The Clubhouse

Best heathland golf courses

Gleneagles, Alwoodley, Moortown and more, we take a deep dive into the best heathland golf courses in the UK.

Mark Jenkins
Mark Jenkins
9 mins read
HeathlandEnglandScotlandUK & IrelandBucket listGolf tours

A cornerstone of golf in the UK, Heathland courses have played a big part in the DP World Tour schedule in years gone by, and they even have a rich history with the Ryder Cup.

Simply put, to be a heathland golf course there must be heather… and lots of it! Not only does it make golf courses look aesthetically beautiful throughout the year with big bold colours, but it adds a level of difficulty too.

The golf courses detailed below can all be found in England and Scotland’s top 100 golf course lists, and some even bear the mark of the world’s most famous course designers. So, wheather you love them or hate them read on to discover the best heathland golf courses suitable for your next break.

Hotchkin Course, Woodhall Spa

Headquarters to the English Golf Union, Woodhall Spa Golf Club is a fantastic facility boasting two top-tier golf courses in the heart of Lincolnshire. The Hotchkin Course is the oldest and most famous of the two courses on-site. Competing with Loch Lomond and Sunningdale Old as one of the UK’s best inland golf courses, the Hotchkin is consistently ranked in the top 10 best golf courses in England.

First opening in 1905 and being subsequently remodelled throughout the century, the Hotchkin Course has a certain pedigree which you instantly feel as you step onto the first tee and plot your way around. It must be noted that the lower handicaps would be better-suited round this course and beginners may want to start off on something simpler as long and straight tee shots set you up for easier approach shots which means you’re more likely to avoid the numerous, and deep, bunkers which have claimed the round of many a great golfer.

Hotchkin Course, Woodhall Spa Golf Club

The Hotchkin is a heathland through and through, with natural undulations, grassy walkways and thick heather filling in the spaces between fairways, ready to catch errant shots and turn a great round into a nightmare. Visually the course looks stunning during winter mornings and summer evenings as deep purples, greens and blues come out through the beautiful heather, making it a course you’ll want to play year-round.

Hollinwell (Notts Golf Club)

Hollinwell is the name of the course at Notts Golf Club and it is one of golf’s best-kept secrets. Steeped with the romantic myth and legend of Robin Hood, it is aptly named because of the holy well found just off the 8th fairway. Hollinwell is a superb heathland golf course where the heather looks like a decorative blanket laid out in between undulating fairways and greens.

Notts Golf Club

The course itself gets better with each and every hole but watch out for the signature 13th. A long par-3 that works its way down from the tee to a green that is surrounded by not one, not two, but six bunkers! Pin-point accuracy is required for this hole, as it is for much of the course if you are hoping to score well.

King’s Course, Gleneagles

Everyone in the golfing world is familiar with the powerhouse that is Gleneagles. It’s a resort that needs no introduction and exudes luxury from every corner, and the golf offering is simply spectacular. With the PGA Centenary famous for hosting both Ryder and Solheim Cups (2014 and 2019 respectively), it is the original King’s Course to which we focus our attention in this article.

Opened for play in 1919, it has stood the test of time, with extreme Scottish weather and numerous redesigns to make it one of the best inland golf courses in the UK. Whether you agree that the King’s Course is a heathland thoroughbred or technically a moorland course due to its altitude and surroundings, you can’t argue that it was one of James Braid’s greatest creations.

The wide rolling fairways can fall or rise in any direction which means accuracy off the tee is a must and can often lead to some interesting approach shots, often aiming above or below you. You’ll also do well to avoid all the bunkers which are strategically placed in common collection points through the course. You may see less heather on this course that is synonymous with heathland golf however, you will still find plenty dotted around including gorse bushes that are ready to catch errant shots and can be a real scorecard killer.


Often compared to Woodhall Spa’s Hotchkin Course, Alwoodley is considered to be one of England’s top 15 golf courses, which is very high praise indeed for yet another fantastic heathland gem. As with many other heathland golf courses, it is now well over 100 years old, first opened in 1907, and designed by the incredible Dr Alister MacKenzie. Other notable creations of his include; Augusta National, Cypress Point and Royal Melbourne, so it’s safe to say he knew what he was doing!

