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Hardest Golf Courses in England

from the Experts in Golf Travel

✍️ Rick Wilton | ⏰ 10 min read

Play the Toughest Golf Courses in England

Golf, undoubtedly, is a demanding sport. Consider the task at hand - striking a small ball with a clubhead moving at high speed. It necessitates a wide range of motor skills and extensive practice. Yet, even with dedicated effort, mastery remains elusive.

These courses are widely regarded as some of the hardest rated you will ever encounter. Are you ready to test your abilities and compete against the toughest courses out there?

It is often the difficulty and intricacy of the golf course that brings the most satisfaction to golfers. We take pleasure in the fact that golf is a demanding pursuit.

If you decide to tee it up at any of the courses listed below, you will undoubtedly experience the joy and satisfaction that comes with a challenging game of golf.

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Golf Course Ratings - The Hardest in England

Toughest Courses for Men
Rockliffe Hall | 7,877 yards, 79.3 rating
Royal Liverpool | 7,341 yards, 77.1 rating
Royal Cinque Ports | 7,381 yards, 76.9 rating
Royal Lytham & St Annes | 7,091 yards, 76.5 rating
The Belfry: Brabazon | 7,255 yards, 76.5 rating
Royal Birkdale | 7,139 yards, 76.4 rating
Notts (Hollinwell) | 7,250 yards, 76.2 rating
Chart Hills | 7,124 yards, 76.2 rating
Formby | 6,815 yards, 74.7 rating
Woodbury Park The Oaks | 7,314 yards, 76.1 rating

Toughest Courses for Women
Notts (Hollinwell) | 6,550 yards, 79.8 rating
Southport & Ainsdale | 6,389 yards, 79.5 rating
Royal Birkdale | 6,363 yards, 79.1 rating
Royal St Georges | 6,630 yards, 78.8 rating
Royal Liverpool | 6,331 yards, 78.7 rating
Royal Cinque Ports | 6,411 yards, 78.6 rating
Burnham & Berrow | 6,475 yards, 78.5 rating
Perranporth | 6,293 yards, 78.4 rating
Wallasey | 6,306 yards, 78.1 rating
Caldy | 6,411 yards, 78.1 rating

Rockliffe Hall Hotel, Golf & Spa

Rockliffe Hall has established itself as a premier golfing destination in northern England, renowned for its unique 18-hole course that seamlessly blends with the surrounding natural landscape.

The Martin Hawtree golf course extends to 7,877 yards making it one of the longest in Europe but five distinct sets of tees help make it playable by golfers of all abilities.

Book a golf break to Rockliffe Hall or Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to one of our golf experts.

Reasons to Visit Rockliffe Hall

  • Five Star accommodation overlooking scenic countryside
  • Designed by Martin Hawtree & Marc Westenborg
  • Luxury Spa & 3AA Rosette restaurant

What our golf experts think

❝The eye watering course rating of 79.3 for men means a scratch golfer having a decent round would be seven over par! I think I would be happy with a sub 90 round or maybe not play off the back tees.❞
Oliver (Marketing: Handicap 1)

Royal Liverpool

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.

Hoylake possess the ability to captivate with its beauty, inspire with its challenges, and even intimidate when the wind howls and the rough grows thick during the summer. This course was designed to provide a rigorous examination of golfing skills and continues to do so to this day.

Book a golf break to Royal Liverpool or Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to one of our golf experts.

Reasons to Visit Royal Liverpool

  • Hosted The Open 12 times
  • Less than 30 minutes from Liverpool
  • Women's British Open, Walker Cup & Curtis Cup host

What our golf experts think

❝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)

Royal Cinque Ports

Royal Cinque Ports, also known as Deal, has been chosen to host the prestigious Open Championship twice. Taking place in 1909 and 1920, showcasing the world's top golfers. This remarkable course is a perfect blend of ruggedness and charm.

Its distinctive character is largely attributed to the majestic sand dunes that tower alongside the immaculate fairways, making it a challenge to find a level lie.

Book a golf break to Royal Cinque Ports or Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to one of our golf experts.

Reasons to Visit Royal Cinque Ports

  • Two times Open Championship Host
  • Sculpted by renowned architects James Braid & Henry Cotton
  • Ranked in the Top 20 Golf Courses in England

What our golf experts think

❝The best advice I can give for playing Royal Cinque Ports is to 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)

Royal Lytham & St Annes

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

Enthusiasts of links golf will surely be mesmerized by the wind-blown landscape at Lytham. The championship seaside course is on par with the top options along the English coastline, making it a notable attraction on any golfing trip to the famous Southport region.

Book a golf break to Royal Lytham & St Annes or Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to one of our golf experts.

