful Kent coast, Royal Cinque Ports is one of the greatest, and toughest, links courses in the country. Although it has been some time since The Open was last played there, Deal has not lost a step and should be a must play for any golfers in the south of England.

More info on Royal Cinque Ports >>

Royal Cinque Ports facts
Location Deal, Kent, England
Length 7,245 yards
Par 71
Designed by Henry Hunter, James Braid, Sir Guy Campbell & Henry Cotton
Established 1892
Where to stay Lodges at Princes, Lots of options in Kent

❝Stay well clear of the bunkers. The contours of the fairway actually gather your ball towards the sand traps so they are really about two or three times larger than they look from the tee.❞
Rick (Marketing: Handicap 11)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Rick about playing this course.

Frequently asked questions about Golf in England

What is the best links golf course in England?

Royal St George's Golf Club in Kent is considered to be the best links golf course in England. This course a regular feature on The Open Championship rota and provides a stern test for golfers with strategic bunkering and dunes framing each of the holes. While it is perhaps not the most picturesque of seaside links golf courses, it is certainly one that features highly within any Top 100 Golf Course list. Other notable links golf courses in England include the South West's St Enodoc with dramatic views matched with a very playable design that thousands of golfers enjoy each year. The East of England enjoys the likes of Hunstanton and Brancaster while the North West is home to arguably the UK's most noted Championship venue, Royal Birkdale which has held almost every amateur and professional tournament.

What is the best heathland golf course in England?

Sunningdale Golf Club, or more specifically The Old Course at Sunningdale, is regarded as England and The UK's best heathland golf course. This Surrey golfing gem has a rich golfing history ranging from Bobby Jones to Sir Nick Faldo and is a course that many seek out and tick off as part of their bucket list. Whilst the course isn't considered to be long by modern standards, it still provides a world-class challenge that when combined with lunch in the stunning clubhouse and The New Course make for an utterly unbeatable day of golf. Other top-rated heathland golf courses in England include further Surrey courses such as Hankley Common and Walton Heath as well as Lincolnshire's Woodhall Spa and Yorkshire's Lindrick, Alwoodley and Moortown.

What is the best new golf course in England?

Whilst not strictly new having opened in 2001, Queenwood Golf Club in Surrey is considered to be the best. Designed by David McLay Kidd, Queenwood has been etched out of established pine and oak trees with a sprinkling of heather to create a truly memorable golfing experience. Stand out holes include the dog-leg 10th where the green is framed by water on the right-hand side, ready to await a misplaced approach and the par-4 16th hole with its bowl green creating the chance for a ball to feed into the hole. Despite the course being private for members and their guests only, course reviews and impressions of the course are of the very highest calibre, attracting the likes of Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott as members.

More About Sam

Handicap: 4
Favourite Course: Old Head
My 'Expert' areas: St Andrews or Dublin
Best trip I've done: St Andrews Old Course, Kingsbarns & Dumbarnie Links
Where my next trip is to: Augusta to watch The Masters with my Dad

Give Sam a call on 0800 043 6644 to arrange your next golf break.

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