There’s no need to pack those clubs away and leave them gathering cobwebs in the garage until the new season finally arrives: not when there’s 44 cracking year-round courses around like those listed below. They’re all in excellent condition whatever time of the year you pitch up and play with no mats and temporary tees and greens in sight. So what are you waiting for?
Northumberland’s finest is a classic James Braid links and is in tip-top condition year round providing awesome North Sea, Holy Island and Bamburgh Castle views.Not only a regional Open qualifying venue, but a serious test of golf specially when the wind is blowing.
Green fees: £47 midweek, £57 weekends. Tel: 01289 387 256.
The par-70 Moorland is usually the no.2 course at this fine Marriott venue – but not in winter. The sand-based Moorland takes over from neighbouring rolling parkland track the Priory and picks up after a tame par-3 opening.
Green fees: From £40. Tel: 01332 836002.
BRIGHTON & HOVE
Smashing little downland nine holer high up on the Sussex Downs which benefits from exceptional drainage – it only closes for snow! It’s the oldest club in the county and with 18 different tees provides an interesting and varied challenge.
Green fees: £24 for 18 holes (midweek), £28 weekends.Tel: 01273 556482.
Cracking Caldy is a brightly shining clifftop star on the Wirral Peninsula alongside the river Dee and boasts USGA-spec tees and green and outstanding year-round golf. Unsung hero of the north west’s much lauded Golf Coast,
Green fees: Winter rates – £35 midweek, £40 weekends. Tel: 0151 625 5660.
Proud home of Yorkshire’s oldest course and the White Rose county’s only true Championship links, Cleveland has been thrilling and challenging golfers from near and wide since 1887.
Green fees: Winter rate – from £15. Tel: 01642 471798.
Classy Alister MacKenzie heathland layout perched 800ft above sea level and though relatively short it shouldn’t be underestimated, specially with swathes of penal heather and gorse lining most fairways.
Green fees: Winter rate – from £30. Tel: 01892 661511.
Underrated links even though it has been on its Embleton site since 1900. Highlights include teeing off on top of a giant sand dune at the breathtaking par-4 6th and the delightful par-3 13th overlooked by the eerie ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle.
Green fees: £27 midweek, £31 weekends. Tel: 01665 576562.
Widely regarded as one of the Britain’s best inland layouts and think of Turnberry without the sea and, in a nutshell, you’ve got glorious Ganton.Sitting atop sandy, free-draining soil, Ganton is nearly always playable and in great nick.
Green fees: Winter four-ball – £200 (Mon-Fri). Tel: 01944 710329.
Plotted within the striking Ogden moors, this is also something of an underrated layout even though it was initially the handiwork of James Braid and later altered by Dr Alister MacKenzie. Often open when neighbouring courses are closed.
Green fees: Winter rates – £15 midweek, £20 weekends. Tel: 01422 240047.
Wonderful clifftop layout which sits within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It’s on the short side but it’ll test you all the way thanks to the prevailing south-westerly winds and undulating terrain.
Green fees: £30 midweek, £40 weekends. Tel: 01271 862 176.
You’ll find this quality links and Final Open Qualifying venue on Romney Marshes and it’s well worth checking out the course where Harry Colt established himself as a leading player in the 1890s.
Green fees: Winter rate – £50. Tel: 01797 363355.
Parkland golf doesn’t come much better than this, a wonderful rollercoaster of a track plotted amidst 365 stunning acres of exquisite Cotswold countryside on the edge of the village of Castle Combe which played a starring role in the ‘War Horse’ movie.
Green fees: Winter rates – £30 midweek, £35 weekends. Tel: 01249 728806.
This Surrey layout’s claim to fame is that, at 850ft above sea level, it’s the highest course in the south of England.This short-but-sweet par-69 track also happens to be based on chalk high on the Downs so therefore drains rapidly and is playable year-round.
Green fees: £25 midweek, £35 weekends. Tel: 01883 652057.
It sits next to Royal pair St George’s and Cinque Ports, but Prince’s has something not even its world-famous neighbours can match….27 holes of quality links golf. Prince’s boasts three outstanding loops of nine (Dunes, Shore & Himalayas) and has plenty of history of its own, delivering a memorable 1932 Open won by Gene Sarazen.
Green fees: Winter rates – £50 Mon-Thurs, £60 Fri-Sun. Tel: O1304 611118.
