The Most Scenic Golf Courses in The UK
Given it’s where Golfshake chooses to call our home, we might admit to a little bias. That said, the UK has some of the most stunning golf courses on the planet. No question. No debate. The mix of coastal links layouts, glorious heavenly heathlands, and perfect parkland gems makes for some truly special destinations.
Join us as we fly through just some of our favourites.
Royal County Down
It’ll come as no surprise that Royal County Down has made this list. The course is located in Newcastle, Northern Ireland and offers stunning views of the Mourne Mountains and Dundrum Bay. You’ll likely have seen the iconic view from the par-3 4th tee back towards the mountains and clubhouse, as it’s well used across both golfing magazines and websites! What’s more, the golf course itself is often voted as the greatest on the planet. The quality of the holes and the routing is strong enough as it is, but add in the brilliant backdrop and we think it’s almost unbeatable!
St Andrews Links Trust
We’re cheating here slightly and adding the entire St Andrews Links Trust to the list! There is simply nothing as iconic as that famous walk down the 18th of The Old Course, back in towards the centre of town. We’d argue that it’s one of the most famous views in all of sports. However, from The New, Jubilee, and Eden you also play against this backdrop (albeit from slightly further away), as well as deep blue waters of St Andrews Bay. But, we’ve not mentioned perhaps our favourite view within all of the properties managed by The Links Trust. That is, the one from The Castle Course. Perched along the coastline, towering over the town, it offers brilliant and unblemished vistas back towards the Auld Grey Toun, with misty mornings creating an almost mythical magic to the area.
Royal St George's
We could have picked any of the three courses which hug the Kent coastline; Royal St George’s, Prince's, and Royal Cinque Ports. We’ve plumped for the 2021 Open venue as it offers perhaps the best view across the landscape from its elevated 5th tee box - a beautiful sight before you take on one of the most daunting par-4s on the course. There’s a magic to experiencing the course at Sandwich, particularly on a warm summer evening, knowing that a refreshing glass awaits in one of the most historic clubhouses in England.
Now for something a little different. There’s plenty of fabulous heathland courses which showcase bright purple heather, contrasting wonderfully against lush green turf. However, we’ve chosen Hollinwell for two main reasons. Firstly, it is true escapism, with a long and winding driveway taking you from the main road to the clubhouse. Secondly, there are some serious changes in elevation, giving you gorgeous glimpses across the property. Don’t be fooled into thinking the course is a quaint walkover though, in addition to being incredible pretty, Hollinwell is also incredibly tough - particularly with the heather fully in bloom.
There’s seemingly nothing that the two courses at Sunningdale can’t do. Not only are they championship ready all year round, but they’re also an absolute treat for the senses. The course winds through the Surrey woodlands, framed by bright heather and immaculately conditioned-playing surfaces. It doesn’t quite have the tranquillity of Hollinwell, but still maintains a perfectly peaceful aura to the place. Plus, the view back towards the clubhouse with the famous oak tree sat behind the 18th green on the Old Course is simply spectacular. A true golfer’s paradise.
Another Open venue, and this time back north of the border. Turnberry has long been known for its unique view of the Ailsa Craig, with its championship routing watched over by its ginormous clubhouse. Yet, it is the famous lighthouse that steals much of the limelight when it comes to imagery of this golfing Mecca. The lighthouse was recently turned into a fabulous half-way-house, and was central to the redevelopment which saw more made of the coastline, notably the 10th tee shot which now reveals a cave lying beneath the cliff top. The par-3 11th hole has also added a touch of drama, again bringing in the natural edge of the course. Making changes to any Open-rota venue definitely comes with risks, but the 2017 tweaks have only served to make Turnberry even more scenic than it was before.
Kingsbarns was opened for play in 2000 and immediately garnered a reputation for beauty. It should come as no surprise, given its raison d'etre was attracting visiting golfers playing at St Andrews up for a knock, however, this wonder is evident every year when fans see the course on display in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Of particular note is the par-3 15th hole which sees golfers play over the ocean, although with more than half of the holes playing alongside the water, it’s certainly not alone in this feat. With no members, Kingsbarns is solely-focused on the visitor experience, with the knockout power of its visuals ensuring golfers are blown away from the moment they step on property.
Located on the Island of Jura, Ardfin is a golf course truly like no other. From its tough opening par-4, the course gives you a clear demonstration of what’s to come, with a routing that hugs the rugged coastline wherever possible. The golf course itself is the centrepiece of the island, with its 5* hotel overlooking the 18th hole. Every hole here has something special, with an interesting parallel struck between the enormity of the golf course and the gargantuan effort that it took to build, with the seemingly infinite water that it looks out over. It’s a course that’s only going to grow in international reputation as more golfers visit the island, and we’d recommend taking a trip over to Jura at the first available opportunity!
Like Royal St George’s earlier, we could have picked any one of the courses down the Southport coastline. Royal Birkdale, Hillside, West Lancs and Southport & Ainsdale all present rugged beauty to the golfer. However, we’ve gone for Formby due to the variety of the layout here. Initially starting amongst the trees, the course bursts out towards the water at the turn, with the par-3 10th hole becoming in need of some reshaping given its proximity to the ever-encroaching shoreline! Like Sunningdale earlier, the clubhouse here is chocolate-box pretty, certainly when compared to the Art Deco design at Royal Birkdale, with the starting and finishing holes benefiting from this beautiful backdrop.
Our final offering is the wonderful Hankley Common, again on the Surrey Heathland. There are plenty of pretty courses in the region, with the likes of Swinley Forest, Worplesdon, and New Zealand GC all pleasing to the eye. However, Hankley Common sets itself apart through raw scale! This place is BIG and allows golfers to really pull themselves away from their day-to-day worries. The course and surrounding area are classified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest given the amount of wildlife to be found here, as well as unique fauna - with the property itself stretching over 850 acres! Whilst the course itself is only laid out over 164 acres of this, the surrounding space makes for a unique experience, something truly extraordinary; particularly given the value of land in this part of the UK!
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