45 Of The Best Heathland Golf Courses In The UK

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Best Heathland Golf Courses: Big fan of 18 holes amongst the heather and pines? You’ll love these 45 UK heathland courses.

45 Of The Best Heathland Golf Courses In The UK

Heathland is home to some of the world’s best and most beautiful golf courses.

Usually lined with pines and heather, the sandy, springy turf makes heathland courses playable all year round.

The UK is home to a fabulous selection of heathland courses, from the most famous like Sunningdale and Walton Heath to lesser known gems like Boat of Garten or North Hants.

Golf Monthly’s top 100 course rankings currently features between 25-30 heathland courses, with some in that cross-section between heathland and links.

For example, the likes of Ganton, Formby and Aldeburgh all have heathland essences about them but at the same time play more linsky.

Here we pick out 45 of the best heathland golf courses in the UK.

45 Of The Best Heathland Golf Courses In The UK

Sunningdale Old

best heathland golf courses

The Old Course at Sunningdale opened for play in 1901 and was designed by the legendary Willie Park Jr before being tweaked by Harry Colt who was the club’s first secretary.

The Old is one of the world’s most historic courses and has hosted numerous professional events down the years.

Placing 9th in Golf Monthly’s Top 100 Golf Courses UK and Ireland list, it’s the top ranked heathland track.

It’s also one of the very best golf courses in England.

In our opinion, it is quite simply the best example of inland golf in the entire UK and Ireland.

Sunningdale New

Sunningdale Golf Club New Course Pictures

The beautiful par-3 5th hole on Sunningdale’s New course

The New at Sunningdale was designed by Harry Colt and whilst it may be called the New, it’s actually very old.

It opened in 1923 and is an absolute must-play.

The New Course delivers an exacting examination of your game. The fairways are fairly generous, but stray from the mown surfaces and trouble waits.

The greens are fast but receptive, though anything struck poorly or slightly off line will run off the putting surface.

If the test had to be summarised in a single sentence it would be: Good shots will be rewarded and poor shots punished. That’s the sign of an excellent layout.

36 holes at Sunningdale is tough to beat.

Woodhall Spa Hotchkin

The Best Top 100 Winter Green Fees 2020 - England Best Golf Courses In Lincolnshire

Ranked 18th in our Top 100, the Hotchkin at Woodhall Spa is our third-highest-ranked inland course in the UK&I.

The brilliant heathland layout winds its way through the pines and heather but there are also huge bunkers to avoid.

The course is rich with wildlife: pheasant and partridge can be found amongst the broom, gorse, oak and birch.

The fairways are narrow and the bunkers gaping.

It provides a stern test of the long game.

Good shots will be rewarded but any that stray off-line will be punished. Built on sandy soil the course remains playable all year round and it’s always presented immaculately.

St Georges Hill

best heathland golf courses

The beautiful St George’s Hill is our highest-ranked course in Surrey.

The Red and Blue loops make up the best 18 of the 27 holes on the property, which feature heathland golf at its very best along with some excellent short holes like the delightful 8th on the Red.

Walton Heath Old

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The Old Course at Walton Heath was designed by Herbert Fowler and opened back in 1904.

It is one of the world’s most famous courses having hosted the 1981 Ryder Cup and many other high-level events like the 2018 British Masters (contested over a slight composite course with the New), the European Open, the Senior Open and US Open qualifying.

Hankley Common

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The beautiful course at Hankley Common is set upon huge common land and is another of Surrey’s must-play heathland courses.

It ranks 32nd in our Top 100, and the James Braid layout will not disappoint.

Swinley Forest

Swinley Forest Golf Club Course Review

Swinley’s 4th, a classic Redan hole

Located in Berkshire, the private Swinley Forest GC is a unique club.

It is truly gorgeous, with rhododendrons, heather, pines, springy turf and great greens.

It’s heathland golf at its highest quality.

It’s only 6,300 yards and a par 69 but it tests every aspect of your game.

Hollinwell The Home of Notts Golf Club

best heathland golf courses

Notts 13th hole

Hollinwell the Home of Notts GC, is one of the Midlands’ greatest courses.

It has hosted final Open qualifying as well as other prestigious events.

The current course opened for play in 1901 designed by Willie Park Jr.

The exceptional downhill par-3 13th is one of the country’s best short holes, although it’s not actually that short at 200 yards from the whites and 240 from the backs.

Gleneagles King’s Course

Gleneagles King's Course

Gleneagles King’s Course

The King’s Course on the majestic Gleneagles Estate is widely regarded as James Braid’s masterpiece.

Opened for play in 1919, it has been frequently used for significant competitions.

In 1921 a group of American professionals took on a team from Britain around the layout.

It was a precedent that led to the inception of the Ryder Cup six years later.

The course was also host to the Scottish Open on eight occasions.

