The must-play golf courses of 2020 in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.
Looking for somewhere to play in 2020? From Britain and Ireland's brand new designs to the clubs celebrating their centenary or hosting tournaments, we've selected some of this year's must-play courses.
In this list: Royal Birkdale, Sandiway, Knaresborough, Close House, Fairhaven, Ulverston, Halifax
ROYAL BIRKDALE, SOUTHPORT
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: Hosts the British Amateur Championship (June 15-20).
• Yardage: 6,381-7,156 (par 72/70).
• Green fees: £245 midweek, £275 weekends.
In a nutshell... A superstar of England's Golf Coast has hosted more championship and international events since WWII than any other course... in the world. So it's not surprising it is not only regularly rated England's No.1 course, but one of the top five clubs in the UK and among the top 35 in the world. Seaside golf doesn't get any better.
To play well you need to... Birkdale doesn't ease you into the round; it's a great test right from the off (just ask the numerous Open players who have made double or worse on the first!). There's not much respite, either, other than perhaps the short par-4 5th. But no matter how you're playing, you'll love the challenge – and the fact you'll barely see another golfer thanks to those giant dunes.
You'll love... There are no weak holes at Royal Birkdale, and it's a real treat to follow in the footsteps of the golfing greats who have competed in 10 Opens, Ryder Cups, Women's British Opens, Senior Opens, Walker and Curtis Cups here. The iconic art-deco style clubhouse built in the 1930s with panoramic views down the 18th.
01704 552020 | www.royalbirkdale.com
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: The club is celebrating its centenary.
• Yardage: 6,020-6,404 (par 70).
• Green fees: From £50.
In a nutshell... Cheshire classic and home to a wonderful blend of woodland and heathland action. A plethora of dogleg holes mean you must carefully plot your way around to get the best lines into the comparatively small greens.
You'll love... The short par-4 signature 17th, where you need to negotiate the stand-out Sandiway Oak threatening 40 yards short of the green.
01606 883180 | www.sandiwaygolf.co.uk
KNARESBOROUGH, NORTH YORKS
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: The club is celebrating its centenary.
• Yardage: 6,553-6,780 (par 72).
• Green fees: £34-£40.
In a nutshell... Laid out amid mature woodland flanked by open countryside, Knaresborough is a pretty venue and something of a hidden gem. The shorter front nine finishes with consecutive par-5s, both 500-yards plus.
You'll love... The exhilarating drive on the elevated par-5 8th along with recent improvements on and off the course (including the installation of a new irrigation system and creation of new drainage ditches).
01423 862690 | www.knaresboroughgolfclub.co.uk
CLOSE HOUSE, NORTHUMBERLAND
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: Member Lee Westwood hosts the British Masters for the second time between Jul 30-Aug 2.
• Yardage: Colt - 5,133-6,813 (par 71); Filly – 6,034 (par 70).
• Green fees: £100 Filly, £200 Colt.
In a nutshell... The leading venue in the north east, home to two 18-hole layouts (Colt & Filly), the region's only PGA Academy and classy on-site accommodation.
You'll love... The Filly is a flat and easy-walking parkland alternative to the main attraction, the rollercoaster Colt, which is longer, more open and exposed.
01661 852255 | www.closehouse.com
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: The club was founded 125 years ago.
• Yardage: 6,524-6,950 (par 72).
• Green fees: Winter offer, £40 inc full English breakfast.
In a nutshell... Fairhaven offers an unusual and exciting blend of links and parkland and has plenty of pedigree, regularly hosting Open final qualifying
You'll love... The scenic setting is a world away from the noisy attractions of nearby Blackpool. It's pretty flat and easy walking, with superb clubhouse views, pristine course conditioning and the considerable challenge of negotiating nearly 120 bunkers.
01253 736741 | www.fairhavengolfclub.co.uk
HALIFAX, WEST YORKS
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: It's 125th anniversary time.
• Yardage: 5,740-6,388 (par 70).
• Green fees: £20-£25.
In a nutshell... An entertaining part-heathland, part-moorland layout was created by James Braid and later re-worked by Alister MacKenzie. It has been modified in recent times with tees being pushed back while bunkers abandoned from the early days have been reintroduced.
You'll love... It's playable year-round and the greens are a joy to putt on. Highspot will be the downhill par-3 17th.
01422 244171 | www.halifaxgolfclub.co.uk
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: The club is celebrating its 125th birthday.
