The 200 best golf courses you can play across the length and breadth of England.
I’m going to start by talking about three courses that don’t feature in this list of the Top 100 Best Golf Courses in England: Woburn’s Dukes, Duchess and Marquess.
You’d expect that they would be in this 100, and they would have been, but Woburn decided they do not wish their courses to be involved in the ranking.
Regular readers will know that I ask our panelists to pay to play courses under consideration for the Top 100s we compile. I am convinced this helps them offer objective views after their round, and no-one will ever convince me it is not the best way – even though I believe we are the only course ranking that operates this way. In fact, I would go as far as to suggest that asking for courtesy and announcing you are coming has ulterior motives.
Occasionally, very rarely, I ask a club for access for a couple of panelists if I am unsure about where we have a course ranked and I know all the panel have played there and therefore would rather spend their money elsewhere, rather than have a return visit.
That is what happened with Woburn. I wanted a few of us to assess their courses in order to increase my confidence in where we rank them (which is lower than previously) and asked for the courtesy of a visit. They said we need not make the visit and that they would prefer not to be in the ranking.
While I acknowledge the club’s disappointment at not recently doing as well in our lists, I find this a shame. On this occasion, I decided to accede to their request.
I know they have requested another ranking excludes them too and, as the club said, they will focus on another outlet (which, and these are my words, happens to place their courses a good deal higher).
I now wish I had ignored their request and ranked them anyway. All the panel have played all three courses there and we can rank them perfectly adequately.
I won’t agree to it again, unless at the very private clubs we have limited knowledge of. I shouldn’t have this time; I should have taken a fourball of panelists to play all three of their courses.
I lament the fact they are not there. The England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales lists are a chance to celebrate the brilliant, varied golf in those countries and this year’s England list is diminished from Woburn’s fine trio not being there. I hope next time they are happy to be included.
While I’m sure that every course except No.1 will think they should be higher, I passionately believe that any course in the list – never mind a club that would have had three courses in the top 70 – should be proud to be there. I truly believe just being in the list is something to be proud of, because England’s strength in depth is absolutely incredible. Two Suffolk courses, Ipswich and Woodbridge, are unquestionably wonderful heathlands that I could barely have been more impressed with (they are better than courses in the Continental Top 100 in my opinion); yet in this list one stays in the same position and one rises only a few places… because the courses just above them are so very good.
I’ve bored on about England’s depth and variety for two years since the last list, and I actually don’t enjoy doing the England Top 100 because the margins between about 70 courses – from the late 60s onwards – are so fine. I have tried to recognize this by ranking from No.101-200 (and profiling them) for the first time. It creates 100 more opportunities for officials, members and supporters of courses who have been ranked to direct angst my way, but I’m so glad we have done it.
I think this list is a brilliant showcase of golf in England and feel it vindicates my assertion that nowhere except the US matches England for depth and variety. Just look at the quality all the way down the ‘Next 100’ list!
Our panel for this ranking was Michael Bailey, Stuart Bendoris, Peter Bosworth, Olle Dahlgren, Ken Hannah, David Jones, Darius Oliver, Ben Sargent, Alex Wright and Stephen Vincent, with county-focused input from Malcolm Baker, James Howard, Tom Kelly, Robert McGuirk, Paul Searle, Ian Veale, James Reader, Jon Davison and Dai Thomas. Note: In the event of tied scores, the strength of the panel’s views determine the order.
I hope you enjoy the list and do let me know what you think of the 100, the next 100 and indeed the issue of courses withdrawing from rankings.
As we always have, we welcome your feedback on all of our rankings and know that everyone will have an opinion on their favourite’s position. We’d love to hear from you via email, on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
Chris Bertram, Golf World Top 100 Editor
Looking for somewhere to stay and play? Check out the Top 100 best golf resorts in GB & Ireland.
What is the Golf World Top 100?
How we score the best golf courses in England
There are a total of 100 marks awarded, and every golf course is marked using the following criteria to find the best:
Design [40 marks]: A key category, split into three sub-sections: Does the course take advantage of its landscape ; the green complexes ; the routing .
Setting [15 marks]: The aesthetic value of the surrounding views and the course itself. And the overall ‘atmosphere’ of the course – not the club.
Memorability [15 marks]: How easy it is to recall holes? Are they distinctive, varied and interesting. Are they strategic and heroic?
Playability [10 marks]: Is it just too tough, possibly even unfair, for the majority? Or is it easily enjoyed by all?
Consistency [10 marks]: Does every hole deliver all of the above, or is it let down by a few poor ones?
Presentation [10 marks]: Two aspects: is maintenance at ease with its surroundings, and the conditioning of tees, fairways, bunkers and greens.
What if there is a tie?
In the event of a tie, Golf World Top 100 Editor Chris Bertram decides the positions based on breadth of opinions from the panel.
Do you consider anything other than the layout itself when scoring the best golf courses?
Off-course facilities, customer service or tournament pedigree played no part in deciding any of our Golf World Top 100 Courses rankings. We care about the best golf courses, not about who has the best clubhouse, has hosted the most Opens or provides the best lunches.
200. Manor House
A schizophrenic layout with some flat, modern parkland holes, mixed with more interesting and slightly quirky hillside ones.
