I’ve been thinking about the title of this article more and more recently, but especially after my last trip to the UK, which included time in both England and Scotland. In recent years, I’ve made more and more golf trips to England, and my appreciation for its golf has risen steadily.
I’ll admit, I’ve even been having what some might call blasphemous thoughts… Is England a better country for golf than Scotland? I’m still not sure I would go that far, but I’d certainly argue that England is the most underrated country for golf in the world.
What’s the point of this article? I receive dozens of emails from people asking for advice on golf trips and they often lament the difficulty of getting tee times in Scotland and Ireland. Why not consider an alternative? This article outlines why England is the perfect alternative (and one that stands shoulder to shoulder with those two).
Depth of Courses
England has world-class seaside links courses and world-class inland heathland courses to match—a balance and combination found nowhere else. It has Open Championship courses, hidden gems, and everything in between.
The courses span a huge variety of terrains, styles, and layouts. They include Open Championship venues and dozens of others you likely don’t know about. I’ve made a list of my favorites that I’ve played at the bottom of this article.
Ease of Access
Just like in Scotland, nearly all of England’s top golf clubs allow visitor play. To boot, it’s also very easy to navigate England, regardless of whether you have a car or not.
I wrote an article for LINKS Magazine (linked here) that outlines just how easy it is to play the heathland courses near London, especially if you don’t have a car.
If you want to branch wider and hit the coasts, large motorways (interstates) get you close and charming smaller lanes bring you to the golf courses. Further, many of the courses are bunched in convenient regions. Longtime readers of this site know how highly I value time on the course as opposed to time in the car.
Avoiding the Crowds
This article won’t help the cause, but golf courses in England seem to be much less crowded than those up north in Scotland, Ireland, or at popular destinations in the States or elsewhere. Tee times are easier to get, hotels are easier to book, and it’s generally less stressful to plan in England than busier countries.
When I thought about the question in the title of this article, I considered golf in Scotland, Ireland, and the US (none of which are underrated), plus golf in Mexico (very scenic, but lower architectural quality), Australia (terrific, but not easily accessible), and decided that indeed, England is definitely the best golf country in the world. The quality of its courses, the variety of those courses, the ease of access, and the convenience of transportation once in the country made it an easy choice.
I strongly suggest considering England for your next golf trip. I like it so much that I recently joined Prince’s Golf Club in southeast England… I needed a reason to keep coming back!
England Course Reviews
Click on course names to read the full review
On recent trips I’ve played golf in Cornwall on England’s southwest coast…
In the heathland belt of courses south of London…
-St. George’s Hill
-Sunningdale (Old and New)
And in Kent on the southeast coast…
-Prince’s Golf Club
-Royal St. George’s
-Royal Cinque Ports
I’ve also played inland courses in North Yorkshire…
If you hit a logjam when planning or booking a trip somewhere overseas, consider England! It’s where I’m already planning my next trip.
What do you know about Royal Blackheath?
Unfortunately the 8th green at RND you show in your photo above will soon be lost due to necessary renovations to counter flood risk
…and I completely agree with the central premise of this article: English Golf has everything you could wish for.
If you ever make it back down to the South West, Burnham & Berrow, Perranporth, & Saunton East are definitely worth playing.
First of all, Graylyn is right, England is the most underrated golf country in the world. I have traveled there numerous times, and twice to Scotland, and I can attest to this. In fact, once I cover the Scottish experience, coast to coast and the Highlands, I will probably choose England as my annual UK golf destination. It is true that:
1. The links courses are just as authentic as Scotland and Ireland, and the access is easier (less crowded).
2. The transportation/accommodation system is better. England is a rich country compared to Scotland and Ireland, and the road, rail, and taxi systems reflect that. Roads are wider and more direct. Hotels and B&B’s are more plentiful and less crowded at “golf destinations”.
3. The inland courses are wonderful around London, which makes it easier to take your wife along, and have something for her to do while you play golf.
4. I disagree that the courses are less expensive. Yes, the Open courses, Old Course, Carnoustie, Kingsbarns, Muirfield, etc., are very expensive in Scotland, but so are Hoylake (245 ps), Royal St. George’s (250 ps), Royal Birkdale (250 ps), and Royal Lytham (230 ps). The famous London area courses are also expensive. The hidden gem courses cost about the same as they do in Scotland – so don’t expect to save a lot of money on green fees if you want to play Open/famous courses. Accommodations also cost more in my experience, if you discount St. Andrews and East Lothian, because the cost of living in England is generally higher.
I would also add that there are other advantages to England, which Graylyn didn’t mention:
1. Air travel is easier from the US. Most major east coast US cities have a direct flight to London (meaning you don’t have to transfer, or sweat your clubs making the transfer). This can cut your flight time in half, and the London Airports have more cars for rent. Nobody, to my knowledge, offers a direct flight to Edinburg or Glasgow.
2. England has well over a thousand years of art, architecture, and world history to explore for non-golf companions and on your off-days/times. Gothic cathedrals, roman ruins, castles, and world landmark locations are everywhere. Every part of England is dripping with things to see and do, whereas Scotland and Ireland are basically scenic landscapes and golf.
3. Edinburg is awesome, but it isn’t London. Enough said.
Finally, the 800 lb gorilla in the room. The weather in England, especially southern England, is just better. It’s warmer, all year round, and it doesn’t rain as much. I am not sure why, but it is just sunnier and warmer. It still rains, and the wind still blows, but not as much – and you can actually get a hot summer rainless day in England, which is very rare in Scotland. The southwest is especially nice in the summer. In England, it’s considered a beach resort area. If you get tired of playing in cold and rain, England is vastly superior to Scotland or Ireland.
So, go do Scotland for the history and because it’s the home of golf and they invented the game there (and because the Old Course, Ailsa, and Carnoustie are the best courses in the world that most golfers of average means will ever be able to get on). But, after you’ve done those, try England (either the SW, SE, or Liverpool area), and you might just forget about Scotland and all that rain and cold.