• Yardage: 6,002-6,264 (par 71).
• Green fees: £40 midweek, £50 weekends.
In a nutshell... Fun and intriguing parkland layout heavily influenced by Harry Colt – he redesigned the course and made it the test it is today.
You'll love... The views over Morecambe Bay and towards the Lakeland mountains are top drawer – as is the inviting par-3 5th across a valley and the par-4 penultimate hole where you play over an old limestone quarry.
01229 582824 | www.ulverstongolf.co.uk
In this list: Sherwood Forest, Royal West Norfolk, Hawkstone Park, Royal Norwich, Ipswich Purdis Heath, Nailcote Hall, Cosby
SHERWOOD FOREST, NOTTS
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: It's celebrating its 125th anniversary.
• Yardage: 6,281-6,806 (par 71/70).
• Green fees: Until March - £170 per fourball/ tee time including breakfast.
In a nutshell... Initially carved out of the legendary forest by Harry Colt and later re-worked by James Braid, this is a quality heathland set between rows of silver birch, pines, oak and swathes of heather. An absolutely wonderful variety of holes, and they're all immaculately presented thanks to the fast-draining nature of the land.
To play well you need to... The round starts with an ultra-friendly short par-4 but quickly bares its teeth – the 4th is a devilishly difficult downhill par-3 framed by the clubhouse and played into the prevailing wind to the sloping front-to-back green guarded by four of nearly 100 bunkers sprinkled across the layout. Good course strategy is essential, especially on the tighter back nine.
You'll love... The peace and solitude of the setting – the club's extensive tree clearance project has significantly enhanced the ambience and heathland restoration – and the fact you'll be putting out on a set of great greens. Transport Sherwood to the Home Counties and you'd be paying double the green fee.
01623 626689 | www.sherwoodforestgolfclub.co.uk
ROYAL WEST NORFOLK, NORFOLK
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: Prominently placed in Golf World's Top 100 England (14th) and UK & Ireland (35th) rankings.
• Yardage: 6,457 (par 71).
• Green fees: Singles from £70; Foursomes from £70.
In a nutshell... Unforgettable and charismatic links cut off from the rest of the world at high tide.
You'll love... It's history, pedigree and the fact the tide changes the entire nature of the course as it floods in. It's a natural style of golf in wild and beautiful part of the world. Visitors are encouraged to play foursomes.
01485 210087 | www.rwngc.org
HAWKSTONE PARK, SHROPSHIRE
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: It's the Hawkstone layout's centenary year.
• Yardage: Hawkstone – 6,116-6,497 (par 72); Championship – 6,472-6,258 (par 72).
• Green fees: From £39.
In a nutshell... The Hawkstone course, is a century old on May 1 and is ably supported by the Championship layout and a fun six-holer.
You'll love... The two contrasting 18-hole layouts create a varied day out or stay and play break. Sandy Lyle was brought up here – his father Alex was the club's pro.
01948 841 775 | www.hpgcgolf.com
ROYAL NORWICH, NORFOLK
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: It only opened at the back end of last season, so it's one of Britain's newest courses.
• Yardage: 5,339-7,209 (par 72).
• Green fees: Day membership £120 includes use of the facilities.
In a nutshell... The new star in the east and we expect this ambitious venue to go from strength to strength after officially being opened by Ian Poulter in September. The club moved from their old Hellesdon home to Weston Park eight miles down the road, with European Golf Design's Ross McMurray ripping up the old course and creating a magical parkland/woodland layout.
You'll love... It looks, feels and plays like it's been around forever thanks to its 350-acre woodland setting. An outstanding combination of holes and brand new facilities.
01603 429928 | www.royalnorwichgolf.co.uk
IPSWICH PURDIS HEATH, SUFFOLK
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: The club is 125 years old.
• Yardage: 6,177-6,439 (par 71).
• Green fees: To Mar 27, £45 inc a full English or a special.
In a nutshell... Serious challenger to Aldeburgh, Woodbridge and Thorpeness as Suffolk's finest. The wonderful Braid heathland has been sited here since 1926 - though the club itself was founded 31 years earlier, in 1895. Opens with a friendly short par-4 but don't be lulled into a false sense of security...
You'll love... The outstanding mix and variety of challenging and rewarding holes.
01473 728941 | www.ipswichgolfclub.com
NAILCOTE HALL, WARWICKS
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: Stages the Farmfoods British Par 3 Championship (Aug 4-7).
