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Best Golf Courses in England

Best of Golf from the experts in Golf Holidays

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 >>

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.

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Quick facts about Royal Birkdale

Location: Southport, Merseyside
Length: 7,156 yards
Par: 70
Designed by: Frederick G. Hawtree / J.H. Taylor
Established: 1889
Where to stay: Southport

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.

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Quick facts about Royal St George's

Location: Sandwich, Kent
Length: 7,204 yards
Par: 70
Designed by: Laidlaw Purves
Established: 1887
Where to stay: Kent

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.

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Quick facts about Royal Lytham & St Annes

Location: Lytham St Annes, Lancashire
Length: 7,118 yards
Par: 70
Designed by: George Lowe / Harry Colt
Established: 1886
Where to stay: Southport

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.

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Quick facts about Royal Liverpool

Location: Hoylake, Wirral
Length: 7,218 yards
Par: 72
Designed by: Robert Chambers, George Morris, Harry Colt
Established: 1869
Where to stay: Southport

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.

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Quick facts about Sunningdale

Location: Sunningdale, Berkshire
Length: 6,627 yards
Par: 70
Designed by: Willie Park, Jr.
Established: 1900
Where to stay: Kingswood

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.

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Quick facts about Woodhall Spa

Location: Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire
Length: 7,080 yards
Par: 73
Designed by: Harry Vardon
Established: 1905
Where to stay: Inn at Woodhall Spa

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.

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Quick facts about Ganton Golf Club

Location: Ganton, North Yorkshire
Length: 7,016 yards
Par: 72
Designed by: Tom Chisholm, Robert Bird
Established: 1891
Where to stay: Leeds or York

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.

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Quick facts about Walton Heath

Location: Walton-on-the-Hill, Surrey
Length: 7,462 yards
Par: 72
Designed by: Herbert Fowler
Established: 1903
Where to stay: Surrey

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.

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Quick facts about Formby Golf Club

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

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.

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Quick facts about Royal Cinque Ports

Location: Deal, Kent
Length: 7,245 yards
Par: 71
Designed by: Henry Hunter, James Braid, Sir Guy Campbell, Henry Cotton
Established: 1892
Where to stay: Kent

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.