The best golf courses for a beginner

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Your guide to short, straightforward and easy golf courses for you to try when you've just taken up golf

If you're new to playing golf, heading out to play a course for the first few times can be an incredibly indtimidating thing to do.

When you're just a beginner, taking on a 500-yard par-five or a course with a lot of water can make for a punishing experience, and it's one that can turn-off would be golfers from the game entirely. 

So if you're worried about playing too slowly, losing too many golf balls or hitting too many shots, there's a much better solution than taking up membership somewhere that lowers your confidence and stops you wanting to play. Find a course that is perfect for beginners. 

If you look around the UK and Ireland, you'll find there are plenty of par three courses, nine hole courses or straightforward 18-holers that are perfect for any beginner to hone their skills at.

For some, the perfect solution is joining a club which offers both a nine-hole course and an 18-hole course, where you can graduate upwards once you're confident with your swing. If that isn't an option for you though, there are a plethora of short courses you can find across the country.

Here, we've put together a list of some of our favourites short courses that you can play.

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THE BALGOVE, ST ANDREWS

The only nine-holer at the Home of Golf is ideal for both youngsters and beginners of any age. The 1520 yard, par- 30 layout features three realtively short par-fours and six par-threes of varying length, with only rough, minimal gorse and bunkers to contend with as you go around. 

It opened in 1972 and has undergone various changes, including a comprehensive re-design about 20 years ago. It provides the perfect introduction to links golf at St Andrews, and is enjoyable no matter your ability. It's also the only St Andrews course where you can't book a tee time in advance. 

Once you've mastered the Balgove, the neighbouring Strathtyrum course is the perfect step up for beginners. With a par of 68, the straightforward, layout is the easiest of the 18-hole St Andrews golf courses. 

• Balgove Green fees: £8 (adult), £3 (under 16).
• Tel: 01334 466718/466666
• Website: https://www.standrews.com/Play/Green-Fees

balgove

3 HAMMERS, WEST MIDLANDS  

Pioneering midlands golf complex 3 Hammers was originally designed by Sir Henry Cotton 1964, and recently underwent a £100,000 makeover by Hawtree Design.

The result? An 18-hole Par-3 short course with holes that range from just 45 yards 122 yards, making it an ideal place for beginners to pick up the game, and improve their short game.

You might not be able to hit your driver, but in addition to the course there is also an impressive 3 Hammers driving range which features Toptracer - and a teaching academy! 

• Green fees: £9.95.
• Contact: 01902 790428.
• 
3hammers.co.uk/

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LEEDS CASTLE, KENT

There aren't too many golf courses which weave their way around a spectacular castle but Leeds Castle at the heart of the Garden of England does... and it's also a brilliant place for golfers to learn. 

This delightful nine-hole, 2681 yard par 33 is a mature parkland layout which was opened in the mid-1920s and redeisgned twice, and offers beginners - and more experienced players too - a variety of challenges. 

Intervals of 10 minutes between tee-off times, which can be pre-booked six days in advance, will mean that the golf course is rarely congested. 

• Green fees: £15/ £19 adults (weekday/weekend), £10/ £13 (under 16). 
• Tel: +44 (0)1622 767828
• Website: https://www.leeds-castle.com/Golf

BROUGHTON HEATH, DERBYSHIRE

Established in 1998, Broughton Heath fills the gap between a regular pitch and putt golf course, and a full size par 72 golf course. 

It's a picturesque, tree-lined 3125-yard par-3 course which offers 18 holes and is ideal for beginners and juniors. From 115-225 yards from the back tees, it's one of (if not) the longest par-3 golf courses in the UK, and it gives you the chance to use most of the clubs in your bag. 

The golf course is set over 42 acres of land and incorporates lakes, trees, ditches and many other hazards... Making the course perfect for any level of golfer!

• Green fees: £10/ £14 / £17 adults (Mondays/Weekdays/Weekend), £8 (under 16). 
• Tel: 01283 521235
• Website: https://www.broughtonheathgolfclub.co.uk/visitors

BETWS-Y-COED, NORTH WALES

One of the prettiest courses in Britain, this nine-hole parkland track - with its breathtaking Snowdonia backdrop and views of the Conwy Valley - has 18 different tees and its no surprise that nearly all visitors use all of them, playing the nine-hole layout twice.

It is a fairly straightforward test, with five par fours and four par-threes: From the tee, everything is visible in front of you - even the well protected greens - and the fairways are generous. It makes for a fair test no matter your ability.

• Green fees: £20 (for 18 holes) 
• Tel: 01690 710556
• Website: http://www.betws-y-coedgolfclub.co.uk/the-course/

WYCOMBE HEIGHTS (Short Course), BUCKINGHAMSHIRE

If you're looking for somewhere you don't need to book, the 18-hole par-3 Short Course at Wycombe Heights is a great one to go to - and is maintained to the same high standards as the 18-hole Main Course.

Designed by the late John Jacobs, the Short Course has a relaxed environment for people trying to learn the game - or those wanting to practice their short game skills - and features a series of challenges on holes that range from 77 to 157 yards.  

Their driving range also has Toptracer technology, and once you feel confident enough in the Short Course, the Main Course 

• Green Fees: £14/ £16 (Weekdays/Weekends - adult), £9.50 (junior)
• Tel: 01494 816686
• Website: https://www.wycombeheightsgc.co.uk/

SPANISH POINT, CO CLARE, IRELAND

Another classic nine-hole links overlooking the beach and a short drive from Lahinch.

The breathtaking nine-hole par 32 offers sensational views plus strong Atlantic winds, especially at the par-3 6th. Apparently the Spanish Armada washed up here – hence the name.

It does have a few longer holes than some of the other courses we've mentioned (including a 440 yard par-four), but it's a fairly straightforward links test that is worth going to!

• Green fees: €20 for 18 holes midweek, €25 weekends.
• Tel: 00353 065 708 4198.
• Website: http://www.spanishpointgolfing.com/


CRUDEN BAY (ST OLAF), ABERDEENSHIRE

Cruden Bay may be well known for it's big course - a classic links test originally designed by Old Tom Morris and Archie Simpson - but it also boasts a nine hole course that is ideal for beginners.

The par-32 St Olaf was built in 1926 at the same time Tom Simpson and Herbert Fowler redesigned the main, and has been popular among members and visitors alike ever since. 

At 2463 yards from the gents tees, the course boasts five par 4s and four par 3s, finishing with a tantalising 125-yarder. 

• Green fees: £20 for 9 holes midweek, £30 weekends (adults). Juniors pay half the adult rate. 
• Tel: 01779 812285.
• Website: https://www.crudenbaygolfclub.co.uk/

ALNMOUTH VILLAGE, NORTHUMBERLAND

This par-35, 2,827-yard Mungo Park creation – and home of England's oldest nine-hole links (1869) – features eight par 4s of varying length and a single par 3.

The magnificent 7th, played from an elevated tee with amazing coastal views, will blow you away.

It can be played as either a nine-hole or 18 hole course. 

• Green fees: £20.
• Tel: 01665 830370
• Website: https://www.alnmouthvillagegolfclub.co.uk/