Top 20 Modern Golf Courses of Great Britain

Top Modern Golf in Great Britain

The Golden Age of golf course architecture is generally regarded as being beetween 1910 and the late 1930's.

During this time many of the great architects were plying their trade and the vast majority of our leading golf courses were either built or dramatically shaped into their present day form. Some may argue that the period started earlier than this, even going back to the time when Old Tom Morris was frantically laying out golf courses.

What is not in doubt though is that since World War II the number of really top golf courses built in Great Britain is few and far between, particularly the 50 year period between 1940 and 1990. However, in more recent times - the past few decades - a number of new golf courses have caught the eye of the British golfing public. Most of these have been created since the turn of the millennium but for the purpose of this exercise we use 1990 as our starting point.

Golf Empire founder, Ed Battye, has played extensively throughout Great Britain and below he gives his top 20 modern golf courses. Most of the venues also have a full golf course review.


NB: The London Club will be played shortly and may feature whilst it should be noted that Ed has yet to get to further contenders Beaverbrook, Queenwood, Skibo Castle, Castle Stuart, Chart Hills & East Sussex National. The Kintyre course at Turnberry has been omitted because it has now been significantly altered whilst we would also have dearly loved to include Askernish, which was effectively reborn in 1995, but didn't feel the term "modern" felt quite right!

Top 20 Modern Golf Courses of Great Britain

1. Kingsbarns (Opened 2000)

Kingsbarns Golf Links

"The Kingdom of Fife has long been associated with world-class links golf. The region is the spiritual home of the game and Kingsbarns fits seamlessly into the modern day environment. Located just seven miles down the coast from St. Andrews it is in a prime location and the layered landscape that the holes are played over simply add to the visual feast on offer at this sensational layout."

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2. Trump International (2012)

Trump International Golf Links

"The first thing to state is that Trump International Golf Links is undoubtedly an exceptionally good golf course. The second thing to say from the off is that it’s categorically not the “World's Greatest Golf Course” as the owner makes out and their website brashly proclaims."

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3. Machrihanish Dunes (2009)

Machrihanish Dunes Golf Club

"Located within touching distance of the Atlantic Ocean on the Kintyre Peninsula Machrihanish Dunes is the first true links course to open on Scotland’s west coast in over one hundred years. And if this is anything to go by let’s hope it isn’t another century before we get the next one."

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4. The Renaissance Club (2008)

Renaissance Golf Club

"I probably lack the savoir faire that The Renaissance Club expects from a golfer but regardless of this I recently seized an opportunity to peg it up behind the closed gates and allowed myself to be indulged for a day. Renaissance is geared towards a niche clientele, one that moves in entirely different circles to me."

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5. St. Andrews (Castle) (2008)

St. Andrews Links (Old) Golf Club

"There’s very little that hasn’t been written about the golfing mecca that is St. Andrews. Golfers (and indeed non-golfers) flock to this corner of Fife from all over the World to savour the delights of the ‘Grey Auld Toun’ and for most it is mainly to play, or at least see and walk, The Old Course; the spiritual home of golf and where it all began for our beloved game."

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6. Loch Lomond (1993)

Loch Lomond Golf Club

"The experience of visiting and playing at Loch Lomond, an exclusive club with an international clientele, is a difficult one to describe. You receive a level of service that way exceeds anything else I have previously enjoyed and the facilities, as you would expect, are second to none."

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7. Dundonald Links (2005)

Dundonald Links Golf Club

"In an area steeped in history and tradition Dundonald Links has, in the space of just over ten years, commanded the respect of golfers who flock to this part of Scotland to tackle Open Championship venues and other prestigious links courses."

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8. Woburn Golf Club (Marquess) (2000)

Woburn Golf Club

"In my opinion the Marquess just takes the top honours as the best course on the Woburn Estate, but it's a points decision. It opened as recently as 2000 it overlaps the county boundary dividing Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire and presents a variety of rolling and undulating terrain."

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9. Spey Valley (2006)

Spey Valley Golf Club

"I suspect many fools dash past Spey Valley, located at the foot of Cairngorm Mountains near Aviemore, as they bomb up the A9 towards Inverness and beyond. ‘Tis true, they may be heading for better and brighter things on the coast at Nairn, Castle Stuart, Skibo or Dornoch but neglecting this championship venue, owned by Macdonald Hotels, should not be done lightly."

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10. Remedy Oak (2006)

Remedy Oak Golf Club

"Remedy Oak is a prestigious, exclusive and unique golf course recently constructed in Dorset and was the brainchild of local businessman Bill Riddle. Since opening its doors in 2006 it has quickly established itself as one Southern England’s finest and arguably the best inland course in the country that doesn’t play over a heathland."

