The 240 "Real Links" courses of Britain & Ireland

24 February 2017 Respond to this article

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.

St Andrews Old course

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.

Ballybunion Old course

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:

Course Country
Aberdovey Wales
Abersoch Wales
Achill Republic of Ireland
Anglesey Wales
Arbroath Scotland
Archerfield (Dirleton) Scotland
Archerfield (Fidra) Scotland
Ardglass Northern Ireland
Arklow Republic of Ireland
Ashburnham Wales
Askernish Scotland
Ballybunion (Cashen) Republic of Ireland
Ballybunion (Old) Republic of Ireland
Ballycastle Northern Ireland
Ballyliffin (Glashedy) Republic of Ireland
Ballyliffin (Old) Republic of Ireland
Balnagask - Nigg Bay Scotland
Berwick-upon-Tweed England
Borth & Ynyslas Wales
Brora Scotland
Bude & North Cornwall England
Bundoran Republic of Ireland
Burnham & Berrow (Championship) England
Burnham & Berrow (Channel) England
Bushfoot Northern Ireland
Cardigan Wales
Carne (Hackett) Republic of Ireland
Carne (Kilmore) Republic of Ireland
Carnoustie (Buddon) Scotland
Carnoustie (Burnside) Scotland
Carnoustie (Championship) Scotland
Castle Stuart Scotland
Castlegregory Republic of Ireland
Castlerock (Bann) Northern Ireland
Castlerock (Mussenden) Northern Ireland
Castletown Isle of Man
Cleveland England
Colonsay Scotland
Connemara (C) Republic of Ireland
Connemara (Championship) Republic of Ireland
Conwy Wales
Corballis Links Republic of Ireland
County Louth Republic of Ireland
County Sligo (Bomore) Republic of Ireland
County Sligo (Championship) Republic of Ireland
Covesea Links Scotland
Craigielaw Scotland
Crail (Balcomie) Scotland
Cruden Bay (Championship) Scotland
Cruden Bay (St Olaf) Scotland
Cruit Island Republic of Ireland
Cullen Links Scotland
Dingle Republic of Ireland
Donegal Republic of Ireland
Dooks Republic of Ireland
Dunaverty Scotland
Dunbar Scotland
Dundonald Scotland
Dunfanaghy Republic of Ireland
Dunstanburgh Castle England
Durness Scotland
Elie Scotland
Enniscrone (Dunes) Republic of Ireland
Enniscrone (Scurmore) Republic of Ireland
European Club Republic of Ireland
Eyemouth Scotland
Fairhaven England
Felixstowe Ferry (Martello) England
Fleetwood England
Formby England
Formby Ladies England
Fortrose & Rosemarkie Scotland
Fraserburgh (Corbie Hill) Scotland
Furness England
Glasgow (Gailes Links) Scotland
Golspie Scotland
Great Yarmouth & Caister England
Gullane (No.1) Scotland
Gullane (No.2) Scotland
Gullane (No.3) Scotland
Gweedore Republic of Ireland
Hartlepool England
Hayling England
Hesketh England
Hillside England
Hopeman Scotland
Hunstanton England
Inverallochy Scotland
Irvine Scotland
Island Republic of Ireland
Isle of Harris Scotland
Isle of Skye Scotland
Kilmarnock (Barassie) Scotland
Kilmarnock (Hillhouse) Scotland
Kilspindie Scotland
Kings Links Scotland
Kingsbarns Scotland
Kirkistown Castle Northern Ireland
La Moye Channel Islands
Lahinch (Castle) Republic of Ireland
Lahinch (Old) Republic of Ireland
Laytown & Bettystown Republic of Ireland
Leasowe England
Leven Links Scotland
Littlehampton England
Littlestone (Championship) England
Littlestone (Warren) England
Luffness New Scotland
Lundin Scotland
Machrie Scotland
Machrihanish (Championship) Scotland
Machrihanish (Pans) Scotland
Machrihanish Dunes Scotland
Minehead & West Somerset England
Monifieth (Ashludie) Scotland