The King’s course is carved through the pine trees and it rises and falls over springy moorland turf.

With dramatic views across the Perthshire Straths, and to Ben Vorlich, the Ochil Hills and the Grampian Mountains, this is a visually captivating setting for golf.

The Berkshire Red

2018 Rainbow Trust Golf Day

The Red Course at the Berkshire was designed by Herbert Fowler and opened back in 1928.

The beautiful woodland/heathland course features six par 3s, six par 4s and six par 5s giving plenty of scoring opportunities.

It’s great fun to play and the higher-ranked and more undulating of the two excellent courses at the club.

Alwoodley

Alwoodley Golf Club Course Review

The stunning Alwoodley Golf Club in north Leeds was Alister MacKenzie’s first ever course design.

MacKenzie based Augusta’s par-5 13th on the 10th at Alwoodley and the similarities are clear to be seen.

It’s a true delight to play and testing with a very tough finishing stretch that requires quality ball striking.

Walton Heath New

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Walton Heath’s New Course was also designed by Herbert Fowler and opened back in 1913 and is an excellent visual and testing course.

It complements the Old very nicely and a 36 hole day at Walton Heath is tough to beat.

Liphook

Liphook 7th IMG 8008

Liphook is Hampshire‘s best course and one of Peter Alliss’ favourites.

The former 13th, now 7th, is a lovely par 5, which plays first down and then up, crossing a ditch that marks the West Sussex-Hampshire border to a green protected by bunkers and which runs off at the front.

That hole features in our UK&I Dream 18 holes.

The greens at Liphook are some of the best in the country and the course is challenging yet scoreable.

The course has recently undergone huge improvements with new holes designed by Mackenzie and Ebert.

The Berkshire Blue

best heathland golf courses

The 11th hole on The Berkshire’s Blue course

Like Sunningdale and Walton Heath, The Berkshire is the third and final heathland club to have both of its courses inside our Top 100.

The Blue Course, like the Red, was designed by Herbert Fowler and is regarded as the tougher of the two layouts despite being the flatter of the two.

West Sussex

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The delightful West Sussex, also known as Pulborough, opened for play in 1931 and was designed by Guy Campbell and Cecil Hutchison.

It is one of the South-East’s finest courses but does tend to go under the radar.

It’s primarily a two-ball club and like most courses ranked higher than it, it is heathland golf at its best.

Highlights include the back-to-back par-3s at 5 and 6 as well as the beautiful short 17th over water.

Gleneagles Queen’s Course

best heathland golf courses

Gleneagles Queen’s Course

A beautiful moorland style course set through the pines on the high ground of the Gleneagles Estate, the Queen’s is a supremely picturesque James Braid layout.

It may be a short course but don’t be fooled, tricky holes like the split level 12th, “Tinker’s Gill,” test both strategy and skill.

The new tee at the par-3 14th (pictured) has enhanced a stunning short hole.

The turf on the Queen’s is firm and springy as the holes wind, rise and fall through woodland to excellent sheltered greens.

Blairgowrie Rosemount

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Blairgowrie

The Rosemount course at Blairgowrie is one of the best golf courses in Scotland and is set in beautiful Perthshire woodland with mature pines, silver birch and heather.

It was originally designed by the great Alister MacKenzie and opened for play in 1930 after James Braid laid out a further nine holes to make it 18.

It was the site of Greg Norman’s maiden European Tour win in 1977.

Worplesdon

Worplesdon Golf Club Course Review

Worplesdon is the highest-ranked of the famous ‘Three W’s’ and is another of Surrey’s classic heathlands.

It opened for play in 1908 designed by JF Abercrombie and standout holes include the par-3 10th over water before crossing the road to the brilliant par-5 11th and gorgeous but tough par-3 13th.

Moortown

Best Golf Courses In Yorkshire

Moortown is described as a moorland course but has a distinct heathland feel.

It is situated across the road from Alwoodley and was another of Alister MacKenzie‘s courses.

The par-3 10th named ‘Gibraltar’ is an exceptional hole playing slightly uphill with bunkers surrounding the green which leads into the memorable 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th holes which play up-and-down on a plateau.

Aldeburgh

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Sleepered bunkers abound at Aldeburgh, this one by the 15th green

There may be some debate about Aldeburgh‘s inclusion but it is primarily set out upon heathland ground and does have heather and plenty of gorse too, although it plays linksy as well.

The members describe the terrain as “maritime heath” and that seems fitting.

Either way, it’s a beautiful setting near the coast with incredible views across the River Alde.

Bring your A Game as there’s no par 5s on the course which dates back to the 1880s.

West Hill

West Hill Golf Club Course Review West Hill father and son

West Hill is the second-highest ranked of the Three W’s and is another gorgeous heathland course.

