Call us now on

0800 201 4811

The Best Golf Courses in the UK

Mark Gale

Mark Gale



Golf is a sport like no other. A game for all ages, its handicapping system makes the meeting of complete beginners and professionals a fair contest. 

With spring just around the corner and summer fast approaching, now is a great opportunity to get out on the fairway and get practising your golf skills. We've looked into some of the best golf courses in the UK, including golf courses in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to get you ready and eager to tee off this spring and summer.


St Andrews (Old)

Known as the 'Home of Golf' (golf has been played here since the 1400s!), St Andrews is one of the world's oldest golf courses and has hosted more Opens than any other.

All keen golfers should play this course at least once. It's 17th hole, sharply bending around the Old Course Hotel, is probably the most famous in the world. But this course takes no prisoners. Although it looks straightforward, the fairway's undulations are much deeper than you expect, as are the sand traps (including the aptly named Hell bunker!).


You catch only rare glimpses of the sea at Carnoustie, but what this course lacks in scenery it makes up for in difficulty. It is widely considered one of the world's most difficult courses.

It is also renowned for John Van de Velde's disastrous paddle in the Barry Burn on the 18th hole in 1999. But it's not just the water you need to watch out for. The course hosts a score of formidable bunkers.

Trump Turnberry (Ailsa)

Arguably the most scenic of the Open Championship courses, this course sits atop a rocky headland overlooking the small island of Ailsa Craig in the Firth of Clyde and offers stunning views across the Mull of Kintyre and the Isle of Arran.

It is the most recent addition to the Open Championship rotation, and was the setting for the famous battle between Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson -- the 18th hole has been renamed 'Duel in the Sun' to pay homage to this memorable tussle. 

Royal Dornoch

Situated on the north-east Highlands coastline, it's likely to be a fair journey for most to reach Royal Dornoch, but it's well worth the effort. It is wild, isolated and spellbindingly beautiful.

Although a fairly straightforward course, many of the greens are built on natural raised ground. These domed greens became the trademark of Donald Ross, born in Dornoch, who became one of the greatest golf course architects of all time.


Royal St George's

Blending beautifully into its coastal Kent surroundings, playing this course gives superb views over Pegwell Bay and the white cliffs of Dover. Each hole is different and memorable in its own way.

Of particular note is the Himalaya bunker of the 4th. Living up to its name, it's cut into a huge dune and is the UK's tallest and deepest bunker -- a scorecard wrecker if ever you've seen one! It was also the first English course to host the Open Championship.

Sunningdale (Old)

One of the few inland courses we've included in our list, this tree-lined course is set in the superb Surrey countryside, with a huge oak standing beside the 18th hole. Its memorable elevated 10th tee is a fabulous driving hole, and the halfway hut sitting behind the 10th green offers much-welcomed refreshments.

Royal Lytham & St Anne's

With a quirky layout, starting with a par three (the only course to do this in the Open Championship circuit), this course only improves as you progress. Although definitely a links course, it no longer has sea views, lying half a mile inland. But it is an extremely tough course, with only Carnoustie considered tougher on the British Open circuit.

Northern Ireland

Image Credit: 

Royal County Down

Just 30 miles south of Belfast, this must be another of the UK's most scenic courses. Sitting at the foot of majestic mountains, with the Irish Sea sweeping beneath it, it is characterised by rugged sand dunes, a palette of purple heather and yellow gorse, and naturally rippling fairways.

Royal Portrush

This course's dramatic entrance lives up to its intimidating nature. Although it has few bunkers, many natural hazards create problems for even the most seasoned golfers. Take the appropriately named 14th hole, Calamity, for example, which is played uphill over a huge ravine.

But with magnificent sea views, this classic seaside links offers plenty to ease your golfing woes. From the third tee, you can even see the island of Islay on a clear day!

Royal Portrush is set to host The 148th Open in 2019, so now is the perfect opportunity to test your skills. The ever-changing wind here provides as tough a test as any Open venue.

The only Northern Ireland course to have hosted the Open, in 1951, it will return to the Open rotation in 2019.


Image Credit:

Royal Porthcawl

Just 20 miles from Swansea, this course borders the Bristol Channel. Its lack of trees and dunes leaves you exposed to Atlantic gales. And with pot bunkers lurking throughout, you'll be pushed to find a tougher golfing challenge in Wales.

Nefyn & District

A couple of years ago,  Peter Ellegard outlined for us some of the best golf courses in the UK. As per his recommendation,  Nefyn & District remains in the list; still boasting of sheer drama it's laid out in part on the clifftop of a rocky peninsula. Make sure you stop off for a pint at the beachside Ty Coch pub below the 12th hole.