• Yardage: 1,048 (par 27).
• Green fees: From £15 for 18 holes.
In a nutshell... If you're looking to put your short game to the ultimate test then this little beauty will oblige. The longest hole is just 140 yards, but underestimate it at your peril... A wonderful way to spend a spring evening.
You'll love... It's immense fun! You can get around in an hour, the greens are tiny, they are often protected by ditches and ponds and, all told, 23 bunkers. All backed up by a smart new clubhouse and 49-room hotel.
02476 466174 | www.nailcotehall.co.uk
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: Ready to celebrate its 125th anniversary.
• Yardage: 6,332-6,474 (par 71).
• Green fees: To Mar 31, £20 midweek, £25 w/e.
In a nutshell... Parkland layout in the heart of the East Midlands, which has benefited from a substantial upgrade carried out by Hawtree Design.
You'll love... The consistent greens – Hawtree completely re-worked two – and their subtle undulations on a challenging but fair parkland course backed up by solid practice facilities including a covered nine-bay floodlit driving range.
0116 2864759 | www.cosbygolfclub.co.uk
In this list: Leeds Castle, Frinton, Royal St. George's, Ashridge, Royal Eastbourne, Sunningdale, Thorndon Park
LEEDS CASTLE, KENT
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: 900 years of history and a great base for The Open.
• Yardage: 5,686 (par 68).
• Green fees: 18 holes - £25 midweek, £29 weekends.
In a nutshell... Possibly the best nine-hole course in England. Designed by Sir Guy Campbell, it was built on the Leeds Castle Estate in 1931 and weaves through dozens of pines while offering incredible views of the castle. Just make sure you book a tour before you leave. Prices start from £26 per adult. What makes it so good? The setting, the variety of holes and the fact you don't expect it. The car park is shared with a pub and the practice facilities are limited to a scruffy putting green and torn hitting nets. But if you can look past the ruggedness, you can't help but admire the cleverness of the layout, which exploits any weakness in your distance control and makes you second-guess almost every club choice.
To play well you need to... Negotiate the blind and tight tee shots. Most of the holes are risk-reward, and feature a mix of doglegs, heavily-slanting fairways and narrow greens guarded by bunkers and severe drop offs.
You'll love... The elevated tee on the par-4 5th. The fairway is huge and you can gain extra yards by bouncing your drive off the road halfway down! The approach then plays to a tiny green, set against the backdrop of the castle and moat. Just don't let the people watching put you off!
01622 767828 | www.leeds-castle.com
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: It celebrates its 125th birthday.
• Yardage: 6,265 (par 71).
• Green fees: £35 midweek, £45 w/e (after 11.30am).
In a nutshell... A golfing rarity in the form of an Essex links course with the par-71 Havers layout - supported by the nine-hole Kirby – featuring Barry Burn-style semi-tidal ditches. As a result, Frinton has been dubbed the "Carnoustie of the South".
You'll love... The clubhouse, constructed in 1904/05, is among the oldest surviving purpose-built golf clubhouses in the country.
01255 674618 | www.frintongolfclub.com
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: It hosts the R&A Women's Senior Amateur in September.
• Yardage: 6,045-6,678 (par 72).
• Green fees: £65 in winter (Mon-Fri).
In a nutshell... Plotted within 350 acres in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the edge of the Chilterns. It's always a joy to play this classic densely tree-lined heathland layout.
You'll love... The short par-4 9th played over a valley to a plateau green and the long par-4 14th played to a narrow green guarded by a big pot bunker front left. You won't find any temporary tees or greens here, either.
01442 842244 | www.ashridgegolfclub.ltd.uk
ROYAL EASTBOURNE, EAST SUSSEX
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: It's one of the most senior of all the "Royal" clubs. • Yardage: 5,826-6,047 (par 70).
• Green fees: £40 midweek, £50 weekends.
In a nutshell... Built on chalk, it drains swiftly and, though not long by modern standards, it's tricky – the comparatively small greens aren't easy to find.
You'll love... Despite appearing delightfully open and inviting, the slopes, bunkers, humps and hollows make it a rather trickier proposition than you might imagine. Royal Eastbourne is refreshingly unstuffy, extremely friendly and exceptionally welcoming.
01323 744045 | www.regc.co.uk
ROYAL ST GEORGE'S, KENT
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: It hosts the 149th Open in July.
• Yardage: 6,340-7,204 (par 70).
