The Best Golf Breaks in the UK.
Well what can I say about Golfing or Golfing Holidays in the UK? Make the most of the dry weather, the summer months? There is probably only one person I know or who I ever known to play golf more in the winter months and that’s my Dad! Says he prefers to be cold than to have people in front of him and behind him on the course, he has a point if not a bit mad all the same. His first Golf Break was UK based in a December and his second was a trip to Fuengirola where it rained for 5 days and we didn’t hit 1 golf ball! His well-made point then was that we could have been anywhere in the UK and probably have been able to play just because of the drainage we have built into our golf courses over here and for possibly half the price of the trip to Spain had cost us. I love a golf holiday abroad but don’t be quick to jump on a plane to go abroad before checking out what a golf break in the UK can offer first!!!
Below are some resorts from Scotland to Cornwall with Wales and London in between.
Home of the 2014 Ryder Cup and that famous approach shot of Jamie Donaldson, really who can forget that beaming smile when he realised, he had knocked it stone dead?
When you see the quality of all 3 championship courses at Gleneagles really any of the 3 could have hosted the iconic event – but they obviously went for the newer and longer PGA Centenary. Designed by Jack Nicklaus and opened for play in 1993 the Centenary course is a par 72 measuring 7296 yards from the back tees but like many big championship golf courses has been tee placements, so the course can be played at between 5900 and 6300 yards for us handicap club golfers.
Here is many peoples favourite from the 3 which is understandable. A more mature (as it should be being built 80 years prior to the Centenary) more enjoyable even if slightly more challenging. The Kings hosted the 100th Edition of the Scottish PGA showing in 2016 showing its undoubted quality at that level. A real highlight of this course is the drivable par 4 3rd hole and absolute beauty!
At under 6000 yards this is the shortest of the 3 courses, but do not let that fool you, it will feel like 7000 yards. The course is a par 68 and having been renovated in 2017 the course is now back to how the original designer had thought it out, a true Scottish inland challenge.
The hotel at Gleneagles like its golf courses is outstanding, each one of its luxury bedrooms and suites have the individuality of an intimate hotel but also with the choice of modern or traditional décor. There are many bars and restaurants housed in this magnificent hotel with the well named elegant bar stocking over 100 single malt whiskies.
An over 800 acre 5* estate 20 miles south of perth and within an hour drive of both Glasgow and Edinburgh airports. The resort also offers chauffeur services from either airport or again from the Gleneagles train station both at an additional cost. If you would prefer not to fly there are direct trains from London to Gleneagles which only takes 5 hours.
Gleneagles have really thought of everything to make your golf break as stress free and as enjoyable as possible, which is evidenced by it being ranked as one of the very best golf resorts not only in the UK but in the world - a truly luxurious golf holiday destination.
Foxhills Club and Resort Golf Breaks
If there is anytime that battling with traffic on the M25 is worth it, then a golf break at the Foxhills club and resort is it! Set in 400 acres of natural beauty just outside of London in Surrey.
There is an abundance of great golf courses in the area of surrey, a place truly blessed in the way of golf. What I have tried to give you here is a resort that represents value for money for a golf break in this area.
For me when turning into the long tree lined driveway of the estate it had a bit of the magnolia lane about it as you drive up through the manor course – not for one minute comparing this to Augusta National but just the feeling I had as we passed a succession of brand new Lamborghini’s in all different colours (the electric blue was my favourite) anyway I digress…..
The resort has 2 fully fledged 18-hole championship courses the Bernard Hunt and the Longcross accompanied by the 9-hole, par 3 Manor course which is in no way a ‘pitch and putt’ an enjoyable course great for any short game enthusiasts.
The 2 championship courses I felt were both grip it and rip it courses from the tee, even if you hit it slightly off line you would usually be able to find you ball in the trees. As I have said before, signs of a great course are its greens and Foxhills is no different in that they are fast and true with subtle and sometimes not so subtle breaks.
Foxhills also has a high end 70 room hotel with all the amenities you would expect including an indoor and outdoor swimming pool. The resort also boasts tennis and squash courts along with a croquet area if that is more your bag.
