Golf World Top 100: Fun golf courses in Great Britain and Ireland

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Which golf courses are the most fun to play in Great Britain and Ireland? The Golf World Top 100 panel ranks the most enjoyable experiences.

1. North Berwick, East Lothian, Scotland

2. St Andrews (Old Course), Fife, Scotland

3. Cruden Bay, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

4. Royal West Norfolk, Norfolk, England

5. Prestwick, Ayrshire, Scotland

6. Royal Dornoch, Highlands, Scotland

7. Pennard, South Wales, Wales

8. Cruit Island, Donegal, Ireland

9. Perranporth, Cornwall, England

10. Shiskine, Argyll, Scotland

Jump to the fun golf courses ranking

100-76 | 75-51 | 50-26 | 25-11 | 10-1

Machrihanish Dunes is among the most fun golf courses to play in Great Britain and Ireland.

Welcome to the Golf World Top 100 Fun Courses in Great Britain and Ireland

I know a lot of you will love playing in your club’s competitions and plenty more will relish taking on a friend in a fierce matchplay contest, but my wholly unresearched prediction is that the majority play golf to have fun. For entertainment. To put a smile on your face during and after the round.

Identifying the 100 courses in GB&I most likely to do just that must be a ranking most will agree is a worthy task. I am hopeful we have succeeded in this ambition, and that while there is variety among the type of courses – which I am pleased about, as it would’ve been tedious to be just a list of quirky, short links – the common theme is that they have ingredients that encourage entertainment.

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What constitutes a fun course is a question that could take up several pages. I asked our panel to suggest what made a course fun for them,
and by way of a hint as to the sort of courses you’ll see in this list, here are some of their thoughts: “A sense of intrigue and adventure, a little bit of the unknown”. “Clever use of slopes, green positioning and well-placed hazards, rather than heavy rough. Usually shorter than average”. “Short walks from green to tee, quick to play”. “A ‘good shot’ does not always end up in the perfect position”. “Do I want to return there soon?”

Not only is Rye one of the most fun golf courses to play in Great Britain and Ireland, it's one of the best links.

A key debate around ‘what is fun’ surrounds whether courses that host championships and are thus stringent enough to test the strongest players should be considered. We debated this at length, and we have included them – well, some. So you will find some courses that host Opens, because our panel still find them fun to play. I fully accept in inclement weather or off back tees, these courses can easily not be much fun. But they got plenty of votes from golfers with mid-handicaps, so it felt correct to include them.

What’s more, our No.1 hosts Open qualifying and I doubt many would suggest it is not fun, so where do you draw the line? So there are courses in that host championships, albeit in lower slots than they are usually found in recognition of their exacting aspects. There is pleasing geographical spread to the entries – not by design, just a happy coincidence. It means there will be fun courses to enjoy wherever you live in GB&I.

I hope you have fun discovering the 100 we have selected and, more importantly, playing some of them.

As always, we welcome your feedback on all of our rankings and know that everyone will have an opinion on their favourite's position. We'd love to hear from you via email, on TwitterFacebook or Instagram.

Chris Bertram, Golf World Top 100 Editor 

What is the Golf World Top 100?

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Royal St George's, our No.1 course in England, is among the most enjoyable courses to play in Great Britain and Ireland.

Meet the Golf World Top 100 Fun Golf Courses panel

Mike Bailey, Chris BertramPeter Bosworth, Sam Cooper, Olle Dahlgren, Phil Davies Nick Dungay, Simon Haines, Clyde Johnson, Paul MacMichael, Kevin Markham, Alan McPherson, Douglas Mill, Darius Oliver, Susie Robertson, Ben Sargent, Neal Stewart, Dai Thomas.

THINK YOU SHOULD BE ON THE PANEL? Get in touch with us, here

Cullen is one of the Golf World Top 100 Fun Courses in Great Britain and Ireland.

How we ranked the best fun golf courses

We wanted creating the list to be fun – so that meant the worthy but laborious process of marking courses was axed. Instead, identifying the 100 and the order was all about intuition and heart.

Panellists listed courses they felt were most fun in groups (starting with a top 10) then the ‘nominations’ collated to provide the list. This information is detailed in each entry, as are names of other fun courses to play nearby, to help you create a trip.

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Golf World Top 100: Fun Golf Courses - 100-76

Scrabo is one of the best fun golf courses in Great Britain and Ireland.

100. Scrabo

Newtownards, Down, Northern Ireland

Nominated Twice Top 10 Once Other Top 100s None Also play Ardglass, RCD (Annesley), Clandeboye (Ava)

Completely wild and unpredictable, rambling over and around a gorse-drenched hillside, with mostly straightforward greens at the end of natural, bumpy fairways. There’s a rawness and excitement to Scrabo that sets it apart and elevates it. A real adrenaline rush.

99. Musselburgh (Old)

Musselburgh, East Lothian, Scotland

Nominated 4 times Top 10 Once Other Top 100s None Also play Gullane (No.3), Kilspindie, Winterfield

We freely admit that we are seduced a bit by the history of Musselburgh, and why it’s not more revered is a mystery to us. Get your half-set in a sugar bag and on a summer’s evening, this is absolutely perfect.

98 Borth & Ynyslas

Borth, West Coast of Wales, Wales

Nominated 4 times Top 10 Once Other Top 100s Wales Also play Aberdovey, Nefyn

Oozes charm and authenticity. This West Wales links is playable seaside golf in the raw with all the classic, enjoyable features.

97. Leven

Leven, Fife, Scotland

Nominated 5 times Top 10 0 times Other Top 100s Scotland, GB&I Links Also play Lundin, Dumbarnie, Crail, Kingsbarns

The last hole apart – a serious par 4 that feels like a 5 – this is all about bouncy fairways running between dune ridges. Quintessential Scottish links.

Hayling is one of the most enjoyable golf courses to play in Great Britain and Ireland.

96. Hayling

Hayling Island, Hampshire, England

Nominated 5 times Top 10 0 times Other Top 100s England, GB&I Links Also play Liphook, Blackmoor

Really, really, really good links. If you haven’t played here, you are missing out. Some world-class links holes on a course that is rising in our English ranking and gives you enough back to be definitely fun.

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95. Clandeboye (Ava)

Newtownards, Down, Northern Ireland

Nominated 4 times Top 10 Once Other Top 100s None Also play Scrabo, Ardglass, RCD (Annesley)

It’s the 2nd course at Clandeboye, and a short, short par 70. Accuracy is key. A couple of the dog-legs are sensational and you have so much choice in what you play. Small greens, lots of elevation changes. There are seven par 4s under 330 yards and a collections of excellent short holes.