• Green fees: £150 Feb to £250 (Sept & Oct).
In a nutshell... One of England's finest links layouts is preparing to host its 15th Open in July - more than any course outside Scotland. It's a quintessential English golf club, where the cabinets and cases in the clubhouse are a treasure trove of Open and amateur history.
You'll love... It's old-fashioned classic links golf with blind shots and pot bunkers aplenty sitting beside a wonderful stretch of Kent coastline with a chance to listen to nothing but skylarks and the Channel lapping the shingle beach. A cracking quartet of short holes include the par-3 16th, which is surrounded by eight bunkers and where Thomas Bjorn came to grief in 2003.
01304 613090 | www.royalstgeorges.com
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: Host of the Senior Open on July 23-26.
• Yardage: 6,085-6,666 (par 70).
• Green fees: £275.
In a nutshell... Two of England's finest inland layouts, the Old and New, where visitors are welcome year round (Mon to Thurs, exc Bank Holidays).
You'll love... Bernhard Langer will be a favourite in July, and says of Sunningdale: "It's absolutely magnificent for the eyes. You see the heather, trees, rolling hills and bunkers. You're really secluded as you play your hole."
01344 621681 | www.sunningdale-golfclub.co.uk
THORNDON PARK, ESSEX
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: The club is celebrating its centenary.
• Yardage: 6,251-6,511 (par 71).
• Green fees: £50 until March 31.
In a nutshell... Harry Colt's century-old masterpiece reached by a tree-lined drive-in and stretches across 240 acres of an Elizabethan deer park.
You'll love... It's a demanding, especially off the tee, but fair test where you finish in style by looking down the 18th at the old clubhouse, the simply stunning Palladian mansion of Thorndon Hall.
01277 810345 | www.thorndonpark.com
In this list: Tewkesbury Park, Bath GC, Exeter G&CC, Bovey Castle, Mullion, Broadway, Wrangaton
TEWKESBURY PARK, GLOS
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: Named among Great Britain's Top 100 Hotels by the Sunday Times, and rated among the Top 100 Golf Resorts in GB&I.
• Yardage: 6,217-6,554 (par 72).
• Green fees: Until Mar 31 - £23 Mon-Thurs, £33 Fri-Sun ((hotel guests play at lower rates).
In a nutshell... It has improved and developed beyond recognition in recent times and is now the complete golf resort, boasting 27 holes including the newly-named par-72 Deerpark, a 93-room luxury hotel with excellent leisure and spa facilities, and two restaurants. It really is a class act.
To play well you need to... The key is always leave it short of the pin on the Deerpark as you'll have an uphill putt... almost all greens putt downhill from the back. Drive well and you can take full advantage of the handful of par-5s (off the yellows) with one, three and 12 all birdieable. Don't over-club on the four par-3s otherwise you'll be dropping shots.
You'll love... Lovingly plotted on a 200-acre site overlooking Cheltenham, the Cotswolds, Severn Valley, Malverns and the Welsh Mountains, where the main attraction - Frank Pennick's Deerpark layout – was built on the town's historic medieval deer park. You'll be putting out on some of the best inland greens in the region, too, and a round here is excellent value for money.
01684 272300 | www.tewkesburypark.co.uk
BATH GC, GLOS
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: Play in the Easter Individual (Stableford) Open on April 10 for £37 (includes lunch).
• Yardage: 6,070-6,505 (par 71).
• Green fees: Sun-Fri £50, Sat £60.
In a nutshell... Smashing downland layout and a real thinker's course. That particularly applies to the risk-reward nature of the opening two short par-4s.
You'll love... The location and the stunning views - on a clear day you can take in the Welsh Beacons – plus it has an excellent set of greens.
01225 466953 | www.bathgolfclub.org.uk
EXETER G&CC, DEVON
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: Another venue celebrating its 125th anniversary.
• Yardage: 6,018 (par 69).
• Green fees: From £40.
In a nutshell... Short but challenging James Braid parkland with a demanding fin ishing stretch – the 17th and 18th are two of four holes created in a fairly recent re-design carried out by Mackenzie & Ebert.
You'll love... It's a great day out with the mature parkland one of Devon's oldest clubs, the tricky par-3 16th and the eye-catching Georgian manor clubhouse.
01392 874139 | www.exetergcc.co.uk
BOVEY CASTLE, DEVON
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: Hosts the Devon PGA Matchplay on April 27-28.
