"In my mind Royal St. George’s at Sandwich is a championship links golf course with few, if any, superiors. A recent trip to compete (I use that term very loosely) in the South-East of England Links Championship presented an opportunity for me to complete the playing of every Open Championship course in England."
Top Links of England
In the excellent book, True Links by esteemed authors George Peper and Malcolm Campbell, the writers claim that of the 30,000+ golf courses in the world there are only 246 true links.
Golf Empire founder, Ed Battye, has played all of the these links courses in England and below he lists them in order of his personal preference. (We have also included Castletown on the Isle of Man). Many of the courses also have a golf course review.
We certainly do not claim this to be a definitive list so please don't be offended if you disagree with the order or your blood boils because your personal favourite languishes far too low. It's merely one man's opinion on the many fabulous links golf courses of England. Hopefully this provides more interest than a list created by a panel which can often dilute the flavour of any given ranking. However, we are very interested in your opinions so please leave your comments below.
"In my eyes Silloth is a golf course that has the ability to transcend your typical ‘championship links’. It has charm, character, intrigue and an identity all of its own but at the same time presents the truest, and quite often, stiffest of challenges to the golfer. It's an inspirational golf course with an endless collection of brilliant golf holes."
"Royal Birkdale is a golf course which is incredibly hard not to like but at the same time it’s not an easy one to truly love. If it were a football team it would probably be the Arsenal side that won multiple trophies under George Graham in the late 80’s and early 90’s when the phrase, “One-nil to the Arsenal” was coined."
"The links at Burnham & Berrow begins at a pulsating pace and rarely lets up until the moment you reach the comfort of the historic 100-year-old clubhouse where you are able to relax and reflect. This is true championship golf of the highest order with the opening three holes epitomising everything that is great and superior about links golf."
"As you would expect from a club that has seen the Claret Jug contested over its links on no less than eleven occasions Royal Lytham & St. Annes didn't disappoint."
"If anyone dare claim there is a better 36 holes of links golf at one golf club in England than at Saunton I'm pretty sure I could make an unquestionable case for this wonderful piece of linksland. One of the things that confirms this for me is, not only the quality of every single hole, but the subtle yet significant differences between the two courses."
"I always enjoy my visits to play Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club at Deal, the Kentish town that the course is often referred to by name. It’s an excellent links golf course that requires imagination and skill as well as distance and sound hitting. However, cunning is certainly the order of the day for the most part here."
"Hunstanton is a fine championship links situated on the edge of The Wash in North-West Norfolk. It boasts a series of extremely high quality golf holes and whilst it may not quite have the charm and quirk that I often look for (and prefer) in seaside golf there’s no denying this is a true test of your golfing skills on a very good course."
"Southport & Ainsdale offers everything that the other famous links courses on this fabled stretch of Lancashire coastline can… and the golfing connoisseur would perhaps argue it delivers even more than this. S&A (as it is widely known) mixes charm, challenge and cunning into a perfect blend of championship links golf."
"Playing at Formby was one of my earliest links golfing experiences and I will therefore always have fond memories of what is undoubtedly a hugely memorable and top quality golf course. It’s also a club steeped in history and tradition with a strong connection to the amateur game."
"Royal West Norfolk Golf Club, often referred to as Brancaster, is a course that time has forgotten about. And it’s much the better for that. It’s an atmospheric old fashioned links, laid out on a thin parcel of land, close to the North Sea where the 18 holes are wedged between the sandy beach on one side and acres of marshland on the other."
"Royal North Devon, or Westward Ho! as it is often fondly referred to, is a very special place. That much is obvious from the moment you drive into the car park and are informed, by an unmissable sign on the side of the historic clubhouse, that you have just arrived at England's oldest course."
"It could be argued that no golf club has had a greater influence on the amateur game of golf than Royal Liverpool, the second oldest links in England behind only Royal North Devon. Open Champions and prolific amateur golfers, Harold Hilton and John Ball, learnt their trade on this important links."
"It’s safe to say there’s a lot more to Rye Golf Club than the actual golf course. It’s an idiosyncratic club with a distinguished history and fully deserves its place as a special component in the rich tapestry of English golf."
"If you’ve got an itch sometimes you’ve just got to scratch it… even if it’s in a hard-to-reach place! And in my personal quest to play all the true links golf course in the British Isles that was exactly the case with Castletown."
"They say you only get one chance to make a first impression and I was well and truly mesmerised when I first set sights on Wallasey. I can still vividly remember several years ago walking from the car park round to the back of the clubhouse and casting my eye over the 18th green and the narrow, turbulent fairway leading towards it."
The below courses are not listed in the above book as 'True Links', however, they do have strong links characteristics and we think they should be included.
Fairhaven (no review)
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.