Lundin is one of the most fun golf courses to play in Great Britain and Ireland.

94. Lundin

Lundin, Fife, Scotland

Nominated 6 times Top 10 0 times Other Top 100s Scotland, GB&I Links Also play Leven, Crail, Dumbarnie, Kingsbarns

It might be an Open qualifier, but it doesn’t beat you up. Some terrific short holes and sporty par 4s on a classy links with bags of character. The 2nd hole is one of Fife’s finest, strategic and nicely testing.

93. Church Stretton  

Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England

Nominated 6 times Top 10 0 times Other Top 100s GB&I £60 & Under Also play Welshpool, Beau Desert

This James Braid design looks immense and has some fabulous features and holes to go with the scenery. Quirky and picturesque is not a bad combination.

Ballybunion's Cashen course is one of the most fun to play in Great Britain and Ireland.

92. Ballybunion (Cashen)

Ballybunion, Kerry, Ireland

Nominated 6 times Top 10 0 times Other Top 100s None Also play Lahinch, Spanish Bay, Tralee

Raucous links that is the naughty little sister to the fabled Old. Can be a serious test in a breeze, otherwise it would be higher because this explosive Trent Jones links is so much fun in calm conditions.

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91. Spey Bay

Moray, Highlands, Scotland

Nominated 5 times Top 10 Once Other Top 100s None Also play Cullen, Fortrose, Brora, Dornoch

A quintessential hidden gem on the Moray coast. Rippling fairways, luscious links turf, waves crashing nearby.

90. North West

Lisfannon, Donegal, Ireland

Nominated 5 times Top 10 Once Other Top 100s Ireland Also play Rosapenna (Old Tom), Dunfanaghy

A terrific find in Donegal, this unassuming seaside course has all the aspects we love about links – including a par 3 of fewer than 100 yards that will charm and challenge you in equal measure.

89. Traigh 

Arisaig, Highlands, Scotland

Nominated 4 times Top 10 Once Other Top 100s None Also play Askernish

The views to Skye are utterly breathtaking, as is the first tee shot to a par 3 green perched in the sky.

Beau Desert is one of the most fun golf courses to play in Great Britain and Ireland.

88. Beau Desert

Cannock, Staffordshire, England

Nominated 6 times Top 10 0 times Other Top 100s England Also play South Staffs, Enville x2, Whitt Heath

Gets in the list because of its fun green complexes, because it is certainly true this is a serious heathland test from tee to green – one good enough to be threatening our GB&I Top 100 list. But there’s enough quirk on and around the putting surfaces for this classy heathland to get in.

87. Minchinhampton Old

Stroud, Gloucestershire, England

Nominated 5 times Top 10 Once Other Top 100s GB&I £60 & Under Also play Painswick, Cleeve, Kington

This is lie-of-the land golf as the game began, with cattle, horses and sheep for company. That won’t appeal to everyone but if it’s rustic golf you favour, you’ll love it – and we certainly do.

86. Anstruther  

Anstruther, Fife, Scotland

Nominated 5 times Top 10 Once Other Top 100s None Also play Crail, Kingsbarns, Leven, Lundin

Fun Fife nine-holer featuring the world-famous par-3 5th hole – the ‘Rockies’ is a dog-leg to an elevated green. The story goes that Tiger Woods once flew over it in a helicopter and simply shook his head.

85. Isle of Purbeck

Swanage, Dorset, England

Nominated 6 times Top 10 0 times Other Top 100s England Also play Ferndown, Parkstone, Broadstone

Views over Brownsea Island, Bournemouth and the Solent are outstanding but there is more to this Dorset course than just that, with lots of fine holes. Investment in the course is poised to make it even better.

Nefyn is one of the most fun golf courses to play in Great Britain and Ireland.

84. Nefyn 

Nefyn, west coast of Wales, Wales

Nominated 5 times Top 10 Once Other T100s Wales, GB&I £60 & Under, X Factor Also play Abersoch, Pwllheli

Yes, it can be a battle to keep your ball under control in a breeze here, and that’s not the greatest fun. But on calm days, whacking around on Nefyn’s clifftops is gloriously entertaining!

83. Lanark

Lanark, Lanarkshire, Scotland

Nominated 6 times Top 10 0 times Other Top 100s Scotland, GB&I £60 & Under Also play East Renfrewshire

Moorland course of real character. We love the variety to the holes, the use of the landscape and the cool green complexes. Don’t dare drive past it on the M74 again...

82. Strandhill

Strandhill, Sligo, Ireland

Nominated 5 times Top 10 Once Other Top 100s Ireland Also play Donegal courses are within reach

We’ve enjoyed it for years and always feel we could do a better job of promoting it because it really is the real deal. If West Kilbride sums up a Scottish links, Strandhill is an Irish links all over. Super routing through dunes.

Hindhead is one of the most fun golf courses to play in Great Britain and Ireland.

81. Hindhead

Hindhead, Surrey, England

Nominated 6 times Top 10 0 times Other Top 100s England Also play Sunningdale Heath, Woking

The adventure of its front nine gets this distinctive Surrey heathland into this list, with holes set down in a valley sculpted by a glacier in the Ice Age. The elevation change that produces leads to some dramatic holes that are so much fun.

80. West Kilbride

Seamill, Ayrshire, Scotland

Nominated 6 times Top 10 0 times Other Top 100s Scotland, GB&I £60 & Under, Links Also play Troon municipals, Turnberry (Ailsa)

Think of a pure Scottish links and this is pretty much what comes to mind. Expect a slow-ish start but really so much to like. We’d like to have Irvine in here too because it has some brilliant holes but also some stringent ones.

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79. Arklow

Arklow, Wicklow, Ireland

Nominated 5 times Top 10 Once Other Top 100s None Also play Tulfarris, Macreddin, Woodenbridge

A par 70 on mostly level ground with five lovely par 3s and subtle, sweet movements over fairways. Greens are huge amounts of fun but also tricky, with the 14th being a highlight (naturally slopes away from you). You love just about every shot you face.

78. Isle of Harris

Scarista, Outer Hebrides, Scotland

Nominated 5 times Top 10 Once Other Top 100s None Also play Askernish

Charming nine-holer with views to die for, many of the greens lie in natural bowls. The links is lined by the white sands and turquoise waters of the Hebrides.

77. Sunningdale Heath

Sunningdale, Surrey, England

Nominated 5 times Top 10 Once Other Top 100s None Also play Reigate Heath, Woking

Formerly known as Sunningdale Ladies, this Harry Colt heathland is enjoying a renaissance on and off the course. Classic par 3s and sporty 4s that are playable but ask for all the clubs in your bag.

