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36-page guide on the best places to play right now!

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SEAHOUSES, NORTHUMBERLAND

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Exciting par threes perched on a dramatic Northumberland coastline Why it’s so great: Seahouses might be little known but it is a class links act and is great fun to play – even in the middle of winter. At 5,169 yards the par-67 track is on the short side but it is still a cracking course that relies on a strategic approach. Blast away without a care in the world and you could end up without a ball in the world! The main feature of the course is the par 3s – there are six of them. The 1st is a testy 131-yarder but the other shorties are all good fun. The 10th, named ‘Logan’s Loch’ and the 15th are particularly

memorable. At the 10th you have to fire over a stretch of water – the Loch – to a slender green. This hole is often made harder by a three-club wind. After he won the 1972 Open at Muirfield, Lee Trevino surprisingly showed up at Seahouses… and duly bogeyed ‘Logan’s Loch’. We’re not, however, sure what he thought about ‘Cove,’ the 109-yard 15th. The tiddler is located on the most exposed part of the course and anything from a sand wedge to a 5-wood is required to reach a green which sits

beyond, yes, a cove. There are plenty of bunkers dotted around the place, which became 18 holes in 1976. Another major plus point at Seahouses is the breathtaking panoramic views of the dramatic Northumberland coastline and out to the Farne Islands. Location: 14 miles north of Alnwick. Winter rates: Mon-Fri £24 (round), £32 (day); Sat-Sun £32 (round), £40 (day). 2-FORE!-1: Mon-Sat (day rate only). Tel: 01665 720794.

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OULTON HALL, WEST YORKS Why it’s so great: The Dave Thomasdesigned course is set in 400 acres of beautiful countryside. It is wrapped around a five-star resort and there has been huge investment to improve the condition of the 6,459-yard, par-71 course. It’s now a genuine year-round venue with a fine mix of holes, plenty offering scenic views of the Yorkshire hills. With some interesting dog-legs, rolling fairways and subtle greens, Oulton guarantees a memorable, challenging experience. Location: 5 miles south east of Leeds. Winter rates: Mon-Fri £45, weekends £50. 2-FORE!-1: Any time. Tel: 0113 201 4470.

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SELBY, NORTH YORKS Why it’s so great: Selby tends to be overlooked as a Yorkshire hot spot, but it is a true hidden gem. It’s a mature parkland track – Selby celebrated its centenary last year – which is based on sand so it drains exceptionally well. In fact it only ever closes for snow, sharp frost and lightning! With its pot bunkers and big rolling greens, Selby has a distinctly links feel to it. It’s a course that rewards the savvy approach, while the key hole is the stroke index 1, par-5 4th, a slight dog-leg into a very undulating green. Location: Three miles south west of Selby, off the A19 at Brayton. Winter rates: Mon-Fri: £33 a round. Members & members’ guests only at weekends. Tel: 01757 228622/228800.

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NORTH DOWNS, SURREY

This year-round venue offers amazing views of London Why it’s so great: There are so many reasons and they’re all extremely valid. Firstly, it’s based on chalk so it benefits from superb natural drainage – North Downs rarely closes and tends to be open for play when many other courses in the area are forced to close owing to inclement weather. Secondly, there are the views. The 5,857-yard, par-69 track, which is nearly 110 years old, is 850ft above sea level which means there are some great views over the city of London and beyond. The course itself is pretty tasty too

and although on the short side it will test every aspect of your game. The challenge begins right at the start with the short, par-4 opening hole called ‘Full of Hope’. It’s an encouraging start and big hitters will fancy their chances of finding the green with their opening drive. Not that North Downs is a stroll in the park. On the contrary, it’s littered with a number of highly challenging, devilishly tricky holes. None more so than the par-3 9th which isn’t known as ‘Hit and Hope’ for nothing! From 176 yards you’re firing into a sloping green cut into the side of a

hill and surrounded by all kinds of trouble, including sand and out of bounds. All this costs as little as £15 for a midweek round which is another very compelling reason to come here.

Location: 3 miles east of Caterham. M25 junction 6. Winter rates: From Oct: £20 midweek mornings (except Thursdays), £17.50 after 1pm (Mon-Fri) & £15 (after 2pm Mon-Fri). Members/members’ guests only at weekends. Tel: 01883 652057.

