Top 100 under £80: No. 10-4
Introducing some world-class links as we reach the top 10
Designers: Thompson/Fernie/Park Jnr/ Taylor
Green fee: From £70
Tel: 01728 452 890
RECENTLY extended, the finest course in Suffolk now stretches to over 6,600 yards, which is considerable given that the par is a measly 68 with no par 5s.
In fact, there are only two par 4s under 400 yards from the new blue tees at a course that has much in common with Ganton. Both are a few miles inland yet play like fast-running links with the fairways intimidatingly flanked by a profusion of gorse.
With its sleeper-faced bunkers and fast, true greens, Aldeburgh is a special place to play, especially in the spring when the gorse is in bloom.
9 Royal St David’s
Designers: Finch Hatton/Henry More
Green fee: From £45
Tel: 01766 780 361
THERE are few finer settings for golf than Royal St David’s, in the shadow of Harlech Castle.
The course is every bit as resistant to attack as the fortress above, with a well-earned reputation for being the toughest par 69 in the land.
Certainly, there are plenty of long, unforgiving 4s, most of them played across flat land before you finally enter duneland for the closing stretch. The highlight is the 15th, without a bunker yet one of the hardest holes you’re ever likely to play. What a shame Harlech finishes with a relative whimper compared to what has gone before in the shape of a prosaic par 3.
8 West Lancs
Designers: Ken Cotton/Fred Hawtree
Green fee: From £75
Tel: 0151 924 1076
CONSISTENTLY overlooked in course rankings lists, West Lancs is truly a championship links.
Long considered the poor relation to its neighbours, a (much-needed) new clubhouse has helped it be recognised for what it truly is. Already over 7,000 yards, West Lancs is rare among old courses in that there is still so much space to extend even further should the need ever arise. Watch out for the 11th, a brilliantly bunkered, strategic par 5, and the short hole in the dunes that follows. West Lancs has no weak holes, though a marker post for the drive on the slightly out-of-character 14th would be handy.
Designer: Alister MacKenzie
Green fee: £78
Tel: 0113 268 1680
AN especially subtle course, the true charm of Alwoodley is revealed when you reach the 3rd tee on a bright day to be confronted by the open, heathland expanse of Wigton Moor. The first course designed by MacKenzie is notable for its fast-running fairways, heather-clad bunkers and large greens, many with significant undulations.
Do your scoring going out – long but varied par 4s dominate from the 13th, the only ‘respite’ coming from a 200-yard short hole.
6 West Sussex
Green fee: £70
Tel: 01798 872 426
ONE of the prettiest corners of England, West Sussex (also known as Pulborough) is a course impossible not to enjoy, particularly on a summer’s day. Well bunkered and with exceptional greens, the back nine is the stronger, especially from the 14th, with three of the last four par 4s over 440 yards.
5 Cruden Bay
Designers: Old Tom Morris/ Archie Simpson/Tom Simpson/ Herbert Fowler
Green fee: From £70
Tel: 01799 812 285
THIS consistently outrageous links boasts some of the most thrilling – and unorthodox – holes in the whole of Britain.
It includes a stretch on the back nine where at one hole, the 14th, the green is utterly invisible from the fairway and turns out to be situated in a sunken, grassy bath, followed by a long, blind par 3 played over a huge dune.
Yet, as is often the case at courses such as this, there is so much more to Cruden Bay – 20 miles north of Aberdeen and originally built by a railway company as a ‘Gleneagles of the North’ – than the eccentric.
Take the 4th, as fine a short hole as you will find, and the drivable par-4 8th with its seemingly impregnable green.
4 St Enodoc
Designers: James Braid/Peter McEvoy
Green fee: From £65
Tel: 01208 862 200
THE closing three holes here form as outstanding and testing a finishing stretch as you will find: 560-yard par 5, 206-yard par 3 and 469-yard par 4.
The start to this Cornish links is also inspiring with the rippling fairway of the par-5 1st unfurling into the distance.
It is true that, despite the best recent efforts of Peter McEvoy to improve them, the holes returning from the church are moorland in character and so less inspiring, but there are so many truly great moments at St Enodoc that this can be forgiven. With gorgeous views of the Camel Estuary, this is a course with a romantic charm.
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