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The Most Unique Golf Courses That You Can Play

By: | Mon 20 May 2024

Imagine just how boring golf would be if the game was played on a uniformly defined surface like a tennis court or snooker table. Thankfully, it's the many thousands of courses dotted across the planet that provide the sport with its character and distinctive intrigue.

Whatever the stature of the layout, and however it has been designed, good or bad, every venue you could possibly experience has its own personality. Whether it's a persona that you would particularly enjoy or wish to revisit is another thing, but that is the beauty of golf, the landscapes we play on make it special and the most enchanting of activities.

You can lose yourself on a golf course - sometimes literally. 

When you think of places to play, you may categorise them in terms of the challenge they offer, the scenery, or the style of the architecture, but we're rather drawn to those little corners of paradise that are genuinely unique, standing a little bit apart from everything else on the menu.

These are the courses that you will remember - and here are just some of the most original you can visit in the UK.

Painswick Golf Club

Painswick Golf Club

Located in the Cotswolds, Painswick has been laid out on the remnants of an Iron Age fort that dates back more than 3,000 years ago.

When you're playing here - and consuming the vistas across Gloucestershire and towards the mountainous peaks of Wales - you will encounter many blind shots and ancient defensive walls of earth and stone that surround all or part of the 5th, 6th, 7th, 10th and 11th holes on this striking layout that measures under 5,000 yards.

Shiskine Golf Club

This may have once been a hidden gem, but it's far too well-publicised for that status these days, and for very good reason, as the stunning Isle of Arran is home to one of the jewels of Scottish golf. 

It's a course that is full of charm, providing a truly quintessential sample of the game at its purest, but what makes Shiskine stand out is that it only consists of 12 holes.

Some have postulated that this is the ideal length of round - and it is undeniably perfect at Shiskine.

Nefyn & District Golf Club


There are 27 holes at Nefyn, but we're focusing on the old nine that are aptly referred to as The Point, where you will play along a narrow peninsula that leads to the small coastal village of Porthdinllaen.

It's a feast for the senses - and a test of your game when the wind blows, but it's something that you'll forever savour and creates memories that those who have visited the Old Head at Kinsale in Ireland will relate to.

Church Stretton Golf Club

Church Stretton

Positioned way up in the Shropshire Hills, Church Stretton is one of the highest courses in the UK and is a visual treat. But this place offers more than just pretty pictures, as its layout is enthralling to play, with its start of three consecutive par threes serving as one of the more unique configurations that we've seen on a scorecard.

Back in 2020, Golfshake Ambassador Mel Davies played here, and he wrote: "I really feel I could just walk round here without my clubs and be gobsmacked with every step I take."

Bramshaw Golf Club (Forest Course)

The Forest Course at Bramshaw has been laid out across common ground in the New Forest, sitting within the boundaries of the National Park. When you're playing golf here, your progress will be tracked by roaming ponies, deer and other animals who call these fairways home. 

Golfshake Ambassador Rob Treanor played here and reflected: "This is wild golf, raw and untamed. Playing the same as it was 150 years ago, the experience is much more in tune with the natural surrounds of the forest than today’s generic setups. That authenticity is what gives the place its charm. Encounters with all manner of creatures await, who stand by wondering what curious game is being played on their land. A rare and unique level of purity to the game is on offer here."

Cleeve Hill Golf Club

During the dark days of the pandemic, the future of Cleeve Hill was in doubt, but it was thankfully saved after a public campaign, which has brought this unforgettable course to wider prominence.

The course rests on the highest point of the Cotswolds, and it's as natural as they come. Sheep and cows stroll around this Old Tom Morris original that was later rumoured to be revised by Dr Alister MacKenzie. The livestock are also keen greenkeepers, even if they lack some element of finesse in their work.

Whether its purported origins are entirely accurate depends on how much of a believer you are, but renowned course architect Tom Doak was charmed by it when he wrote: "Above all, here is a chance to appreciate golf as you may never have understood it - an energising walk over glorious open countryside, with some unique hazards to overcome along the way. And the scruffy "natural" maintenance also means that it’s incredibly cheap to play. Indeed, there are few courses remaining today that present the sport as it was originally envisioned more clearly than Cleeve [Hill]."

Cullen Links Golf Club

Way up on the Moray Coast of Scotland, Cullen Links is a charismatic layout to play, but it has one hazard that you most likely won't have encountered anywhere else.

Huge red sandstone rock formations are in play, with golfers being required to play over and around them on holes 11, 12, 13 and 14. 

That alone is worth the trip to enjoy a brilliant stretch of golfing coastline.

Royal West Norfolk Golf Club

Commonly known as Brancaster, Royal West Norfolk is a spectacular links that ranks among the finest in England, with the North Sea on one side and the saltmarsh on the other, providing an enveloping frame that makes for a fabulous setting.

But what establishes this place as unique isn't the undoubted quality of the design - it's that the club is inaccessible at high tide!

Sutton Bridge Golf Club

Sat next to the River Nene in South Lincolnshire, Sutton Bridge Golf Club is located within an abandoned Victorian Era dock basin. Wait, what?

When it was opened back in 1881, three ships sailed into the basin, only before being forced to make a rapid retreat after the walls began to collapse. They escaped and the place was left to rest for decades - until some wise minds decided to create a golf course, where seven of the nine holes play along or over the walls.

Show us another layout that is like this?!

Llanymynech Golf Club

Future Masters champion, world number one and Ryder Cup legend Ian Woosnam's revered golfing journey began on this course that straddles the border between Wales and England.

And that is the whole point behind its unique reputation. As the club website states: "You can play your golf in two separate countries: Tee off on the 4th in Wales and putt out in England. The 5th and 6th holes are in England you are then cordially welcomed back into Wales on the 7th tee."

Berkhamsted Golf Club

If you don't like bunkers, then you need to visit Berkhamsted, where there aren't any! Despite the lack of sand, the hazards here are plentiful, as you will encounter heather, gorse and trees, making this naturally defined layout a properly testing one.

This remains an endearing course in Hertfordshire - and it's one of the most celebrated in the county.

The Old Course at St Andrews

When it comes to unique golf landscapes, there aren't any more famous than The Old Course at St Andrews. With its seven double greens and various other features like deep bunkers and the fearsome Road Hole, you will quite simply play shots here that you wouldn't on any other golf course. You can also play it in reverse.

Not only is it a place bustling with history and legend, but it's a layout unlike anything you will experience elsewhere.

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