ST ANNES OLD LINKS
Honest if unspectacular – it’s relatively flat and featureless – but nevertheless boasts a good variety of holes with the stand-out being the short 9th – so good that the legendary Bobby Jones took measurements of it so he could recreate it in America.
Green fees: Winter rates – £45 (midweek), £55 (Sundays). Tel: 01253 723597.
This top north eastern links probably doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. It is a joy to play year-round, unusually providing 22 holes with the pick being ‘Snags,’ the awesome 390-yards par-4 390-yards penultimate hole.
Green fees: Winter rates – £35 (Mon), £27 (Tues) & £35 (weekends). Tel: 01429 890660.
A splendid all round modern complex with the main attraction being the par-72 Manor course set in 240 acres of rolling Test Valley countryside and plotted on free-draining chalk downland which ensures the course is always playable.
Green fees: £20 midweek, £25 weekends. Tel: 01264 357555.
Quite rightly a Top 100 venue and the scene of GB&I’s famous 1957 Ryder Cup victory over the Americans, this heathland classic is plotted on relatively flat terrain on both sides of the busy A57 and is an absolute delight to play unusually signing off with a demanding par-3.
Green fees: Winter rate – £50. Tel: 01909 475820.
The sole Somerset course to make the list but with its springy downland turf, The Mendip – nearly 1,000ft above sea level – is always a joy to play. It originally set out as a nine holer but the par-71 layout has undergone significant improvements in recent times.
Green fees: £28. Tel: 01749 840793.
Designed by James Braid in the early 1920s, this splendid heathland is both scenic and challenging featuring a strong combination of holes, rounding-off with an uphill par-4 with the line into the final green being the towering ‘House in the Clouds.’
Green fees: Winter rates – £35 midweek, £45 weekends. Tel: 01728 454926.
Not Harry Colt’s best known course by a long chalk but it is among his most spectacular – a breathtaking combination of links and clifftop action, hence being dubbed Devon’s very own Pebble Beach!
Green fees: £36-£50. Tel: 01548 560715.
The pride of Cornwall is a much better known Colt coastal course creation, majestically overlooking Constantine Bay and it features a fantastic array of holes. It’s always in tip-top condition too and the greens are good and true as you’ll find anywhere.
Green fees: Winter rate – £40. Tel: 01841 520208.
Mature parkland layout with excellent drainage, and featuring several classy holes, including the par-3 16th with its two-tier green at the bottom of a valley. You can warm-up in style too on the superb covered two-tier floodlit driving range.
Green fees: Winter rates – £23 Mon-Thurs, £31 Fri-Sun. Tel: 01394 382836.
This fun and quirky St Ives links doesn’t get the credit and attention it deserves despite the fact it is Cornwall’s oldest course. Thanks to being sand-based, it drains well and allows year-round play.
Green fees: From £40. Tel: 01736 753401.
Steeped in history and pedigree, wonderful West Lancs guarantees a memorable golfing experience. Founded in 1873, it’s the oldest club in Lancashire and there’s barely a weak hole in sight. But there are plenty of very, very good ones!
Green fees: £200 per midweek four-ball. Tel: 0151 924 1076.
This unsung Surrey venue in the heart of picturesque Halliloo Valley has got plenty to offer including the fact it was built to USGA-spec and sits on fast-draining chalk which means it’s usually open when other courses in the area are closed.
Green fees: £25 midweek, £35 weekends. Tel: 01883 653 501.
England Golf’s pride and joy and in many eyes, the Hotchkin is the country’s no.1 inland layout. It truly is a classic heathland course but clearly no stroll in the park – the Hotchkin is seriously tough and you need to avoid the enormous crater-like bunkers…or else!
Green fees: Winter rate – £55 (England Golf member). Tel: 01526 352511.
This modern Donald Steel links has developed into a bright new star and Scotland’s East Lothian Golf Coast and boasts challenging greens, cavernous bunkers and spectacular views over the Firth of Forth and towards Edinburgh and Fife.
Green fees: Winter rates – £35 midweek, £45 weekends. Tel: 01875 870800.
Home of the seventh oldest golf club in the world and two contrasting links (Balcomie and Craighead) with Old Tom Morris’s and former still as zesty and exciting as it must have been back in the late 1800s.
Green fees: Winter rate – £36. Tel: 01333 450686.