Reasons to Visit Royal Lytham & St Annes

  • Hosted The Open 11 times
  • Hosted 2 Ryder Cups & 5 Women's British Opens
  • Ranked in the Top 10 Golf Courses in England

What our golf experts think

❝Not entirely sure why but starting off with a par-3 really lulls you into a false sense of security around the ease of the challenge that lies ahead.❞
Oliver (Marketing: Handicap 1)

Notts (Hollinwell)

Notts Golf Club, commonly referred to as Hollinwell, has been the esteemed venue for numerous prestigious professional and amateur tournaments. The course stands out as a precious treasure and not only offers a delightful blend of challenge and fairness, but also offers outstanding practice facilities.

Set in the gently rolling hills of Nottinghamshire, in the heart of Robin Hood County, Hollinwell offers one of the very finest examples of heathland golf in the UK & Ireland.

Book a golf break to Notts (Hollinwell) or Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to one of our golf experts.

Reasons to Visit Notts (Hollinwell)

  • Designed by Willie Park and J.H. Taylor
  • Open Championship Final Qualifying course
  • Strecthes to 7,200 yards from the back tees

What our golf experts think

❝The real test is how accurate you need to be off the tee! The 11th for example, a great par 4 up the hill, at one point is only 15 yards wide, that's US Open tough!❞
Tom (UK & Ireland Team: Handicap 6)

Southport & Ainsdale

There are numerous elements that contribute to the esteemed reputation of Southport and Ainsdale as a venue. Notable among them are its prestigious history of hosting the Ryder Cup twice and the renowned design by James Braid.

This classic links course, situated by the seaside, demands a high level of precision and accuracy from golfers. The experience becomes even more enchanting as players are graced with the invigorating presence of a cool sea breeze drifting in from the Irish Sea.

Book a golf break to Southport & Ainsdale or Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to one of our golf experts.

Reasons to Visit Southport & Ainsdale

  • 2-time Ryder Cup Host
  • Designed by 5-time Open Champion James Braid
  • Women's Open & Amateur Championship host

What our golf experts think

❝Unusually, Southport and Ainsdale opens with a short hole, so make sure you sharpen you iron play on the range before teeing off.❞
Sam (UK & Ireland Team: Handicap 1)


The Championship course, with its par 72 layout, offers a thrilling experience for golfers of all levels. Situated atop the cliffs and surrounded by dunes, players can enjoy breathtaking vistas of the Atlantic coastline.

Perranporth features seven blind drives and several blind or semi-blind approach shots, which can present a number of challenges, particularly for those playing the links course for the first time or when the ground is firm and speedy.

Book a golf break to Perranporth or Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to one of our golf experts.

Reasons to Visit Perranporth

  • Awe-inspiring views over the Atlantic
  • Designed by 5-time Open Champion James Braid
  • Stretches to over 6,700 yards from the championship tees

What our golf experts think

❝If you have the chance then walk the course before playing it or play with someone who knows the course as the blind shots can cause high scoring.❞
Rick (Marketing: Handicap 11)

Chart Hills

Faldo's inaugural architectural endeavor in the United Kingdom, this remarkable masterpiece in Kent has garnered extensive praise and is renowned for its equitable test for golfers of varying skill levels.

Collaborating with American designer Steve Smyers, Faldo has skillfully crafted a grand championship course amidst the picturesque countryside of the Garden of England.

Book a golf break to Chart Hills or Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to one of our golf experts.

Reasons to Visit Chart Hills

  • Designed by 6-time Major Winner, Sir Nick Faldo & Steve Smyers
  • Stretches to over 7,100 yards from the back tees
  • Rated as a top course in Kent

What our golf experts think

❝Practice your bunker shots before playing here & not just green side bunker play, you are bound to find sand at some point in your round here.❞
Sam (UK & Ireland Team: Handicap 1)

Royal Birkdale

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.

While the North West of England boasts numerous outstanding courses, Royal Birkdale sets itself apart by providing a one-of-a-kind golfing experience, thanks to its rich history of hosting prestigious tournaments.

Book a golf break to Royal Birkdale or Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to one of our golf experts.

Reasons to Visit Royal Birkdale

  • Hosted The Open 10 times
  • 2 Ryder Cups, & 6 Women's British Opens
  • Measures over 7,100 yards from the back tees

What our golf experts think

❝A big recommend would be to stay out of the rough, as it is impossible to get out of and makes you realise how good the pro’s are at recovering from these situations. I ended up at around 12 over in the end.❞
Ryan (UK & Ireland Team: Handicap 5)

More About Rick

Handicap: 11
Favourite Course: Chiltern Forest
My 'Expert' areas: Kent & the Home Counties
Best trip I've done: Dubai with golf & Rugby 7's
Where my next trip is to: Ireland along the Wild Atlantic Way

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

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