Gailes Links (2017 Final venue)
Draw a picture of what a links course should look like and you won’t be too far away with Gailes. Demanding, with undulating fairways and fine greens, it is an honest test of a golfer’s skills.
Just consider the signature 5th – a par-5 dogleg with out of bounds to the right and a treacherous green. There’s a reason Willie Park Jnr considered Gailes Links as one of his nest designs.
Steeped in Open tradition, with Carnoustie a chip and a putt away, Monfieth’s Medal course has always provided the perfect build up to the challenge ahead.
Out of bounds, courtesy of a wayward shot onto the railway line, sets the standard in a difficult start before the course winds out into the dunes and rolling terrain. If the bunkers don’t get you, the wind might and it’s a thrilling experience.
The 4th, with the west-coast railway line hugging tight to the left side, and the 5th – appropriately known as Sandface – are worth the green fee alone. Irvine, or Bogside as it is more commonly known, enjoys some quirky holes – and seven consecutive par 4s as it passes round the turn and the site of the old racecourse.
It’s a classic links challenge and one of James Braid’s most distinctive courses.
Hillside (2017 Final venue)
Hillside is regarded as one the finest links courses not to have hosted the Open Championship. That’s quite a statement but this Southport layout has no shortage of luminaries testifying to its greatness.
Greg Norman thought the back nine was ‘the best in Britain’ and Jack Nicklaus concurred adding they were ‘some of my favourite holes’. So what are you waiting for?
Found on linksland between Romney Marsh and the English Channel, on Kent’s south-east coast, Littlestone’s Championship layout is widely recognised as being among the country’s best.
Hailed for greens regarded as true and well-paced, the course can be a stiff test when the wind is high. Make sure you enjoy the wonderful finishing holes.
Panmure (2017 Regional venue)
Ben Hogan loved this course so much, he used it to acclimatise for his one and only assault on the Open. What he rated, and what will thrill you in equal measure, is a classic links in every sense.
Blind tee shots, wispy grasses, immaculate greens – it’s an excellent test of golf. The stretch of holes from the 5th through the 14th is outstanding and a challenge for any player. Then enjoy a drink in a clubhouse that was modelled on that of Royal Calcutta’s.
Remedy Oak (2017 Regional venue)
With rhododendrons, heather, tall pines and water coming into play on eight holes, there are few more beautiful surroundings than this Dorset paradise.
Set in Horton’s ancient woodland, the course was only built in 2006 but already has a fine reputation in the south and no higher praise could arrive than its selection as a regional qualifying venue.
West Lancashire (2017 Regional venue)
One of England’s 10 oldest clubs, the 200 acres of natural links starts with a challenge – a demanding dogleg par 4 – and keeps you interested throughout.
Revel in the fantastic view from the elevated 13th tee and then take on a finish that includes one breathtaking hole after another.
With humps and hollows, plateaux and dells, not to mention the challenge of the wind whipping off the Mersey, a day here is a treat.
No stranger to top-class competitions – it was once the only course in Cheshire where you could earn Ryder Cup points – Wilmslow are proud of their history and prouder still of the condition of their course, which is generally excellent throughout the year.
The figure-of-eight parkland layout meanders around a stream that frames the opening hole and three of the par 3s.
The Old Course is a heathland classic and has a pedigree of players to match the sumptuous surroundings.
Major winners like Greg Norman and Bernhard Langer have sampled the Harold Hilton design, which delights and confounds in equal measure with its clever bunkering and subtle hazards.
The Alliss course, Ferndown’s 9-hole venue, should not be underestimated either.
Regarded as one of the country’s nest inland courses, this Dr Alister MacKenzie masterpiece was destined for excellence the moment the architect of Augusta National unveiled his first hole – the signature par-3 Gibraltar 10th.
His legacy here was cemented by the hosting of the first Ryder Cup on British soil in 1929.
Moortown’s challenges – testing bunkers, undulating greens and hazards – continue to enthral all who play it.
Burnham & Berrow
Set among the towering sand dunes on the Bristol Channel, and with the iconic lighthouses a feature, a round at Burnham & Berrow is a must for anyone who seriously professes to love the game.
The Championship course skirts along the coast before turning back in towards the town and it’s a layout that is aptly named.
But the 9-hole Channel course is also one of the hidden jewels of the south west and a very enjoyable challenge in its own right.
2017 Regional Qualifying venues (June 26)
- Alwoodley, Yorkshire
- Burhill, Surrey
- Fairhaven, Lancashire
- Frilford Heath, Oxfordshire
- Little Aston, West Midlands
- Luffenham Heath, East Midlands
- Northumberland, Tyne & Wear
- Panmure, Angus
- Remedy Oak, Dorset
- Sandy Lodge, Hertfordshire
- The Island, Dublin
- West Lancashire, Lancashire
- Wilderness, Kent
2017 Final Qualifying venues (July 4)
- Gailes Links
- Royal Cinque Ports