West Cornwall is one of the most fun golf courses to play in Great Britain and Ireland.

76. West Cornwall

St Ives, Cornwall, England

Nominated 5 times Top 10 Once Other Top 100s GB&I £60 & Under Also play Perranporth, St Enodoc (Church)

Comprises blind shots, undulating fairways and super green complexes as a result of its minimalist design, with the course feeling so authentic and natural.

Golf World Top 100: Fun Golf Courses - 75-51

75. Liphook

Liphook, Hampshire, England

Nominated 6 times Top 10 0 times Other Top 100s GB&I, England Also play Blackmoor, Hayling

Liphook has some ‘straight away’ holes that don’t immediately scream fun, but in its par 3s especially it has some real highlights...holes that require thought and touch.

Crail is one of the most fun golf courses to play in Great Britain and Ireland.

74. Crail (Balcomie)

Crail, Fife, Scotland

Nominated 6 times Top 10 0 times Other Top 100s Scotland, GB&I £60 & Under Also play St Andrews (Old), Himalayas, Crail

Offers something different from Fife’s out and out pure links. Set down on the edge of cliffs and asks for thrilling shots to avoid the rocks; exhilarating fun.

73. Seacroft

Skegness, Lincolnshire, England

Nominated 6 times Top 10 0 times Other Top 100s England, GB&I £60 & Under Also play North Shore

Subtle links laid out on, over and alongside dune ridges that make for clever holes and impressive variety. Perfect fun-test ratio.

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72. Silloth on Solway

Silloth, Cumbria, England

Nominated 5 times Top 10 Once, Other Top 100s World, GB&I, England, Also play Seascale, Windermere, Penrith

Great debate about whether it should be in as it is a proper, proper test. But the variety of holes plus the routing and use of dunes is so perfect we forgot about the bogeys we’ve made there. We just focused on the joy.

71. Golspie  

Golspie, Highlands, Scotland

Nominated 6 times Top 10 0 times Other Top 100s Scotland Also play Brora, Durness, Fortrose & Rosemarkie

Three phases on a Highland course that is gaining in reputation. The links holes are the pick, but the heathland ones aren’t far behind and the woodland section is hardly weak. Taken together, a round to remember. 

The Castle Course at St Andrews is one of the most fun golf courses to play in Great Britain and Ireland.

70. St Andrews (Castle)

St Andrews, Fife, Scotland

Nominated 6 times Top 10 0 times Other Top 100s GB&I, Scotland, X Factor Also play St Andrews Old, Himalayas, Crail

Divides opinion more than its envelope-pushing design by David McLay Kidd ought to, for some reason. We like it more than most and, with an objective mind, are sure you will too. Epic views and some funky holes.

The Valley course at Royal Portrush is one of the most fun golf courses to play in Great Britain and Ireland.

69. Royal Portrush (Valley)  

Portrush, Antrim, Northern Ireland 

Nominated 6 times Top 10 0 times Other Top 100s Ireland, £60 & Under, GB&I Links Also play Castlerock (Bann), Ballycastle

Lost some prime linksland to the main course for its new Open-hosting holes, but somehow got better thanks to a quiet Martin Ebert overhaul. Its par 3s are exceptionally good as per a course touched by Harry Colt and this is a links that’s now on the verge of Ireland’s top 30.

68. Rye

Rye, Sussex, England 

Nominated 6 times Top 10 0 times Other Top 100s GB&I, GB&I Links, England Also play Littlehampton

Harry Colt classic works the ridges of this Sussex seaside terrain brilliantly to produce a course of character that while testing to all, is never anything but a pleasure. Some of this list’s finest short holes and a wonderful atmosphere to a timeless links that has enduring charm and appeal.

Castlerock is one of the most fun golf courses to play in Great Britain and Ireland.

67. Castlerock (Bann)

Castlerock, Derry, Northern Ireland 

Nominated 5 times Top 10 Once Other Top 100s None Also play Portrush (Valley), Ballycastle

Routed through sizeable dunes on land closer to the sea than the club’s 18-hole Mussenden, the Bann has one par 5 and
a succession of cute 3s and sporty 4s. It is often a little tight and in a breeze is a proper test, so with a little added width it could be even higher. Still, indubitably fun.

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66. Bamburgh Castle 

Bamburgh, Northumberland, England

Nominated 6 times Top 10 0 times Other Top 100s None Also play Alnmouth Village, Seahouses

Bamburgh’s clifftop location puts you in the mood to be entertained and the routing over an undulating landscape framed by bracken and rocks only enhances that feeling. A second round is advised because (a) it’s so good and (b) some holes are even better with a little more knowledge.

Cruden Bay's Olaf course is one of the most fun golf courses to play in Great Britain and Ireland.

65. Cruden Bay (St Olaf)  

Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Nominated 4 times Top 10 Once Other Top 100s None Also play Cruden Bay (Champ), Fraserburgh

Illustrative of St Olaf’s low profile is the fact few nominated it, but only because not many have played it. Those who have insisted it be in, along with testimonies that suggested anyone yet to get to this funky links is missing out. Inner, short course, by Fowler and Simpson, boasting epic par 3s.

64. Mulranny

Mallaranny, Mayo, Ireland

Nominated 5 times Top 10 Twice Other Top 100s None Also play Carne, Westport, Ballinrobe

Mulranny is a quirky, natural, nine-hole links, where sheep and cattle roam across the course and greens are protected by barbed wire fencing. And yet the greens are always in good shape and the holes have plenty of interest. Beautiful views, too. It’s an old school, unfussy links.

Corrie is a stunning and extremely fun golf course.

63. Corrie

Arran, Argyll, Scotland

Nominated 6 times Top 10 Once Other Top 100s None  Also play Shiskine, Lamlash, Whiting Bay

Arran is an island of fun golf, with all seven courses ranging between riotous and delightful. Corrie is breathtakingly beautiful and added to
that mountain setting is a collection of unique, sometimes bewildering but always engaging holes.

62. Appleby

Appleby, Cumbria, England

Nominated 6 times Top 10 Once Other Top 100s GB&I, £60 & Under Also play Windermere, Seascale, Silloth

Close to a slot in our Top 100 England ranking. High in our £60 & Under list. Now this position. As you can tell, we like Appleby. Its journey over undulating moorland that feels like it exists just for great golf is getting the recognition it warrants. Such entertainment.

