Golf in the Heather and Gorse
Author David Worley’s Guide to the Inland Courses of Scotland and England
David Worley’s new book Golf in the Heather and Gorse is a follow up to his two previous titles, Journey through the Links and Another Journey through the Links, where the author wrote extensively about his playing experiences at virtually every links course in the United Kingdom and Ireland. This time around, he concentrates on the non-links layouts of Scotland and England, visiting seventy-seven of the finest parkland, moorland and heathland courses in both countries.
Most of these top tracks are located far from the coastline on either side of Hadrian’s Wall but the journey begins by the seaside in East Lothian at The Glen, which “occupies a spectacular piece of cliff-top land”. It’s not the only coastal layout to feature in the book as Worley plays four of the seven courses on the Isle of Arran and he also tees it up at Carlyon Bay in Cornwall – where “the golf course runs along the coastal cliffs” – for his penultimate round of golf.
In Scotland, there’s a good mix of courses, with older established tracks such as the Kings’s and Queen’s at Gleneagles rubbing shoulders with modern layouts like The Carrick at Loch Lomond and Spey Valley in Aviemore. Boat of Garten (“fun to play but not a place for wild hitters”) and Ladybank (“challenging without being too difficult”) are amongst a number of second tier courses that also receive well deserved recognition.
It’s good to see the book feature less well known Caledonian tracks like Strathpeffer Spa (a “beautiful Highland gem”) and the lovely 9-holer at Carradale (“an enjoyable little sporty course”), though excluding both Letham Grange (Old) and Lanark is a definite oversight. Furthermore, to not include at least one of the marvellous Renfrewshire moorland tracks at East Renfrewshire, Ranfurly Castle or Kilmacolm can only be regarded as another slip-up.
After tackling thirty-three courses in Scotland, the author travels south of the border to continue his inland quest. Starting with Alister McKenzie’s Alwoodley in Yorkshire then progressing through to James Braid’s redesign at Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire, his golfing exploits along the spine of England in the chapter “From Leeds to London” only serves to whet the appetite for what follows on the heathland layouts to the south of the capital.
The unrelenting quality of the golfing fayre in this region is simply stunning, stretching from Swinley Forest in Berkshire, through the Old and New courses at Sunningdale in Surrey to West Sussex in the county of Sussex. And with a lavish array of photographs to accompany the text, the reader is offered a uniquely personal and intimate insight into what’s it like to play these wonderful layouts, which is ideal for golfers planning a visit or just reliving similar playing experiences they’ve already had.
The 44-course English portion of the tour tapers off nicely as the author plays the last of the big hitting layouts then moves along the World Heritage Jurassic Coast and into Cornwall, where he concludes his inland golf trail at Tehidy Park, an inauspicious parkland track located north of Camborne. David Worley’s travels are not quite the golfing equivalent of an epic John o’ Groats to Land’s End trek but they’re not that far wide of the mark. In the foreword, the respected 5-time Open Champion Peter Thomson calls the book “a precious document that shows off Britain’s treasures of the game of golf” and that’s a sentiment which Top 100 Golf Courses wholeheartedly endorses.
Golf in the Heather and Gorse can be purchased via Amazon. Click the preceding link or the book cover image for full details.
20 October 2015 Respond to this article