Golf, more than anything, is meant to be enjoyable, so we’ve put together a list of 50 fun golf courses in the UK that will make you forget about your scorecard
It’s supposed to be fun from the moment you tee it up to the time you walk off the final green. Whether you’ve played well or, for that matter, been distinctly average, the reason you’ve played is the search of enjoyment.
If that has been achieved, it’s highly likely you’ll be encouraged to go back and play the course again. We’ve scoured the country in search of 50 of the most fun layouts around – and if you don’t drive away from these with a smile on your face, there’s every chance you’re playing the wrong game…
Unusually doesn’t feature any bunkers – or a par 5 for that matter – but you will admire stunning views of the Pennines, Lake District and the hills of the Yorkshire Dales. It’s in terrific year-round condition too.
Green fees: £29 Mon-Sat, £36 Sat. Tel: 017683 51432.
Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland
The towering castle provides a striking backdrop throughout and although the par-68 layout affords numerous birdie chances, you’ll be relieved to walk off the stroke index 1 6th – a 224-yard uphill test – with par.
Green fees: £46 midweek, £50 weekends. Tel: 01668 214378.
Short, testing and natural heathland. Although there are no bunkers to negotiate, you need to be watchful of the swathes of heather, bracken and gorse waiting to collect wayward strikes.
Green fees: £55 midweek, £60 weekends (after 11.30am). Tel: 01442 865832.
Bridport & West Dorset, Dorset
Natural clifftop course with amazing views over Lyme Bay, Chesil Beach and the Dorset countryside. Sitting on the World Heritage Jurassic Coast, it will take your breath away – and nowhere more so than the par-3 6th played from a dramatic elevated tee to a green way down below.
Green fees: £42 (£25 twilight after 3pm). Tel: 01308 421095.
Bude & North Cornwall, Cornwall
Wonderfully runs through the centre of the popular seaside town close to the beach. Bude has been around well over a century. At just over 6,000 yards it’s on the short side – although the sea breezes are always a factor.
Green fees: £28. Tel: 01288 352006.
Buxton & High Peak, Derbyshire
You’re asked to drive over a former quarry, tee it up next to a main road at a downhill par 3 and attempt to drive the green at the short – and ‘blind’ – par-4 18th. Has a great variety of fun holes and it’s been that way since 1887.
Green fees: £10 Thurs, £20 Mon-Wed & Fri, £25 weekends. Tel: 01298 26263.
Alistair MacKenzie created this clever layout well before Augusta was a twinkle in his eye and it plays over undulating moorland terrain with deep ravines and hollows, valleys, raised plateaux, rivers and challenging side slopes. Now ranked among England’s Top 100.
Green fees: £25 Tues, Thurs & Sun, £35 Mon, Wed, Fri & Sat. Tel: 01298 79708.
Charnwood Forest, Leicestershire
Nine-holers don’t come more enjoyable than this mature James Braid heathland. There are no bunkers to negotiate but there’s plenty of heather, gorse, bracken, some deep swales and an ancient rustic stone wall to avoid.
Green fees: £28 (18). Tel: 01509 890259.
Another short Braid classic – although this one is a par-69 moorland and parkland combination which opened in 1894. It’s hilly, so will test you physically as well as mentally.
Green fees: £32 Mon-Thurs, £36 Fri, £40 weekends. Tel: 01332 841864.
Dore & Totley, South Yorkshire
Splendid parkland course on the border of South Yorkshire and Derbyshire. It unusually offers a total of 23 holes – five holes were added to the original layout in 2005, giving D&T different winter and summer layouts.
Green fees: £32 midweek, £38 weekends (Sunday after 4pm, £22). Tel: 0114 236 9872.
Felixstowe Ferry, Suffolk
The par-72 Martello layout is an outstanding gently undulating links providing fabulous coastal views along with a serious golfing examination – especially when the wind is blowing, as it often does. It gets its Martello name from a small 19th century fort which overlooks the course.