Alwoodley Golf Club

The course itself cannot be taken lightly and provides many a challenge for you to plot your way round, it’s very much a thinking person’s golf course despite its relative flatness. The strategically placed bunkers like that on the 3rd hole come into play from both the tee and your approach to the green making you think twice before you go for the green in two.

Queen’s Course, Gleneagles

Little sister to the aforementioned King’s Course at Gleneagles, the Queen’s Course acts as a great warm-up measuring just 6,000 yards. However, do not take its lack in distance to assume this course is easy. You must be delicate around the greens and ensure your ‘feel’ doesn’t fail you to score well, however, it is a great place for beginners and experienced golfers alike on a sunny Scottish evening.

The Queen's Course, The Gleneagles Resort

The unique element at Gleneagles is that despite having three golf courses on-site, no two are the same or even remotely similar, as is the genius of James Braid. Yes, you may notice the same stunning backdrop of Scottish countryside from either course, but each one has a unique character, and you’ll do well to find a course you enjoy more than the Queen’s at Gleneagles.


Leeds is blessed with excellent golf and Moortown adds to the region’s strong portfolio. Another design from the incredible Dr MacKenzie, Moortown is famous for hosting the first Ryder Cup on home soil and has since hosted numerous events from European Tour and prestigious amateur tournaments.

Moortown Golf Club

The fairways and greens of Moortown are separated by beautiful yet punishing heather and gorse as you plot your way through each hole. It would be best advised to plan a break including Moortown if you’re confident with your game, as you will often find uneven stances due to undulating fairways and difficult approach shots, however, throughout spring, summer and autumn, there aren't many places you’d rather spend your day.


Ranked within the top 50 golf courses in England, Parkstone is perhaps one of the most famous courses in Dorset and despite its proximity to the sea, is not a traditional links course and features more heathland characteristics. Built in 1909 and revamped by James Braid in the 30s, Parkstone became home to the much-beloved golfer and commentator Peter Alliss.

Parkstone Golf Club

When playing Parkstone, you will come across tree and heather lined fairways leading up to fast and challenging greens that can be quite treacherous during dry summer months. Parkstone features a mix of incredible par 3s, 4s and 5s which will live long in your memory after your round and have you itching to return for a Bournemouth golf tour.


Located in the beautiful county of Dorset, set in between the New Forest and Bournemouth’s beaches, sits Ferndown Golf Course. There are 27-holes on-site which includes a fun 9-hole course designed by Peter Alliss, ideal for a fun warm-up, and a beautiful championship, 18-hole course. Lined with huge pine trees and heather, the fairways are always kept to immaculate condition meaning your ball striking must be on point when playing your round.

Ferndown Golf Club

Whilst Ferndown is not as long as the other courses in this list, measuring a little less than 6,500 yards, most golfers will set themselves up for a challenge as accurate irons are required off the tee to avoid putting yourself out of play. No matter your golfing ability, Ferndown provides an enjoyable round from start to finish and is undoubtedly one of Dorset’s prettiest golf courses.


Founded just before the turn of the 20th century, Broadstone underwent a redesign in 1914 by the famous Harry Colt and since then this incredible course has hosted many top tier amateur and professional competitions. Located just shy of Poole and about 30 minutes from Bournemouth, it’s the perfect course to include in a Bournemouth golf tour.

Broadstone Golf Club

In true heathland fashion, heather is in abundance as it shapes the tee boxes, fairways and greens, with little tree coverage which can catch many golfers out on a blustery day. The openness of the course can in turn add to both the beauty but also the difficulty as errant shots are penalised by either deep bunkers or thick heather. That being said, it is still one of the best courses on the south coast and is a must-play when ticking off the top 100 golf course list.

Feeling inspired?
The UK boasts some of the best natural settings for a heathland golf course, perfect for any golf break.


Mark Jenkins avatar
Mark Jenkins

Head of UK & Ireland Sales

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