Like this article? Subscribe to receive updates...
Subscribe to receive notifications when we post new articles to our online magazine.
By subscribing to these updates you’re agreeing to receive email updates when new articles are published to the McCarthy & Stone online magazine.
We’ll never send you spam or sell your details. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Related Articles


Spotlight on York

A city of extraordinary cultural and historical wealth woven into  every  brick and beam, York seeps history at every turn. ...Read more


Summer Events in 2019 To Look Out For

The summer season is packed with a variety of events to appeal to a range of interests and ages. Savour the delights of new and exciting cuisine, enjoy the thrill of world-class horse racing and discover the latest super cars, at events taking place across the summer months.  ...Read more


It's All Greek To Us

Sparkling white beaches, deep blue seas, sugar-cube villages and venerable ancient sites make the
Greek islands an idyllic holiday destination for many. Tourists can immerse in the Greek cuisine,
century-old sites and local culture each island has to offer, while enjoy luxurious accommodation
and the locals’ warm and welcoming hospitality. ...Read more


Fishing for Fun

Looking for an exhilarating and challenging activity that brings a sense of serenity and calmness? We think we’ve found the perfect catch. ...Read more


It’s time to start living life to the full again

A McCarthy & Stone Retirement Living Plus apartment is about getting more from life for the over 70s. It’s the perfect combination really - company when you want it, help when you could use it, care when you need it. And all in the comfort of your own stylish new home. ...Read more


Explore Our Menu

Retirement Living PLUS is all about making life easier. This includes providing a great value in-house restaurant or bistro, where you can enjoy freshly prepared food in good company. ...Read more


Staying Cool and Well During A Heatwave

Although warmer weather can be a welcome sight for many, the increased temperatures can lead to
added risks for some, particularly those with health issues or those that are more vulnerable. Stay well with these tips.  ...Read more


The History of Father's Day

Father’s Day is the perfect time to thank fathers and father figures for their help and support. In this post, McCarthy & Stone look at the history of Father’s Day. ...Read more


A New Adventure 

Colin and Pat Mackay are looking forward to making the most of their retirement following their move to North Berwick.

...Read more


The Benefits of Downsizing in Retirement

There are many benefits of downsizing and if this is something you are considering, here, we share our knowledge about downsizing, and explain why it could be one of the best things you can do for your retirement.   ...Read more


Blooming Marvellous: The Chelsea Flower Show

The world-famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show. It’s the most glamorous day out in the gardening calendar.

The grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea are once again blooming with flora as the Royal Horticultural Society prepares to welcome 157,000 spectators to their annual five-day flower festival in May. ...Read more


Working After Retirement – Is It For You?

More and more people are choosing to put off their retirement and continue working. Plus, in many other cases, those who have already retired are looking to return to work. Here, we weigh up the pros and cons of each situation. ...Read more


How To Manage Your Diet In Retirement

There are many extra demands placed on our bodies as we progress through life and because of this our nutritional needs also change as a result. It is never too late to revamp your nutrition and nurture your body with a healthier diet.   ...Read more


Tackling loneliness among older people with Pen Pals

We understand the problem of loneliness amongst older people and we want to do something to combat it. That’s why we have created our latest Pen Pals programme, an outlet to connect older people with other older people in communities by the writing and exchanging of letters. Click to find out more. ...Read more


How To Make New Friends In Retirement

Friendship is hugely important at every stage in life, and retirement is no exception. What’s more, in retirement you could make the most of the extra free time you have to discover different experiences and meet new people – leading to new friendships and relationships.  ...Read more


Sheffield – The Steel Centre of the World

Famed for its industry and innovation, the green, modern cityscape now replaces the smoking chimneys from the industrial revolution. There’s a friendly, independent and alternative spirit that can be hard to find in other cities alongside a thriving cultural scene. ...Read more


Wally & The Flying Scotsman

Popular North Gate Court customer Wally Blazey moved into their McCarthy & Stone apartment with his wife Gladys seven months ago, and the couple have just celebrated their 72nd anniversary. At 92, Wally is one of the two last surviving drivers of the Flying Scotsman, the most famous steam locomotive in the world. ...Read more


The Top 11 British Hidden Gems

Where are the best locations in the UK to visit... that you've probably not heard of? We've ranked the best hidden gems around Britain, that are easy to access, and offer a great weekend away with the family. ...Read more


Do Pets Make You Happier?

Whether you're a pet owner or have a pet free home, animals of all kinds have been proven to improve the happiness of their human counterparts. To find out more McCarthy & Stone conducted a survey to see how pets enrich their owners lives. Here are the results! ...Read more