Traveling to play the best golf courses in the world has become a popular hobby for those who love golf. In the United States alone there are hundreds of courses that believe they have an argument to be placed on the annual Top 100 lists that flood golfing magazines each year. But for those who love to combine overseas travel with a few rounds, there is no better place to start than the birthplace of the great game. Here are the top five courses to play in England, Ireland and Scotland.
Best Golf Courses in Ireland
1.) Portmarnock Golf Club
Located north of Dublin, Pormarnock Golf Club is always featured in best golf courses in Scotland lists. The links-style course is a favorite destination not only for travelers but for professionals as well. Tiger Woods said that Pormarnock was “one of the most enjoyable links courses I have had an opportunity to play.” With a wide layout surrounded by water, Pormarnock is a very enjoyable course with accommodating tee times for any visitor.
2.) Lahinch Golf Club - Old Course
One of the most popular golf courses, not only in Ireland, but throughout Europe, Lahinch Golf Club is a top-notch destination for the golfer looking for an unique experience. In addition to the links layout that compares admirably with St. Andrews Old Course, Lahinch allows goats to roam freely along the course. They love goats so much at Lahinch that they now use the animal in their logo. Come for the sprawling layout, stay for the
special allure that gives the golfer an affordable day at the club.
3.) Tralee Golf Club
With breathtaking views, Tralee Golf Club is a highlight on any best golf courses in Ireland list. Designed and constructed under the eye of golf legend Arnold Palmer, Tralee is commonly named as one of the top courses that sit against the oceans of the world. Utilizing the natural terrain, the Tralee layout is an entertaining and challenging day at the course. Visitors come for the scenery but leave raving about the golf.
4.) Ballybunion Golf Club - Old Course
A favorite of former U.S. presidents, Ballybunion has raced up the charts for overseas travelers looking for a terrific golf vacation in Ireland. Located on the southwest coast of Ireland, Ballybunion’s old course hugs against the Atlantic Ocean providing incredible scenic views while offering world class golf. Peter Dobereiner, a famous English golf writer once proclaimed that “if sheer pleasure is the yardstick, then Ballybunion’s Old Course gets my vote as the No. 1 golf course in the world.”
5.) County Louth Golf Club
One of the top kept secrets on our best golf courses in Ireland list is the County Louth Golf Club. The links at County Louth offer the visiting golfer a seaside playing experience where sand hills, natural rough and long, precise shotmaking converge for one of the most unique Irish
courses available to play. With short par 4’s that can be driven with a great tee shot and several par 3’s that offer terrific challenges, County Louth is not to be missed.
Best Golf Courses in England
1.) Sunningdale Golf Club - Old Course
You can’t have a best golf courses in England list without including the historic golfing layout at Sunningdale. Steeped in a tradition that stretches back over a century, the Sunningdale Golf Club features two courses that have long had a hand in determining champions. Routinely
compared to the home of the Masters, Augusta National, the old course has hosted recent Women’s Open and Senior Open Championships. Affordable with rates available to play both courses on same day, this is a destination for the golfer looking to play at one of the birthplaces of modern golf.
2.) Sunningdale Golf Club - New Course
The second of the two courses at Sunningdale on this list is known as the “New” course even though it was created in 1923. Amateurs love the New course due to its’ wider fairways while still maintaining its’ heathland style of play more typical to the courses closer to the coast line in
England. The New course has been host to the international division of qualifying for the Open Championship
3.) St. George’s Hill Golf Club
Another landmark of the heathland courses, St. George’s Hill always ranks among the best golf courses in England. With a gorgeous layout and one the most beloved clubhouses of courses in the UK, St. George’s Hill never disappoints the traveling golfer looking for an top-notch
experience. With elevated tees on many holes and challenging par-3’s, the St. George Hill layout gives the golfer every opportunity for a breathtaking view of one of England’s best golf courses.
4.) Royal Birkdale Golf Club
Founded in 1889, Royal Birkdale has a rich history that includes prestigious championships and the reputation for being one of the best golf courses, not only in England, but throughout the world. The course has hosted two Ryder Cup tournaments and ten Open Championships, the
latest being Jordan Spieth’s victory in 2017. Playing a round at Royal Birkdale will set you back the green fees normally associated with a top-flight championship golf course but is worth the price for the experience.
5.) Royal St. George’s Golf Club
One of the most popular stops for the Open Championship, Royal St. George’s Golf Club boasts a duneland-style golfing adventure on the Southeast coastline of the mainland. Modified over the years to accommodate the evolution of technology in the game of golf, Royal St. George still maintains the classic layout that was the original intention back in 1894 when the course first opened. Sporting the deepest bunkers of any course in England, Royal St. George has hosted 14 Open Championships during its’ 124 years of operation and it will host the 2020 Open as well.
Best Golf Courses in Scotland
1.) Royal Dornoch G.C. (Championship)
The first course in the best golf courses in Scotland list boasts a history stretching back to the early 1600’s, Royal Dornoch is the course deemed by Tom Watson to be “the most fun I've ever had on a golf course.” High praise from the five-time Open winner aside, the links
at Royal Dornoch, otherwise known as the Championship course, is one of the greatest challenges that an amateur golfer can undertake. The Championship course hasn’t hosted an Open Championship but that doesn’t diminish from the experience of playing a round at one of the most historic 18 holes the world has to offer.
Next to the history of the old course at St. Andrews it would be hard to find a golf club in Scotland that has the richness of Muirfield. The unique links-style layout has two nine-hole loops that go in opposite directions, so for the golfers, if the wind is in play, then each hole
could play differently. Boasting a champions roster of such esteemed golfers as Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Phil Mickelson, Muirfield has hosted the Open Championship sixteen times.
3.) Old Course at St. Andrews Links
Many consider the Old Course at St. Andrews to be the home of golf. With its’ double greens and the blind tee shots, the amateur can quickly step onto the course that has been home to an incredible 29 Open Championships. Steeped in tradition with countless
memorable moments over the past half century of professional golf, the Old Course is an absolute must play for the traveling golfer.
4.) Carnoustie Golf Links
With a history that stretches back to the 16th century, Carnoustie remains a popular venue for those wanting to play a course that regularly hosts the Open Championship. Most known as the location of the 1999 Open Championship meltdown of French golfer Jean van de
Velde, Carnoustie is a challenge for any amateur but remains an entertaining venue to check off any bucket list of great golf courses around the world.
5.) County Louth Golf Club
Located on the coastline in Scotland, wedged against the sand dunes, lays another absolute treasure and one of the best golf courses in Scotland. The Old Course at Royal Troon has nine Open Championships in its’ past and has awarded Open titles to such acclaimed
golfers as Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson and Tom Weiskopf. One of the highlights for amateurs playing the Old Course is the 8th hole, a short par-3 commonly nicknamed “The Postage Stamp.” The hole is routinely named among the best golf holes in the world.
When planning a golf vacation, the best golf courses from England, Scotland, and Ireland on this list are a great place to begin. Offering a unique playing experience uncommon to golf in the United States, the courses on this list are a must for golfers looking to add to their golfing memories.