Designed by the club’s first professional, Cuthbert Butchart, the layout has remained largely unaltered over the last 100 years.

Parkstone

best heathland golf courses

Parkstone is the highest-ranked of Bournemouth’s Big three.

Willie Park Junior designed the original course here in 1909, and James Braid made substantial modifications in 1937, which are now being refined and remodelled.

Sherwood Forest

sherwood forest golf club review

Whilst further down in the rankings than Notts GC, Sherwood Forest is a brilliant competitor to it and is arguably the tougher of the two layouts.

Notts and Sherwood Forest for a heathland fan, and any golf fan to be fair, is an exquisite golf break – two of Nottinghamshire’s best courses.

The current course was originally laid out in 1912 by Harry Colt and was later refined by James Braid.

Woking

woking golf club course review

Whilst the lowest of the Three W’s in our rankings, Woking is a golf course of considerable quality.

The 3 W’s are constantly debated and the truth is, they’re all brilliant courses in their own right.

Formed in 1893, it is Surrey’s oldest heathland club and was designed by Tom Dunn.

Ferndown

Ferndown Golf Club Old Course Review

Ferndown, near Bournemouth, was designed by Golf Monthly’s first editor Harold Hilton and opened in 1913.

The club is where Peter Alliss learnt his trade, with his Dad Percy the club professional for over 25 years.

A golf break to Dorset to play Ferndown, Parkstone and Broadstone is a must for serious golfers.

Broadstone

broadstone golf club course review

Broadstone is the final of Bournemouth’s Big 3 to feature in our Top 100 and truly is a special course, featuring some memorable holes, beautiful vistas and exceptional greens.

The Tom Dunn course opened in 1898 and was re-designed in 1914 by Harry Colt.

Frank Pont, a Colt expert, revamped the course’s bunkers to get them back to how they original played.

A highlight is the tough par-4 7th and the downhill 14th which has incredible views of the heathland from the tee box.

Ladybank

ladybank golf club course review

Ladybank is one of Scotland’s finest inland courses.

The Fife course has played host to Open qualifying when the tournament is played at St Andrews.

It delivers everything you’d expect from a heathland with heather, birch and pines making for a gorgeous setting.

It’s a very tough track when the wind blows, especially in the latter stages.

New Zealand

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A hidden gem in Surrey is New Zealand Golf Club, literally across the railway from the superb West Byfleet and within 10 minutes drive of the Three W’s and St Georges Hill.

The club is fairly exclusive but does take guests and is well worth experiencing for yourself.

The course dates back to 1895 and the club gets its name from General Sir Tom Goore, who served as Governor General of New Zealand from 1855-1861.

Woodbridge

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Peacefully located in rural Suffolk, the Heath 18 is packed with fine holes such as the par-4 2nd, with its tricky approach over a pond, and the excellent short 15th to a punchbowl green fronted by a sea of sand.

One of Suffolk’s must-play courses.

North Hants

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Tom Simpson and Tom Mackenzie have both had a hand in changes to the James Braid original over the years, along with Harry Colt and Donald Steel.

The club, which has a strong association with Justin Rose, is blessed with a varied heathland layout that boasts a number of visually memorable holes, among them the par-5 3rd, where a lake on the right will test your mettle.

Blackmoor

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You’ll find the delightfully secluded course at Blackmoor just five miles from Liphook.

It started life as a Harry Colt 12-holer in 1912 before growing to 18 in 1924.

You play your way through pine, birch and oak, with many fairways elegantly and strategically lined by heather.

Ipswich

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Also known as Purdis Heath, Ipswich Golf Club, set out across rolling heathland, is one of the best courses in Suffolk.

The club was founded in 1895 and the current course dates back to 1926, which was designed by James Braid.

Stoneham

Stoneham Hole 8 RS Future Owns

The fine Willie Park Junior heathland layout lies just north of Southampton, it’s one of the best courses in Hampshire.

In recent years the club has undertaken extensive woodland clearances to help regenerate heather and improve the playing surfaces.

There’s a fun back-to-back duo at 12 and 13 – a par-5 then a tight but tempting par-4 barely half the former’s length.

Hindhead

Hindhead Hole 5a

Like Liphook, Hindhead was a favourite of Peter Alliss.

“One of my favourite courses of all time with greens that are kept in magnificent shape,” he said of the course.

The club dates back to 1904 and is set in the Devil’s Punchbowl with plenty of undulations, especially on the front nine.

Beau Desert

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Beau Desert, otherwise known as ‘Beautiful Wilderness’ is no stranger to accommodating top golfers with the course hosting Open Championship qualifying on several occasions.

With large undulating greens and narrow fairways, it may not be a long course but accuracy is the key.

It’s one of the top clubs in Staffordshire.

