Ernie Els, Royal Birkdale Course — Photo courtesy of Steven Newton @SN#1 The ancient origins of the game of Golf are widely disputed: some say it was first played by the Romans in the first century BC, others by the Chinese between the 8-14th Centuries, and still others that it all started in Persia. But it's agreed that the modern game was invented in Scotland in the fifteenth century.
Loch Ness Scotland — Photo courtesy of Keith Laverack In fact, one of the earliest known written records of the game comes from King James II trying to ban it in 1457 as it was detracting from the royal sport of Archery. But that quickly changed, as it became the sport of Kings and aristocrats. The rules of our modern game were also recorded in Scotland, and put together by the Honourable Company of Edinburgh golfers who played on the course at Muirfield in Scotland.
A cottage near Muirfield Golf Course — Photo courtesy of Bex Ross @snappybex. So golf has a long history in the British Isles and it's not surprising that the Isles lend themselves to some beautiful and scenic courses dotted all around the country. Top of the list is probably Northern Ireland, just at the foot of the Mountains of Mourne. The Royal County Down Course nestled in the tiny town of Newcastle in Northern Ireland has been voted the top course in the UK by many a golf expert. It perches on the edge of the land looking out over the bay of Dundrum where it meets the Irish sea; and the mountain peak of Slieve Donard, which at 3000 ft tall casts its shadow over your game. Mountains of Mourne — Photo courtesy of James Wimms
If you prefer your Golf courses on the famous side, the course at St Andrews, with its famous 'Hell Bunker' tops that list. It has hosted more open tournaments than any other course in the UK, which is probably because, a part from a beautiful course, it is the spiritual home of Golf. It's also of course the town where Prince William met Kate Middleton, and the rest is a modern fairytale. [PHOTO_190060]
Muirfield, also in Scotland, played its part in history, as it was where the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers wrote down the rules for the game in 1744. Muirfield lies near to the Scottish city of Edinburgh, seat of the Scottish parliament, so if Golf doesn't tickle your fancy, you can leave your partner for a spot of teeing up whilst you have a spot of tea on the Royal Mile, in all its Georgian finery. Sean O Hare Royal Birkdale — Photo courtesy of Steven Newton @SN#1
And lastly, in Scotland of course, there is Gleneagles, the 'King's Course' with the best moorland play in the world.Gleneagles House — Photo courtesy of Rory Davidson
Coming South to England now, another favourite Open site is the course at Royal Birkdale. Just near the European city of arts and culture, Liverpool, home to great shopping, the Tate Liverpool gallery, and of course home to the Beatles, this course is perfectly situated for taking in Golf and a bit of culture at the same time. The greens here are difficult to read but are laid out in rippling valleys between natural sand dunes which provide a perfect platform for spectators. Miguel Angel at Royal Birkdale in the rain — Photo courtesy of Paul Nuttal @nuttalp
Even further South, Wentworth is the most televised course in the UK, and another shining example of our green and pleasant land. Just south of London in the pretty county of Surrey, this course has been the battleground for bitterly contested Ryder cup finals as well as numerous open tournaments. It's just a short hop from here to enjoy all the delights of London, and back in Surrey you can pretend you're a minor aristocrat for the day and chill out near a putting green somewhere, or pop along to Petersham nurseries, for a spot of lunch and to update your garden.
Over in the East of the Country, you'll find the Royal West Norfolk Course, perhaps the most curious course in the UK where you have to watch the tide at all times. Because at high tide, the whole course is isolated by the sea, and becomes an island. From there it would be another 12 hours before you can leave again, so a lot of golf playing time! Whilst in Norfolk, don't forget to cruise the Norfolk broads, a beautiful series of river linked broads, or lakes, stretching for miles. Norfolk Broads hotel and swan — Photo courtesy of Peter Taylor @nickstone333
Many golfers' favourite course in the whole of the UK is St Enodoc's in Cornwall, nestled on the side of the Camel Estuary as it surges out to the meet the Atlantic. St Endoc's is a rolling course of hilly links set amongst towering sand dunes, clad with tufts of wild sea grass. St Enodoc course, Cornwall — Photo courtesy of Heather Cowper @heatheronhertravels
The name of the course comes from the tiny 13th century church, St Enodoc's just near hole 10. It's also where Sir John Betjeman, the former poet laureate is buried. In the middle of the 19th century, this church was completely engulfed by a huge sand storm and was only extricated in 1863. The church's spire remains bent to this day, having been buried under the sand for so long. St Enodoc Church, Cornwall — Photo courtesy of Heather Cowper @heatheronhertravels Sir John Betjeman's Grave in St Enodoc — Photo courtesy of Heather Cowper @heatheronhertravels
The course itself was built in 1891 and redesigned in 1907. With views across to the pretty fishing village of Padstow, and home to one of the UK's celebrity chefs, Rick Stein, you couldn't ask for a more picturesque golf course or a prettier place to spend a week or two exploring the beautiful county of Cornwall. Padstow Harbour, opposite St Enodoc golf course — Photo courtesy of Heather Cowper @heatheronhertravels