199. Dawlish Warren
This links sits on a peninsula within the River Exe, offering good views over to Exmouth and with the associated charms and challenges of wind-blown seaside golf.
Partly plays over lush, undulating parkland, with a faster-running heathland section providing a welcome contrast in the middle. Also known as ‘The Sands’.
For the first seven exhilarating clifftop holes, Thurlestone might well seem to be Devon’s answer to Pebble Beach. The magic, if not the quality, is lost as the course turns inland, but the memory lingers.
196. North Foreland
Former Open final qualifying course, this downland layout offers magnificent views of the White Cliffs.
195. Royal Ashdown Forest (West)
Short, but the small, undulating greens plus significant slopes around them make the West play as hard as its more famous sister.
Historic but low-key links. Characterful and with undulating fairways, blind holes and fast, true greens. The North Sea wind makes it a fun examination.
Plays nicely over undulating terrain in well-heeled Cheshire. You can score well here if you find the fairways.
Middle section is flat and less interesting and if it was all located on land such as the opening and closing holes it would be much, much higher. The par-3 16th is a famous Lancashire object of beauty.
191. Minchinhampton (Cherington)
This Martin Hawtree course has wide fairways and undulating greens. Consistently good – as is its condition.
190. The Oxfordshire
Rees Jones’ brilliant par-5 17th, its fairway curving around a lake, asks questions about bravery and technique. The par-4 8th is a shorter, similarly-teasing version.
189. The Players (Stranahan)
A clever modern course by Adrian Stiff that’s short on the card but very strategic, with cunning use of undulations.
188. Sunningdale Heath
On the up. Don’t be fooled by the 3,705 yards on the scorecard. This is arguably the most fun routing on the list. And it’s in great nick all year round.
A J.H. Taylor nine-holer that locals believe is perhaps as good as Worlington. The turf is firm all year round and the clever design returns you to the clubhouse after every three holes. Subtle undulations and movement in greens.
After astute recent improvements to a course shaped in part by both Colt and MacKenzie, Headingley holds its own in stellar Leeds company. Its routing clings impressively to undulating terrain.
185. Felixstowe Ferry (Martello)
A few flat, less links holes or it would be higher, but the seaward section provides Martello’s character. Fast running along rolling, tumbling fairways.
A real charmer. Set in the river valley with views of nearby Ilkley Moor. An unusual array of three par 3s, one par 4 and two par 5s in the opening six holes, with the River Wharfe always to the left.
183. Hanbury Manor
A former European Tour venue in a sprawling estate. Strong holes and well presented.
182. Sand Moor
Lives a little in the shadow of Alwoodley and Moortown, but Sand Moor is a pedigree woodland-heathland.
181. The Buckinghamshire
Championship parkland that has undergone recent investment that lifts it comfortably inside the Top 200.
A Jonathan Gaunt restoration and admirable investment ensure the heathland-woodland of ‘Strensall’ secures a place among England’s elite.
179. Sandwell Park
A Harry Colt parkland livened by the strategic incorporation of ditches and excellent bunkering. Movement in greens are also a key defence.
A lovely Harry Colt parkland that’s a mix of attractive holes and challenging ones. Terrific on a summer’s evening.
Good links layout and while overshadowed by Seaton Carew just up the road, it’s still worthy of your attention.
Less moorland than near neighbor Brampton, so not as good all-year-round, but this remains a fine parkland with several outstanding holes.
Another Harry Colt design with typically good short holes that are beautifully designed. The parkland sits nicely in its undulating topography, which leads to some fun blind drives.
174. Great Yarmouth & Caister
Set within the racecourse, which makes for an awkward 1st hole, but the links holes – which are by far the majority – are really strong and make it worth the effort. Steeped in history.
173. Mannings Heath (Waterfall)
One of its features is unusually small greens, another the remarkable par 3s at 4 (with its amphitheatre-like setting) and 10 – a plunging tee shot to a shallow green with out-of-bounds close behind. Terrific in the summer.
172. Rockliffe Hall
Marc Westenborg design starts with a great tempo. Holes 10 and 11 are standouts before a good finish, with 15 and 18 the pick. Easy walking, modern course in super nick.
171. Whittington Heath
Jonathan Gaunt’s rerouting of this heathy course to take account of HS2 has been deemed a success.
170. Foxhills (Bernard Hunt)
Second entry for Foxhills in the list, this time by the former Ryder Cup player. A similarly elegant, tree-lined experience.
169. East Sussex National (East)
Used twice for the European Open, the setting is more open than its sister, albeit less picturesque as a result. It has excellent par 5s and the long par-4 17th is a standout in an exacting finish.
The setting is as delightful as you would assume, but what really sells Windermere are its unique, quirky holes.
167. Royal Mid-Surrey (J.H. Taylor)
A wonderful place for a late afternoon round on a summer’s evening. Bags of character around the greens and a forgiving experience.
166. Slaley Hall (Hunting)
Owes its position mostly to the old front nine, now its back nine, with holes nine, 10 and 18 real standouts. “For me this is one of the best nine-hole stretches in the country,” said one panelist.
A Woburn-esque experience, with holes cut through woodland.
A high-caliber heathland which often has holes framed by mature trees. Outstanding maintenance.
