The most fun golf courses in Britain and Ireland, with every one guaranteed to put a smile on your face and quickly planning a return.
NCG TOP 100s
GB & Ireland Fun
With stone walls, burns, deep bunkers, rocks, blind shots and some vicious green contours to contend with, North Berwick doesn't have to be long to be special.
East Lothian, GB & Ireland, Scotland and GB & Ireland Fun
The Old Course is the very cradle of the game – the place where it all began. Nowhere on the planet can match its atmosphere. Nor, in truth, is there another course quite like it.
Fife, GB & Ireland, Scotland and GB & Ireland Fun
This is a links in the old-fashioned sense, as greens lie atop plateaux, or else in hollows, and the turf is firm. Yet Cruden Bay is as quirky as they come, and is all the better for it.
Aberdeen, GB & Ireland, Scotland and GB & Ireland Fun
Eccentric to the point of being obtuse at times, its simple design should be studied by any budding architect and those with even a passing interest in the game’s past.
England, GB & Ireland, Norfolk and GB & Ireland Fun
Lahinch, the Irish St Andrews, has only in the past few years begun to fulfil its true potential as one of the very best. A raw, rugged and brilliant links.
GB & Ireland, Ireland, West Coast of Ireland and GB & Ireland Fun
Yet another James Braid classic, St Enodoc has charm, variety, an abundance of history, an element of quirkiness and a hint of the unknown.
Cornwall, England, GB & Ireland and GB & Ireland Fun
A special golf course that may be without exact parallel anywhere in the world, let alone within Britain. The closest thing to Augusta National this side of the Atlantic.
England, GB & Ireland and GB & Ireland Fun
The Highlands has always been an extra special golfing retreat – think Royal Dornoch, Nairn and Brora – and thanks to Castle Stuart's creation it has been raised another notch.
GB & Ireland, Highlands, Scotland and GB & Ireland Fun
Pennard is a links with a difference. Time and again this delightful course provides holes of modest length that confound the thoughtless golfer and reward the skilful one.
GB & Ireland, Swansea, Wales and GB & Ireland Fun
Perranporth is an exciting and vastly interesting course demanding concentration for every shot. The more one plays it the more one likes it, low and high handicappers alike.
For anyone with a golfing soul, who has a sense of adventure and is prepared to engage their brains, Pretswick remains quite simply a must-play.
Ayrshire, GB & Ireland, Scotland and GB & Ireland Fun
The highest golf course in England, sitting at 1284 feet above sea level, Kington is a fun, funky and wholly fascinating course that might just take your breath away.
Brora is the headquarters of the James Braid Golfing Society – quite an accolade considering Braid’s history and tradition of designing outstanding courses.
Painswick is fun and outstandingly entertaining. You can make any number of birdies but there's also scope to take lots of other, much higher, numbers.
England and GB & Ireland Fun
Great things come in small packages and never more so than at Boat. It's a sensational location, but better still, there is a marvellous layout to be enjoyed.
At the world’s most northerly championship links course, golf and history are inseperable. Built on land perfectly suited to its purpose, Dornoch is simply glorious.
All you need to know about this brilliant British course
GB & Ireland Fun
Kilspindie, tucked away between Aberlady and Gullane is all too easy to miss yet contains within 5,500 yards every element of links golf you could wish for.
DJ Russell's reimagining of The Machrie is vastly different to what was here before, but once again the Isle of Islay has a links to be proud of.
GB & Ireland, Scotland and GB & Ireland Fun
Royal Worlington not only presents a magnificient design on a tiny patch of land, but is also the spiritual home of 9-hole golf.
England, GB & Ireland, Suffolk and GB & Ireland Fun
Elie epitomises Old Tom Morris's design principles and is an object lesson in what makes a golf course engaging and enjoyable to play.
Royal Cinque Ports has the raw materials to host The Open soon again, with stunning views of the channel and a recently extended testing links set up.
England, GB & Ireland, Kent and GB & Ireland Fun
When it seems time for something completely different, a journey to the quirky yet beautiful Cruit Island would fit the bill more aptly than most.
Donegal, GB & Ireland, Ireland, West Coast of Ireland and GB & Ireland Fun
Those fortunate enough to play this staggering track should expect sensory overload. Old Head of Kinsale is guaranteed to stand your back hairs on end.
GB & Ireland, Ireland and GB & Ireland Fun
Better known as The Himalayas, this is riotous fun...for £3.
Machrihanish remains unconstrained by the tenets of modern architecture. This is a course that was discovered rather than created, and it has been gloriously kept that way.
You will never forget your visit to 12-hole Shiskine, on the west coast of Arran. It contains some of the most distinctive holes in Scotland – and that's saying something.