Green fees: £50 midweek, £30 weekends (after 3pm). Tel: 01394 286834.
Hamptworth G&Cc, Wiltshire
The $64m question is: can you tame the beast, the 666-yard par-6 16th? You’ll also encounter the river Blackwater, which features on nine holes, and several two-tiered greens.
Green fees: £30. Tel: 01794 390155.
Hillsborough, South Yorkshire
Its name has football connotations, but this is a relatively short but mature – it was founded in 1920 – layout providing breathtaking panoramic views over the Steel City.
Green fees: £25 midweek (after 10am), £35 weekends (after 2pm). Tel: 0114 234 9151.
Horsforth, West Yorkshire
This parkland/moorland combination to the north of Leeds city centre provides a good mix of holes and is usually found in good condition, with the short par-4 10th a great risk-reward hole that tempts many to go for the green even although it’s blind and OB dangerously lurks.
Green fees: £30 midweek, £45 weekends (£25 Sun after 1pm). Tel: 0113 258 6819.
Leeds Castle, Kent
Backdrop to this mature, much-improved nine- holer is the spectacular castle of the same name. Veteran Neil Coles carried out a major re-design and the star hole is the thrilling par- 3 6th which sits next to the castle moat.
Green fees: £24 for 18 holes midweek, £27.50 weekends. Tel: 01622 767828.
A rarity bang on the England-Wales border. It’s where Ian Woosnam was brought up and the quality mature parkland features 15 holes in Wales and three in England – at the 4th you tee-off in Wales and putt out on English soil!
Green fees: From £20. Tel: 01691 830542.
Lyme Regis, Dorset
Clifftop classic with views to match, Lyme Regis is one of the hidden gems of the south west. Perched high on the cliffs, you’ll be blown away by the outstanding coastal vistas, ‘specially from the 16th and 17th holes.
Green fees: £45. Tel: 01297 442963.
Venue with not one, not two, but three 18-hole courses to tackle and they all provide plenty of thrills and are always in great nick. The Avening and Cherington are considered the Championship layouts while the charismatic Old Course sits handsomely on Minchinhampton Common.
Green fees: £50 midweek. Tel: 01453 833840.
North Downs, Surrey
Century-old par-69 parkland layout which sits pretty at 850ft above sea level and even although it’s just under 6,000 yards, it’s pretty tight with good course management required rather than always brawn.
Green fees: From £15. Tel: 01883 652057.
Osbourne House, Isle Of Wight
A place with bags of history, Osbourne House was once owned and much loved by Queen Victoria. Originally, around 1872, just two holes were in play until Royal Naval College officers extended it to nine holes in 1904. Watch out for the elephant bathing pool near the 7th hole.
Green fees: £27.50 midweek, £32.50 weekends. Tel: 01983 295421.
A delightful if somewhat curious par-72 parkland. It is a gently undulating layout that has been around since 1893. It’s quirky in places – featuring a double green and short, driveable par 4s – and overall provides an enjoyable, fun round.
Green fees: £25 midweek, £30 weekends (after 10.30). Tel: 01832 273267.
Golf is an entirely different ball game at this hilltop Cotswolds layout, located 900ft above sea level on Painswick Beacon, one of several pre-Roman Hill Forts in the area. Ancient ramparts of earth and stone feature on as many as five holes.
Green fees: £15 midweek, £20 weekends. Tel: 01452 812615.
This thrilling rollercoaster of a James Braid links dramatically overlooks the popular holiday town’s glorious beach and is full of quirks, twists and turns as you’re regularly required to hit several ‘blind’ drives, usually over giant sand dunes.
Green fees: £38 midweek, £45 weekends. Tel: 01872 572454.
Scenic parkland course with a great mix of long and short holes where accurate shot- shaping is essential. You especially need to take careful aim at the 9th and 17th, the former featuring a three-tier green.
