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.
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.
|Designed by:||Frederick G. Hawtree / J.H. Taylor|
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. The par 70 links course is one of the most popular courses on The Open Championship roster, having held the event 14 times already, Royal St George's has been named the host of The Open in 2020.
|Designed by:||Laidlaw Purves|
Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club
Royal Lytham & St Annes is another English treasure to have played to host to numerous international Championships, including The Open Championship and the Ryder Cup. This challenging links course is often considered one of the quirkier Championship venues in England, being surrounded by housing and not within view of the ocean, however, with over 200 hundred bunkers and par 3 first, the intrigue more than makes up for it.
|Location:||Lytham St Annes, Lancashire|
|Designed by:||George Lowe / Harry Colt|
Royal Liverpool Golf Club
Not surprisingly, another Open Championship host makes our list, Royal Liverpool Golf Club, or Hoylake as it is commonly known, has been steeped in history from its foundation in 1869 to more recent headlines such as Rory McIlroy's first Open win in 2014. Considered uncharacteristically flat for a link course, Royal Liverpool offers a mixture of both flat, unprotected holes at the beginning and end of its design and stunning undulating holes along the shoreline.
|Designed by:||Robert Chambers, George Morris, Harry Colt|
Sunningdale Golf Club (Old Course)
Arguably the most spectacular inland golf course in the United Kingdom, the Old Course at Sunningdale is laid out over a beautiful combination of woodland and heath, with a rich variety of trees lining the fairways. The course runs over a base of sand, lending it a links style of play, Willie Park Jr’s design is often considered a masterpiece. As a testament to this, the Sunningdale Old course is ranked 12th in Golf Digest's 'World’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses 2018', the highest of any English course.
|Designed by:||Willie Park, Jr.|
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.
|Location:||Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire|
|Designed by:||Harry Vardon|
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.
|Location:||Ganton, North Yorkshire|
|Designed by:||Tom Chisholm, Robert Bird|
Walton Heath Golf Club (Old Course)
Widely regarded as one of the best ‘inland links’ designs in the world, the Old Course at Walton Heath is a truly special golf course, with a history based in both golf and politics. Winston Churchill was a member here and regularly played the course for over 50 years, moreover, Walton Heath remains the only golf club in history to have had a British Monarch as their club captain, King Edward VIII in 1935. Fields of heather and fast, undulating greens make the Old Course a notoriously challenging track, as the European Ryder Cup team found out in 1981.
|Designed by:||Herbert Fowler|
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.
|Designed by:||Willie Park, James Braid|
Royal Cinque Ports
Two time Open Championship host, Royal Cinque Ports is one of the few courses on the idyllic Kent coast able to challenge Royal St Georges for golfing greatness. Often referred to as Deal, the course is laid out in a classic out and back design, which leaves the tricky final 7 holes playing straight into the prevailing wind. Even without the wind as a factor Royal Cinque Ports is a tough track and the challenge has got the best of many a great golfer over the years.
|Designed by:||Henry Hunter, James Braid, Sir Guy Campbell, Henry Cotton|