A couple of different feels to the course. You have to be in the fairway to score well. And its par 5s and 3s are really strong, even if they don’t look that tricky on the card.
162. Bingley St Ives
Three courses in one at this former Tour host. Starts in parkland and flits in and out of woodland, but the highlight is the heather-framed moorland phase.
A James Braid downland within the South Downs National Park.
A Harry Colt course in Birmingham that is only just over 6,000 yards. But with a par of 69 and typical nous from the designer, it has just the right amount of test.
159. Bovey Castle
Part of a fine resort, this J.F. Abercromby course is a very elegant experience.
Check out more of the best golf courses in Devon.
158. Minchinhampton (Old)
A natural, lie-of-the-land course with wonderful green complexes and intriguing holes, set in the quaint village.
‘Fixby’ is a stellar course with a rich heritage. Undulating fairways with springy turf.
156. Frilford Heath (Blue)
The Blue was designed by Simon Gidman in 1994 and starts with water-dominated holes before making way for some strong two-shotters and nice par 3s later on.
155. Reddish Vale
An Alister MacKenzie gem hemmed in by housing that takes a little away from the ambiance, but the brilliant routing takes advantage of the rolling landscape and the excellence of the architect shines through.
154. West Byfleet
A tight, flat site that makes the most of being shoehorned in against the railway. A collection of special holes. Mackenzie & Ebert restoration strengthened its standing.
153. Leckford (Old)
This nine-holer is a mini Harry Colt classic on undulating, chalk-based downland. Characteristically memorable short holes.
152. Brokenhurst Manor
A Harry Colt woodland course with hints of heathland that’s a delight off little more than 6,200 yards. Fine par 3s and interesting greens elevate it to this position. A real treat in the New Forest.
An unfussy moorland course that offers a wonderful example of raw, dramatic and memorable golf.
The 10th hole is outstanding at this ‘end of the earth’ clifftop course. Gets into the 150 for its epic setting.
149. Wentworth (Edinburgh)
More fiddly than its brothers – with tricky dog-legs requiring the need to shape it both ways – but still a full test. The large greens allow for forgiveness in approach, but not so much off the tee.
An interesting design that runs in and out of the race track and with a balance of really good holes. The opener is a drivable par 4 and the wonderful back nine is a mix of heathland/parkland.
147. Royal Automobile Club (Old)
Herbert Fowler originally designed the Old and it has been renovated by Mackenzie & Ebert. A classic parkland experience in Surrey.
146. King’s Lynn
Located near the sea, but this is a well-established woodland course with holes framed by trees.
145. Burhill (Old)
A classic Willie Park Jr. design which winds through mature trees and is notable for its small greens. The course is entering into early stages of a bunker renovation.
144. Thorndon Park
Harry Colt and his associate, Charles Alison, designed Thorndon and while it is parkland with luxuriant turf, it’s firm and springy. Plays among ancient oak, elm and cedar trees.
143. Essendon (Old)
Undulating parkland designed by Fred Hawtree in 1976. The tree-lined Old has notable greens, such as the two-tiered affair on the epic 2nd, and the double that connects the 3rd and 11th.
Scenic and interesting. It’s not especially long but the routing maintains your interest and puts a premium on accuracy, and it has a handful of top 50-caliber holes.
A beautifully presented Harry Colt woodland where slopes come more into play on the middle section on the far side of the railway line that bisects the course. Each of the excellent par 3s is stoutly defended.
Pedigree heathland that rolls over firm turf with heather and trees lining the fairways.
139. West Surrey
Some good topography and some dramatic moments. Set in the Surrey Hills, playing this attractive wooded course will get your cardio rate up. Brilliant green sites.
This Harry Colt design is routed through a grand old estate. Generous fairways across the springy turf of rolling moorland and a good variety of holes. The detail of the routing brings your game to life.
Set high above the Devon resort, this Alister MacKenzie moorland offers fine views, exposure to the breeze and greens with subtle slopes.
136. Church Stretton
In our Fun Top 100 and would be in our ‘Views Top 100’ too. Epic setting and lots of dramatic, memorable holes.
135. Enville (Lodge)
The No.2 course here, but as its position shows, there’s not much between them (Highgate is at 109). Some may even prefer the shorter Lodge – although that yardage is influenced by only two par 5s. A mix of open heathland and woodland holes.
134. London Club (International)
The second course at the London Club has its share of lakes and deep bunkering in play, but it’s a touch less intimidating for a handicap golfer.
“A mini Muirfield! It’s also a Harry Colt! And it has the clockwise outer loop and an inner loop! The best links on this list, in my opinion,” enthused one panelist.
This Harry Colt layout sits so well into the natural topography. Interesting greens complexes and bunkering; it oozes traditional class.
131. Goodwood (Downs)
Found in the dreamy South Downs, which provide excellent drainage. The routing takes full advantage of the topography with some fine views. Green complexes given visual impact by imaginative bunkering.
130. West Cornwall
An elevated and entirely natural location offering fabulous views. An old-fashioned layout helps to provide a links with a unique personality, with its undulating fairways, sand dunes and slick greens. Exciting routing.
From the 1st tee it is apparent that the fairway bunkering will become a feature as you plot your way around this well-presented inland course. Fast fairways and subtle, fast greens complete the picture.