Machrihanish Dunes, by contemporary standards, is a quirky course. Lying on the most perfect links land that you could ever wish to see only amplifies that.
The Royal County Down Annesley links has become so much more than a second course, and could well become one of the truly great courses in Ireland in a short period of time.
GB & Ireland, Ireland, Northern Ireland and GB & Ireland Fun
A fascinating Open links, whose fairways often dissolve into rough hillocks while severely sloped gullies tend to gather imprecise approaches.
This historic links itself often defies straightforward description. Certainly it is an acquired taste, but playing here on several occasions brings truly great joy.
Devon, England, GB & Ireland and GB & Ireland Fun
Hole after hole, the Queen's course remains incredibly pretty and you find yourself admiring the landscape as much as you do enjoying the golf.
At first glance it seems impossible that 18 holes have been squeezed into this piece of land to the cost of the layout but they have and it is a genuine treat.
Home to some sensational green complexes that blend into the Derbyshire countryside, this is a special MacKenzie moorland design of rare subtlety.
East Midlands, England, GB & Ireland and GB & Ireland Fun
When it comes to inland golf in the British Isles only a handful of courses can possibly stand in comparison to Sunningdale.
England, GB & Ireland, Surrey and GB & Ireland Fun
Situated close to south-west gems Trevose and Saunton, Bude is a fantastic linksland challenge that is well worth a visit on any golfing trip to the Cornwall coastline.
On most occasions, the challenge – as well as the ocean – is clearly visible from the tee. Kingsbarns' ruggedness is combined with more manicured beauty.
Following Martin Ebert's reimagining of what was already a great links, the famous Trump Turnberry Ailsa is now truly one of the very finest courses in Great Britain and Ireland.
Askernish runs parallel to the coastline of the Isle of South Uist and follows an anti-clockwise path from start to finish. Quite simply, it is a must-visit.
Unless you are either very good or lucky, you will come to grief at various points. But as a golfing experience to savour, The Addington scores very highly indeed.
The drive through County Mayo's peat bogs is worth every last mile because Carne is a course the like of which you will never have seen before.
Touched by architectural greats and boasting all the classic seaside features, Aberdovey is vintage Welsh golf and a truly romantic links at heart.
GB & Ireland, Wales, West Coast of Wales and GB & Ireland Fun
One of the most beautiful settings for golf, says Sir Nick Faldo. We agree.
The epitome of old-fashioned links golf In England. This eccentric, unique, traditional and uncompromising course is very much reflected in the clubhouse and membership.
England, GB & Ireland, Sussex and GB & Ireland Fun
As well as having great architectural merit, Golspie is now impeccably presented. This Braid design is so much more than just a pretty holiday course.
Highlands, Scotland and GB & Ireland Fun
A pretty course – but one with a definite bite
A Harry Colt nine-holer in a hillside setting that oozes character.
Cleeve Hill presents a pale, inhospitable, windswept landscape that wouldn't be out of place on the moon. All that open space however conceals a wonderfully subtle course.
Willie Park Jnr revealed his design genius at Huntercombe by carving out grassy hollows and creating a series of incredible green complexes high on a ridge of the Oxfordshire Chilterns.
The Old Tom Morris at Rosapenna is a perfect compliment to the rigours of sister course the Sandy Hills.
Donegal, GB & Ireland, Ireland and GB & Ireland Fun
A gorgeous heathland scene of heather, bracken and marram, as well as deep pot bunkers.
A thinking man’s course studied in depth by the country's finest architects. There is most likely a hint of Woking at almost all of Britain’s finest inland venues.
The oldest nine-hole club in England has hints of Rye.
James Braid worked this undulating hillside site to perfection.
Wales and GB & Ireland Fun
Merely the blind, short 4th played to a slender green situated in a dell makes the trip to Kintyre worthwhile.
Traigh is a subtle course that rewards accurate shot-making. Good players are made to work for their scores, and yet high handicappers are given every chance.
GB & Ireland Fun and Highlands
A Harry Vardon and James Braid design on breathtaking moorland terrain.
A quirky, interesting, fun and beautiful course in the Lake District.
Cumbria and GB & Ireland Fun
The premier course at the premier resort in Europe, The Gleneagles King's continues to improve despite being close to perfection already.
Despite its remote location, Silloth remains nothing less than a delight to those intrepid golfers prepared to venture beyond the beaten track.
Cumbria, England, GB & Ireland and GB & Ireland Fun
Not only are the views stunning at Purbeck, but the course is quite spectacular to play and provides a stern challenge for even the most accomplished golfer.
Dorset, England, GB & Ireland and GB & Ireland Fun
Understated and modest, never clamouring for attention, it would be easy to overlook New Zealand when considering the great Surrey courses. It would also be a mistake to do so.