61. Leckford (Old)

Andover, Hampshire, England

Nominated 7 times Top 10 0 times Other Top 100s None Also play Hayling, Liphook, Blackmoor

The nine-hole Old is a mini Harry Colt classic plotted on undulating, chalk-based downland and has remained virtually unchanged apart from some tee extensions and repositioning of bunkers. It opens with a couple of par 5s and the classic par-3 3rd rounds-off a terrific start.

Aberdovey is one of Great Britain and Ireland's best links golf courses and one of the most enjoyable to play.

60. Aberdovey

Aberdovey, west coast of Wales, Wales

Nominated 6 times Top 10 Once Other Top 100s None Also play Borth & Ynyslas, Aberystwyth

A searching links in a breeze, but Aberdovey has too many unforgettable holes not to get in this ranking. The start and end are absolutely brilliant, all cute par 3s and sporty par 4s. Good enough for the great writer Bernard Darwin (it was his favourite), so good enough for this list.

59. Bude & North Cornwall

Bude, Cornwall, England 

Nominated 7 times Top 10 0 times Other Top 100s GB&I, £60 & Under Also play St Enodoc x2, Perranporth

A links that plays within the town itself has a special atmosphere, as we know, and B&C offers that in spades. A simple seaside course with the classic features and appeal that doesn’t pretend to be anything it’s not. It tests you, but it charms you much more – this position is the least it deserves.

58. Turnberry (Ailsa)  

Turnberry, Ayrshire, Scotland 

Nominated 6 times Top 10 Twice Other Top 100s World, GB&I, Scotland Also play West Kilbride, Troon’s municipals

Another Open host, so the previous provisos regarding ‘championship’ courses again apply. But the stretch from 9 to 11, where you hug the rocks with some daring par 3s and a par 5 surely have to be classified as fun, to offer just three holes of explanation for its inclusion.

RELATED: Will Turnberry ever host The Open again?

Swinley Forest is one of the best golf courses in England and one of the most fun to play.

57. Swinley Forest  

Ascot, Berkshire, England 

Nominated 7 times Top 10 0 times Other Top 100s World, GB&I, England Also play Woking, Sunningdale Heath

Some panellists had it really high, but we felt overall it was more exquisite and classy than out-and-out ‘fun’. It is playable and pleasurable, so it could easily be 10 or 15 spots further up the list, and if you ever get a chance to play this Harry Colt masterpiece, drop everything to do so.

56. Cullen

Buckie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Nominated 6 times Top 10 Twice Other Top 100s None Also play Fraserburgh, Fortrose & Rosemarkie, Durness

Unique links with a multitude of par threes playing through and at times over rocky outcrops. A par 63 coming in at little more than 4,000 yards, yet it manages to test you. Completely fabulous.

Askernish is one of the Golf World Top 100 Fun Courses in Great Britain and Ireland.

55. Askernish   

South Uist, Outer Hebrides, Scotland

Nominated 7 times Top 10 0 times Other Top 100s Scotland, GB&I £60 & Under Also play Island hop off Scotland’s west coast 

Raw, rugged and ridiculously authentic, Askernish’s natural links isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but those who enjoy history, a great backstory, a lack of manicured perfection and holes sitting in untouched linksland will adore it. We are resolutely in that camp.

54. Blairgowrie (Wee)  

Blairgowrie, Perthshire, Scotland

Nominated 6 times Top 10 Once Other Top 100s None Also play Pitlochry, Auchterarder, Gleneagles Queen’s 

An absolute delight. The springy heathland turf, the flattering score you can make, the cute holes, the feeling of getting one up on the world for knowing it is there as well as the club’s Scottish Top 100 fixtures Rosemount and Lansdowne. Nothing to dislike about this gorgeous little discovery.

53. The Addington

Croydon, Surrey, England

Nominated 7 times Top 10 0 times Other Top 100s GB&I, England  Also play Woking, Sunn Heath, Reigate Heath 

As ever, the asterisk that The Addington is getting even better via the work of Clayton, DeVries & Pont but, as it is, the journey over some of England’s most entertaining terrain gets it in this list. We wonder how high the post-restoration The Addington will end up.

52. Royal County Down (Annesley)

Newcastle, Co Down, Northern Ireland

Nominated 7 times Top 10 0 times Other Top 100s Ireland, GB&I £60 & Under Also play Ardglass, Scrabo, Clandeboye (Ava) 

Improved immeasurably by Martin Ebert of Mackenzie & Ebert, the No.2 at RCD offers as many good sea views as the No.1 as well as a more playable but still exciting seaside experience. This improved links is not to be underestimated these days.

RELATED: Which courses will host The Open next?

Cavendish is one of the Golf World Top 100 Fun Courses in Great Britain and Ireland.

51. Cavendish 

Cavendish, Derbyshire, England

Nominated 7 times Top 10 0 times Other Top 100s England, GB&I £60 & Under Also play Prestbury, Kedleston Park

This Alister MacKenzie masterclass in design has been skilfully restored by Jonathan Gaunt to provide a clever, probing examination of your game in a way only the great courses can. It demands nous and finesse rather than brute force – and is all the more entertaining for that.

Golf World Top 100: Fun Golf Courses - 50-26

50. Tenby

Tenby, South Wales, Wales

Nominated 7 times Top 10 0 times Other Top 100s Wales, GB&I Links Also play Cardigan, Langland Bay

Some wonderful design features on this South Wales links that get it into this position in front of some notable names. When it’s running firm and fast in the summer, it is seriously entertaining to bounce your ball round its brown fairways and into its cool green complexes.

Durness is one of the Golf World Top 100 Fun Courses in Great Britain and Ireland.

49. Durness   

Balnakeil, Highlands, Scotland

Nominated 6 times Top 10 Once Other Top 100s Scotland, GB&I £60 & Under Also play Dornoch, Brora, Fortrose & Rose’kie

Debuted in our Scottish Top 100 this year on the back of its fun factor so was a certainty for this list. Green complexes to cherish and holes to daydream about for years. The most fun you can have on a course for £10? It’s hard to justify paying 20 times that to play less fun courses...

48. Gullane (No.3)

Gullane, East Lothian, Scotland

Nominated 7 times Top 10 0 times Other Top 100s Scotland, GB&I £60 & Under Also play Kilspindie, Musselburgh Old, Winterfield

We have panellists who prefer No.3 to No.2 at Gullane – that’s how good it is. It boasts the same delicious links turf, same varied sea/linksland views and same thoughtful design, it’s just shorter and more playable. Just look at that cool green complex in the picture above to whet your appetite.

Woking is one of the Golf World Top 100 Fun Courses in Great Britain and Ireland.

