"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."
Top 100 Links Golf Courses of the United Kingdom
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 the majority* of these links golf courses in the United Kingdom and below he gives his Top 100 in order of personal preference.
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 links golf courses of Great Britain & Northern Ireland. 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 always very interested in your opinions so please leave your comments below.
Many of the venues also have an attached golf course review. If there is no review it means the course was played pre-2013.
You may also like to read our Living on the Links Spectrum article.
Top 100 Links Golf Courses of the United Kingdom
"I don’t think I would ever accept the notion that a golf course is perfect – not even The Old Course at St. Andrews – but boy does Royal Portrush come close. Tantalisingly close. To say I was completely and utterly blown away by the sheer quality and golfing aura that surrounds what will be the 2019 Open Championship venue is a gross understatement."
"The canvas at County Down is perfect for golf and it paints the most captivating of pictures. Visually it packs a big punch and the terrain is just wonderful for the best of golf. Dune-lined valleys, up-and-overs, soaring sandhills, undulating fairways, firm turf, dell greens, flags atop of plateaus, secret gorse lined walks from green-to-tee and a backdrop as stunning as they come. "
"In my mind Royal St. George’s at Sandwich is a championship links golf course with few, if any, superiors. Back in 2014 a 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."
"It’s Christmas Eve. Well, not quite, but it certainly feels like it. It’s the evening before we are due to play Royal Dornoch for the first time. We are in an eatery in the historic town debating just how good tomorrow could be as we embark on playing unquestionably one of the World’s greatest golf courses."
"Not all golf courses are created equal and that can certainly be said about Trump Turnberry. For here you will find the most spectacular stretch of coastline on any golfing land that I have ever seen. The natural setting and scenic beauty of the iconic Ailsa course, an Open Championship venue four times over, is simply sublime."
"If Muirfield is regarded as the King of East Lothian then North Berwick is undoubtedly Queen. Sometimes words cannot accurately describe a course and do it total justice, you just have to go and experience it for yourself in order to get a proper flavour of the place. The West Links at North Berwick is one of those."
"Oh my word! The Balgownie Links at Royal Aberdeen is something else. It’s different gravy - an unbelievably good golf course. Not only is it the best in Aberdeenshire it’s one of the best you will play. Period. It is the epitome of an authentic, genuine and pure links golf experience."
"You don’t need to think strategically to play Castle Stuart but to play Castle Stuart you need to think strategically. The above summarises this modern links perfectly and in my opinion is a sign of greatness. Castle Stuart is great. It’s a thinking man’s course for sure but the more naive golfer will still get maximum enjoyment from this wholly manufactured course."
"We’d already driven for over six hours and covered more than 350 miles before boarding a ferry in Oban sailing to Lochboisdale. The Lord of the Isles took a further five and a half hours before it eventually docked a little after seven that evening. We were tired and hungry, in need of food and sleep."
11. Cruden Bay
15. Royal Birkdale
16. Western Gailes
17. Royal Troon
19. Royal Porthcawl
21. Burnham & Berrow
23. Saunton (East)
34. Moray (Old)
36. Royal Liverpool
39. The Machrie
45. West Lancashire
51. St. Enodoc
52. Saunton (West)
53. Gullane (No.1)
54. Murcar Links
56. Luffness New
58. Dundonald Links
60. Montrose (Medal)
64. Seaton Carew
72. Gailes Links
73. Royal St. Davids
74. Gullane (No. 2)
80. Leven links
81. Pyle & Kenfig
97. West Kilbride
99. Moray (New)
Pwllheli (no review)
*The following 2 links golf courses in the United Kingdom have not been played yet and therefore are not included in the list: Dumbarnie Links & Turnberry King Robert The Bruce.
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.