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What are the hardest golf courses in England?

Enjoy a bit of pain, or just curious? England Golf have revealed the toughest courses in the country for men and women

 

Golf is hard. Think about it. You’re trying to hit a small ball with a fast-moving clubhead. It requires all sorts of motor skills, as well as plenty of practice. And you still never master it.

Then there is the course. Who decided the hole should be just four and a quarter inches in diameter? I’d also like to meet the masochist who thought making us hit out of old sandy rabbit scrapings was a good idea too.

But, in seriousness, it is sometimes the difficulty and complexity of our layouts that provides the most ‘joy’ for players. We revel in the fact that golf is hard.

Which leads to an interesting question. What are the toughest courses in play? Well, in England, we now have some answers.

In a recent members’ letter, England Golf revealed some of the hardest courses for men and women by course rating compared to course par. Some of these won’t surprise you, but a couple might.

So what are the hardest golf courses in England? Let’s take a look. For clarity, course rating minus par was used to determine difficulty.

Hardest golf courses in England for men

hardest golf courses in england Rockliffe Hall

Rockliffe Hall

The North-East course truly deserves its reputation as a monster. If you take it on from the gold tees, it’s an eyewatering 7,877 yards for a Par 72.

That gives it a stunning Course Rating of 79.3. So, in short, a scratch player’s target score would be seven over par. How many would even manage that?

Royal Lytham & St Annes Women's Open

Royal Lytham & St Anne’s (Championship course)

It’s hosted plenty of Opens, although not since Ernie Els’ famous win in 2012, and it’s got about a billion bunkers. OK, 174 pot bunkers.

But from its blue tees, at 7,092 yards, this par 70 has a Course Rating of 76.4.

royal birkdale

Royal Birkdale

Another Open venue, and it will be interesting to see how these numbers change when an extensive redevelopment – which brings a new par 3 among some other big alterations – is completed before the Claret Jug returns there in 2026.

If you’re a bit squeamish, though, you may want to avoid the black tees. Unless you’re trying to channel the spirit of Jordan Spieth. At 7,139 yards and a par of 70, the course rating comes in at a whopping 76.4.

Hardest golf courses in England for women

best golf courses in the east midlands

Hollinwell

Be honest. How many of you thought the Nottinghamshire course would come out on top? But these England Golf figures suggest a round from the purple tees is a punishing experience.

At 6,550 yards, this glorious par 72 layout weighs in at 79.8 from the course rating. Yes, a scratch player off those tees should barely break 80.

Rowlands Castle

Hot on the heels of Notts is a Hampshire course where the white tees are an absolute monster for anyone to play.

At 6,627 yards, only the longest hitters are going to feel at home here and that whopping distance is partly enough to send the Course Rating into the stratosphere.

With a par of 72, that Course Rating subsequently comes in at 79.4. Slope will be handing out huge numbers of shots off that tee set, depending on your handicap. But you’re probably going to need every one of them!

Now have your say

What do you think? What are the hardest golf courses in England and what has your experience been of playing them? Let me know on X.

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