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ISLE OF PURBECK, DORSET Why it’s so great: This 5,986-yard, par-70 course is a quality heathland track plotted within a nature reserve with golfers sharing this tranquil land with wild ponies and other wildlife. A highlight is the dog-leg 5th, where you need to take careful aim from an elevated tee offering superb views of Poole harbour. The Purbeck is a tough test but you can at least warm up on the nine-hole Dene Course which is also on site.

WALMER & KINGSDOWN, KENT Why it’s so great: The legendary James Braid – responsible for the King’s and Queen’s courses at Gleneagles created this course in 1909. It is spectacularly set on the clifftops between Dover and Deal; you can even see the French coast! And because it’s based on chalk, temporary tees and greens don’t exist. It’s even rare for buggies to be banned – the drainage at this thrilling par-72 course is that good!

Location: 3 miles north of Swanage on B3351. Winter rates: Mon-Thurs: £25. Fri-Sun: £30. Winter warmer fourball: £100, including coffee/bacon roll, golf and meal. Tel: 01929 450354.

Location: Take A258 to Deal. Go right in Ringwould for Kingsdown and follow signs to club. Winter rates: All week: £25 a round. Fourball, £60. 2-FORE!-1: Mon-Fri. Tel: 01304 373256.

BERKHAMSTED, HERTS

lulled into a false sense of security – there are still plenty of trees, heather and gorse and a dyke lying in wait. The course’s grass traps do a pretty good job of snaring weak iron shots too.

Why it’s so great: You don’t have to worry about playing out of soggy bunkers at this Hertfordshire layout – because there aren’t any. This superb, par-71 heathland course – the oldest in the county – oozes charm and personality with a great variety of holes over its 6,220 yards. And just because it’s bunkerless and virtually without rough too, don’t be

Location: 1 mile north of Berkhamsted. M25 junction 21 (A41). Winter rates: Mon-Fri: £42. Weekends: £55. Tel: 01442 865832.

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WOODHALL SPA, LINCOLNSHIRE Very possibly the finest inland course in England Why it’s so great: In a quiet corner of rural Lincolnshire you’ll find one of England’s finest inland courses. Make no mistake, Woodhall’s 6,501-yard, par-71 Hotchkin layout is right up there with better-known venues such as Wentworth and Sunningdale. The sandy-soiled, heather-clad and heavily tree-lined Hotchkin is carefully looked after by an army of greenstaff. It is not surprising, then, that you’re certain to find it in immaculate condition with its greens in particular running fast and true all-year round.

True enough, it mirrors qualities associated with its famous heathland cousins in the Home Counties. But what makes the Hotchkin stand out from the rest are its bunkers. There are 115 of them and most are enormous – you’re often lucky if you can see the flag while addressing the ball. The key to a good round is to successfully steer clear of them. If you find them you just have to take your medicine and splash out. The par-3 12th is a great example of this with the green guarded by a cavernous trap on the left.

Woodhall Spa is also the home of the English Golf Union who bought it, reportedly for around £8m, in 1995. With another fine 18-hole course (The Bracken) also on site – as well as some of the best practice facilities around – that now seems a great investment.

Location: 19 miles south east of Lincoln (B1191). Winter rates: All week (Nov 1 to end April): £45. Winter warmer – Dinner, B&B and rounds on Hotchkin & Bracken, £125 per person. Tel: 01526 352511.

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SEACROFT, LINCOLNSHIRE Why it’s so great: Seacroft is a traditional straight-out-and-back links just down the coast from Skegness. It is located next to Gibraltar Point nature reserve and the course is a Site of Special Scientific interest where golf and the environment work hand-inhand. Several blind tee shots, gently undulating fairways, 75 bunkers and the wind factor mean the 6,492-yard layout is a severe golfing examination. A real find at a wonderful price. Location: South boundary of Skegness near the nature reserve. Winter special rates: Mon-Fri: £30 including full breakfast. Sat-Sun: £45. Tel: 01754 763020.

WORKSOP, NOTTINGHAMSHIRE Why it’s so great: This par-72 heathland course is based on sand and is a superb year-round track which is loved by Lee Westwood among many others. The Ryder Cup star started playing the game at Worksop and still plays there when he is at home. The course tests all aspects of the game, particularly your course management. There are a number of dog-legs, including the driveable par-4 5th, before the round closes with an inviting downhill par 3. Location: 1 mile south east of Worksop, off A6034. Winter special rates: All week: £40. Winter warmer: Mon, Wed and Fri: £30 including a single-course meal. Tel: 01909 477731.