47. Woking 

Woking, Surrey, England

Nominated 7 times Top 10 0 times Other Top 100s World, GB&I, England Also play Sunningdale Heath, Swinley Forest

Rises above other high-class heathland courses in the interest stakes to get into this Top 100 by virtue of a terrific set of green complexes that make the short game such an intriguing proposition here. An architectural education as well as joyous experience among pine and heather.

46. Kingsbarns 

St Andrews, Fife, Scotland

Nominated 6 times Top 10 Once Other Top 100s World, GB&I, GB&I Links, Scotland Also play Dumbarnie, Crail, St Andrews, Himalayas 

This modern classic hosts the Dunhill Links so is naturally challenging – or rather it can be challenging off the back tees. Move forward a couple of boxes, though, and this Kyle Phillips masterpiece gives everyone a chance to put a good score together. Playable and captivating.

45. Narin & Portnoo

Narin, Donegal, Ireland

Nominated 6 times Top 10 Once Other Top 100s Ireland Also play Cruit Island, Rosapenna Old Tom, NW 

The Gil Hanse overhaul of this historic links is a huge success, returning the course to the fun experience it used to be. The funky elevated 1st green sets the quirky tone and in the 7th green, sited between dunes and rocks on the edge of the sea, it has one of our favourite holes in Ireland.

44. Reigate Heath

Reigate Heath, Surrey, England

Nominated 7 times Top 10 0 times Other Top 100s None Also play Sunningdale Heath, Woking

Just nine holes here, but good enough to get this 1895 heathland into this prominent position. There is just one par 5, while the two-shotters range from just over 300 yards up to 400. The par-3 6th is 226 yards though, showing Reigate Heath is the real deal. But mostly it’s just a bucket of charm and pleasing on the eye.

43. Royal St George’s

Sandwich, Kent, England

Nominated 6 times Top 10 3 times Other Top 100s World, GB&I, England  Also play Royal Cinque Ports, Prince’s 

Clearly falls into the category of a championship course given it stages this year’s Open, but RSG gets in this list because enough panellists felt it was still fun. Where other Open hosts are stringent tests, its funky terrain and green complexes entertain as you make bogeys and worse!

Dunaverty is one of the best golf courses in Scotland and one of the most fun places to play in Britain and Ireland.

42. Dunaverty  

Southend, Argyll, Scotland

Nominated 8 times Top 10 0 times Other Top 100s Scotland, £60 & Under, GB&I Links Also play Machrihanish and Mach Dunes 

The cute, low-profile links down the road from the famed Machrihanish pair is now getting the recognition it fully deserves.
A modest start and finish give scant notice of the high jinks that come in between. Extensive views and some epic holes on a links with an increasing number of fans.

41. Seascale

Seascale, Cumbria, England

Nominated 8 times Top 10 0 times Other Top 100s England, GB&I £60 & Under, Links Also play Silloth, Windermere, Appleby 

We love it here! Takes a bit of getting to, but you won’t regret it. Several all-world links holes, mostly wonderful views, highly playable and a real ‘glad to be alive feeling’. Play Silloth while you’re at it and Windermere and Appleby inland, and you have a wonderful Cumbria itinerary.

RELATED: Golf World Top 100 – Best Golf Courses For £60 and Under

40. Welshpool 

Welshpool, mid Wales, Wales

Nominated 8 times Top 10 0 times Other Top 100s Wales, £60 & Under  Also play Church Stretton, Borth, Aberdovey 

Wales’ answer to the bunkerless, characterful courses more often seen in England is every bit as enjoyable as those. Braid made a predictably good job of using the land to create a course of numerous highs that is never anything but interesting. A firm favourite with us, with good reason.

Machrihanish Dunes is among the most fun golf courses to play in Britain and Ireland.

39. Machrihanish Dunes  

Machrihanish, Argyll, Scotland

Nominated 6 times Top 10 Once Other Top 100s GB&I, Scotland, GB&I Links Also play Machrihanish, Dunaverty 

David McLay Kidd’s modern neighbour to the classic links is a raucous journey over undulating linksland. There is a raw feel
to it all and some wonderfully unorthodox holes and wonderful green complexes. It’s a challenge in a breeze, otherwise it would be higher, but it’s in no way punishing.

Royal Cinque Ports is one of Great Britain and Ireland's best links golf courses and one of the most fun to play.

38. Royal Cinque Ports 

Deal, Kent, England

Nominated 8 times Top 10 0 times Other Top 100s GB&I, England, GB&I Links Also play Royal St George’s, Prince’s 

Such a classy, thoughtful links that it gets in this list – as does neighbour Sandwich –despite having enough teeth to host championships. ‘Deal’ asks you to work out a strategy and then execute it, ideally while having tremendous fun using its raunchy links topography. A class act.

37. Ardglass 

Ardglass, Co. Down, Northern Ireland

Nominated 8 times Top 10 0 times Other Top 100s Ireland Also play RCD Annesley, Scrabo, Clandeboye 

The first tee shot lives forever in everyone’s mind here and it is certainly truly epic, but there is a lot more to this links on clifftop terrain than just an explosive opening. Distinctive holes and terrific views on a course that deserves higher billing. County Down is quietly a haven for fun courses.

St Enodoc's Church course is a star of our Top 100s and one of the most enjoyable to play in Britain and Ireland.

36. St Enodoc (Church)  

Rock, Cornwall, England

Nominated 8 times Top 10 0 times Other Top 100s World, GB&I, England Also play Perranporth, W. Cornwall, Royal North Devon 

One of those courses that can test anyone, so there is an element of difficulty on the Church not seen in most of the entries in this list – but there are also so many fabulously quirky holes which are so entertaining to tackle that we had to include it. Go and assess it for yourself...

Huntercombe is one of the most fun golf courses to play in Britain and Ireland.

35. Huntercombe

Nuffield, Oxfordshire, England

Nominated 8 times Top 10 0 times Other Top 100s England Also play Tadmarton Heath 

We are confirmed fans of the classic architecture of this heathland-woodland. The green complexes are riotous fun and the humps and hollows that guard them make a mockery of the over-bunkering so often seen of modern courses. Some panellists would have it much higher.

Corballis is one of the most fun golf courses to play in Britain and Ireland.

34. Corballis

Donabate, Dublin, Ireland

Nominated 5 times Top 10 Once Other Top 100s None Also play Royal Dublin, Portmarnock Links 

A couple of strong nominations for this lesser-known Irish links, which has made even more of its wonderful north Dublin coastal location with four new holes being built recently. This par-66 links oozes charm and character and ought to be on the itinerary of more golfers’ Dublin trips.