• Yardage: 5,695-6,299 (par 70).
• Green fees: £35 until Mar, £59 Apr-Oct.
In a nutshell... Magical venue on the edge of Dartmoor National Park with the 90-year-old undulating parkland layout being overlooked by a luxury hotel with outstanding amenities and activities. A great place to play and an even better one to stay.
You'll love... Bovey Castle is all about the location, the peace and the solitude miles away from the madding crowds. The risk-reward challenge of the short downhill par-4 opener sets the tone from the start. Other highlights include the thrilling par-3 3rd played through a narrow avenue of trees to a near island green and dicing with the River Bovey on the intimidating SI1 par-4 7th.
01647 445009 | www.boveycastle.com
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: It's been around for 125 years.
• Yardage: 5,871-6,053 (par 70).
• Green fees: £35 a round, £43 per day.
In a nutshell... Perched on the cliffs of the Lizard Peninsula and framed by sandy coves, Mullion is England's most southerly course.
You'll love... It's mystical, off-the-beaten track location is a joy. The pulsating par-4 10th hole guarantees a thrilling start to the back nine involving a blind drive and a nerve-jangling downhill second to a green sitting next to the Atlantic with a ravine on the right.
01326 241176 | www.mulliongolfclub.co.uk
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: The club was founded 125 years ago.
• Yardage: 5,970-6,228 (par 72).
• Green fees: £40 midweek, £50 weekends.
In a nutshell... This underrated layout is chiefly the joint handiwork of James Braid and Alistair MacKenzie, with rolling fairways – some featuring Cotswold drystone walls – and rippling contoured greens.
You'll love... The views. It sits on an escarpment with breathtaking views across the Vale of Evesham to the Malverns and Black Mountains. There's a trio of superb par-3s with the Mackenzie-designed 5th the pick.
01386 853 275 | www.broadwaygolfclub.co.uk
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: It's one of Devon's oldest courses and will also be celebrating its 125th anniversary.
• Yardage: 5,656-6,065 (par 70).
• Green fees: From £15.
In a nutshell... A unique combination of nine open and exposed moorland holes followed by a shorter and tighter parkland reverse nine packed with trees, hedgerows and a battery of bunkers along with a demanding closing stretch of holes.
You'll love... The peace and solitude and being blessed with panoramic views of the Dartmoor countryside.
01364 72161 | www.wrangatongolfclub.co.uk
In this list: Dumbarnie Links, Prestonfield, Kilmarnock, Blairgowrie, The Renaissance Club, West Kilbride, Royal Troon
DUMBARNIE LINKS, FIFE
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: It opens on May 16.
• Yardage: 5,334-7,612 (par 72).
• Green fees: To be confirmed but expected to range from £150-£230.
In a nutshell... Dumbarnie has been in the pipeline for several years, and it's well worth the wait. This is going to be big, very big – probably as big as neighbouring Fife links Kingsbarns. TG's Kevin Brown was among the first to experience the Clive Clark-designed layout along the north shore of the Firth of Forth at the back end of summer and was blown away by its routing, conditioning and setting.
To play well you need to... Firstly, be aware that the course is meant to inspire rather than intimidate (it succeeds), but having said that it plays anything from 5,100 to 7,600 yards so be realistic and play from the right set of tees for your game. The same applies to the two risk-reward holes (5th & 17th) with split fairway options - a 200-year-old wall runs along the spine of the penultimate hole. Finally, keep away from the 500-odd man-made dunes dominating the layout sprinkled with a collection of deep and penal pot bunkers. If you find either, take your medicine and move on.
You'll love... It is plotted on 345 acres of genuine gorgeous sandy linksland - part of the historic Balcarres Estate – with panoramic views across the Forth Estuary to North Berwick. There are sea views from 14 holes, a series of spectacular elevated tees and a trio of driveable par-4s.
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: Celebrating its 100th year.
• Yardage: 5,772-6,206 (par 69/70).
• Green fees: From £30 weekday, from £35 weekends.
In a nutshell... Braid parkland a mile from Edinburgh city centre with a cracking set of short holes and some driveable par-4s. An extensive tree-planting programme over the past decade has significantly improved the definition of many holes.
You'll love... The capital location, sitting under the lee of the volcanic mass of Arthur's Seat and flanked by Holyrood Park, provides stunning views.
