There are countless courses that are more than worthy of a visit in 2012 but with the biggest tournaments and best value on mind we have selected 5 must play courses in the UK for 2012.

Royal Lytham & St Annes

Ask any professional golfer and they will tell you that there no professional golf tournaments bigger, better or more historically significant than the Open Championship. Played on the famous links courses of England and Scotland (apart from one visit to the shores of Northern Ireland and the amazing Royal Portrush), the Open Championship represents the past, present and future of the game of golf and this year the age old major is heading to Royal Lytham & St Annes.


Royal Lytham & St Annes

The Open Championship will be staged at Royal Lytham and St Annes for the eleventh time in 2012, underlining its position among the country’s elite links venues. The course may have celebrated its centenary in 1998, but only minor alterations have been made to George Lowe’s original design; the renowned Harry S. Colt’s subtle 1919 tweaks were all that was required to ensure that Lytham remained a true championship seaside test.

Fairways are firm yet springy; the rough is thick and punishing; bunkers are a plenty and as difficult to escape as they are easy to find and, as with any great links course, Lytham is utterly exposed to the elements. If you are yet to plan your 2012 golf holiday then look no further than the Southport area of the North West of England. With the likes of Royal Birkdale and Royal Liverpool in addition to lesser known gems such as Hillside and Formby; Royal Lytham & St Annes isn’t the only golfing attraction in this golfing hotspot and yet, with the Open Championship just around the corner it is certainly a must play course in 2012.

Trump International Golf Links

Since the unveiling of the mighty Kingsbarns and the charming Castle Stuart, few golfing projects have attracted as much attention and interest as Donald Trump’s recent offering on the Menie Estate in Aberdeenshire. The well known property tycoon has pumped considerable amounts of money into creating what he promises will be “the greatest golf course in the world” and, judging by recent photos of the finished article, he may not be too far wide of the mark!

Trump commissioned Dr Martin Hawtree, who has previously completed work on the famed trio of Royal Birkdale, Portmarnock and Lahinch, to design the course and we have to say the results look stupendous!


Trump International Golf Links

The championship course is very much in the shape of traditional Scottish links and the par 72 that measures a little over 7,400 yards is surely destined to host major tournaments in the not too distant future.

All 18 holes wind their way intriguingly through the imposing dunes and golfers will be treated to breathtaking views from various vantage points around the course. Each hole will have 5 separate tees thus catering for all classes of golfer. Like any Hawtree course The Trump International links will be an enthralling golfing experience thanks to strategically placed bunkers undulating fairways and a stunning variety of holes that will no doubt keep the golfer on their toes from start to finish. If you can justify the hefty green fee, a round here will surely be the envy of all your golfing buddies for years to come!

Woodhall Spa

Few will have heard of Woodhall Spa and yet it is home to a pair of world class heathland golf courses and the English Golf Union. The Hotchkin in fact, has been consistently ranked as the best inland golf course in the UK by numerous leading golf publications and was recently ranked as the 25th best in the world by Golf World.

There are more than 30,000 golf courses worldwide with spectacular new venues opening every year, making the Hotchkin’s achievement all the more impressive!


Woodhall Spa – Hotchkin Course

The course is a heathland classic so golfers can expect perfect sandy fairways, outstanding bunkering and the heady blend of purple heather, towering pines and devilish gorse. The fairways have been carefully plotted through trees and over heather by master designers Harry Vardon and Harry S. Colt so that each hole travels in a different direction to the last and every shot has to be carefully considered. While all components of the amazing Hotchkin Course are integral features, it is the outstanding bunkering that makes it the world class test that it is. Cavernous bunkers are strategically positioned to provide a formidable defence to the perfect putting surfaces…avoid these and you may just scrape round in your handicap!

The sheer quality of this course is reason enough to pay Woodhall Spa a visit but the outstanding value for money on offer here is a real cherry on the cake. Playing both courses at Woodhall Spa including a night in a hotel will probably cost less than 18 holes on similarly ranked courses…Summer golf break to Woodhall Spa anyone?

Turnberry (Seniors Open)

Turnberry, and the famous Ailsa Course in particular, need no introduction. Host to countless Opens including the 1970 championship, what many deem to be the greatest ever major, the Alisa Course boasts some truly world class holes and then there is always the lure of another championship links – The Kintyre – and a five star resort hotel that is widely considered to be among the very best in the whole of the UK.


Turnberry and its iconic lighthouse

At the Kintyre, fortunate visitors will experience fast, undulating greens, tight links turf, magnificent holes along the shoreline and glorious views of Kintyre, Arran and the lighthouse. The signature hole is undoubtedly the 8th, where following an elevated tee shot, golfers face a dramatic blind approach to a green set in a gully flanked by rocks.

The last time the Open Championship visited the Ailsa Course was in 2009 and it was every bit as memorable as the legendary Duel in the Sun between Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson. Watson again took centre stage when he narrowly missed out on claiming a record 6th Open Championship at the ripe old age of 59 and speaking of elder statesmen strutting their stuff at Turnberry, the Senior Open will be heading there this summer.

Turnberry is always a must play but with Senior Open heading there this year a round just after the tournament will see you experience the very best tournament conditions possible.

Royal Troon & Glasgow Gailes

Along with the US Amateur the Amateur Championship, or the British Amateur as it is known outside of the UK, is the leading amateur tournament in golf and this year it is heading to the revered links of Royal Troon and the lesser known Glasgow Gailes Golf Club. 18 holes of strokeplay will be played over each course before leading players head to Royal Troon to contest for the title in a straight knock out matchplay format. While it always fun to walk in the footsteps of the games leading stars it is equally as thrilling to gain an insight into the courses that may shape the future of the games next generation.

Royal Troon also has the distinction of being an Open Championship host course and is home to famous holes including the par 3 8th, better known as ‘The Postage Stamp’. In addition to the famous Old Course, Troon can offer a good test on the Portland Course. Although shorter and less fearsome than its neighbour, a quirky mixture of par-3s and par 5-s make the Portland a genuine challenge for most, especially given the proximity of the dreaded gorse.


Royal Troon and ‘The Postage Stamp’

Although Glasgow Gailes can’t match Troon in terms of tournament play, it does come up trumps in the history stakes. Founded in 1787, Glasgow Gailes lays claim to being the ninth-oldest golf club in the world and is just about as traditional a test of links golf as one could hope to experience. As a known favourite of Scottish great Sandy Lyle, and rated in Golf Monthly’s Top 100, Glasgow Gailes is traditional links golf at its best.

We are sure you already have a good idea of the courses you want to play this year but of not this lot aren’t a bad place to start!