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LUFFENHAM HEATH, RUTLAND

Ideal winter golf on a recently upgraded heathland classic Why it’s so great: Luffenham Heath is the golfing pride of Rutland, England’s smallest county. That may not seem like that bold a claim, but this gem of a 6,417-yard, par-70 heathland course would certainly be the jewel in the crown of many, much bigger counties. Plotted on gently rolling countryside on land designated as a Site of Special Scientific interest - and surrounded by woodlands and picturesque villages, it really is a joy to behold. Luffenham Heath

rises to 300ft above sea level and affords stunning views of the River Chater valley – on the 15th tee you can gaze over the neighbouring counties of Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire and Northants. Following a successful re-design by Martin Hawtree, Luffenham has got bigger and better. The top designer lengthened the course by adding new tees and a couple of greens as well as renovating all 70 original bunkers. The shorter, picturesque front nine is

followed by a tougher back nine including the stroke index 1, par-4 13th, a wellbunkered 481-yard beast of a hole. The end of the round also throws up some ‘interesting’ challenges. The 17th is a 200-yard, downhill par-3 and the last is a superb 552-yard, par-5.

Location: 5 miles west of Stamford on the A6121. Winter rates: £30 all week. Tel: 01780 720205.

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ROYAL NORTH DEVON, DEVON

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Subtle challenges on untamed terrain at England’s oldest course Why it’s so great: Royal North Devon, or Westward Ho! as it is better known, is England’s answer to St Andrews with intriguing similarities between it and the Home of Golf. Founded in 1864, it is the oldest course in England and is steeped in history – the clubhouse even features a fascinating golf museum showcasing the club’s glorious past. What’s more, five-times Open champion JH Taylor learnt his trade at Westward Ho!, living in the village of Northam which overlooks the course.

Like St Andrews, it is plotted on public land – at Westward Ho! golfers actually share the course with grazing sheep – and, if truth be told, a fairly unspectacular stretch of land at that. But when you set foot on the hallowed firm, springy turf you appreciate all the history and quirks which combine to create this remarkable, unique golfing encounter. Westward Ho! is always in tip-top condition thanks to the endeavours of head greenkeeper Mark Evans, an ex-

Devon county captain, and his team. The greens, indeed, are a joy to putt on. The highlight of what is always a memorable round is often the intimidating drive over (hopefully) the enormous fairway bunker on the par-4 4th hole.

Location: 2 miles north of Bideford (A39). Winter rates: Mon-Fri: £42. Weekends: £48. Winter warmer – £28 pp (eight people or more). 2-FORE!-1: Mon, Tues, Wed & Sun. Tel: 01237 473824.

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WESTON-SUPER-MARE, SOMERSET

TREVOSE G&CC, CORNWALL

Why it’s so great: It was redesigned by Dr Alister MacKenzie of Augusta National fame and the demanding par-4 15th is not only the par-70 links layout’s signature hole, it’s a replica of the Road Hole at St Andrews. It may not be the most aesthetically pleasing of seaside courses, but Weston is nevertheless very easy walking, boasts fast, true greens – all year round – and excellent value for money.

Why it’s so great: Trevose is a Cornish cracker which successfully staged leading amateur event, the Brabazon Trophy, earlier this year. It is the work of leading course architect Harry Colt and dramatically overlooks Constantine and Booby’s Bays. Trevose features some superb short holes but it’s the par-5 4th, with a huge crater of a bunker on the dog-leg and its beachside green, that steals the show.

Location: Weston, J21 M5. Winter rates: All week: £36 round, £48 a day. Winter warmer (golf and meal) £100 per fourball. 2-FORE!-1: Mon-Fri, some weekends. Tel: 01934 626968.

Location: 4 miles west of Padstow. Winter rates: All week (from Nov 8): £40. Winter warmer: £35 pp (group of 8 or more). 2-FORE!-1: All week except Wednesdays. Tel: 01841 520208.

EAST DEVON, DEVON

tees, it’s not overly long but the tight fairways – lined by piles of heather and gorse – need to be found at all costs. Most memorable hole is the par-4 16th, but you’ll do well not to be distracted by the amazing views all around you.