128. Reigate Heath
Nine holes and 18 separate tees. Don’t be fooled, this is still a test with some of the strongest heathland holes across this Top 200.
127. Bamburgh Castle
Breathtaking views from its elevated, cliff-edge fairways, but also some really clever holes and wonderful green sites.
Woodland course with some of the most entertaining holes in the list.
125. East Sussex National (West)
Has its equivalent of ‘Amen Corner’, with the magnificent double dog-leg par-5 12th, long par-3 13th and daunting SI1 14th played from a high tee to a valley fairway before rising to a well-defended green.
Designer unknown, but with later James Braid influences. A picturesque, mature parkland course, lined by trees.
123. Moor Park (High)
Once a regular venue on the European Tour, the course has a number of highlights, not least the long par-3 12th with its devilish two-tier green cut into a distant hill and with bunkers catching anything slightly short. That it has a stately home as a clubhouse adds to the experience.
122. Frilford Heath (Red)
The best of the trio at this Oxfordshire club. There are no weaknesses in the Red, an excellent all-rounder.
121. Royal Cromer
Clifftop course with extraordinary views and plenty of drama. It’s no exaggeration to say it would not be out of place in the 90s.
120. Royal Norwich
Ross McMurray’s new design on a new site for this old club has really impressed. A thoughtful, well-conditioned parkland that gives modern golf a good name.
119. London Club (Heritage)
A Jack Nicklaus course built with tournament golf in mind, it resembles a US parkland with large, fast greens, multiple bunkers, thick rough and water hazards.
The combined nous of James Braid, Philip Mackenzie Ross and Charles Mayo have left a fine course among the pine, birch, heather and gorse of Breckland heathland.
We are unquestionably still in ‘Top 100 caliber’ territory with WSM; this is a super links, shaped by the greats Tom Dunn and Alister MacKenzie.
116. Northamptonshire County
An impressive Harry Colt design of which one panelist said, “I would have this right at the top of this list”. It has a feeling of both parkland and heathland. Excellent green sites.
Moorland of rare entertainment and charm. Sheep keep the springy turf in perfect order. The short 15th, ‘Dell’, is majestic.
114. Copt Heath
Host of championships and renowned for its conditioning, a fine, interesting course that has been skilfully crafted out of a flat parcel of land.
113. Tadmarton Heath
Characterful course with springy turf and idiosyncratic holes. Just a joy to play and Top 100 class.
112. The Hallamshire
Heathy Sheffield course that is the home of Matt Fitzpatrick and rewards shot-making. Undergoing a CDP restoration.
111. Foxhills (Longcross)
This regular Top 100 entry winds through towering pines and has solid elevation changes. A full restoration, focusing on greens and bunkers, would see it restored to the main list.
110. Close House
Intelligent routing which traverses a hilly site without too many holes going straight up or down. It has a nice counterpoint with several holes in woodland dells. Some very steep approach shots and thrilling downhill tee shots. Condition always fantastic.
109. Enville (Highgate)
This part-heathland, part-woodland got a lot of love from the panel. The heathland holes have been there since the 1930s and are top class, with the woodland phases added later.
108. Dunstanburgh Castle
Striking location with castle and coastal views. The undulating fairways and true, testing greens are presented in top-class order. Dog-legs and blind shots add to the fun. Good routing and a serious history with some bunkers built into the course near the beach. The short par 3 shooting out towards the sea/castle is a beauty.
In addition to the traditional hazards of bunkers and streams comes the real possibility of hitting a pony or sheep wandering around this Dartmoor layout. Bursting with character.
Fantastic links with a rustic feel. The steelworks, a wind farm and a car scrap yard as points of interest either side of the course mean it is not one for those seeking views, but the golf itself is so very good.
105. Crowborough Beacon
Elevated heathland with some wonderful holes that is indubitably Top 100 caliber.
104. The Wisley (Church & Mill)
Beautifully maintained American-style parkland with water frequently in play, either from the River Wey or from the lakes. The 9th on Mill is especially taxing, as water runs all the way from tee to green. However, the fairways are wide and always in immaculate condition. Big holes with length to challenge all. Sensational greens and beautiful landscaping thanks to its neighbor, the RHS.
103. Bude & North Cornwall
Shades of St Andrews as the clubhouse lies in the centre of the town, with the first few holes in full public view and pot bunkers and burns to catch the unwary later in round.
102. Sutton Coldfield
Increasing support for this firm, fast-running Staffordshire course. Don’t be surprised if it’s in the next list as it continues with a renovation programme.
It’s a wonderful Alister MacKenzie layout winding through heather and woodland.
Like Alwoodley, it has excellent sandy, undulating turf and really fast and true greens. A good variation of holes and some clever bunkering.
101. Chart Hills
Founded in 1993, the 7,132-yard original design by Sir Nick Faldo and Steve Smyers was taken over by the McGuirk family in 2000 and closed for a complete refurbishment. The condition of Chart Hills has been revitalised and it will move back into the 100 when more panellists have seen the renovated course.
100. Remedy Oak
One of the best of the courses built in the last 25 years, with water used intelligently. Gorgeous in summer.
99. Royal Wimbledon
Arguably one of the best selections of par 3s in Surrey. This Willie Park design comes into the list and is poised to get even better, with remodeling taking place.
