Big fan of 18 holes amongst the heather and pines? You'll love these 25 UK heathland courses...
25 Of The Best Heathland Golf Courses In The UK
Heathland golf courses are some of the world’s best, usually lined with pines and heather along with sandy, springy turf making them playable all year and beautiful aesthetically too.
The UK is home to many heathland courses, with Sunningdale being the pinnacle, however there are dozens of others that are equally as charming yet don’t break the bank.
Golf Monthly’s top 100 course rankings currently features between 25-30 heathland courses, with some in that cross-section between heathland and links.
Here we take a look at the best heathland courses in the UK in order of their Golf Monthly Top 100 ranking…
GM Top 100 ranking: 9th
The New at Sunningdale ranks as our highest inland course at 9th in the rankings. It was designed by Harry Colt and whilst it’s called the New, it’s actually quite old. It opened in 1923 and is an absolute must-play. It is quite simply the best example of inland golf in the entire UK and Ireland.
GM Top 100 ranking: 12th
The Old Course 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. 36 holes at Sunningdale simply cannot be beaten.
Woodhall Spa Hotchkin
GM Top 100 ranking: 22nd
Ranked 22nd in our Top 100, the Hotchkin is our third-highest-ranked inland course in the UK&I. The brilliant heathland course winds its way through the pines and heather but there are also huge bunkers to avoid.
St George’s Hill
GM Top 100 ranking: 24th
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
GM Top 100 ranking: 29th
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.
GM Top 100 ranking: 34th
The beautiful course at Hankley is set upon huge commonland and is another of Surrey’s must-play heathland courses. It ranks 34th in our Top 100, and the James Braid layout will not disappoint.
GM Top 100 ranking: 38th
Located in Berkshire, the private Swinley Forest GC is a unique club with no handicaps, no competitions and no website. It is truly gorgeous, with rhododendrons, heather, pines, springy turf and great greens. Heathland golf at its highest quality. It’s only 6,300 yards and a par 69 but it tests every aspect of your game.
GM Top 100 ranking: 40th
Also known as Hollinwell, Notts GC is one of the midlands’ greatest courses. It hosted final Open qualifying this year and 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.
The Berkshire Red Course
GM Top 100 ranking: 42nd
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 Golf Club
GM Top 100 ranking: 48th
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 easy to be seen. It’s a true delight to play and testing with a very tough finishing stretch requiring quality ball striking.
Walton Heath New
GM Top 100 ranking: 50th
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.
GM Top 100 ranking: 51st
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 short 17th over water.
The Berkshire Blue Course
GM Top 100 ranking: 57th
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.
GM Top 100 ranking: 58th
The Rosemount course at Blairgowrie is Scotland’s highest-rated heathland course 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.
Moortown Golf Club
GM Top 100 ranking: 60th
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.
Worplesdon Golf Club
GM Top 100 ranking: 64th
Worplesdon is the highest-ranked of the 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.
GM Top 100 ranking: 67th
Liphook is Hampshire‘s best course and one of Peter Alliss’ favourites. The 13th 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.
GM Top 100 ranking: 70th
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 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.
GM Top 100 ranking: 79th
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.
GM Top 100 ranking: 82nd
Parkstone is the highest-ranked of Bournemouth’s Big 3. 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.
GM Top 100 ranking: 84th
Whilst much further down in the rankings than Notts GC, Sherwood Forest is a brilliant competitor to it and is perhaps the tougher of the two. Notts and Sherwood Forest for a heathland fan, and any golf fan to be fair, is an exquisite golf break. The current course was originally laid out in 1912 by Harry Colt and was later refined by James Braid.
GM Top 100 ranking: 86th
Whilst the lowest of the Three W’s in our rankings, some in the local area may feel that Woking‘s Golf Monthly ranking is undeserved compared to the other two. 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.
GM Top 100 ranking: 90th
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.
GM Top 100 ranking: 86th
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, has recently 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.
GM Top 100 ranking: 98th
Ladybank is only the second Scottish course to appear on this list. The Fife course hosts Open qualifying when the tournament takes place at St Andrews, and is 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.
Other non-top 100 ranked favourites: New Zealand, Wentworth West (not included due to exclusivity), North Hants, Ipswich, Blackmoor, Fulford, Reigate Heath (9 holer)
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