Dramatic, imposing and intimitading, the Arnold Palmer-designed Tralee offers ocean views from every hole, and a world class test from first hole to last.
Packed with classic styles of holes – such as risk-and-reward par 5s and the the odd drivable par 4 – anyone who makes their way across the Lincolnshire Fens will be amply rewarded.
Historic Lanark is much nearer its 200th anniversary than its centenary and boasts a moorland course that was designed by Old Tom Morris.
Old Tom Morris created the Balcomie, so its design is governed by the natural lie of the land, seeing plenty of holes play right up against the North Sea. It’s a breathtaking experience.
Simply delightful from the moment you arrive – this is a bunkerless, heathland course with small and elusive greens that will charm and confound in equal measure.
The most striking paradox at this stunning clifftop course lies in its scale. Nefyn is an enormous course which stretches for miles around the coast.
A minimalist Willie Fernie design on moorland near Penrith.
Clamber blindly onto the tops, hanging onto its edge... Cullen does not do ordinary.
Moray and GB & Ireland Fun
It is not a Turnberry, a Troon or a Prestwick, but West Kilbride deserves elevation to the second tier alongside Irvine, Barassie and the Gailes.
Parkstone is nothing if not entertaining. Most of the holes are heathland in character but there are some parkland outbreaks and even a sniff of linksland.
Sheringham enjoys the most spectacular of settings on the North Norfolk coast. Noted for its long par 4s and sensational clifftop views, it's a course that is dear to many golfers' hearts.
Standing on the first tee box, perched high above the sea, the view is astonishing. East Devon certainly doesn’t rely on its views, however, and is a superb test of golf.
The 'third' course at this Perthshire club, but arguably its most entertaining.
Beau Desert may indeed be a beautiful wilderness, but not when attempting to find your ball from within its darkest heathland recesses.
England, GB & Ireland, West Midlands and GB & Ireland Fun
You might think that the Dunluce stealing prime ground from the Royal Portrush Valley course would leave it diminished. The result is the exact opposite.
Murcar offers realism and a sense of proportion. As is so often the case with true links courses, it improves with each round played.
The Castle Course is the Links Trust's seventh course and, it is fair to say, is remotely unlike anything else in the neighbourhood.
A fine test of golf in delightful surroundings, Liphook is far from long but the topography and design almost always ensure that good scoring remains elusive.
England, GB & Ireland, Hampshire and GB & Ireland Fun
Just admire the way Abercromby uses the slopes and hills to make interesting holes rather than allowing them to detract from the overall standard of the course.
A majestic maritime panorama to the west is complemented by the Lake District mountains to the east. A good start to a course by anyone's standards.
The No.2 course at this famed club - but arguably has even more drama than the famed Old.
GB & Ireland Fun, Ireland and West Coast of Ireland
This most traditional, archetypal links is the oldest course in Wales and those who find their way to Tenby will be richly rewarded by its idiosyncratic delights.
The old Irish saying, Cead Mile Failte means 100,000 welcomes. In a land renowned for its welcome this proverb could well have been written for Dooks.
A public course on the same stretch of Dublin linksland as The Island.
You enjoy holes routed through majestic sand dunes and when you emerge from these towering masses you catch views of Donegal.
This Willie Park design – with assistance from James Braid – sits in the Cairngorms National Park and that gives you a flavour of how picturesque it is.
The best thing about Sunny Dunny is that you are so close to the sea for so long. You will struggle to find another links in Scotland that can rival it in this aspect.
Ardglass is a beautiful clifftop course, hugging the coastline for nearly half its routing and producing wonderful, pleasant holes across the rest of the layout.
Ireland, Northern Ireland and GB & Ireland Fun
Durness, the most North Westerly course in mainland Britain, celebrates its 30th birthday next year, and is located in a stunning spot for golf.
An inland course on Arran of astonishing beauty and a wealth of intriguing holes.
With elevated views across the famous Firth of Forth, The Glen, in North Berwick, is a wonderful place to be on a sunny day.
East Lothian, Scotland and GB & Ireland Fun
A mix of clifftop and links holes along Bigbury Bay, set down cleverly by Harry Colt. You can see the sea on every last hole.
Gullane No.3 shares the same springy turf as its sisters and boasts some of the best views across Aberlady Bay.
East Lothian and GB & Ireland Fun
Nine-hole links from 1896 that beguiles with its views and funky holes.
The 'second' course in the town of Dunbar, the holes on higher ground are pleasant - but it is the beachside phase that is the key.
With as much history as St Andrews Old, this links is a must-play for all.
A nine-hole course in Wigtownshire that boasts sea views and a handful of terrific holes over intriguing terrain.
Founded in 1909, this parkland offers views of Lyme Bay to as far afield as Portland Bill and to the rugged tors of Dartmoor.