Enville (Highgate)

6th Highgate Green

The Highgate Course is slightly the longer of the two courses at the club, measuring 6,493 yard par 72 off the everyday yellow tees, and in general terms it is a driver’s course.

Provided that you can hit it reasonably straight, and that you are alert for hidden dangers such as ditches, distance is a distinct advantage on Highgate.

Indeed, on the 586 yard 9th it is essential, because this dogleg par 5, one of the longest holes in the Midlands, requires three text-book shots to reach the elevated green on which many players are thankful only to two-putt.

Clandeboye

Clandeboye Dufferin Hole 15 Rob Smith

Clandeboye’s Dufferin is Northern Ireland’s top heathland course.

Measuring 6,550 yards, it is one of the island of Ireland’s many must-play inlanders.

It features heather, gorse and stunning views across the Belfast Lough.

Royal Ashdown Forest Old Course

best heathland golf courses

Royal Ashdown Forest Old Course

Founded in 1888, Royal Ashdown Forest is one of the most historic and venerated clubs in the south of England and one of the best heathland golf courses in Sussex.

The Old course is the more famous of the two layouts (the other being the West) and it’s been used for numerous events over the years, including Regional Qualifying for The Open Championship.

The key to success is course management. It’s not all about power at Royal Ashdown Forest, a careful and strategic approach is required if you’re to score well.

You must also get off to a solid start as the back nine tends to play a shot, or two, harder than the front.

The heather, gentle changes in elevation and tree-lined fairways work beautifully to frame and protect each hole.

Piltdown

best heathland golf courses

Piltdown

This Sussex heathland course dates from 1904 when Jack Rowe, professional at Royal Ashdown was paid £1 to design 18 holes.

The legendary J.H Taylor would later have a part to play in the layout and, more recently Philip Russel-Vick has overseen improvements since the turn of the millennium.

Recent tree clearance has opened up fabulous views of the countryside, including Piltdown Pond.

Crowborough Beacon

best heathland golf courses

Crowborough Beacon

Crowborough Beacon is a beautiful heathland track.

The club dates from 1895 and the course continues to provide a fierce examination.

With views out over the South Downs (the members say you can see all the way to the English Channel on a clear day), Crowborough is a mature layout with card-wrecking danger lurking around every corner.

The course you see today is a testament to the longevity of good design which was partly the work of the famous Dr Alister MacKenzie.

Sunningdale Heath

Sunningdale Heath Hole 18 Andy Hiseman

The course finishes with a 148-yard hole to a green right beside the studio

Sunningdale Heath is a short and sporty course that owes a great deal to the design of Harry Colt.

A neighbour to the more famous Sunningdale layouts, Sunningdale Heath provides the perfect introduction and breeding ground for golf on a grander scale.

There is a timeless quality at Sunningdale Heath that makes you feel as though you have travelled back a century.

Royal Wimbledon

Royal Wimbledon Hole 17 Feature Rob Smith

The par-3 17th at Royal Wimbledon – the final one of four excellent and very attractive short holes

The historic club at Wimbledon was founded in 1865 and granted Royal status 17 years later.

By then, club professional Tom Dunn had extended the original course to 18 holes.

Harry Colt, who was a member, designed the course currently in play, and it opened for play in 1924.

It’s a delightful course with endless variety and interest, presented in excellent shape.

Recent improvements have greatly enhanced the standard of the layout.

The Addington

best heathland golf courses

Just 13 miles from central London, the Addington is one of the capital’s finest tracks.

Designed by John Frederick Abercromby in 1912, the layout has remained little changed since that time.

It’s a superb course winding through pines and birches with occasional views north across the city.

The club has long been a favourite of those in the know.

Henry Longhurst included the course’s 13th and 16th holes in his list of all time favourites.

Boat of Garten

best heathland golf courses

Boat of Garten

In the shadow of the magnificent Cairngorms amongst the pines and birches you’re surrounded by beautiful yet fairly uncompromising countryside at Boat of Garten.

It’s one of the best golf courses in the Highlands.

But you’ll (hopefully) strolling across manicured fairways rather than trudging through heather and over scree.

Even when your game is at its lowest ebb, the spectacular scenery here will make for a thoroughly enjoyable and memorable round.

Designed by James Braid and established in 1898 Boat of Garten tests your accuracy and patience.

The course is not long, just under 6,000 yards, but a straight ball is essential if a good score is to be recorded.

Camberley Heath

Camberley Heath

Camberley Heath

Camberley Heath is one of Harry Colt’s best designs.

Considering its suburban setting, it’s a remarkably peaceful course packed with heathland golf at its best.

Recent improvements have bedded in well, and the gently sloping fairways and majestic pines combine to serve up a surprisingly rustic challenge that is a visual delight.

The par 3s – two long and two short – are a real highlight, and for big hitters there are three risk-reward, driveable par 4s at 4, 6 and 15.



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