The UK's Best Golf Courses

Offering a rich mix of historic links and pristine parkland courses, the UK is one of the world’s most exciting golfing destinations.

The summer months are the perfect time to be planning your next golf trip, with the UK’s courses in peak condition. To help you decide where to go, here is our guide to the country’s finest 18s.

Royal County Down
The Royal County Down course boasts stunning mountain views
Image credit: Andrew Reddington/Getty Images 

Royal County Down - Newcastle, Northern Ireland

Best for: Golfing Challenge

Royal County Down has topped US magazine Golf Digest’s ranking of the world’s 100 greatest courses in two of the last four years. It is easy to see why. Nestled beneath the Mountains of Mourne, overlooking the Bay of Dundrum, the layout flows effortlessly through marram grass-covered dunes – as much a tribute to Mother Nature herself as the legendary golf course architect, Old Tom Morris, who designed it in 1890. Of the many memorable holes, the 486-yard par four 9th is a particular highlight. Standing on the tee box, players cannot see the fairway and instead must use the distant peak of Slieve Donard, Northern Ireland’s highest mountain, as their target. With a whole host of ‘blind’ shots like this, guidance from a caddie will be invaluable in helping you shoot your best score. 

Green fee range: £90-£280, plus £40 caddie fee

Swilcan Bridge

The famous stone Swilcan Bridge can be found on the 18th hole of the Old Course
Image credit: Education Images/Getty Images

The Old Course – St Andrews, Scotland

Best for: History and prestige

The Old Course at St Andrews is unquestionably the UK’s most iconic golf course. Known as the ‘home of golf’, it was on this hallowed ground that the game was first played more than 600 years ago, and in the centuries since, the course has hosted more Open Championships than any other. Situated on the east coast of Scotland, the conditions here are famously blustery. To score well you must use the terrain to your advantage, keeping the ball low to the ground where it cannot be buffeted by the winds whipping in off the North Sea. Getting a tee time for the Old Course is easier than you might think – nearly half are allocated by way of a public ballot, drawn two days ahead of play. But if you are planning to visit St Andrews on a weekend, bear in mind that the course still upholds a centuries-old tradition of closing to golfers on Sundays, when it becomes a public park.  

Green fee range: £95-£195 

Sunningdale Old Course
In summer purple heather blooms, bringing an explosion of colour to Sunningdale Old Course
Image credit: Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

Sunningdale Old Course – Berkshire, England

Best for: Natural beauty

Sunningdale Old Course is arguably the most beautiful golf course in our guide – which is really saying something. Cut through a forest of pine, oak and silver birch trees – its sweeping, emerald-green fairways are punctuated by artfully placed bunkers filled with golden sand and offset during the summer months by the purple haze of blooming heather. As is typical of classic course design like this, the large undulating greens utilise the topography, rewarding only the most carefully weighted putts. Sunningdale New sits right alongside its older sibling, and the two courses combined represent probably the most magnificent double-header anywhere in the world – so it is worth pushing the boat out and playing both if you can. Be sure to call into the halfway hut to try one of its famous sausage rolls.  

Green fee: £275 

Royal Birkdales
Royal Birkdale’s picturesque 12th hole
Image credit: David Cannon/R&A/Getty Images

Royal Birkdale – Southport, England

Best for: The pure links experience

Royal Birkdale has hosted The Open on 10 occasions and enjoys a reputation as the fairest of the 14 links on the rota. That is not to say the play here is easy: keep the ball in the fairway and the course will offer up birdie opportunities aplenty, but deviate left or right and you will struggle to make pars. The towering dunes that punish wayward shots are some of the tallest in the country, creating narrow fairway corridors that open out onto putting greens characterised by their many humps and hollows. The 183-yard par three 12th hole is widely regarded as Birkdale’s most handsome. This requires a precise tee shot to a narrow green guarded by two pot-hole bunkers, with a steep run-off from the front edge and mounds of thick rough to the rear and either side. As English links experiences go, it doesn’t get any purer.

Green fee range: £185-£275

Celtic Manor

Beware of the water hazards on The Twenty Ten Course at Celtic Manor
Image credit: Getty Images/Andrew Reddington

The Twenty Ten Course – Newport, Wales

Best for: The resort experience
The youngest of our featured courses by over a century, The Twenty Ten Course at Celtic Manor was built specifically to host the 2010 Ryder Cup, which saw Team Europe triumph over a star-studded Team USA, whose ranks included Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and current world number one Dustin Johnson. 

The layout provides a stern test of a golfer’s mettle: there are water hazards on half of the holes, creating a host of risk-reward scoring opportunities that are both seductive and perilous in equal measure. While the course itself is undoubtedly of the highest quality, one of the main attractions of The Twenty Ten is the resort on which it is located. Set in 2,000 acres of idyllic Welsh countryside, there are two hotels on-site, spa and fitness facilities, and outdoor activities such as archery, as well as a further two championship-calibre courses. And there are great golf break packages available.

Green fee range: £96-187