Golfbreaks Spotlight

Oldest golf courses in the world

Looking for a little history on your next golf trip? Check out some of our ‘Golden Oldies’ which have stood the test of time, continuing to be loved by our customers!

Chris Williams
Chris Williams
5 mins read

For golf enthusiasts, there is nothing quite like turning up to a golf club and immediately getting a sense of history. Getting to the course early, learning about the club’s traditions and geeking out over old photos is just part of the experience, and that’s even before you’ve stepped foot on the course.

From domestic Old Tom designs to a couple of the earlier layouts in Europe, we explore some of the oldest golf courses in the world to play on your next break.

Old Course, St Andrews

Let’s be honest, we weren’t going to start anywhere else! The Old Course is known the world-over as the ultimate golfing pilgrimage. Golf has been played on this hallowed turf for almost 500 years, with The Open contested here on 29 separate occasions and counting.

Old Course, St Andrews Links

The town of St Andrews is a golfing destination unlike any other, with several of the pubs in town having dedicated golf bag storage facilities – perfect for that post-round pint! Away from the ‘Auld Lady’, six other layouts belong to the St Andrews Links Trust, with more than 25 additional courses in close proximity. If you’re looking for something a little more modern on your next trip to the Home of Golf, check out the New Course… built in 1895.

Old Course, St Andrews Links

Prestwick Golf Club

It’s fair to say that if your club hosted the very first Open, it’s likely to have been around for a while. Prestwick welcomed the world’s best 24 times between 1860 and 1925, and is still a hotbed for US travellers, as well as those looking to play every course which has hosted the game’s oldest Major.

Prestwick Golf Club

Conveniently then, the course is situated on Scotland’s West Coast, and just a short journey from both Royal Troon and Turnberry. Old Tom Morris famously was the Keeper of the Green at Prestwick from 1851-1864, following a fall out with his former boss and mentor Allan Robertson at his previous base in St Andrews. Old Tom designed the initial 12-hole layout at Prestwick, before going on to lift the Claret Jug on four occasions, although he finished runner up in the first Championship to Willie Park Jr.

Prestwick Golf Course

Royal North Devon

Old Tom’s input wasn’t restricted to Scotland, and in 1864 he headed to Royal North Devon (often known as Westward Ho!), helping to create the oldest golf course in England. One of the most natural and rugged layouts in our portfolio, Royal North Devon provides an incredible backdrop for the sport, with its original fairways still in use today.

Royal North Devon Golf Club

Our golfers love the secluded nature of the course, heading away for a few days with golf truly at the heart of the trip. The course has a particular dedication to sustainability, becoming one of the first to ban the use of plastic tees and limiting its use of some of the lesser-environmentally-friendly greenkeeping techniques.

Royal North Devon Golf Course

Royal St George’s, Kent

Following the success of The Open in Scotland, the tournament ventured south for the first time in 1894. The course in Sandwich was first laid out by local surgeon, Laidlaw Purves, and has grown over the last century into one of the finest courses on the planet.

Royal St George's Golf Club

Constantly ranked within the Top 10 courses in the UK, and Top 100 in the World, the course has accumulated an incredible history – including playing host to one of the most prestigious Amateur tournaments in the world, the Grand Challenge Cup, won in 1959 by a young Jack Nicklaus. Nowadays, Golfbreaks guests often tie a trip to this corner of the Kent coast in with a visit to Royal Cinque Ports and Prince’s, with The Lodges at Prince’s being our most popular base in the area.

Royal St George's Golf Course

Oporto, Portugal

Whilst not quite rivalling the UK-based layouts for age, Portugal is now one of our most popular golfing destinations, and we thought it only right to recognise the country’s oldest course! Oporto was founded in 1890 and tweaked shortly afterwards to provide a challenging 9-hole links layout for British workers in the area.

Oporto Golf Club

The 18-hole course was completed in 1934 with a later (and more substantial) redesign in 1978. Porto is still one of our favourite getaways in Europe with so many incredible courses and so much to do in the city itself, which is a common theme throughout golfers visiting Portugal.

Real Club de Golf de Las Palmas, Gran Canaria

1891 saw the first official introduction of golf in Spain, albeit on the island of Gran Canaria rather than the Spanish mainland. The course itself continues to be popular with our golfers, as do others on the island including Meloneras, Salobre, Maspalomas and Anfi Tauro.

Real Club de Golf de Las Palmas

Golf arrived in continental Spain shortly after, with the Real Club Puerta de Hierro noted as the first base for the sport. It was joined in the following years by a myriad of new layouts, including Real Club de Golf El Prat – a perennial Golfbreaks favourite with 27 fantastically laid-out holes to discover.

An honourable mention… Musselburgh

Rivalling the Old Course for the title of ‘Oldest Course in The World’, Musselburgh Links has documented evidence of golf being played as early as 1672. However, many note Mary Queen of Scots playing the sport in the area more than 100 years earlier.

The course hosted six Open Championships in the 1800’s and is responsible for helping to standardise many of the rules of golf, notably the official size of a hole, 4.25” … which (conveniently!) had long been the size of the implement used to create the holes at Musselbrugh.

Feeling inspired?
Now that you've had a look at some of the world's oldest golf courses, we hope this has given you some insight for your next golf trip.
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Chris Williams

UK Travel Consultant

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