As of yesterday, the gates have flung open on golf courses across the land after a period of closure. Chaotic scenes saw players previously chomping at the bite rushing onto the country’s hallowed turfs for a swing and a saunter.
Perhaps that’s going a bit far, but we can’t deny we’re pleased to be packing our golf bags and calling up caddies for company; from a safe distance of course.
The South East of England is a great place to be a golf enthusiast as there are loads of amazing golf courses in the area, with stunning surrounding landscapes to appreciate when you’re not putting. With that in mind, we’ve teamed up with www.golfposer.com to bring you these 6 IDEAL places to play golf in South East England.
ROYAL ST GEORGE’S, KENT
Consistently ranked as the top golf course in the region, as well as amongst the top ten in the UK and Ireland, Royal St George’s is a must-play for golf fans in the South East of England. The course is located one mile to the east of Sandwich and has been around since the late 1880s; the history and heritage of the place is apparent from the moment you step foot in its illustrious clubhouse.
The course was the first English course to host the Open Championship and has been the fourth most used venue for the Open since then, after St Andrews, Prestwick and Muirfield. It has hosted the Open 14 times, most recently in 2011 (it was due to host it in 2020 but this was sadly cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak).
The layout of the course is a little different from the traditional out and back design. Instead, every nine holes make a broadly circular figure of eight. The views while you play are simply stunning; it is a very natural looking course with dune grasses, wildflowers and beautiful views across the white cliffs of Dover.
THE OLD COURSE AT SUNNINGDALE, SURREY
The Old Course at Sunningdale in Surrey is one of the most visually pleasing inland courses in the UK and was the first great course built on the sandbelt that runs through Surrey and Berkshire. Created in 1901, it became known as the Old Course when the New Course opened in 1923.
The course has held many prestigious golfing events over the years and has seen notable rounds from big name players like Tiger Woods and Rory Mcilroy. For the perfect, all-encompassing golfing weekend, consider playing both the Old Course and the New Course in sequence.
The course emblem is the oak tree and that’s because there are so many of them in the vicinity, giving it an enclosed, intimate feel when playing. A particularly notable oak tree sits beside the green on the 18th hole; should you get that far, you’ll certainly know it when you see it.
NEW COURSE AT SUNNINGDALE, SURREY
You can’t mention the Old Course at Sunningdale and not mention the New Course, which we already did but will again, right now. Despite the name, this course dates from the 1920s and is one of the oldest in Surrey.
The New Course is more open than its older sibling and that makes it a great driving course, if that’s where your skillsets lie. That said, there’s something for all golfers here, with lots of elevated tees and heather surrounding the fairways that approach them, making it a challenging but ultimately rewarding place to play.
Indeed, most players say the New Course is the more testing of the two. The course record for many years was held by Jack Nicklaus, before finally being broken in 2009 by Graeme Storm.
SWINLEY FOREST, BERKSHIRE
Swinley Forest is another course in the sand belt that stretches from Berkshire to Surrey and is ranked as the 5th best English course as well as being in the top 20 in UK and Ireland.
The club itself is a bit unusual compared to the more conventional places in this piece. There’s no captain and not a great deal of history, but what it lacks in heritage Swinley Forest more than makes up for in spirit. Located two miles south of Ascot, the course was laid out by Harry Colt in 1909 and players describe it as being unpretentious and relaxing.
ST GEORGE’S HILL, SURREY
St George’s Hill is another of Harry Colt’s famous courses, and is also found in the Surrey-Berkshire sand belt, just off the M25 at Junction 10 towards Byfleet. It’s said to be one of his best and we couldn’t agree more. A heathland course that opened in 1913, it’s a little different to other heathland courses because it’s laid out in undulating land.
Originally, the course had four sets of nine holes, but there are now only three, named Red, Blue and Green. The Green is shortest by some distance, but all three courses have strong holes that are challenging and enjoyable to play on. With streams, raised greens and valleys, there is plenty to keep players interested visually, too.
WALTON HEATH, SURREY
Walton Heath is a pair of courses known as the Old and New that are just 15 miles south of London and two miles from Junction 8 of the M25. The courses were both created by Herbert Fowler who was married to the owner’s daughter. One of the notable occasions in the club’s history was hosting the 1981 Ryder Cup matches in which The US won 18 ½ to 9 ½ points.
The course is said to favour lower handicap golfers as some of the carries across the heather are lengthy and if you miss the fairway, finding your ball is challenging. Though it’s enjoyable throughout, our favourite hole is the 5th on the Old Course, while the latest three holes are particularly challenging, and best suited for more experienced golf players.
And with that, fore!