Why it’s so great: East Devon is widely regarded as one of the jewels in the south west’s golfing crown. As a rule, only snowfall and the mist rolling off the Channel stops play at this outstanding heathland layout, which overlooks the town of Budleigh Salterton and the heritage coastline. Being under 6,000 yards off the daily

Location: 12 miles south east of Exeter, off A376. M5 junction 30. Winter rates: All week: £40. Tel: 01395 443370.

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DARTMOUTH G&CC, DEVON

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Dramatic views and natural beauty at a superb venue Why it’s so great: It’s set in 225 wonderfully picturesque acres of rolling Devon countryside in an area of outstanding natural beauty. Dartmouth G&CC also happens to be one of the county’s leading golf and leisure resorts – it is also the home of another 18-hole layout (The Dartmouth), a shorter version of the main Championship Course, impressive practice facilities and a hotel with spa amenities. However, it is the Jeremy Perndesigned Championship layout with its

sweeping fairways and superb greens expertly constructed to USGA specification - which steals the show. Built on a former quarry site, the course has a great combination of holes and features seven lakes along with several dramatic elevated tees, including the superb par-3 3rd, where you’re firing to a green sitting beyond a lake. It certainly doesn’t get any easier at the following hole, a twisting, turning double dog-leg of a par 5 where you’ll be ecstatic to sign for a par.

The challenges come thick and fast on the back nine too. At the par-4 14th you need to hit a solid drive over water before hitting an accurate approach shot to an uphill green. Your nerves will be tested, or shredded, at the death in the shape of a 200-yard, par-3 finale over a waterfilled valley. Location: 4 miles north east of Dartmouth on A3122. Winter rates: Mon-Fri: £25. Sat-Sun: £35. 2-FORE!-1: Any time. Tel: 01803 712686.

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TURNBERRY, AYRSHIRE

The Kintyre offers a stunning alternative to the celebrated Ailsa Why it’s so great: The Kintyre plays a great supporting role to Turnberry’s main golfing attraction, the superstar Ailsa. And the Kintyre takes centre stage this winter as the Ailsa – being prepared for next year’s Open – is closed. The Kintyre is a class links act in its own right and would be top of the bill if it were located anywhere else in the UK. Even on a grey winter day its sensational setting can blow you away. With a bit of luck you’ll be afforded unforgettable views of Kintyre, Arran and Turnberry’s famous lighthouse.

The Kintyre is looking and playing even better following significant changes to the course in recent years and is rated by many as an even tougher proposition than the Ailsa. And you can play it – with brekkie and an after-round meal thrown in – for less than £80. Many top players who have lined up in Open Championship final qualifying down the years will support this theory. You certainly need to hit the ball straight off the tee to stand any chance of finding the narrow target areas of the gorse-lined fairways.

The no.2 layout also boasts perhaps the resort’s most dramatic individual hole, the short par-4 8th. It’s under 300 yards but is the signature of signature holes as you’re hitting a ‘blind’ approach shot into a green perched just yards from the beach. Pebble Beach eat your heart out… Location: 18 miles south of Ayr on A77. Winter rates: All week £70. Winter warmer - £79 for 18 holes, coffee and bacon roll before a round and meal afterwards. Tel: 01655 331000.

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TAIN, ROSS-SHIRE Why it’s so great: Tain was designed by Old Tom Morris in 1890 and 10 holes (five on each nine) of the original layout remain. This magical 6,109-yard, par-70 highland links overlooks the Dornoch Firth so you can drink in breathtaking sea and mountain views. On the course you’ll be especially captivated by the superb par-4 3rd hole and the 211-yard 17th, which is rated as one of Old Tom’s most spectacular short holes. Location: 35 miles N of Inverness (A9), 8 miles S of Dornoch. Winter rates: Oct: Mon-Fri £30, weekends £35. Nov: MonFri £20, weekends £25. 2-FORE!-1: Any time. Tel: 01862 892314.

