"Strandhill Golf Club is a links course that often lives in the shadow of its GB&I Top 100 near neighbour, County Sligo, and that is doing it a real disservice because this befuddling good golf course delivers with a bang and offers great value at the same time."
Treasure Chest Golf Courses of Great Britain & Ireland
The term "Hidden Gem" is a horribly overused term when describing golf courses.... and I'm sorry to say that we are going to use it here also.
However, what this article will attempt to do is provide the true hidden gem golf courses of Great Britain - in fact an entire treasure chest full of them!
Often we see the phrase used to describe a golf course which in fact already has a really fine pedigree and, whilst maybe not a top bracket course, is very well known to the serious golfer. As an example; Brora is NOT a hidden gem. It is regularly featured in top 100 lists, has been lauded by Tom Watson, Peter Thomson & others and has had much magazine coverage over the years. Overshadowed by Dornoch? Yes. Hidden Gem? Certainly not.
Silloth or Goswick isn't one either, neither is Elie or Southerness, nor Pennard or Tenby. We totally agree that these courses should certainly be given more credit than they receive and they can be seen in our most underrated, highly rated golf courses... but they are not hidden gems.
What we are looking for here are golf courses that you may have never heard of but still offer excellent golf and whilst they are not the type of courses we would recommend travelling a very long distance to specifically play they would make a fantastic addition to a longer golf trip and offer good, fun golf over interesting terrain. It must be emphasised that the below courses still offer high quality golf.
Golf Empire founder, Ed Battye, has played extensively throughout Great Britain and below he gives his real hidden gem golf courses. These don't appear in any of the usual rankings and in many cases are well and truly off the beaten path... maybe even to locals. Indeed any course that features in any of the following lists was excluded from consideration;
The courses are not listed in any particular order and all of the venues have a golf course review.
Treasure Chest Golf Courses of Great Britain
"I heard the squelch first. The gentle sinking sensation soon followed. However, it was a few seconds before I felt the warm, moist trickling sensation around my ankle. The smell came shortly afterwards."
"The Halifax Golf Club, often better known as Ogden, is a course that divides opinion. Some people love this fascinating James Braid layout whilst others hate it... and a few even vow never to return! I'm most certainly in the former category and really enjoy golfing at this moorland gem of very high quality."
"There’s a deceptive quality to the humble yet alluring links course at Arbroath which would not only make an excellent companion when playing at Carnoustie, or en route to Aberdeen from the South, but is well worthy of a play in its own right."
"I’m easily pleased. All I ask for is good turf, natural movement in the land and engaging greens. Simply give me all of those on a golf course and I’m a happy bunny. Sadly most courses don’t offer any of the above. A relatively small number have one of the trio whilst the saying ‘two out of three ain’t bad’ can be applied to even fewer venues. However, at Appleby it’s a case of tick, tick, tick."
"Prestwick St. Nicholas is one of those links courses that you just cannot fail to fall in love with. Even before you reach the car park you catch a glimpse of the course and its humpy-bumpy linksland. As it transpires these are the 17th and 18th holes so you must wait a little bit longer to enjoy these, but it is worth the wait and the journey to get there is just as enjoyable."
"Designed by an experienced Harry Colt the Old Course at Leckford opened for play in 1929 and the layout has largely been preserved since then. This is a good thing, for the nine-holes at this under-the-radar venue deliver a beguiling round of golf."
"I can’t imagine many reviews for Royal County Down – one of the world’s great golf courses – beginning with mention of the Annesley Links…. but that is exactly where I’m going to start."
"North West Golf Club, a founder member of the Golf Union of Ireland located on the Inishowen Peninsula at Buncrana, is a hugely underrated links course laid out on a narrow and compact tract of land."
"I’ve never known an inland golf course play as firm and fast in March as Thetford did on my first ever visit to this lovely Norfolk venue."
"It may have only been February when I played Dunstanburgh Castle but I strongly suspect this will be the biggest surprise of 2015. What a gem of a links course. I will be honest and admit that Dunstanburgh wasn’t really on my radar of courses to play."
"They say that life’s all about the journey and not the destination but playing golf at Durness is without doubt both a journey and a destination. From whichever angle you approach this incomparable links in the remote North-West corner of Scotland, near Cape Wrath, your eyes will feast upon some of the finest scenery Scotland has to offer."
"Tucked away on the Moray Firth between Lossiemouth and Hopeman the nine-hole layout at Covesea Golf Links remains a true hidden gem. Nestled in a cove between spectacular rock formations there is a natural stretch of traditional Scottish linksland where the golf course is situated."
"HIDDEN GEM ALERT!! Oh my word, what a discovery Anglesey Golf Club was on a recent trip to North Wales."
"There’s a real feel-good factor about playing golf at Yelverton. It’s great for your soul and can also be a confidence booster for your golf; that is if you catch it on as benign a day as I did."
"Right on the edge of the City of Aberdeen lays the charming Kings Links golf course which is owned by Aberdeen City Council and also the playing arena for three golf clubs; The Northern, Caledonian and Bon Accord."
"I’m going to buy Spey Bay a drum. They obviously haven’t got one... because nobody is banging it for them. And they should be! I stumbled across this natural and highly captivating links course on a family holiday to the Scottish Highlands. All I can say is; what a discovery!"
"A minibus of American golfers is not the first thing I expected to see on arrival at Reay Golf Club; the most northerly 18 hole links on mainland Scotland! To our surprise there were around a dozen Yanks milling around the clubhouse, some on the putting green, others just paying their green-fee."
"The guy behind the bar who I handed my £12 twilight green-fee to simply laughed after he asked if I had played the course before and I replied, “No”. I tend to get that quite often due to the nature of courses I visit and I therefore immediately knew I was going to have a fun round."
"A round of golf at Traigh is a unique Scottish golf experience. I’m not going to claim it is one of the best courses in the country but it’s certainly got an argument to say it has the most breathtaking setting and undoubtedly has one of the best holes I’ve ever played."
"Church Stretton Golf Club sits atop the stunning Shropshire Hills above the historic market town of the same name. Please believe me when I say the panoramic views from the summit of the course are as good as you’ll find anywhere in England."
"Glencruitten is a fascinating golf course I whole-heartedly recommend anyone should play. It’s certainly not a course for the faint-hearted, in more ways than one, but will give you the chance to manufacture an infinite amount of different shots unlike you will get to experience anywhere else, especially on your ‘run of the mill’ type course."
"Corballis Links is a real head-spinner of a golf course around a 30 minute drive north of Dublin. I make no apology for absolutely loving golf courses like Corballis. It is small in stature but packs an amazing amount of mind-blowing golf into its par 66, 4,624-metre layout played over a wild landscape and where fun abounds."
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.