Green fees: £40 midweek (county card holders). Tel: 01625 828241.
Royal West Norfolk, Norfolk
Brancaster, as it is more commonly known, is simply unique, like stepping back in time to a forgotten era. The course is majestically plotted on a narrow, natural strip of linksland between Brancaster Bay and the sea marshes and is cut off from the mainland at high tide.
Green fees: From £50 (foursomes). Tel: 01485 210087.
Royal Worlington, Suffolk
Not an ordinary nine-hole course. This one is steeped in history and pedigree. It was founded in 1893 and is wonderfully laid out on gently undulating sandy-based soil that drains well all year round.
Green fees: £30 after 4pm. Tel: 01638 717787.
Sand Martins, Berkshire
A Berkshire gem and a game of two halves: the outward nine holes are parkland in nature, containing lakes, streams and dog-legs, while the home holes have a ‘linksy’ feel as you have to plot around deep revetted bunkers.
Green fees: £45 midweek.Tel: 0118 902 9967.
Stinchcombe Hill, Gloucestershire
Play at this Dursley course and it will feel like you’re on top of the world: it’s located on the southern edge of the Cotswold escarpment above the Severn Valley and Henry Longhurst described it as one of the most scenic courses in all of Europe.
Green fees: £25. Tel: 01453 543878.
Sutton Bridge, Lincolnshire
Fun, quirky and challenging nine-holer uniquely plotted within a collapsed Victorian dock basin next to the river Nene. Get too close to the old sea wall running through the layout and there’s every chance you’ll be dropping shots.
Green fees: £15 for 18 holes. Tel: 01406 350323.
A picture-postcard Lake District course with, as you would expect, to-die-for views as well as USGA-spec greens. There are plenty of testing holes, starting at the opener where you have to clear a cliff face.
Green fees: £35 (book online). Tel: 015394 43550.
The Wrekin is a hilltop which towers over the area and the short-but-sweet course may lack par 5s but it’s no stroll in the park owing to the fact the fairways are tight and sloping… so you’ll do well to nd them!
Green fees: £30 midweek, £40 weekends. Tel: 01952 244032.
It sits right next to legendary Gleneagles and is a splendid, easy-walking parkland layout with a variety of challenging holes – it may be under 6,000 yards but it is still a good all- round test of your game.
Green fees: £45.50 Mon-Thurs. Tel: 01764 662804.
Blairgowrie (Wee), Perthshire
A thoroughly delightful and charming nine- hole heathland contrasts beautifully with the club’s highly-regarded neighbouring 18-hole layouts (Lansdowne and Rosemount). It formed part of the original Alister MacKenzie layout and guarantees loads of fun.
Green fees: £17.50. Tel: 01250 872622.
Timeless James Braid design and everyone who plays here comes off buzzing – not because they accidentally touched one of the green-protecting electrified fences but because it is one of the most enigmatic, exhilarating links courses around.
Green fees: £40 after 4pm. Tel: 01408 621417.
Cullen is distinctively dominated by towering stacks of rusty red sandstone jutting out of the fairways and you’ve got to play from, round and over them. All this drama unfolds on a thin strip of land on the Moray coast.
Green fees: £21 midweek, £26 weekends. Tel: 01542 840685.
A course breathtakingly plotted at the heart of malt whisky country in Speyside, providing an experience likely to leave you punch drunk – especially the stand-out 7th and 10th holes, which have been placed in ‘Britain’s 100 Extraordinary Golf Holes’.
Green fees: £20. Tel: 01340 820325.
Sometimes the views on a links can be underwhelming but that’s definitely not the case at this sensational track on the East Neuk of Fife. On arrival, you can’t fail to notice the Starter’s Office – a submarine periscope juts out of the top of it! It guides you down the 1st on this high-calibre links.
Green fees: £97 a day (midweek). Tel: 01333 330301
An underrated clifftop course with several memorable holes with the undoubted signature being the intimidating par-3 6th – a nerve-jangling par 3 played across a vast chasm with waves crashing way down below.