Brocket Hall Golf Breaks
Located near Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire an estate heaped in heritage and history, it is truly remarkable. The estate dates back to the 1200’s and being home to the prime minister Lord Melbourne in the 1800’s.
The 543-acre estate here has 2 fairly new courses with the first, the Melbourne, not being built until 1992 and then later in 2000 the Palmerston was opened for play. The one thing that will strike you once you have played these course’s is that they both seem as though they have been there for 100 years or more, an incredible job of design and build.
Brocket Hall has a mix of accommodation ranging from 30 rooms in Brocket Hall itself, 16 rooms in the Melbourne Lodge and an additional 42 rooms also on the estate which are all decorated in keeping with the age of the property. So, there would be plenty of rooms for you and your friends on your golf break.
If I am honest even if I didn’t play golf, I would visit Brocket Hall just to eat at the award winning Auberge du Lac restaurant. The old hunting lodge is perched on the lake a setting perfect in all 4 seasons or maybe the 2 and a half seasons we get in the UK these days.
Not a full-blown resort complex like others but with 2 great championship courses set in a beautiful estate, the one thing that took me back when playing the Melbourne was one of the holes having a huge opening in the middle of the fairway possibly 30 yards deep and 50 yards long which has obviously been incorporated as part of the course design and which fit in well, after realising this is where an avid collector of old Ferraris and other rare Italian cars reportedly had cut up and buried the said cars to be able to make a false insurance claim totalling 4.5m (who knew!?).
The resort here built into the welsh countryside was the brain child of telecoms billionaire Sir Terry Matthews. The Manor house was an old derelict building to most but to Sir Terry it was where he was born (as was my Aunty) being as it was the old maternity hospital.
Fast Forward 38 years and I don’t think even Sir Terry would have been able to imagine what was going to unfold on the land surrounding his birthplace.
The Manor House is now a 4* country hotel with 65 rooms with its own sports bar. The Celtic Manor 5* Resort Hotel was built just behind the Manor House perched on top of the hill for everyone coming into Wales to see, with its 330 bedrooms and 3 restaurants and 3 separate bars (total of 6 restaurants dotted around the 2000 acre estate) this place is everything you could wish for not only for a golf break but a full golf holiday.
Not only has the resort hosted the Ryder Cup in 2010 and who could forget that damp Monday finish with Gmac finishing off Hunter Mahan on the 17th but the resort also hosted the NATO summit in 2014 showing of its magnificent 5* facilities and stunning Welsh countryside to the world leaders including the American President at that time Barack Obama who was reported to have stayed in the newly built 5* Hunter Lodges that line the fairways of the custom built Twenty Ten Ryder Cup course and managed to get some time in his schedule to play a few holes on the iconic course – If they were good enough for Barack they are good enough for my golf break !
The Resort at the Celtic Manor has everything that you could hope for and for me is only in a handful of resorts in the UK where I could honestly say I could spend 4/5 days or even a week with my family and /or friends and not be bored.
There are 2 different top of the range leisure facilities on the resort and 2 spa’s, there is a beauty and hair salon, a shopping mall, an adventure playground, 2 different adventure / crazy golf courses (which I found to be more difficult than the full courses this summer which my 4 year old son found hilarious) – there is even an ice rink in the winter!!!
There are 2 restaurants I would like to highlight in the resort that are a must to dine in when stopping here on golf holiday. The first being the quirky steak on six, one of the newest restaurants in resort and built into the 6th floor of the hotel. This is cosy whilst also giving you a spacious feeling – maybe down to the all windows and panoramic views (Tip – book a table on check in or even when booking the golf break to avoid disappointment). The second is rafters which is housed in the Twenty Ten clubhouse on the other side of the estate (but fear not if you ever need to go to any other part of the estate you are able to call or wait for an executive mini bus to be chauffeured where ever you please, without cost). Rafters is sumptuous, A la carte dining with views of the dramatic 18th on the famous Ryder Cup course.
Now on to the 3 magnificent championship courses on the resort.