33. Windermere

Windermere, Cumbria, England

Nominated 8 times Top 10 0 times Other Top 100s GB&I, £60 & Under Also play Penrith, Seascale 

The setting certainly helps, but Windermere actually scores at least as highly for its charm and character. Short and flattering if you’ve got your ball under control, but so easy to run up scores due to its clever use of the entertaining land. An inland course that is so easy to be seduced by.

32. Cleeve Hill

Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England

Nominated 7 times Top 10 Twice Other Top 100s England, GB&I £60 & Under Also play Kington, Painswick 

Along with Kington and Painswick, this quirky lie-of-the-land course has excelled in our England and £60 & Under rankings. If you like your golf in the raw, relish it as the game once was and take pleasure from being slightly befuddled by unique holes, this is for you. If you don’t, steer clear.

Rosapenna's Old Tom is one of the most fun golf courses to play in Britain and Ireland.

31. Rosapenna (Old Tom)

Downings, Donegal, Ireland

Nominated 8 times Top 10 0 times Other Top 100s Ireland, GB&I Links Also play Portsalon, North West

The shorter, more cuddly sister course to the Sandy Hills and the brand-new, world-class St Patrick’s Links, this is a delightful traditional seaside course that asks just enough questions in its varied holes, but also gives you something back. Certainly no pushover, but you have fun with every shot.

RELATED: Europe's best new course since Kingsbarns

30. Fortrose & Rosemarkie  

Fortrose, Highlands, Scotland

Nominated 8 times Top 10 0 times Other Top 100s Scotland Also play Brora, Durness, Cullen, Castle Stuart

F&R is laid out on a relatively slender strip of linksland with dolphins often leaping alongside... seriously, how could this course not be fun? It is straightforward, honest links golf that flatters a little and charms a lot. Oh to be walking those firm seaside fairways right now.

29. Alnmouth Village   

Alnmouth, Northumberland, England

Nominated 4 times Top 10 3 times Other Top 100s None Also play Bamburgh, Seahouses, Dunstanburgh

A very high position for a course many of you won’t have played or perhaps heard of. But Alnmouth Village was nominated extremely highly by three panellists, by virtue of its easy-to-love links atmosphere and holes. A real find, and Northumberland is a quietly excellent spot for a golf break.

The Machrie is one of the most fun golf courses to play in Britain and Ireland.

28. The Machrie 

Islay, Argyll, Scotland

Nominated 8 times Top 10 0 times Other Top 100s World, GB&I, Scotland Also play Arran and Machrihanish courses

Some suggest The Machrie has been sanitised by the DJ Russell renovation. Nonsense. Some blind shots have gone and it is certainly much more playable – which was indubitably required – but it still has bags of eccentricity. The green complexes are wonderful and variety of hole superb.

Carne is one of the most fun golf courses to play in Britain and Ireland.

27. Carne (Wild Atlantic Dunes)

Belmullet, Mayo, Ireland

Nominated 6 times Top 10 Twice Other Top 100s GB&I, Ireland, GB&I Links Also play Westport, Ballinrobe 

Carne is doing well in all our recent rankings for which it is eligible and while it can be a brute in a breeze, there is still so much adventure to be had over, around and alongside its big dunes. A ‘must experience’ links in the remote outpost of Belmullet. A wonderful playground for the game.

Royal North Devon is the oldest golf club in England and one of the most fun courses to play.

26. Royal North Devon

Westward Ho!, Devon, England

Nominated 9 times Top 10 Once Other Top 100s England, GB&I Links Also play Perranporth, Newquay 

It’s hard not to think golf design really lost its way when you consider RND oozes the in vogue architectural philosophy of today; wide fairways, an emphasis on angles and cool green complexes. Played over crumpled fairways with room to hit the odd bad shot, we are big fans of Westward Ho!

Golf World Top 100: Fun Golf Courses - 25-11

Lahinch is one of the most fun courses to play in Britain and Ireland.

25. Lahinch (Old)  

Lahinch, Clare, Ireland

Nominated 7 times Top 10 Twice Other Top 100s World, GB&I, Ireland Also play Spanish Bay, Doonbeg 

Some panellists questioned Lahinch’s position, because it is certainly true it can be played as a serious championship course. But with holes such as ‘Dell’ and ‘Klondyke’ to name but the two famous ones, we felt we had to have this Clare links in – the topography is regularly out of this world.

Dumbarnie, Fife's newest course, is one of the most fun courses to play in Britain and Ireland.

24. Dumbarnie   

Lundin, Fife, Scotland

Nominated 8 times Top 10 Once Other Top 100s World, GB&I, Scotland Also play Lundin, Leven, Elie, St Andrews 

Dumbarnie is so playable that it almost can’t help but be fun for all standards, assuming you choose your tees wisely. There are risk-reward moments, birdie chances and a feeling of a course giving you something back. Chipping and putting around the greens is fun, too.

23. Machrihanish

Machrihanish, Argyll, Scotland

Nominated 9 times Top 10 Once Other Top 100s World, GB&I, Scotland Also play Machrihanish Dunes, Dunaverty

The front nine is like an audition for a Fun Top 100; unforgettable moment after unforgettable moment of distinctive links holes. The 1st is, as everyone knows, the most explosive way to start. Finding the line over the beach and executing the shot... that is first-class fun. It has a more sedate finish and that costs it a place in the top 20, but you’ve long fallen in love by then with one of Scotland’s classic courses.

Royal Worlington & Newmarket is one of the most fun golf courses to play in Britain and Ireland.

22. Royal Worlington & Newmarket  

Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, England

Nominated 9 times Top 10 0 times Other Top 100s GB&I, England Also play Woodbridge, Ipswich, Great Yarmouth 

Oozes strategy and nuance, so much so that it can take a couple of rounds of ‘The Sacred Nine’ to really start to appreciate its charm and appeal. Further proof that compelling courses exist away from the seaside tracks of yesteryear laid out on natural linksland.

21. Boat of Garten  

Aviemore, Highlands, Scotland

Nominated 11 times Top 10 Twice Other Top 100s Scotland Also play Newtonmore, Kingussie 

The Boat gains plaudits for its Aviemore setting usually, and with good reason – it’s spectacular. But there are also some seriously cool holes draped over its entertaining terrain. It’s playable too. And the views of the Cairngorms make everything seem even better.

Gleneagles' Queen's course is one of the most fun to play in Great Britain and Ireland.

