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The Real Links Courses of Britain & Ireland v2

23 January, 2021

The Real Links courses of Britain & Ireland v2

There’s no denying that links golf stirs the soul. Even if you don’t love playing links golf, most appreciate the spirit of a real links course.

Ed Battye’s comprehensive article, Living on the Links Spectrum (published at Golf Empire), prompted us to take another look at our list of the “Real Links Courses of Britain & Ireland” which we defined four years ago. Ed asked the question: "Just how many genuine links golf courses are there?" So we felt it was high time to update our list of courses in Britain and Ireland that we believe to be links.

For those that read all the way to the end of Ed’s article, you will have an appreciation (if you didn’t before) as to how difficult it is to definitively rule out (or rule in) courses that are part links and part something else. Back in 2017 we stated that each course should be at least 50% links in order to be listed. Four years later, we now wonder whether that measure is the best way to draw the line? The 50% measure favours shorter courses – a 9-hole course can have five links holes (>50%) and be listed, but an 18-hole course can have eight links holes (<50%) and misses the cut.

Back in 2017 we concluded our research, having identified 240 links courses along the shorelines of Britain and Ireland. After publishing this article – The 240 Real Links Courses of Britain & Ireland – we received lively feedback directly and via the social channels.

Warren from Australia questioned the omission of Troon Fullerton and Martin suggested that we should include it because the other two Troon municipal courses are in. Jonathan put forward Maryport, Warkworth and Alnmouth Village. The jury is out over Maryport, but the latter two have been added. Good call gentlemen.

We agree with the argument against Eyemouth – it’s off the list. Kevin Markham tabled Connemara Isles and Greencastle, which we’d already ruled out. After visiting both, along with Ballycastle we decided all three should be excluded. Sandilands has been purchased by the National Trust and re-wilded. Sanday is not sandy enough and Westray (despite boasting the longest hole in Britain) did not quite make the grade.

We’ve added Newport Sands (Newport Links) which was brought to our attention by Thomas, a member at Royal North Devon: “The original 9 holes (now the back 9) are true and testing links holes and great quality with two challenging and exciting par threes.” Kinghorn also makes the cut – we agree with Ed. “Every now and again you stumble across a golf course that takes your breath away… I stumbled across this sporty and at times perplexing layout on my quest to discover all the true links golf courses in Great Britain & Ireland and depending upon how strict your definition of the term is I think I may have found one.”

The only new links course to open in Britain and Ireland since 2017 is Dumbarnie Links, located a short distance from the shores of Largo Bay between the links layouts at Lundin and the Golf House Club at Elie. Dumbarnieis a Clive Clark design which first opened its doors to the public as a pay-and-play facility in the spring of 2020.

Ed’s quest to discover all the links courses in Britain & Ireland is admirable – we’ve been trying to identify every links course and the contenders for the last five years. We’re not there yet – there are further links courses to find – and there are bound to be ongoing debates for and against the inclusion of Scotscraig, Fairhaven, Formby Ladies, plus a number of others than sit on the fence.

Our Interpretation of "Links"

Regardless of being on the right or wrong side of the fence, we should all rejoice in the knowledge that each and every one of the fourteen links courses to have staged The Open since 1860 are accessible for visiting golfers. In fact, visitors are welcomed at each and every one of the 241 links courses we list.

Here’s version two (v2) of the Real Links Courses of Britain & Ireland, layouts that we believe deserve the “Real Links” moniker. 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” are found.

Course Country
Aberdovey Wales
Abersoch Wales
Achill Republic of Ireland
Alnmouth Village England
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
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
Dumbarnie Links Scotland
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
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
Kinghorn 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
Newport Sands Wales
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
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 (Fullerton) 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
Warkworth 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
Wick Scotland
Wigtonwshire County Scotland
Winterfield Scotland

If you believe we’ve made a mistake, missed a links or added a course that isn't a links, let us know by clicking the “Respond to this article” link at either the top or bottom of this page. We'll refine the listing further in light of feedback received. We value your opinion.

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

Anstruther Scotland
Ballycastle Northern Ireland
Bamburgh Castle England
Bull Bay Wales
Connemara Isles Republic of Ireland
Cork Republic of Ireland
Crail (Craighead) Scotland
Dunnerholme England
East Devon England
Eyemouth Scotland
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
Sanday Scotand
Sandilands NLE England
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
Westray Scotland
Whalsay Scotland

Ed Battye's discovery is well underway. At the time of writing (23 January 2021), he’s the clubhouse leader at our recently created Links Courses of Britain & Ireland web page, having played 163 of the 197 links courses that we feature in our various rankings. We dare you to follow in his sandy footprints.


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