Another top modern links, Dundonald opened in 2003 and is the handiwork of Kyle Phillips although it looks – and plays – as if it’s been around for a century! It held the Ladies Scottish Open this summer and is the venue for the 2017 Scottish Open.
Green fees: Winter rate – £50 midweek, £60 weekends. Tel: 01294 314000.
Something of an Ayrshire hidden gem even though it’s been around since 1887! A worthy neighbour of Royal Troon, Prestwick and Turnberry and has a well deserved reputation for some of the best greens in Scotland.
Green fees: Winter rates – £30 (midweek), £40 (weekends). Tel: 01292 313920.
Another underrated East Lothian layout, this wonderful old links borders Craigielaw and spectacularly overlooks the Firth of Forth and the quick, deceptive greens guarantee a real putting examination.
Green fees: Dec-Mar – £40 midweek, £50 weekends. Tel: 01875 870358.
The Medal course is a qualifying venue for the Open Championship at nearby Carnoustie and is a bit of a hybrid, a links course with trees. It’s also a zesty test with rollicking ground and always a breezy accompaniment.
Green fees: Dec-Feb – £25. Tel: 01382 532767.
Home of another Medal layout and this crusty old links dates back to the 16th century. There are two parts to the modern Medal – the first follows the lines of the dunes and beach while the second plays back towards town before returning to the dunes. You’ll adore both.
Green fees: Winter rate – £34. Tel: 01674 672634.
Another beefy Angus course located between Monifieth and Carnoustie and the 16th oldest golf club in the world dates back to 1845, and is one of the 26 clubs that originally helped purchase the historic Amateur Championship trophy.
Green fees: Winter rate – £30. Tel: 01241 852460.
1947 McKenzie Ross designed course set on a low-lying curve of linksland fringing the Mersehead Sands and Solway Firth and with at least eight par-4s over 400 yards it’s bound to test you every inch of the way.
Green fees: Winter rates – £33 midweek, £38 weekends. Tel: 01387 880677.
BORTH & YNYSLAS
Smashing out-and-back traditional links that overlooks Cardigan Bay on the River Dovey estuary. With generous fairways, there’s a good chance of scoring well on a calm day although they’re something of a rarity in these parts.
Green fees: From £30. Tel: 01970 871 202.
One of Wales’ finest links, right up there alongside mighty Royals Porthcawl and St David’s of the Principality but beware of the ultra-demanding stretch of holes. Has hosted Open final qualifying and you can tackle it in 2-FORE!-1 through the winter.
Green fees: Winter rates – £28 (midweek), £33 (Sun). Tel: 01492 593400.
NEFYN & DISTRICT
A wonderful if often windswept – the Old Course is spectacularly perched on a peninsula towering high above the coastline – place to play though you can seek refuge in the Ty Coch Inn conveniently located close to the 12th green!
Green fees: Jan-Mar – £25 (Sun-Fri) & £29 (Sat). Tel: 01758 720102.
PYLE & KENFIG
With one of the best back nines in the UK, P&K is a grossly under-rated course.
The front half is perfectly decent but the course really bursts into life on the back nine with holes wonderfully weaving between towering dunesland.
Green fees: Nov-Feb – £120 per four-ball. Tel: 01656 783093.
ROYAL ST DAVID’S
This celebrated links is laid out on fairly flat land but is always interesting, always classy and has a stirring closing stretch of holes, unusually featuring a par-3 finale. It is overlooked by stunning Harlech castle.
Green fees: Winter rates – £42 Sun-Fri, £47 on Sat. Tel: 01766 780361.
One of Wales’ oldest clubs offers a stunning James Braid links with several unique holes – stand out is the par-4 4th with its hidden green – fast and undulating greens and superb views across to Caldey island. It’s in tip-top condition year-round.
Green fees: Winter rates – from £25. Tel: 01834 844447.
Clifftop classic down the coast from world-famous Royal County Down but likely to be more fun to play. It’s that special and dramatic, providing great value for money, specially at this time of year, besides a memorable round.
Green fees: Winter rate – £30. Tel: 028 44 841022.
PORTMARNOCK HOTEL LINKS
Sits next to the legendary links of Portmarnock, but easier on the eye than its superstar neighbour. It opened in 1995 and was the first links layout designed by Bernhard Langer who took full advantage of the dominant dunesland.
Green fees: Winter rates – 55euros midweek & 70euros weekends (45euros/55euros hotel residents). Tel: 003531 866 6592.