From the “Golfing Capital of England” in Southport, to the Kent coast, there are so many great links golf courses scattered across England, hence why we are regularly asked “what are the best links golf courses in England?” The traditional feel of these courses is what makes them stand out and, to give you a helping hand, we’ve offered this list of the best links courses in England.
Renowned by most as the finest links golf course in England, Royal Birkdale is a must play for any golfer – especially those wanting to tick off an Open Championship venue. This golden links on the North West coast in Southport has seen the likes of Jordan Spieth, Padraig Harrington, and Tom Watson all lift the Claret Jug here, not to mention Mo Martin and Yani Tseng who both won the Women’s British Open here too. Funnelling through valleys of giant sand hills, accuracy is key, as well as distance when the wind comes in off the sea.
Royal St George’s is another Open Championship venue, and one that had a popular winner in 2011 in Darren Clarke. This course on the Kent coast features undulating fairways, true greens, humps, swales, dunes and wild rough, to add to the numerous deep bunkers and the wind from the sea. Although filmed at Stoke Park, it was Ian Fleming's orignial setting, under the guise of Royal St Mark’s, of arguably golf’s most famous fictional match between James Bond and Goldfinger.
Founded in 1886, Royal Lytham & St Annes has hosted them all, including the Open Championship, the Ryder Cup and Women’s and Seniors Open Championships. Before you even set foot on the course, the club’s northern hospitality will have you feeling relaxed. Although surrounded by suburban housing and flanked by a railway line, this links course that is a long way from the sea offers an unconventional charm, which can be enjoyed by all levels of golfer.
No two holes are the same on the Church Course at St Enodoc, and James Braid’s design still enjoys a justified reputation as one of the West Country’s finest links layouts. As you thread your way through sand dunes and across undulating fairways, remember Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman was a lover of this course and his famous poem “Seaside Golf” is about the 13th hole here. Thanks to the warm Gulf stream climate, this course can be enjoyed all-year-round.
A true championship links course like no other, Formby Golf Club runs through mature sand dunes and pinewoods, with a combination of well protected greens, undulating fairways and challenging tee shots making this a fantastic challenge. Its magnificent contrasts makes it a course you will enjoy playing time and time again, on the Southport coast.
Regarded as the premier golf course in the Devon, the East Course at Saunton Golf Club is a must play for those on a golf break in the area. The Herbert Fowler design has hosted numerous major amateur events, with many suggesting it is even worthy of hosting an Open Championship. Although the West Course at Saunton has the highest dunes, the East Course presents a much sterner challenge from start to finish.
Another Open Championship host venue, Royal Liverpool has seen the likes of Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods lift the Claret Jug here. On the edge of the Dee shores and against the backdrop of the distant Welsh hills, Royal Liverpool really is a fine place to sense the history and traditions of the game. Although it may seem relatively flat, the deep and strategically placed bunkers combined with the slick greens and their subtle breaks offer a stern examination of your game.
Featuring a classic out and back layout, Royal Cinque Ports is a championship links course of the highest standard. The fast rolling fairways and wonderful greens on Kent’s coast have stood the test of time, and offer an outstanding assessment of your skill for those looking for a links challenge in South East England. When the prevailing wind blows, the last seven holes are reputed to among the toughest in golf.
Southport and Ainsdale Golf Club, known as S&A, is a James Braid masterpiece that has hosted the Ryder Cup on two occasions. It is nestled among rolling links land, with the sea breeze and profusion of heather and gorse combining to create a tough but fair test of links golf. Thanks to its traditional, testing links layout, it is no wonder the course also hosted the British Ladies’ Open and The British Amateur in the past.