How many of these unusual golf courses have you played?
1 Bala - This ten-holer is short but exceptionally sweet. But the hilltop layout can turn sour from the word go – the opening hole is a severe 231 yards uphiller and if you fail to give it a mighty thump your ball could end up tumbling back towards you. Bala is protected by hillocks and rocks and other natural hazards and features several ‘blind’ holes with flat lies are few and far between.
2 Whalsay - Britain’s most northerly 18-hole course and its wild and inspiring Shetland environment guarantees a unique golfing experience – don’t be surprised to see a group of killer whales gliding down the bay by the 7th fairway! You might also be watched by seals and otters and an amazing array of birdlife.
3 Royal Epping Forest - It is laid out over the old hunting grounds of King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I and where infamous highwayman Dick Turpin roamed in the 1730s. But since 1888 it’s been the home of a fun but challenging and quirky golf course – you can only play it if you’re wearing something red!
4 Llanmynech – It’s right on the England-Wales border and is where Ian Woosnam first learnt to play. The quality mature parkland is pretty unique with 15 holes played in Wales and three in England - at the 4th hole you drive off in Wales and putt out on English soil!
5 Sutton Bridge - One of the quaintest nine-hole layouts in the country and the outcome of an ancient maritime disaster – the layout is plotted around collapsed dock walls which form are an intrinsic part of the course. You’re frequently asked to hit up and over the 20ft walls - on eight of the nine holes you can potentially find yourself on the 'wrong level' and be forced to pitch back to safety. Carefully plot your way round to avoid being literally driven up the wall…
6 Painswick - Golf is an entirely different ball game at this hilltop layout in the Cotswolds. Located 900ft above sea level on Painswick Beacon – one of several pre-Roman Hill Forts built in the area – Painswick and quirkiness go hand in hand, living together in perfect harmony. The ancient ramparts of earth and stone which feature on five holes must have provided a daunting prospect to any would-be attackers and now they do likewise for all golfing ‘invaders.’
7 Church Stretton - Besides being the third highest course in Britain, this little Shropshire beauty is arguably one of the most scenic and quirkiest courses around – it uniquely opens with three par-3s, the 1st being an uphill 180 yarder!
8 Rudding Park - This popular Harrogate venue’s Repton Course is an absolute belter with ‘all’ six holes being USGA-spec and replicas of half-a-dozen of golf’s most famous short holes – the penultimate hole is a Sawgrass 17th island green lookalike and even plays to the same yardage (137 yards).
9 Royal West Norfolk – Wonderfully plotted on a narrow, natural strip of linksland between Brancaster Bay and the sea marshes and cut off from the rest of the world at high tide! For some, it would be quirky in the extreme but as far as we’re concerned it’s not only great fun but highly challenging though you need to avoid the stand-out sleepered bunkers at all costs.