0131 667 8597 | www.prestonfieldgolf.co.uk
KILMARNOCK (BARASSIE), AYRSHIRE
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: Sets the scene for the Womens Amateur Championship on June 23-27.
• Yardage: 6,484-6,852 (par 72).
• Green fees: In April - £65 and £220 for a fourball.
In a nutshell... Just down the coast from Royal Troon, this outstanding if somewhat underrated venue has regularly hosted Open qualifying. There's 27 holes of top links action, enabling three different 18-hole configurations, with the Barassie the main attraction.
You'll love... All 27 holes make a perfect links day out at a price that won't inflict too much damage on the pocket.
01292 313920 | www.kbgc.co.uk
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: Stages the R&A's Jacques Leglise Trophy on Aug 28 & 29.
• Yardage: Rosemount – 6,229-6,630 (par 70/72). Lansdowne - 6,408-7,007 (par 71/72). • Green fees: To March - £25 (fairway mats in use).
In a nutshell... Along with Gleneagles, the pride of Perthshire is the home of two contrasting layouts (Rosemount & Lansdowne) which weave through fir, pine, silver birch and swathes of heather.
You'll love... The Rosemount layout in particular, with its tight turf making for easy walking and wonderful ball striking.
01250 872622 | www.theblairgowriegolfclub.co.uk
THE RENAISSANCE CLUB, EAST LOTHIAN
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: The men will be here for the Scottish Open from July 9-12, followed closely by the women's event from August 13-16.
• Yardage: 6,110-7,303 (par 72).
• Green fees: Check for package details.
In a nutshell... Tom Doak's modern links neighbours Archerfield and Muirfield and gets a second bite at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Opens in the summer. Austrian Bernd Wiesberger will be looking to emulate his 2019 triumph over a star-studded field including Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas.
You'll love... The fact that you can get a game thanks to the One Time Experience package, which includes the tastiest of three-course lunches and gives non-members the opportunity to experience one of Scotland's most exclusive venues with limited tee-times available on Monday and Wednesday. Playing from 5,500 to 7,300 yards you can mix and match which tees to play from on a hole-by-hole basis.
01620 850 901 | www.trcaa.com
WEST KILBRIDE, AYRSHIRE
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: Hosts the R&A Womens Senior Home Internationals on Sept 22-24.
• Yardage: 6,146-6,523 (par 71).
• Green fees: In April - £45 a round, £63 per day.
In a nutshell... The most northerly of Ayrshire's true links courses arguably provides the best value and guarantees a great test.
You'll love... The par-416th which stretches across a slender strip of land with farmland on one side and the beach on the other. The challenge is to keep your ball in play - OB comes into play on 12 holes!
01294 823911 | www.westkilbridegolfclub.com
ROYAL TROON, AYRSHIRE
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: Hosting the AIG Women's British Open (Aug 20-23).
• Yardage: Old – 6,170-7,208 (par 71); Portland – 6,162-6,349 (par 72).
• Green fees: Old Course (Mon, Tues & Thurs), £260; Portland (Mon, Tues & Thurs) £90.
In a nutshell... Legendary Ayrshire links. Try to make some pars going out because the back nine is tougher.
You'll love... Pitting your short iron skills against the world-famous Postage Stamp 8th, at 123 yards the shortest hole on the Open rota.
01292 311555 | www.royaltroon.co.uk
In this list: Lahinch, Royal Belfast, Stackstown, Adare Manor, Mount Juliet, Belvoir Park, Killarney,
LAHINCH, CO CLARE
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: Held the 2019 Irish Open, won by Jon Rahm.
• Yardage: 6,339-6,950 (par 72).
• Green fees: €180 – mid-March to end of April.
In a nutshell... The combined handiwork of Old Tom Morris, Alister MacKenzie and Martin Hawtree, Lahinch has been shaped by brilliance – and by nature. It possesses two of Ireland's most iconic holes (Klondyke and Dell) and yet the holes that follow, in the middle of the course, are even better.
To play well you need to... A local caddie will give you the best lines off the tee and help big-time on the greens. As always on ancient rumpled links, stay patient at all times and be ready to hit from a variety of sloping lies, taking the odd dodgy bounce in your stride. You're asked to strike a number of blind shots, most notably the second over Klondyke Hill dominating the par-5 4th, so you can't afford to let your concentration waver for a second.
You'll love... The compactness of the links, which somehow still manages to give plenty of space to holes. Best of all will be the discussions in the bar as to which is the favourite hole. There are too many to choose from and the variety on show just makes it all the more difficult.
