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The 240 "Real Links" courses of Britain & Ireland

25 February, 2017

The 240 “Real Links” courses of Britain & Ireland

Last month we published our inaugural rankings of the Top 100 Links Courses of Britain and Ireland. In that news release we promised to publish a full list of all the links courses in Britain & Ireland that we felt warranted the accolade of “Real Links”.

We’ve previously mentioned publications that have listed courses which the authors felt qualified to be called “authentic links”, but we discovered some links courses within Britain & Ireland had been omitted while others had been included which we felt were not sufficiently links-like in nature.

Our alphabetical list includes courses located within the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and on the Scottish islands as well as the two main islands of Britain and Ireland where the vast majority of “Real Links” courses are found.

240 courses in Britain and Ireland have made our Real Links list but we do not feature every one of them within our various ranking categories. Being a links course doesn’t automatically qualify clubs for entry into our rankings.

Scotland can proudly lay claim to possessing more links courses than any other country, 100 in total. But there are 63 in Ireland (50 in the Republic and 13 in the North), 55 in England and 18 in Wales. We mustn’t ignore the trio of links gems on the Channel Islands and the mighty Castletown on the Isle of Man.

We fully expect this list to stimulate debate and we’d like nothing more than to receive comments about any links courses that we have omitted or any that we’ve included which you feel are not genuine. But, before you contact us, we should explain our selection criteria.

Of the 240 listed links courses (the list includes a mixture of layouts ranging from nine to eighteen holes) not every hole on every course is necessarily a real links hole. We decided that if at least 50% of the holes on any course are genuine links holes, the course made it on to our final list.

There are many points of argument and debate as to what constitutes a real links course. For example, we could discuss grass types for a very long time. Purists argue that meadow grass has no place on links courses, but the reality is that poa annua is prevalent on some. Until 2016, the greens on the Old course at Ballybunion were dominated by poa annua, but no author dreamt of uttering the suggestion that Ballybunion was not a links course.

Our Interpretation of "Links"

After much thought and consideration we think we’ve taken a pragmatic view, which we believe is fair and reasonable. Some links courses will play homage to the ground game more enthusiastically than others, but you’ll find mostly the spirit of true links within the courses we’ve listed.

Here’s our list of the 240 links courses in Britain & Ireland that we genuinely believe deserve the “Real Links” title:


Contact us if you disagree – our aim is to get it right – and if we agree with your assertions we’ll correct our list. Treat this iteration as version one because we fully expect to refine the listing in light of feedback received.

The following courses were carefully considered and debated at length but we couldn't quite find enough evidence to include them within our list:

Anstruther Scotland
Bamburgh Castle England
Bull Bay Wales
Connemara Isles Republic of Ireland
Cork Republic of Ireland
Crail (Craighead) Scotland
Dunnerholme England
East Devon England
Felixstowe Ferry (Kingsfleet) England
Fraserburgh (Rosehill) Scotland
Ganton England
Glen Scotland
Greencastle Republic of Ireland
Isle of Barra Scotland
Kilkee Republic of Ireland
Longniddry Scotland
Maesdu Wales
Mullion England
Nairn (Cameron) Scotland
Nefyn (Old) Wales
North Shore England
Old Head Republic of Ireland
Peterhead (New) Scotland
Portpatrick (Dunskey) Scotland
Sheringham England
Silecroft England
Southerndown Wales
Southport Municipal England
St Andrews (Castle) Scotland
St Andrews Bay (Kittocks) Scotland
St Andrews Bay (Torrance) Scotland
St Enodoc (Holywell) England
St Patrick's (closed) Republic of Ireland
Stromness Scotland
Thurlestone England
Traigh Scotland
Trevose (Headland) England
Whalsay Scotland

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