Monifieth (Medal) Scotland
Montrose (Broomfield) Scotland
Montrose (Medal) Scotland
Moray (New) Scotland
Moray (Old) Scotland
Muirfield Scotland
Mulranny Republic of Ireland
Murcar Scotland
Musselburgh (Old) Scotland
Nairn (Championship) Scotland
Nairn Dunbar Scotland
Narin & Portnoo Republic of Ireland
Newbiggin England
Newburgh-on-Ythan Scotland
Newquay England
North Berwick (West) Scotland
North Wales Wales
North West Republic of Ireland
Panmure Scotland
Pennard Wales
Perranporth England
Peterhead (Old) Scotland
Porthmadog Wales
Portmarnock (Championship) Republic of Ireland
Portmarnock (Yellow) Republic of Ireland
Portmarnock Hotel Links Republic of Ireland
Portsalon Republic of Ireland
Portstewart (Old) Northern Ireland
Portstewart (Riverside) Northern Ireland
Portstewart (Strand) Northern Ireland
Powfoot Scotland
Prestatyn Wales
Prestwick Scotland
Prestwick St Nicholas Scotland
Prince's (Himalayas) England
Prince's (Shore & Dunes) England
Pwllheli Wales
Pyle & Kenfig Wales
Reay Scotland
Renaissance Club Scotland
Rhyl Wales
Rosapenna (Old Tom Morris) Republic of Ireland
Rosapenna (Sandy Hills) Republic of Ireland
Rosehearty Scotland
Rosslare (Burrow) Republic of Ireland
Rosslare (Championship) Republic of Ireland
Royal Aberdeen (Balgownie) Scotland
Royal Aberdeen (Silverburn) Scotland
Royal Birkdale England
Royal Cinque Ports England
Royal County Down (Annesley) Northern Ireland
Royal County Down (Championship) Northern Ireland
Royal Dornoch (Championship) Scotland
Royal Dornoch (Struie) Scotland
Royal Dublin Republic of Ireland
Royal Guernsey Channel Islands
Royal Jersey Channel Islands
Royal Liverpool England
Royal Lytham & St Annes England
Royal North Devon England
Royal Porthcawl Wales
Royal Portrush (Dunluce) Northern Ireland
Royal Portrush (Valley) Northern Ireland
Royal St David's Wales
Royal St George's England
Royal Troon (Old) Scotland
Royal Troon (Portland) Scotland
Royal West Norfolk England
Rush Republic of Ireland
Rye (Jubilee) England
Rye (Old) England
Sanday Scotland
Sandilands England
Saunton (East) England
Saunton (West) England
Scotscraig Scotland
Seacroft England
Seahouses England
Seapoint Republic of Ireland
Seascale England
Seaton Carew England
Shiskine Scotland
Silloth-on-Solway England
Skibo Castle Scotland
Southerness Scotland
Southport & Ainsdale England
Spanish Point Republic of Ireland
Spey Bay Scotland
St Andrews (Balgove) Scotland
St Andrews (Eden) Scotland
St Andrews (Jubilee) Scotland
St Andrews (New) Scotland
St Andrews (Old) Scotland
St Andrews (Strathtyrum) Scotland
St Anne's Republic of Ireland
St Annes Old Links England
St Enodoc (Church) England
Strandhill Republic of Ireland
Strathlene Scotland
Sutton Republic of Ireland
Swansea Bay Wales
Tain Scotland
Tarbat Scotland
Tenby Wales
Tralee Republic of Ireland
Trevose (Championship) England
Troon (Darley) Scotland
Troon (Lochgreen) Scotland
Trump International Doonbeg Republic of Ireland
Trump International Aberdeen Scotland
Trump Turnberry (Ailsa) Scotland
Trump Turnberry (King Robert the Bruce) Scotland
Wallasey England
Warren - Dawlish England
Warren Municipal England
Waterville Republic of Ireland
West Cornwall England
West Kilbride Scotland
West Lancashire England
Western Gailes Scotland
Weston-Super-Mare England
Westray Scotland
Wick Scotland
Wigtonwshire County Scotland
Winterfield Scotland

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