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11. The Duke's St. Andrews (1995/2006)

The Duke's St. Andrews Golf Club

"The Duke’s course, owned and managed by the iconic Old Course Hotel, sits high in the countryside above the famous golfing town of St. Andrews and enjoys spectacular views across Fife’s beautiful coastline. You may wonder how and why the Duke’s course came into existence. Let’s face it there’s been plenty of good golf to be had in and around St. Andrews for centuries."

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12. Wentworth (Edinburgh) (1990)

Wentworth Golf Club

"The demanding yet delightful Edinburgh golf course is a John Jacobs design with input from Gary Player and Bernard Gallacher. The idea of a third course at Wentworth, to complement the two created by Harry Colt in the 1920’s, was conceived in the late 1970’s but it didn’t actually open its doors for play until 1990."

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13. The Wisley (1991)

Wisley Golf Club

"The Wisley is a very exclusive private member golf club located in Surrey and is played solely by the 700 shareholders (and their invited guests) who have bought a stake in The Club which opened for play in the early 1990’s."

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14. The Grove (2003)

The Grove Golf Club

"At the time of writing The Grove is one of the best modern inland golf course I have had the pleasure to play. That doesn’t necessarily make it one of my personal favourites – give me a quirky links or a firm and fast heathland any day – but there is a lot to admire about this Kyle Philips designed layout which opened for play in 2003."

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15. Bearwood Lakes (1996)

Bearwood Lakes Golf Club

"Bearwood Lakes is an excellent parkland course that belies its age. Although it was only created in 1996 you would be forgiven for thinking that it had been here for over a century."

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16. Centurion (2013)

Centurion Golf Club

"On a recent visit the golf course at The Centurion Club was every inch playable, and indeed highly enjoyable, although there is still very much a work in progress feel to the entire experience."

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17. Close House (Colt) (2008)

Close House Golf Club

"The design of the Lee Westwood “Colt” course, located on the Close House Estate near Heddon-on-the-Wall in Northumberland, apparently tips its hat to the great golf course architect Harry Colt and whilst The Club note that nothing is copied directly they claim that the “rectangular tees” (eh?), the bunker forms, and the variety in par threes are all features conceived from the brilliant architect."

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18. Archerfield Links (Fidra) (2005)

Archerfield Links Golf Club

"It’s easy to understand why so many people love to visit and play at the semi-exclusive Archerfield Links when the opportunity arises. The very fact it is set in the heart of established real estate for golf, on Scotland’s Golf Coast in East Lothian, and has proven to be so popular, since it was created in its modern day form just after the turn of the millennium, is testament to the quality of the venue."

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19. Machynys Peninsula (2005)

Machynys Peninsula Golf Club

"The opening of Machynys Peninsula to a blaze of publicity in 2005 hasn’t quite changed the golfing landscape in South Wales but it has certainly provided something different to the Establishment."

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20. The Oxfordshire (1993)

The Oxfordshire Golf Club

"I wasn’t supposed to like The Oxfordshire. But I did. The traditionalist in me shouldn’t really warm to this big and modern, Rees Jones designed tournament-style course that is essentially a manufactured Americanised layout."

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The Contenders

Celtic Manor Golf Club (Twenty Ten) (2007)

Celtic Manor Golf Club

"The Celtic Manor Resort has no less than three golf courses. It is famed for its Twenty Ten course which recently staged the Ryder Cup, however, there are two other courses at this 5-star resort in South Wales. Having seen the course, which opened in 2007, on television a number of times it pretty much delivered exactly what I was expecting."

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Archerfield Links (Direlton) (2005)

Archerfield Links Golf Club

"It’s easy to understand why so many people love to visit and play at the semi-exclusive Archerfield Links when the opportunity arises. The very fact it is set in the heart of established real estate for golf, on Scotland’s Golf Coast in East Lothian, and has proven to be so popular, since it was created in its modern day form just after the turn of the millennium, is testament to the quality of the venue."

Read the full review

Gleneagles (PGA Centenary) (1993)

Gleneagles Golf Club

"No review"

Craigielaw (2001)

Craigielaw Golf Club

"Craigielaw is somewhat of the New Kid on the Block when it comes to easily accessible links golf courses in East Lothian. Established just before the turn of the millennium and opened in 2001 there is much to praise this course for. It is certainly a challenging links with deep bunkers and upturned greens the main obstacles to a good score."

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We would love to hear if you agree or disagree with our selections. You can do so in the comments box below or tweet us.

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