Green fees: £30 midweek, £35 weekends. Tel: 01890 750004.
North Berwick, East Lothian
Links golf just doesn’t get any more enjoyable, fun and entertaining than the fabled West Links. ‘Blind’ shots, greens guarded by drystone walls and unique bunkers – this St Andrews lookalike has it all, including a brilliant run of holes to finish.
Green fees: £75-£110. Tel: 01620 895040.
Like North Berwick, Prestwick is well worth paying the extra financial outlay. It is, after all, the birthplace of The Open and has hosted the event 24 times, a record exceeded only by the Old Course at St Andrews. It’s not cheap, but history and entertainment on this level are rare.
Green fees: £235 per day (midweek). Tel: 01292 477404.
St Andrews (Eden), Fife
Proudly sits close to the fabled Old Course but is very much an unsung hero at the Home of Golf, even ‘though the par-70 layout is only slightly more forgiving than its counterparts on the seaward side of the Links. It was created by Harry Colt in 1914. Green fees: From £22. Tel: 01334 466666.
Traigh, West Highlands
Remote nine-holer with a couple of stunning par 3s and a par-4 penultimate hole involving a blind drive and second shot! The views are pretty special too so don’t forget to put your cash in the ‘Honesty Box’ if nobody is around!
Green fees: £20. Tel: 01687 450337.
Whalsay, Shetland Isles
Britain’s most northerly 18-hole course sits in a wild and inspiring environment, guaranteeing a unique experience. There’s even a good chance that you’ll spot a group of killer whales gliding down the bay by the 7th fairway! The club was formed in 1976 by a group of deep sea fishermen.
Green fees: £25. Tel: 01806 566705.
This 10-hole hilltop track is protected by hillocks, rocks and other natural hazards and features several ‘blind’ holes. Flat lies are few and far between and the opening hole is a severe 231-yard uphill thump.
Green fees: £15 for 10 holes midweek, £20 at weekends. Tel: 01678 520359.
Borth & Ynyslas, Ceredigion
Out-and-back and not-so-demanding traditional links overlooking Cardigan Bay on the river Dovey estuary. With generous fairways, there’s every chance of scoring well on a wind-free day… the only trouble is calm days are a rarity in these parts.
Green fees: From £30. Tel: 01970 871202
It calls itself ‘the links in the sky’ and that just One of a kind Lahinch is bursting with unique holes. about sums it up: Pennard is perilously and magnificently perched on towering clifftops and one stunning hole follows another.
Green fees: From £25. Tel: 01792 233451.
St Davids City, Pembrokeshire
You’ve probably never heard of this little nine- holer (with 18 tees) outside Britain’s smallest city (St Davids), which happens to be the most westerly course in Wales. The gorgeous coastal views are worth the green fee alone.
Green fees: £20 per day. Tel: 0752 700 4015.
West Monmouthshire, Monmouth
Home of the highest course in Britain and it’s not surprising that it provides sensational Brecon Beacons views – especially from the 14th tee, which is the highest point at more than 1,500ft (460m) above sea level.
Green fees: From £12. Tel: 01495 310233.
Cruit Island, Co Donegal
A true natural nine-hole par-68 links set on the edge of the wild and rugged Atlantic ocean – the next stop is America – and you’ll savour panoramic views that will take your breath away. There’s no chance you will come here and play just one loop of the nine…
Green fees: From €15 (£13). Tel: 00353 74 9543296.
Lahinch, Co Clare
Magical 125-year-old links that has been described as ‘The St Andrews of Ireland’. One of many highlights is the par-5 4th – when you’re asked to hit a shot over the ‘V’ in the Klondyke Hill which towers over the fairway – and the iconic ‘Dell’ hole that follows it.
Green fees: From €50 (£44) (midweek in December/January). Tel: 00353 65 708 1003.