20. Gleneagles (Queen’s)

Auchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland

Nominated 11 times Top 10 Twice Other Top 100s GB&I, Scotland Also play Pitlochry, Comrie, Auchterarder 

The shortest of Gleneagles’ three courses and many would say the Perthshire super-resort’s most enjoyable. The Queen’s gives you something back, although you do definitely have to play nicely to receive it. It’s no pushover. Exudes gorgeous views, classy holes and fabulous turf.

RELATED: Golf World Top 100 – Best Golf Resorts in Great Britain and Ireland

Brora is one of the most fun golf courses to play in Great Britain and Ireland.

19. Brora

Brora, Highlands, Scotland

Nominated 10 times Top 10 3 times Other Top 100s GB&I, Scotland Also play Fortrose, Golspie, Durness

Subtle Scottish links that James Braid enthusiasts pitch as their No.1 – and they have a lot of Braid courses to revere. Now getting the worldwide recognition its undulating fairways and greens deserve.

18. Painswick 

Painswick, Gloucestershire, England

Nominated 8 times Top 10 4 times Other Top 100s England, GB&I £60 & Under Also play Cleeve Hill, Kington

Like Kington and Cleeve Hill, Painswick uses its land so ingeniously to produce a consistently entertaining round. It won’t appeal to those who want sanitised golf set up for card-and-pencil rounds, but we’re not sure those types will be too engrossed in this celebration of fun courses.

Kilspindie is one of the most enjoyable golf courses to play in Britain and Ireland.

17. Kilspindie   

Aberlady, East Lothian, Scotland

Nominated 10 times Top 10 5 times Other Top 100s Scotland, Links Also play Gullane No.3, North Berwick 

“Leave the driver in the car and enjoy old-fashioned links golf” was our suggestion when describing Kilspindie 20 years ago – and nothing has changed in that time. Flattering and delightful, if you can’t enjoy hitting wedges and short irons into its cool greens, give up the game.

16. Formby Ladies  

Southport, Lancashire, England

Nominated 9 times Top 10 6 times Other Top 100s England Also play The coast’s star names 

The little sister that sits inside the famous Curtis Cup host is a mini version that exudes playability and fun, with the same level of conditioning and architectural merit. A links that deserves your attention – witness its position in our England ranking – it cruises into the top 20 here.

15. Kington

Kington, Herefordshire, England

Nominated 10 times Top 10 6 times Other Top 100s England, GB&I £60 & Under Also play Painswick, Cleeve Hill 

Regular readers will by now have realised how highly we rate Kington’s use of the entertaining terrain on which it is laid out. Lots of fine holes in a very natural fashion, with a chance to score well. Our top-ranked inland course in this fun ranking, and that says it all about this Herefordshire delight.

Castle Stuart is one of the most fun golf courses to play in Great Britain and Ireland.

14. Castle Stuart  

Inverness, Highlands, Scotland

Nominated 10 times Top 10 7 times Other Top 100s World, GB&I, Scotland Also play Durness, Brora, Dornoch

We debated long and hard over Castle Stuart’s position (and that of another modern course, Dumbarnie). Both offer the same combination of scenery, playability, memorable holes and a course that exists to please not punish. It hosts championships, but can charm mere mortals.

13. Elie 

Lundin, Fife, Scotland

Nominated 9 times Top 10 7 times Other Top 100s Scotland, GB&I Links Also play Leven, Lundin, Dumbarnie 

As with Fraserburgh, you can’t help but feel more golf should be like Elie. Where there are flatter moments, the cool green complexes add interest. Where there is more adventurous land, the holes fit it perfectly to provide strategic yet carefree examinations. Just the right amount of test.

12. Fraserburgh 

Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Nominated by 9 Top 10 8 times Other Top 100s Scotland, £60 & Under Also play Cullen, Murcar, Stonehaven 

Starts and ends with modest holes, but in between Fraserburgh is absolutely magnificent. Playable, quirky and wonderfully varied links which you could never tire of playing. How could golf architecture lose its way when it had this kind of blueprint to copy? Fantastic!

The Ladies' Putting Club (The Himalayas) at St Andrews is one of the most enjoyable golf courses to play in Britain and Ireland.

11. The Ladies’ Putting Club (The Himalayas)  

St Andrews, Fife, Scotland

Nominated by 7 Top 10 6 times Other Top 100s None Also play St Andrews (Old, Castle), Kingsbarns, Dumbarnie, Elie, Leven, Lundin

Some may deride this selection, others will love it. Yes, it is ‘just’ a putting course... but what a putting course! It requires skill, imagination and a sure touch to master it, all the while engaging your creativity like few others. Wonderful. Don’t go to St Andrews and not experience it...

Golf World Top 100: Fun Golf Courses - 10-1

Shiskine is one of the most enjoyable golf courses to play in Britain and Ireland.

10. Shiskine   

Arran, Argyll, Scotland

Nominated 12 times Top 10 9 times Other Top 100s GB&I, Scotland, £60 & Under Also play Corrie, Lamlash, Whiting Bay

An absolute certainty for this list, and indeed its higher echelons. This 12-hole Arran links is everything a fun course should be with unforgettable holes and a healthy element of eccentricity. Starts relatively sedately, but the blind uphill par 3 and the one coming back soon change that.

RELATED: Golf World Top 100 – Best Golf Courses in Scotland

Perranporth is one of the most enjoyable golf courses to play in Britain and Ireland.

9. Perranporth  

Perranporth, Cornwall, England

Nominated 12 times Top 10 9 times Other Top 100s GB&I, England, £60 & Under Also play St Enodoc, Newquay 

At times hilariously funky, with the first-time golfer unsure of what comes next. Which is exactly what a ‘fun’ course surely should offer. It sits high above the town and the views add to the enjoyment of a links that, while it is an English Top 100 fixture, doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Cruit Island is one of the most enjoyable golf courses to play in Britain and Ireland.

8. Cruit Island

Kincasslagh, Donegal, Ireland

Nominated 6 times Top 10 6 times Other Top 100s Ireland, X Factor, £60 & Under Also play Narin, North West, Rosapenna 

A bold position for Cruit Island, but we don’t feel it is OTT. Just nine holes, but there is not an ordinary one among them. It is laid out on a small piece of clifftop land and it takes you to, from and along the edge of the bluffs regularly. Some dune holes add to the mix. Riotous fun in gorgeous Donegal.

Pennard is one of the most enjoyable golf courses to play in Britain and Ireland.

7. Pennard 

Pennard, South Wales, Wales

Nominated 11 times Top 10 11 times Other Top 100s GB&I, Wales, GB&I Links Also play Cardigan plus the star names 

Seventh on the list is the least Pennard deserves. Its journey over linksy turf perched on clifftops is constantly engaging and regularly breathtaking. Using the rumpled land to your advantage is a joy and the accompanying views made this a certainty for the top 10 of this ranking.