Twenty Ten – Ryder Cup Course
A golf experience and not your average round! From pulling up outside the clubhouse where the concierge will take your clubs (the next you’ll see them is on the tee) then escorting you down to the changing rooms ( The Ryder Cup team rooms) to be shown to the locker they have allocated you for the day, to then being chauffeured down to the practice facility and 1st tee it is all a slight glimpse into how ‘the other half live’
Built on a remarkably flat area this is an American styled championship course with wide fairways but with well positioned bunkers and water featuring on more than half the holes. What I love about this golf course is how you can usually see everything in front of you but also has the element of deception and with many greens raised I would suggest clubbing up when hitting your approaches. The greens are true and fast where you will be able to find plenty of straight putts from around 6ft even if in your head you think ‘there must be some break in this’. Then you come to what I always find the hardest hole on this course the Par 5 18th (also the only hole I remember where you cannot see everything in front of you) If you are a long hitter you will need to hit a draw around the corner to have a go at the green in 2 but that, in all honesty, is dream for most of us.
The course you can see from the hotel, looks good and plays even better. There are tough holes none much harder than the 1st if the wind is in your face, a solid drive will get you in line with the bunker but then you are faced with a 160 yard second probably playing more like 180 or 190. Like all 3 courses here the greens are superb and are lightening in the summer months (not really that much slower in the winter). Another highlight in the resort is after finishing a round on the Roman Road is sitting out on the patio of the lodge clubhouse just steps from the 18th green with a cold beer watching the sun come down – perfect!
A quirky course that you may walk off thinking why you didn’t score any better!!
Quite a soft opening with a really short par 4 - driveable in the summer but then you skip forward through the 2nd onto the signature par 5 3rd hole, measuring at nearly 600 yards off the yellows it is a beast albeit your 2nd, 3rd,4th and even possibly 5th shot all play considerably down hill to a green that looks like its hanging off a cliff with views over the twenty ten course. Beware though this courses defence is its large undulating greens!
The first European course that Jack built! In 1988 Jack Nicklaus decided he wanted to start designing and building courses in Europe, so his first stop was St Mellion International in Cornwall, just the other side of Plymouth. The course is typical Jack Nicklaus course and a bit of a beast in fairness but well thought out – even if that lake is a bit long for the shorter hitters to carry on the back nine! St Mellion International and Jack’s course was seen as such a hit when opened, it hosted the Benson and Hedges International Open from 1990 – 1995 with winners such as Seve, Langer and Olazabal. The resort then went through huge renovations and was scheduled to host the return of the English Open on the European Tour from 2011 but was left distraught after being unable to entice sponsors following the recession.
The resort also has another, shorter much less daunting course called Kernow but still a lovely course in its own right probably a highlight is the short par 4 12th down hill but guarded by water, probably my highlight as I managed to drive it 10 years ago (but 3 putted for par)
As it’s a resort it also boasts a 4* hotel with 80 rooms, leisure facilities including pool and spa. If you are of are larger group on a golf break or with family on a golf holiday Plus you could also choose to stay in one of the resorts Fairway Lodges which range from 1 to 5 bedrooms, dotted around the resort.
Small shout out to the Dorset Golf and Country club which is a wonderful alternative golf break to these vast golfing resorts at sometimes a fraction of the price. Gorgeous, spacious and homely Scandinavian log cabins as well as a 16 room Lodge / Hotel all within a short walk from the clubhouse. There are 3 loops of 9 completely different styled holes including parkland and a linksy feeling set up. If you decide to have a golf break down in Dorset, I would also highly recommend trying to incorporate playing at Ferndown probably in the top 3 courses I have ever played – absolutely stunning in every way possible! I played quite well for the first 6 holes even opening with a birdie on the first, but I am pretty sure I was still drunk and having only had 5 hours sleep my hangover then kicked in – then I just enjoyed the surroundings, it would be a photographer’s dream.
Not really seen as resorts but I must give them a mention. Trevose and Royal Porthcawl are 2 of the very best true British golf links not on the Open roster, possibly due to logistical issues. Both have on site accommodation or can easily just be added on to a Golf break at the St Mellion international or at the Celtic Manor Resort respectively.
Written by Dan Parker for Golf Holidays Direct, Golf Travel Guru