00353 657081003 | www.lahinchgolf.com
ROYAL BELFAST, BELFAST
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: Founded in 1881, it's Ireland's oldest club.
• Yardage: 5,961-6,306 (par 70).
• Green fees: From £65.
In a nutshell... Home of a parkland revered for the quality of its greens. The course is receiving some upgrade work, but the soul remains the same with the course wrapping around a glamorous clubhouse.
You'll love... The greens and the setting. Perched on the edge of Belfast Lough, a couple of the holes float right above the water... with Belfast city constantly visible.
028 9042 8165 | www.royalbelfast.com
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: It's 2020 Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington's home club.
• Yardage: 5,802-6,021 (par 71).
• Green fees: From €25 weekday & €35 weekends.
In a nutshell... A parkland on the very edge of Ireland's capital. It rests in the foothills of the Dublin Mountains and has views spilling for miles over Dublin Bay.
You'll love... The Harrington Room, where much of the Irishman's memorabilia is displayed. Stackstown is not about glamour, but it packs a punch with the hillsides and it scores highly on the fun scale.
003531 494 1993 | www.stackstowngolfclub.ie
ADARE MANOR, CO. LIMERICK
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: It's staging the 2026 Ryder Cup and has received many plaudits after a no-expenses-spared redesign by Tom Fazio.
• Yardage: 5,860-7,509 (par 72).
• Green fees: From €320.
In a nutshell... "The Golf Course at Adare Manor", to give it its official title, has been open less than two years, but it has already received numerous global awards. It will also host the Ryder Cup in 2026. In 2020, however, it will see the biggest names in golf at the JP McManus Pro-Am... including Tiger.
You'll love... The Fazio re-design of what was already Ireland's best parkland. This is now a work of art with not a blade of grass out of place and the most remarkable green complexes you will ever encounter (assuming you don't play at Augusta, with which Adare has been favourably compared!).
00353 61605200 | www.adaremanor.com
MOUNT JULIET, CO. KILKENNY
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: Home to the 2020 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (May 28-31).
• Yardage: 6,554-7,264 (par 72).
• Green fees: From €50.
In a nutshell... Deservedly returns to the limelight in 2020 with the national open being held here before (1993-1995) with Faldo, Langer and Torrance the winners. But this will be an altogether bigger affair.
You'll love... The peaceful pace of the place. Designed by Nicklaus, this is an old estate with dramatic trees creating a backbone that is almost idyllic. The 18th is probably where the Open will be won or lost.
00353 56777 3000 | www.mountjuliet.ie
BELVOIR PARK, BELFAST
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: It's staged the Irish Open, Irish PGA, and Irish Closed Championships.
• Yardage: 6,189-6,474 (par 71).
• Green fees: £35 till end of March.
In a nutshell... A Harry Colt piece of magic. The trees today are big and bountiful, but many were planted for the original design, thereby emphasising Colt's vision. Much work is being done to upgrade bunkers.
You'll love... The setting and rhythm of the course. The layout just works beautifully and playing a Harry Colt course always has its thrills. Visit the clubhouse balcony to soak it all in – either before or after your round.
02890 491693 | www.belvoirparkgolfclub.com
KILLARNEY, CO. KERRY
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: Has held four Irish Opens and on Aug 4-6 hosts the R&A's Boys Home Internationals.
• Yardage: 5,608-7,252 (par 72).
• Green fees: From €60 Mon-Thurs, from €70 Fri-Sun.
In a nutshell... This is the heart of Ireland's most famous scenery and the two big parklands are exceptional. The Killeen course has hosted Irish Opens and the Mahony's Point layout interweaves within it.
You'll love... The truly spectacular setting. Both courses have par-3s wrapped up in water and the 18th on Mahony's Point is simply awesome.
00353 64 663 1034 | www.killarneygolfclub.ie
In this list: Celtic Manor, Cardigan, Pennard, Royal St David's, Conwy, Morriston, Royal Porthcawl
CELTIC MANOR, WALES
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: Hosting the International Golf Travel Market (IGTM) in October.
• Yardage: Twenty Ten - 6,570-7,493 (par 71); Roman Road - 5,964-6,239 (par 70); Montgomerie – 6,243 (par 69).
• Green fees: Twenty Ten – from £65; Roman Road – from £26; Montgomerie – from £22.
