With the Open fast approaching we have taken a look at some of the best places to play links golf in England.
How many of these courses have you played?
1 Royal Birkdale - It begins as it means to go on, a long, challenging double dog-leg par-4 making an opening par here a badge of honour for even the pros. Others point to the short 12th or the three par-5s in four holes to finish as the highlights but the strength of Birkdale is surely not in the high points but in the lack of low points.
2 Royal St George’s - Wild and windy championship links, founded in 1887, is one of England’s most picturesque, offering stunning views over Pegwell Bay and Kent’s white cliffs. It is deceptively challenging thanks to its severely undulating fairways, tricky greens and a splattering of blind tee shots and pot bunkers.
3 Royal Lytham & St Annes – Classy Lytham combination of honest challenge and straightforward links attractions such as tight seaside turf and deep pot bunkers. Everyone knows it doesn’t have pleasing views but there is plenty enough to like about this fine links and its iconic, statuesque and welcoming clubhouse.
4 Formby - A woodland-links hybrid set in a Site of Special Scientific Interest. A host of the Curtis Cup in 2004 and three Amateur Championships, the pines may give it a different feel to its fellow Southport classics, but fear not – this is still played on proper links turf.
5 Royal Liverpool - The Open venue which receives the least acclaim is, nonetheless, a fine links which will appeal more to ‘strategic’ golfers seeking value for money for good shots than the thrill seeker in search of fanfare.
6 Hillside - It gets overlooked by its superstar neighbour Royal Birkdale in more ways than one but Hillside is a top links in its own right, possessing a great variety of holes including an absolutely stonking back nine.
7 St Enodoc - Widely regarded as Cornwall’s no.1 course and prominently featuring in most Top 100 listings, St Enodoc is a magical place to play with one memorable hole following another. The layout majestically weaves between some giant dunes and is proudly overlooked by a striking refurbished clubhouse.
8 Saunton - Home of two (East & West) fantastic 18-hole courses which unfurl across the wild and spectacular 1000-acre linksland of Braunton Burrow, England’s largest sand dune system. The East is the no.1 layout and once six-times major winner Sir Nick Faldo declared it good enough to stage an Open.
9 Royal Cinque Ports – World class links next to Royal St George’s and the scene of many Championships, including two Opens in 1909 and 1920, the Amateur Championship in 2013 and one of four Final Open Qualifying venues between 2014-2017.
10 Silloth-on-Solway - A top-class links whose reputation would be even higher if it wasn’t housed in such a remote location. It winds between some serious dunes at times, producing some of the finest holes in the whole of England.
11 Burnham and Berrow - A bona fide hidden gem with cleverly-chosen natural green sites and a tough closing stretch. A strong links course beside the Bristol Channel where if the wind blows you will be tested to the limits. A very fair test of golf. Plenty of plaudits for this historic links that is set out on its own a bit like Southerness in Scotland.