Best golf courses in South England
From Royal St George’s in the east corner of Kent, to St Enodoc along Cornwall’s iconic coastline and everything in between, we explore the very best golf in South England.
When it comes to stunning countryside, beautiful coastal courses and seaside towns, the South of England is tough to beat.
The varying landscapes, from Surrey’s sandbelt to Devon and Cornwall’s northern coastline, make for some special places to visit and play golf. To help you decide on where to play next, we have put together a list of the best golf courses in South England you can play on your next golf break.
One of the all-time great links courses and 15-time host to The Open Championship, Royal St George’s is certainly one of the stand-out golf courses in not only South England, but the entire world. The course dates back to 1887, when Dr William Laidlaw Purves decided there was no option but to build a golf course on such a beautiful piece of land. Who would have thought that just 15 years later Royal St George’s would be hosting the first Open Championship outside of Scotland?
Unlike a lot of links courses, St George’s is not a traditional out and back layout. Instead, there is a loose figure of eight that works effortlessly through the natural undulations and vast sand dunes, with picturesque views of Pegwell Bay apparent throughout. Each hole is very memorable and unique, but one hole that really stands out is the 4th. A long par 4, with a dogleg right, visitors will be transfixed by the UK’s deepest bunker.
Three loops of nine make up this incredible links layout. The Shore Course and Dunes Course are the traditional 18, which date back to 1907, whilst the more recent Himalayas is an excellent addition to an already special links course. The layout has all of the classic links traits, incredibly tough when the wind is up, with deep bunkers, raised tees, natural dunes, and sandy scraped areas - a very special place to play golf.
Located just outside of Bournemouth, Broadstone Golf Club is a dramatic heathland that has been blessed by two of the sport’s most historic course architects – Tom Dunn and Harry Colt. It is an incredibly fun course to play, with gentle undulations throughout, natural, rough lined bunkers, and heather and gorse throughout.
Although Broadstone is not a particularly long course, what it lacks in length it makes up for in enjoyment and natural beauty.
The East Course at Saunton Golf Club dates back to the 1920s where the late, great Herbert Fowler, of Walton Heath fame, engineered arguably his finest links course. Situated along the untouched North Devon coastline, adjacent to Saunton Sands and Braunton Burrows, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, this is one of the most privileged locations in the country.
The layout is incredibly peaceful, with large sand dunes and tight fairways which demand accuracy off the tee rather than distance. Plus, with another true links layout (West Course) and exceptional practice facilities also located on-site, there are very few golf facilities in the UK that can match this all-encompassing golf club.
Rich in history and located just down the coast from Royal St George’s and Prince’s, Cinque Ports completes Kent’s famous Open Championship trio. As with the two aforementioned courses, Cinque Ports provides golfers with a first-class links experience, where coastal views, south-westerly winds and towering dunes are apparent throughout.
The layout is a classic out and back design, and the back nine is known as one of the toughest in the UK, with the finishing holes usually playing directly into the coastal winds. We’d recommend scoring well on the front nine to give yourself a safety net for the closing stretch (easier said than done, right!?).
Situated just outside of the Cornish town of Rock, overlooking the Camel Estuary and Stepper Point, St Enodoc’s Church Course is, without doubt, Cornwall’s premier golf course. Golf here began in 1891, but it wasn’t until James Braid added his own flare in 1907 when the course started to receive critical acclaim.
The layout is set within gigantic sand dunes, with gentle fairway undulations and clusters of wild, untamed seagrass. Every hole is extremely memorable and unique, but the 6th hole stands out. A 378-yard par-4 that requires golfers to be on the left side of the fairway. If you leave yourself on the right side of the fairway then you’ll need to contend with the famous ‘Himalaya’ bunker. It is rumoured to be the biggest bunker in Europe, but Royal St George’s may have something to say about that!
Originally founded in 1864, Royal North Devon is an exceptional links layout and the oldest golf course outside of Scotland. Originally laid out by Old Tom Morris and later modified by Herbert Fowler, North Devon has been touched by two of the game’s most historic designers and the evidence is there throughout.
When you first turn up to the golf club, there is a sense of history and tradition that you may not get with other clubs. The course is very wide and open, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it is forgiving. Most greens are protected by bunkers and runaway areas to ensure that any misplaced shots are effectively punished. There are plenty of unique features and quirks to this course, not least the local lifetime members (the many sheep and horses).
One of the finest courses along the south coast and consistently ranked within the top 100 courses in the UK, Parkstone is a mature heathland course situated between Poole and Bournemouth. The layout was originally designed by two-time Open Championship winner, Willie Park Jnr, with a who’s who of course architects later adding to it over the year – James Braid, Donald Steel and Martin Hawtree. And the result is a highly imaginative and varied test of golf, set amongst pines and heather-fringed fairways where every hole presents a different challenge.
Although officially an inland design, Parkstone offers some beautiful views out over Poole Harbour, Sandbanks, Brownsea Island and the Isle of Purbeck. This only adds to the distinctive charm and allure of this outstanding course.
Senior UK Travel Consultant