98. North Hants
A picturesque heathland with enough rise and fall in the ground to make the judgement of approach shots tricky.
An impressive display of bunkering and a solid test. The 18th finishes at the impressive and foreboding clubhouse.
96. St Mellion (Nicklaus)
A famous architect and a course offering a famous challenge. The Nicklaus was a beast even for Seve and Co in the ’80s and will push you to the absolute limit.
95. Luffenham Heath
The turf is lusher than most heathlands and there is very little heather, but the routing offers a good variety of uphill and downhill holes with accurate driving essential to avoid heavy rough and hanging lies. An impressive display of bunkering and a solid test.
94. The Centurion
A significant rise for this modern woodland-parkland, which begins among towering pines then darts over undulating open land. A modern triumph.
Hosted the first ever LIV Golf tournament.
93. St Annes Old Links
Effortlessly good Lancashire links with the famous 9th just one of many highlights.
Nice rise for Thorpeness and expect that to continue in future lists as the club continues with a tree management programme. If that is a thorough process and Thorpeness breathes again, this interesting James Braid maritime heathland easily has the bones of a top-80 course.
Blind shots over hill fort ramparts… and that’s just on the par 3s! Mixing views that attract walkers to the Cotswolds from hundreds of miles away with architectural quirk, Painswick is a genius piece of work.
Woodland-heathland with European Tour fame is a lovely inland experience on the outskirts of York. An aggressive woodland management programme would reap reward. Very difficult first five with some long, tricky par 4s, but superb traditional design with iconic memories.
89. Hadley Wood
The first time in the English ranking for this Alister MacKenzie classic, which is being sympathetically restored by Clyde Johnson. An elegant parkland of subtle strategy, as one would expect of the doctor.
A refreshing experience to play a course where the excellence of the design and clever use of the natural landforms make bunkers redundant. An intriguing test.
87. Coombe Hill
A gorgeous routing with beautiful finishing and peripherals. Perhaps too much foliage, but still a delight.
86. Isle of Purbeck
“On a beautiful summer’s day there cannot be many more attractive places to play, with not only good views but nicely shaped holes,” says one panellist. “This is the interesting criteria at IOP,” says another. “We know the course is spectacular, but the condition was a real issue when I last visited. This time, however, a real improvement has been made.”
Purbeck offers a memorable journey, with great views and wildlife in abundance. And in the spectacular 5th it has one of the finest holes in England.
Tim Lobb enhanced the experience, principally increasing the width of the playing corridors by reducing gorse and rough. In doing so, he restored the heathland environment, enhancing the risk and reward strategy, and enlarging the putting surfaces to capture lost pin positions.
Don’t expect its rise to stop here…
The archetypal clifftop course with some truly breathtaking bluff-edge holes.
84. The Belfry (Brabazon)
Multiple Ryder Cup host impresses with its conditioning and while it isn’t as high as it has been, just getting in this list is an achievement!
Set among the mansions of well-heeled Cheshire, Prestbury is a luxurious, firm running inland course characterized by approaches to the raised greens, idiosyncratic holes and its superb use of undulating land.
Cerebral parkland with terrific green complexes and where strategy abounds. Not flashy, but technically superb.
81. Bearwood Lakes
The joint-biggest rise in this list. Why? In truth, it’s largely down to our error, especially in its Presentation mark, which was previously too low because it winters a little less well than others in the list. From April to September it’s faultless, though, and still good in December, and we have rectified that mistake here, thus its rise is significant.
Bearwood Lakes is a special place, impeccably presented and a visual delight. It’s a fun and fair course with many subtle elevation changes and a superb variety of holes. If you’re not on your game you will still enjoy the walk. If you don’t do that, perhaps consider another sport.
The opening run of holes are all very good and give opportunities to score before reaching the tough par-4 7th, which is justifiably SI1. A long tee shot through a narrow alley of mature pine trees is required before the hole turns uphill to the left. A beautiful brute of a hole.
The 8th is only 300 yards and trouble shouldn’t be in play, but it often is. Despite the club’s name, the lake protecting the par-3 9th is the first water to really be in play for most; until then it largely only adds to the aesthetics.
The first three holes on the back nine, all framed by majestic, tall trees, are stunning and arguably the best section. The 10th – a long, downhill par 4 protected by water short-right of the green – is followed by the 11th, a brilliantly designed par 5 where you miss the elevated, narrow green at your peril. Then comes the 12th, a tough but beautiful short hole. Water is very much in play on the 13th and 14th, which require the main lake to be navigated multiple times. The 17th is an excellent short par 4, and 18 is a fitting finale, with a large water hazard carried on the second shot. A wickedly sloping green then needs to be mastered, meaning par will often win a match here.
We think even the most avid links or heathland aficionados will enjoy a round on the parkland of Bearwood Lakes.
80. Formby Ladies
It might have surprised some when the course within the course came into our ranking four years ago. But those who have played it know it’s a wonderful links worthy of the top 80.
Fabulous, fabulous links that is bundles of fun and has a handful of world-class holes. Enjoyable, quirky, very entertaining and great value.
The 1957 Ryder Cup host is a well-maintained, heathy course that is now presented better than ever. A pedigree club and course.
Number 78… need any more convincing that England has ludicrous strength in depth?