In a nutshell... THE place to stay and play in the valleys, the pride of south Wales is set in 2,000 acres of undulating parkland at the gateway to Wales next to the M4. It will be back in the limelight next October, just over a decade after staging the Ryder Cup. To play well you need to... Specifically built for the 2010 Ryder Cup, Celtic Manor's main attraction can be long and tough, so make sure you play from the most suitable tees for your handicap. With water featuring on nine holes and a number of risk-reward holes, you need to carefully negotiate your way around. Be realistic and don't bite off more than you can chew and that includes the challenges coming down the stretch with the driveable par-4 15th and the nerve-jangling approach over water to the final green.
You'll love... Following in the footsteps of Monty's 2010 heroes and taking full advantage of the luxury accommodation with the resort regularly offering top value stay and play packages. The other two 18-hole layouts, the Roman Road and Montgomerie, are well worth playing, too.
01633 410263 | www.celtic-manor.com
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: Celebrates its 125th anniversary.
• Yardage: 6,217-6,455 (par 72).
• Green fees: Until Mar 31 - £20 midweek, £25 w/e.
In a nutshell... This coastal layout probably doesn't get the attention it deserves even though it's hosted both regional and international events in the past.
You'll love... It provides a serious all-round examination, the wonderful sea and inland views from every hole, and as it's plotted on sandy, free-draining soil, it's virtually guaranteed to be open and playable throughout the year with not a single temp green in sight.
01239 621775 | www.cardigangolf.com
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: One of four South Wales Coast Links Trophy venues on March 26.
• Yardage: 6.017-6,420 (par 71).
• Green fees: In March - Mon-Thurs, £45 Fri-Sun, £50.
In a nutshell... The so-called "Links in the Sky" – it's on clifftops 200ft above sea level – slides between dunes while routed over classic tumbling linksland. Hummocks, hollows and strategically-placed revetted bunkers wait to gather any wayward strikes.
You'll love... Pennard's highlight is the par-4 7th which heads out to sea from an elevated tee and plays between the ruins of a 13th Century castle.
01792 233131 | www.pennardgolfclub.com
ROYAL ST DAVID'S, GWYNEDD
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: Stages the R&A Girls & Womens Home Internationals on August 5-7.
• Yardage: 6,226-6,629 (par 69).
• Green fees: £60 until Mar 31.
In a nutshell... Arguably shares top links billing in the north with Conwy and, though lacking in length, it's always a good test even if the wind isn't blowing.
You'll love... The par-3s, which vary in length and direction, hold the key to a good score with the round unusually climaxing with a 200-yarder. Overlooked by the towering Harlech Castle perched atop a hill.
01766 780361 | www.royalstdavids.co.uk
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: Hosts the 41st Curtis Cup between GB&I Ireland and the United States (June 12-14).
• Yardage: 6,476-6,910 (par 72).
• Green fees: Spring (Mar 16-Apr 26) - £50.
In a nutshell... Top links with bags of history – 13 years ago it became the first Welsh course to stage final Open qualifying for the 2006 Hoylake championship.
You'll love... The coastal location will take your breath away with several front nine holes running around the estuary while the back nine is played out under the Conwy mountains. Awesome views all around.
01492 592423 | www.conwygolfclub.com
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: It joins the centurion ranks.
• Yardage: 5,490-5,708 (par 68).
• Green fees: £18 weekday, £21 weekends.
In a nutshell... Great value fun, entertaining golf. Though it's on the short side, it's pretty tight in places and shouldn't be underestimated.
You'll love... The excellent value, mature trees both framing and defining most holes and a quality set of greens which are a joy to putt on year-round. You'll do well to master both the three-tiered 6th and signature hole, the par-3 15th.
01792 796 528 | www.morristongolfclub.co.uk
ROYAL PORTHCAWL, BRIDGEND
• Why it should be on your 2020 hit list: Hosts the St Andrews Trophy match between GB&I and Europe on July 23-24.
• Yardage: 6,303-7,068 (par 72).
• Green fees: £145 Mon-Thurs, £155 Fri, £160 w/e.
In a nutshell... If The Open ever goes to Wales, it will be here. It has hosted many prestigious events down the years, including the Walker Cup, seven Amateur Championships and two recent Senior Opens.
You'll love... The cracking opening holes running alongside the coast, the fact it's always in immaculate condition and cosy on-site Dormy House accommodation.
01656 782251 | www.royalporthcawl.com