Fancy playing somewhere new, different, fun and quirky….courses guaranteed to provide an unusual golfing challenge and experience. Well, the 22 UK courses listed below will definitely fulfill all those requirements as well as providing a round to remember. Forever…..
*Bala, Gwynedd, Wales
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.
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.
*Royal Epping Forest, London
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!
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!
*Sutton Bridge, Lincs
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…
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.’
*Church Stretton, Shropshire
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!
*Rudding Park, North Yorkshire
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).
*Royal West Norfolk, 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.
*Askernish – South Uist
Outer Hebridean home of “the most natural golf course in the world” and ranked in Britain’s Top 100 Courses. Old Tom Morris’s original 1891 creation was lost for decades before a group of locals stepped in to recover the ‘lost course’ just over a decade ago with the eagerly-awaited re-opening taking place in 2008.
* Charnwood Forest, Leics
Attractive, mature James Braid heathland and very much a hidden gem. No bunkers to negotiate but there’s plenty of heather, gorse, bracken, some deep swales and an ancient rustic stone wall to avoid.
*Hebden Bridge, West Yorks
Pretty course on a hillside at 1,000ft above sea level, taking full advantage of the natural contours. Though short it shouldn’t be treated lightly and, owing to its lofty location, the wind is nearly always a factor. Also, beware of the devilishly difficult greens with their subtle borrows.
*Leeds Castle, Kent
The mature parkland layout opened in the mid-1920s but went up a notch in 1988 when Neil Coles carried out a major re-design while nine years later a thrilling new par-3 6th hole was created beside the spectacular castle’s moat.
A rollercoaster of a James Braid clifftop layout breathtakingly overlooking the coast – at times, it feels like you’re playing on the moon! Be prepared to hit several ‘blind’ drives – just aim for the marker posts atop towering dunesland and pray!
Chiefly a two-ball course promoting foursomes (alternate shot play) and a par-5 less one at that. Plotted on classic heathland with gorse-lined fairways, it’s close to the coast and its fast-draining sandy soil means it’s in great year-round condition.
* Seaton Carew, Teesside
One of England’s finest links layouts and oozes history and tradition, being the 10th oldest course in the country. It provides a memorable challenge in the dunes north of the mouth of the River Tees throughout the year, unusually having 22 holes in play.
Short, testing and natural quality heathland course and though there are no bunkers to contend with you need to be watchful of the swathes of heather, bracken and gorse waiting to gobble up any wayward shots.
*Nefyn & District, North Wales
Altogether there are 26 holes at Nefyn but it’s the back eight (holes 11-18) on the Old Course which take centre stage.They’re dramatically, spectacularly perched on a fairly narrow strip of land on a peninsula towering high above the coastline so if the wind is blowing you could be in for a torrid time.
*Pennard, South Wales
The club calls its course 'the links in the sky' - a fine description of a layout perilously and magnificently perched on clifftops. Some truly stunning holes.
*North Berwick, East Lothian
A championship course which has more than a hint of crazy golf about it. Blind shots, greens guarded by drystone walls and unique bunkers – North Berwick is simply sensational fun as well as a great test.
Golf courses just don’t come more historic, quirkier or more fun than Prestwick, the birthplace of The Open – the world’s oldest championship started here in 1860 and hosted the event 24 times, a record exceeded only by the Old Course at St Andrews.
*St Enodoc, Cornwall
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, including the towering Himalaya famously overlooking the 6th green.