Gorgeous heathland and No.77 seems a crime even with its little rise. An exquisite heathery course with just the right amount of challenge. It will never disappoint.
76. Knole Park
A J.F. Abercromby design in a most atmospheric of undulating parkland settings. Offers a challenge to even the strongest golfers. Herds of onlooking deer somehow know where not to graze.
A drop into the 70s for this high-quality heathland, which the panel felt didn’t quite have enough visual interest or elevation change to be that bit higher in this most competitive of lists. Real quality, though.
74. Cleeve Hill
A significant rise for this hilltop course that only entered the list a couple of rankings ago, but is impressing with its setting, playability and fun holes – it has all three in abundance.
73. Camberley heath
A lot of the original Colt design features remain intact and this is therefore an extremely strong heathland that stands tall among the Surrey glitterati.
A deserved rise for a club that has invested in its course in recent years. New bunkering, woodland management, rope drainage and fairway irrigation installation have combined to present the very best face of Stoneham.
Due to the investment, it has some of the best fairways in GB&I, as well as very pure greens; get on the wrong side of them and a chance of a one-putt can often and very easily lead to three.
Stoneham is all about variety, views and fun, and enjoys a range of qualities in its layout. It has five par 4s, five par 3s and eight par 4s and was designed by Willie Park Jnr, of Sunningdale Old fame.
The five par 3s are superb and their yardages illustrate the variety, starting at 109 yards and extending up to 228, which in the winter can need a driver just to get on the front. The 8th is arguably the pick, played over 150 yards to a fantastic green complex with lots of movement.
Then there is the 3rd, which plays uphill and with most of the drive being carry alone. The hole also is home to a phenomenal English oak, which is more than 1,000 years old and was a sapling when King Edward the Confessor was reigning.
A delightful Harry Colt heathland with characteristically good short holes. Simply a delight to play!
70. Saunton (West)
The West probably suffers a bit from being next to the world-class East, but this is a first-rate links in its own right. Never go here and miss it.
Rumbustious links set high above the town. Combines views, fun, bewilderment and some very memorable holes.
A nice rise for this Surrey parkland, where some good work has been seen with its bunker remodeling. The front nine is excellent, the rollercoaster back nine simply out of this world.
Estate agents might correctly describe this course as ‘deceptively spacious’, with its design using its small acreage very cleverly.
One of Britain’s elite parklands.
66. Seaton Carew
“Seaton Carew is constantly improving. Ignore the surrounds and enjoy a proper links test.” “A fantastic traditional links layout, with a good mix of dog-legs and tight tee shots at times. The back nine is an excellent mix of holes.”
A taste of the panel’s views on Seaton Carew, which makes the list’s joint-largest leap, our panel significantly impressed with the development of this Hartlepool links. The ‘surrounds’ mentioned are the industrial backdrop, but the golf is so good you quickly forget the setting. A links of rare appeal.
Excellent greens, clever rotation of the holes and strong finishing holes. This championship links really gets going from the par-3 6th on. A roll call of architectural greats have worked here, and many of its holes have been copied in the US.
An Alister MacKenzie design with tonnes of architectural merit and a fine setting. A round of nuance and subtlety you’ll always remember.
63. The Grove
There are a couple of entries where the movement pains us, with the direction of travel not indicative of how much we rate them but determined solely by a few high climbers and a new entry. The Grove is one of them, a wonderful Kyle Phillips parkland that is always in magnificent condition.
Windswept and interesting, Trevose requires all your skills. The renovation by Tom Mackenzie has reaped rewards and the setting is at times jaw-dropping.
Enchants with the extraordinary views from its elevated fairways, charms with its enjoyably eccentric holes, and delights with its year-round firm turf. Brilliant!
60. East Devon
A Harry Colt design from 1902 that received a Frank Pont restoration. East Devon sits on the cliffs above Budleigh Salterton and is heathland in nature yet with fabulous vistas.
59. Ipswich (Purdis Heath)
“If this had a Surrey postcode it would be top 40,” says one panellist. Purdis Heath impresses everyone who plays it. One of the best opening halves in English inland golf, enhanced with upgraded bunkering.
58. Delamere Forest
Surprisingly, given its name, trees hardly feature at all. Instead it is rolling hills and very cleverly-sited greens that characterize one of England’s finest and most varied inland courses.
A joyous journey over firm, rumpled land that was used to perfection by Willie Park. A bewilderingly good set of green complexes.
A large jump for this Wirral links, which is being renovated by CDP and nurtured by greenkeeper John Mcloughlin. This historic links is continually improving and has an exciting future.
Wallasey’s giant dunes are more reminiscent of West Ireland than England. Bar a few flatter holes – the 6th, 7th, 13th and 14th – the course is a breathtaking ride from high tees to elevated greens, crossing rippling linksland in between. From the 2nd to the 5th and most of the back nine, it is glorious, and it has as good a finish as you would find anywhere.
Before teeing off, one glimpse of the closing green and the cascading fairway shows what to expect. Wallasey is exacting (and certainly not short from the back tees), but the stunning terrain and pins perched on plateaus deliver pure fun.
“Even given the pedigree of the other vaunted courses in the area, this may offer the most enjoyable all-round experience,” says one panellist.
