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Top 100 Golf Courses of England 2020

14 November, 2019
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Top 100 Golf Courses of England 2020

This is the 8th edition of the Top 100 for England, a chart that we have published every two years since 2006. Over the last few weeks we’ve produced seven regional listings – East Midlands, West Midlands, North West, East, North East, South West and South East. The results of these regional reports are now reflected in our latest national ranking table.

We don’t expect the relative positions will please everybody – we also have differing personal opinions within our own team – but it’s an honest attempt to present an ordered list of golfing layouts that we think best constitutes the top one hundred tracks across the country, from Berwick-upon-Tweed in the northeast to Penzance in the southwest.

Royal St George’s in Sandwich is still our No.1 in England. The course opened in 1887 and within seven years it was hosting the first Open to be played outside Scotland. Thirteen “Champion Golfer of the Year” titles have been won here since 1894 and another will be awarded at the conclusion of next year’s Open when the event returns here.

Royal St George's Golf Club

A review from just last week ended with this: “you rarely play two holes in the same direction which challenges the player’s concentration as you are playing into different wind directions (and) the mix of elevations with both tee shots and approach shots keeps the player thinking on every shot. I am sure RSG will provide a stern test in 2020, especially if we get a two-club wind.”

There’s not much movement at the top of the chart but, unlike the 2018 version when eight of the top ten places were reported as “no change,” three courses make upward moves. Swinley Forest in Ascot rises one place to number 5 and the Hotchkin course at Woodhall Spa in Lincolnshire climbs two spots to No. 7 – our US Consultant Fergal O’Leary was particularly impressed by the recent renovation work carried out by Renaissance Golf Design and the club’s green keeping team. The Church course at St Enodoc also nudges forward one position to number 10, becoming only the 13th course to break into the elite English Top 10 tier.

Swinley Forest Golf Club

A little further back, The West course at Wentworth makes a remarkable comeback (soaring seven places up to No. 13), following yet another multi-million pound renovation, part of which included the installation of sub-air systems on every green. This famous layout was ranked inside our Top 10 up until 2012 before falling to number 26 four years later but it’s certainly on the right road now after several bouts of hefty financial investment.

Wentworth Club West course

A little further down the listings, Liphook in Hampshire (up thirteen to #32) and Delamere Forest in Cheshire (up six to #40) make significant chart progress following upgrade work carried out by architects Mackenzie & Ebert. Liphook is still in the midst of a three-phase upgrade designed to take care of an awkward routing problem with a local road, while Delamere has just completed a six-year project to reinstitute the heathland characteristics of the course, in tandem with an extensive bunker restoration.

Liphook Golf Club

Some may have been surprised to see JCB Golf & Country Club crash into our Staffordshire standings at No. 1 when we produced our West Midlands of England review last month. Well, it's not only the top track in that county, it's also the highest of five new entries in our national Top 100, arriving at No. 42. Designed by Robin Hiseman from European Golf Design, this is a big course with big tournament ambitions for its owners, so expect to hear more about JCB in the very near future.

JCB Golf & Country Club

A number of courses make noteworthy positive moves in the new England Top 100.

The first of these is the Shore and Dunes nines at Prince’s in Sandwich (up twelve to #45) which has just undergone a Mackenzie & Ebert renovation, with the introduction of a fabulous new par three 5th hole to replace what was previously a relatively weak hole on the Shore layout. Eagle-eyed browsers will also note the inclusion of the Himalayas nine at Prince’s as a newcomer at No. 99, making this the first time we have featured three nines at one club as two separate entries in any national ranking list.

Prince's Golf Club - Shore course new 5th hole

Stoneham, another Golden Age layout from the under-appreciated county of Hampshire, advances twelve places to No. 69. Designed by Willie Park Junior and opened for play in 1908, this course has been under the watchful eye of Ken Moodie in the last few years, with the architect overseeing tree removal, drainage improvements, the regeneration of areas of heather and the refurbishment of all the bunkers. “Project 2020” hasn’t quite delivered its objective of a Top 50 ranking position (as stated on the club’s website) but it’s certainly heading in the right direction.

Stoneham Golf Club

Another Willie Park Junior track, Huntercombe in Oxfordshire, makes a prodigious leap forward in our revised listings, from No. 94 to 75. Editor-in-Chief Keith Baxter visited last year and was bowled over by what he found: “There’s no signature hole, there are no thrilling elevation changes to add drama, there’s no water and there are only thirteen bunkers. Instead you encounter one solid but unassuming hole after another… it’s a club I would love to join if I lived around the corner.”

Huntercombe Golf Club

Hadley Wood in Barnet rose two places in the new Hertfordshire rankings which were published last month and it now makes its mark on the English chart, moving up twelve positions to No. 84. It’s an Alister MacKenzie design dating back to 1922 which is laid out across what was once known as the Enfield Chase deer park, a favourite hunting ground of Henry V in the Middle Ages. When a recent reviewer remarked that “the course condition is fantastic, clubhouse is grand, history of the place is amazing,” the course chairman replied, stating that the club has “extensive plans for the long term development of the course.” Perhaps the best is yet to come at Hadley Wood.

Hadley Wood Golf Club


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To view the complete detailed list of the Top 100 Golf Courses of England click the link.

Jim McCann
Editor
Top 100 Golf Courses

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