LANARK Why it’s so great: Founded in 1851, Lanark is believed to be the 25th oldest club in the world and is home to one of Scotland’s finest moorland courses. The par-70 layout, originally designed by Old Tom Morris, is always in first-class condition from tee to green and is a regular Open Championship regional qualifying venue. It shows its teeth early with three demanding par 4s in the opening four holes. Lanark finishes with a 200-yard par 3, with the clubhouse located to the right of the green. Location: 30 miles south of Glasgow, off A74. Winter rates: Mon-Fri £25 a round, £35 per day. Members & members’ guests only at weekends. Tel: 01555 662349.

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SOUTHERNESS, DUMFRIES Why it’s so great: Situated on the picturesque Solway coast, Southerness is very much a hidden gem. It was designed by McKenzie Ross just over 60 years ago and provides panoramic views of the Solway Firth, the Lake District and the Galloway Hills. At just over 6,000 yards, the par-69 track isn’t the longest but playing to your

handicap here is a real achievement. There’s eight par 4s over 400 yards with the 421-yard 12th being the pick of a very tough bunch. That starts a terrific back nine which is as good as many more celebrated courses. Location: 16 miles south of Dumfries off A710. Winter rates: Mon-Fri: £40. Sat-Sun: £45. Tel: 01387 880677.

SCOTSCRAIG, FIFE

FORRESTER PARK, FIFE

Why it’s so great: Scotscraig is not strictly a links layout as it doesn’t really hug the coastline. But sea breezes do come into play as you tackle the splendid combination of links and heathland holes. Scotscraig is a regular final Open qualifying course and many of the game’s biggest names have walked its hallowed turf. Beware of the short but tricky par-4 4th, the fairway being heavily bunkered and lined with swathes of heather.

Why it’s so great: It may lack the history of many other Fife courses, but Forrester Park is nevertheless a fine parkland addition to the region’s links classics. The par-72 course is set in 350 acres of wonderful countryside and, being constructed to full USGA specification, claims to open 365 days a year. The venue’s impressive facilities include a 16-bay covered driving range and a plush locker room with hand-built wooden lockers.

Location: 10 miles north of St Andrews. Winter rates: All week £30. Winter warmer, £99 for a fourball. Tel: 01382 552515.

Location: 2.5 miles to the west of Dunfermline. Winter rates: Mon-Fri £25, weekends £35. Tel: 01383 880505.

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BRORA, HIGHLANDS

Grazed on by sheep – and loved by an Open legend! Why it’s so great: If you love links golf, you’ll love Brora. Situated on the Moray Firth, it’s James Braid’s most northerly creation and little has changed at his Highlands masterpiece since 1923. It is still great fun to play… and always will be. Brora, indeed, is the home of the James Braid Golfing Society whose president is five-times Open champion Peter Thomson. The Australian revealed: “One of my favourite links is Brora, where the golfers

share a precious piece of territory with a hundred or so woolly sheep!” The outward nine in particular is an absolute joy to behold. With the exception of the short 6th, the front nine holes closely hug Kintradwell Bay and you’re blessed with amazing views, especially from the tee box of the par-4 2nd. Brora is no ordinary run-of-the-mill course. It’s unique and quirky. Besides the sheep factor (the course is on commonland), a railway can come into

play off the 10th tee while the ‘firing line’ at the elevated par-4 17th tee is the lighthouse in the distance. There’s a twist in the tail too in the form of a 200-yard, par-3 finale. You need to pull out all the stops to find the heavilybunkered final green situated just yards from the gaze of clubhouse onlookers. Location: 18 miles north of Dornoch (A9). Winter rates: Mon-Fri £18.50, weekends £21. Tel: 01408 621417.

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BULL BAY, ANGLESEY Why it’s so great: Bull Bay is the most northerly course in Wales and is spectacularly laid out above Anglesey’s rugged coastline, offering panoramic views of Snowdonia and over the Irish Sea to the Isle of Man. The par-70 layout was created by Herbert Fowler, who was also responsible for former Ryder Cup venue Walton Heath. The star hole is the par-4 7th, where you’re faced with a thrilling downhill drive towards the cliff edge. Location: West of Amlwch on the A5025. Winter rates: Mon-Fri £18, weekends £22. Winter warmer (Thurs and Fri) £70 for a fourball including a round of golf and two-course meal. Tel: 01407 830960.