The most northerly English links is laid out in a figure of eight, with the best holes traversing the dunes. Similar to Silloth in terms of natural, rugged, remote links.
54. Little Aston
A stout parkland with wonderful green complexes. You really would love to be a member here.
53. Wentworth (East)
Little brother to the West but favoured by members and by Sir Nick Faldo himself. A solid test with textbook hole templates.
52. New Zealand
A glorious walk and the perfect example of intelligent architecture on a quiet site with nuances everywhere. The aura is different at NZ. Blissful. Challenging holes laid out in the heather. Clever bunkering and maybe one of the finest clubhouses in England.
One of the most playable, pleasurable courses in this list. Just look at this gorgeous heathland’s Presentation mark – its greens indubitably warrant that.
50. Beau Desert
A small fall (as per Seacroft), but it could not be more deserving of its top-50 in England status. Wonderful, wonderful green complexes on a classy heathland-woodland.
Hayling’s rise and JCB’s new entry means many just below them all fall in an annoying way, because they are so good and we love them dearly. Seacroft is a touch of class.
About to undergo a significant redesign by Martin Ebert, so it’s worth getting to this two-ball club soon to play the existing course. Its unremitting maritime-heathland challenge is one to relish.
Into the top 50 for the first time and Hayling, like Hindhead just above it, is now on the cusp of the GB&I Top 100. More open than it once was, it got some serious love from the panel. Holes 7 to 14 could be the best stretch of links in the country.
The front nine meanders through heather-clad valleys, creating incredible vistas. The shot frame here is faultless. It is hard to envisage a more dramatically memorable heathland front nine. Hindhead nestles deep within the Devil’s Punchbowl; huge walls of trees create enormous amphitheatres framing the outward holes as they wind through cavernous valleys far below.
The pulse really races from the dramatic downhill drive at the 2nd, quickening again at the even steeper approach down to the short 6th.
The second nine is comparably understated, but is littered with clever architecture. It meanders across the plateaus and anywhere else it would be stunning in its own right, but that front nine is impossible to live with. The closing two-shotter is a stern test, an apt finale to an outstanding affair.
45. Sherwood Forest
Notts heathland that can run as firm and fast as a links. A proper test that asks for well-struck shots. Seriously satisfying.
44. Southport & Ainsdale
A bit more playable than others around Southport and certainly with some unforgettable moments. The par-3 start lives long in the mind.
43. Walton Heath (New)
Intertwined with the Old and only marginally less entertaining. If it wasn’t for the plethora of neighboring class, this would be up there with its brother.
42. The Berkshire (Blue)
The No.2 at this pine-lined heathland utopia, but that is only relative given the Red is so good. You always look forward to the Blue just as much.
41. Royal North Devon
Simple, unpretentious links; some may feel it’s a little mellow, others will delight in its subtlety and playability.
40. The JCB Club
This new course, by Robin Hiseman of European Golf Design, debuts in the England ranking in the top 40 after coming into the GB&I list last year. Bursting with strategy, risk-reward holes and, although it can be a brute off the tips and is hosting the Seniors Tour again in 2023, lots and lots of fun.
If you get the merest sniff of a game here, take it!
39. Royal Worlington & Newmarket
The green complexes take the breath away. Their designs are exceptionally strong architecturally, with the unique green on the par-3 5th making it a truly special hole.
Brilliant remodeling has improved an already fine course. Tom Mackenzie’s excellent redesign has woven several new holes into the routing so impressively that they look as though they have always been there.
A wonderful middle on a heathland that sits on terrain that rises and falls significantly to offer the chance for epic shots and memorable holes. A handful of holes are top-10 calibre. A memorable heathland adventure.
36. The Addington
A notable rise for this adventurous heathland, recognition of the tree management programme and restoration by Clayton, DeVries & Pont. Now, with even greater strategic options, wider playing corridors, expansive views and more exposure to a breeze, an already brilliant layout is made even better. Green aprons are growing and killer contours are being reintroduced. The Addington has terrific land movement and the shot frame is tremendous.
35. Royal Ashdown Forest (Old)
A bracing walk over hilly, heathland terrain is rewarded with towering views and memorable golf. Bunkerless, but challenging in cerebral as well as physical ways. An elite course of GB&I Top 100 calibre.
Parkstone’s conditioning is now always hovering around ‘outstanding’ and its varied collection of holes over enviable heathland terrain secures it this rise.
33. West Hill
Golf on ‘the hill’ is getting better and better, its finessing over the years elevating its standing. This entertaining par 69 has variety, quality, playability and engrossing bite in places.
The tree management program nearly two decades ago – when such action was nowhere near as in vogue as it is now – transformed this pedigree heathland.
Another course that has benefited from a Tim Lobb restoration. The bunkering is delectable and the course is incredibly pretty. A classic heathland.
30. Wentworth (West)
It’s in vogue to dislike the West, but this parkland-heathland still has its supporters. The greens have a silvery glow and can scare even strong players. A tough test for the higher handicapper, though.
Has benefited from investment by the McGuirk family and the attention of Martin Ebert. The three nines are now on a par and there is increasing feeling the Himalayas, hitherto the weakest, could now be the strongest. Conditioning, bunker reshaping and sandy wastes characteristic of Ebert’s work have transformed the links.