Royal Dornoch is one of the most enjoyable golf courses to play in Britain and Ireland.

6. Royal Dornoch 

Dornoch, Highlands, Scotland

Nominated 11 times Top 10 11 times Other Top 100s World, GB&I, Scotland Also play Brora, Castle Stuart, Fortrose, Durness 

A course that divided the panel. Some felt it should be even higher, but others believe it to be a little too stringent to be really, really fun. This is where it resides as a result. Off its back tees it is definitely a proper challenge, but the green complexes and use of the land absolutely burst with fun.

Prestwick is one of the most fun golf courses to play in Britain and Ireland.

5. Prestwick   

Prestwick, Ayrshire, Scotland

Nominated 13 times Top 10 12 times Other Top 100s World, GB&I, Scotland Also play Turnberry (Ailsa), West Kilbride 

Taking a 7-iron for your first shot of the day on a par 4 gets this historic links off to a fun start, and rarely does the entertainment drop after that. A more sedate period gives only time for reflection among the high-octane stuff, but just look at how many times it was in the top 10 of those who mooted it.

Royal West Norfolk is one of the most enjoyable golf courses to play in Great Britain and Ireland.

4. Royal West Norfolk

Brancaster, Norfolk, England

Nominated 14 times Top 10 11 times Other Top 100s World, GB&I, England Also play Sheringham, Royal Cromer, Hunstanton

‘Brancaster’ is an endearingly quirky club with a course to match. No two holes are the same and there are several all-world ones in a fabulous all-round package.

It doesn’t take long for you to be intoxicated by Royal West Norfolk either, with the fabulous short 4th – which appears almost to be on stilts owing to its sleepered surrounds – being followed by the intriguing 5th, which asks for a tee shot of nerveless faith as you are asked to pound your ball over the dunes towards a fairway somewhere out there.

The turn, played among tidal salt marshes, is often selected as the highlight, but memorable moments arrive regularly on a links that mixes simple holes on flatter land and ones that make you smile on much more quirky terrain.

Cruden Bay is one of the most fun golf courses to play in Great Britain and Ireland.

3. Cruden Bay

Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Nominated 15 times Top 10 13 times Other Top 100s World, GB&I, Scotland Also play Fraserburgh, Cruden Bay (St Olaf), Cullen

This would have been a brilliant No.1 –  there is no doubt about that. We are devoted fans of Cruden Bay’s unusual mixture of the challenging and random and are pleased to note many more are these days being seduced by its charms.

In fact, recalling tackling the eccentric holes here is more or less what inspired the creation of this particular Top 100.

Could you ever be anything less than engaged when clambering over and around the dunes that create one of the world’s most compelling courses?

The par-4 3rd, ‘Claypits’, is likely to be one hole that has helped win over its wave of new fans, covering a mere 274 yards and including a blind drive through the dunes.

After being intoxicated by the 3rd, you then step onto the tee of the 4th and wonder wistfully about living in one of the cottages that sit behind ‘Port Erroll’ and being able to step out onto the tee whenever you fancied. Back in reality, those of us who merely visit from time to time must instead savour the blind shots over and between dunes, the green complexes, and the simple joy of it all; Cruden Bay makes you glad to be a well-travelled golfer.

The trio on the back nine, starting at the par-5 13th, ‘Bents’, and ending at par-3 15th, ‘Blin’ Dunt’ (referencing its blind nature), are arguably the very best of Cruden but, really, you never go for more than a couple of holes without something memorable occurring here.

In addition to Old Tom Morris and Archie Simpson, as well as (for what was by all accounts a very skilled revision) Tom Simpson and Herbert Fowler in the 1920s, we can all thank the money behind the links, the Great North of Scotland Railway Company, for what we enjoy today.

The Old Course at St Andrews is the best course in Scotland and one of the most fun to play in Britain and Ireland.

2. St Andrews (The Old Course)

St Andrews, Fife, Scotland

Nominated 15 times Top 10 13 times Other Top 100s World, GB&I, Scotland Also play St Andrews (Castle) & (Eden), Elie, Dumbarnie, Crail, Lundin, Leven

Some may suggest the Old Course lacks the pyrotechnics of the courses either side of it in this list and it’s true that in terms of topography and mesmeric landforms, it is less of a thrill.

But fun holes don’t always need greens the shape of bathtubs or defended by a drystone wall (although we tend to think they help). Strategy, subtlety and a probing examination – allied to the most special of atmospheres – is also to be cherished.

Some play the Old and never ‘get’ it, but we are in the majority who adore the most alluring piece of turf on the planet – and find it quite brilliant fun.

North Berwick is the most fun golf course to play in Great Britain and Ireland.

1. North Berwick

North Berwick, East Lothian, Scotland

Nominated 16 times Top 10 15 times Other Top 100s World, GB&I, Scotland Also play Kilspindie, Gullane No.3, Musselburgh

This Top 100 produced a highly competitive top three, with a trio of courses that stood slightly apart from the rest and which would all have made worthy No.1s. They are, though, headed by this bag of tricks in East Lothian.

North Berwick is anything but ordinary, and that’s surely a prerequisite for a ‘fun’ course. It has holes that are famous and infamous the world over, and have been duly copied across the planet.

North Berwick comprises holes that are occasionally bewildering but always entertaining. If the journey out is adventurous, the journey home is simply one all-world hole after another.

It is not, however, hole after hole of landmarks, a full-scale crazy golf course – it is stringent enough to host Open qualifying, so you don’t breeze round and comfortably play to your handicap.

And yet, the bumps and humps of the front nine would be described as exceptionally characterful if it was paired with the back nine of almost any other course in the land. But, when it precedes the second half here, it actually seems relatively mundane.

For, come the closing third of this mesmeric links, you savour nothing but seminal holes. From firing over the drystone dyke hard to the 13th green to the blind glory of the 14th, aptly named ‘Perfection’, to widely-copied short 15th, ‘Redan’, it is an education in golf as the game began.

Beneath the windows of the Marine Hotel is the 16th, arguably golf’s most exciting and exacting green complex with two raised plateaux separated by a trough that has its own name, ‘Biarritz’.

The West links is gaining more exposure these days and while that will possibly rub against the hipster, the connoisseur and the historian, we are glad it is receiving the acclaim it deserves.

It is one of the most memorable courses in the world and East Lothian, Scotland and Great Britain are fortunate to call it one of theirs. We believe there is no more fun course on this island.

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