28. West Lancashire
Such a high-quality links and so entrenched in the top 30 that it is easy to forget it used to be the poor relation in Southport. Its all-round examination on firm, delicious turf is now rightly revered. Smart routing and variation.
The back nine is up there with the very best at next-door neighbor Birkdale, but the less explosive front nine has plenty of merit too.
Slick, true greens at this host of myriad championships. Enough cool features to please the quirk-seekers, too.
25. Hankley Common
Sprawling heathland on a big site that is large enough to house two courses. The scale is vast, but the intricacies of the green sites and the heathland contouring are terrific. The short 7th lives long in the memory. In the midst of a Mackenzie & Ebert restoration.
24. The Berkshire (Red)
“On a sunny day, golf amidst The Berkshire’s towering pines is hard to beat,” says a usually-tough-to-please panelist of this Herbert Fowler heathland.
A heathland that has everything; tranquil setting, clever holes, challenge, variety and superb conditioning. A refreshing walk and a wonderful all-round challenge.
22. Burnham & Berrow
It boasts more good holes than most other links, especially as it starts and ends in style. An outstanding, traditional seaside course where the par-3 9th is a highlight.
21. Saunton (East)
A championship-caliber links that made its debut in our World Top 100 at the end of last year, the East purrs with unfussy class and technical merit.
20. Silloth on Solway
“Rugged, raw, and really, really good,” says one panelist. An epic links that is every inch a World Top 100 course.
Merseyside | formbygolfclub.co.uk
A pleasing blend of links and heath with excellent green complexes. It stays above several stellar names.
Surrey | wokinggolfclub.co.uk
The ‘Temple’ forged movements in course architecture – thanks to Stuart Paton’s center-line bunkers on the 4th – and it continues to gently improve with tree removal under the eye of Tim Lobb. The newly-framed 2nd is a delight.
17. Royal West Norfolk
A fantastic routing and location that makes the most of the unique tidal element. The cavernous, sleeper-lined bunkers hint at being unfriendly, but don’t be fooled: Brancaster is fantastic fun.
16. West Sussex
Not as illustrious a name as most in the top 20 perhaps, but this heathy heaven wholly deserves this position. Oozes quality, holes packed with strategic merit and splendid approach bunkering.
Superb par threes are the highlight on this venerable old links, set down brilliantly by Harry Colt along, over or on top of dune ridges.
Clever routing, some of the deepest and most well-positioned bunkers you’ll ever encounter, and gorgeous turf. A golfer’s golf course with peerless pedigree, enhanced by Martin Ebert’s renovation.
13. St Enodoc (Church)
Brilliant start and superb finish. Incredible variety, interest and views. The infamous 10th is a par five-and-a-half, but is not even among the nine best holes!
12. Walton Heath (Old)
Understated and not as dramatic as its heathland neighbors, but class all the way round. Tee-to-green transitions are brilliant. Perhaps favored by lower-handicap players, as a result of its numerous long par 4s. This panel found fellow heathlands St George’s Hill and Alwoodley a touch more engaging.
This heather-lined Alister MacKenzie original has done nothing wrong to drop a place. In fact, it is being refined and nurtured admirably. A world-class inland course.
10. Royal Cinque Ports
Like St George’s Hill, Royal Cinque Ports also makes its top-10 debut. And like SGH, it feels as if it is there to stay. There isn’t a lot of movement of places in the top 50, so four places in the top 15 is huge. Going out along and in the dunes is a treat, while the last third represents one of the best finishing stretches in England.
9. St George’s Hill (Red/Blue)
A significant rise takes SGH into the top 10 for the first time. It has long flown under the radar; not any longer. Another example of sublime elevation change.
8. Royal Liverpool
A historic club with an evolving and improving course. Much more movement and character in the land than it is often credited with.
7. Royal Lytham & St Annes
What it lacks aesthetically, Royal Lytham more than makes up for as an ultimate test of golf. Heavily and penally bunkered, but you relish the challenge. Impeccable presentation – as befits an 11-time Open host.
6. Swinley Forest
A beguiling course and club with a uniquely charming and playable layout. Swinley has clearly now found its place in our rankings, because it never fails to leave an imprint on the heart.
5. Sunningdale (New)
The tougher brother of the two. A true championship test and equally as glorious as the Old. It could easily have been two spots higher; don’t be surprised if one day Sunningdale does indeed have two of the top three.
4. Woodhall Spa (Hotchkin)
Tom Doak’s superb renovation keeps the robust Hotchkin in the top five. Despite the overall flatness of the land, it possesses bunkers deep enough to make any links deeply envious.
3. Royal Birkdale
Tough but fair and still many people’s favorite English links, this is the Open host the pros really love.
2. Sunningdale (Old)
A delightful walk, a delightful experience and one of the game’s most exquisite rounds. The undisputed top inland course in these isles. Expert contouring and mesmeric heathland scenes. A perfect example of elevation and the shot frame. Oozes confidence and class.
1. Royal St George’s
Another two years as England No.1 for ‘Sandwich’. Sorry for being boring, and we know the magazine should entertain, but we will never manufacture any list in order to create interest or spark debate. Simply, RSG is, in our view, England’s standout No.1. Fearsome but very, very fun, this multiple Open venue has it all.