BORTH & YNYSLAS, CARDIGANSHIRE Why it’s so great: This out-and-back course impressively skirts the estuary of the Dovey river and Cardigan Bay. The main challenge here is not to let the stunning scenery distract you too much. Borth has thrived since Harry Colt made some subtle changes at the end of World War Two. It may be under 6,000 yards, but the combination of rolling humps and hollows, well-placed bunkers and the inevitable Borth breeze ensure it’s a stiff test. Location: 8 miles north of Aberystwyth. Winter rates: Nov 1-Mar 31, all week: £30. Winter warmer (4 or more), coffee/bacon roll, round of golf, meal for £24 per person. 2-FORE!-1: Mon-Fri. Tel: 01970 871202.

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CONWY, CAERNARVONSHIRE

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Mountains and sea frame this fantastic Welsh gem Why it’s so great: Former European  Tour star Andrew Murray describes  Conwy as “golfing heaven on earth” –  and with good reason. The BBC golf  commentator has played courses all over  the world but rates the links of Conwy as  one of his all-time favourites.  Conwy gloriously stretches 6,394  yards along the estuary of the River  Conwy. Several of the holes on the front  nine actually run around the estuary  while the inward half is dramatically  played out under Conwy mountains.  Therefore this Caernarvonshire beauty  benefits from the perfect visual 

combination of sea on one side and  mountains on the other. The course has staged many top  tournaments over the years – including  the 1990 Home Internationals – and  although relatively flat it is certainly not  featureless.  This becomes evident as early as the  par-3 2nd, the green impressively  nestling among the dunes. The short  holes are a main feature of Conwy and  are the key to a good score.  You can’t afford to take anything for  granted here, especially on the  demanding last three holes. 

They’re all lengthy par 4s and the last  has a semi-blind drive to a narrow  fairway and a testing approach to a green  protected by six bunkers. Conwy is a  great place to play golf and represents  excellent value-for-money, especially in  the off-season when you can play for £15  each, using a 2-FORE!-1 voucher. Location: Half-a-mile west of Conwy, off  A55 junction 17. Winter rates: Mon-Fri   £30, weekend £34. Winter warmer –  breakfast and golf or soup, sandwich and  golf for £29 (midweek), £31 (weekend). 2-FORE!–1: Any time. Tel: 01492 592423.

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IRELAND spEcIAL

CARTON HOUSE, CO. KILDARE Why it’s so great: Carton House is a five-star golfing venue in every sense of the word. The two superb 18-hole courses (The Montgomerie and The O’Meara) are supported by a classy hotel with terrific facilities. The top course is The Montgomerie, designed by the Ryder Cup legend, which has staged two recent Irish Opens. It’s a stunning inland links blessed with immaculate greens and the deepest pot bunkers you’ll ever find. Location: 14 miles west of Dublin (N4). Winter rates: Mon-Wed: £55. ThursSun: £60. Warmer – Golf & Grill (before 11.30), £64. Tel: 003531 505 2000.

CARNE, CO. MAYO Why it’s so great: The west coast of Ireland boasts some of the world’s top links layouts and remote Carne is right up there with the best of them. Located on the far north west peninsula of County Mayo, it is well worth taking the time and effort to find. It was late architect Eddie Hackett’s last course design and he certainly bowed out in style, Carne meandering through huge sand dunes overlooking Blacksod Bay. Best views are gleaned from the 14th, an outstanding par 5, which is followed by a superb par 3 with a tantalising green. Location: 1 mile from Belmullet. Winter rates: All week: £28. Tel: 00353 9782292.

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ARDGLASS, CO. DOWN

2-FORE!-1 COURSE

A fabulous alternative to world-famous Royal County Down Why it’s so great: Ardglass is a short drive away from the legendary links of Royal County Down – but you might have even more fun playing the former! What is for sure is that it will cost you a fraction of the green fee. Ardglass is nowhere near as intimidating as mighty County Down but even though it’s just over 6,200 yards long, the par-70 track is still tricky – especially when the wind is blowing. There are several cracking clifftop holes – you can see the Irish Sea from every hole – and the round starts with a

dramatic uphill hole littered with jagged black rocks. Indeed members are quick to remind you “you’ve got the sea to the left and the whole of Ireland on the right”. Hook it here and you’re wet. In fact the coast tightly hugs the left side of the opening six holes. Picking star holes at Ardglass is virtually impossible as there are so many candidates. The 167-yard 2nd is an awesome par 3 over a clifftop gorge while drives don’t get more exciting than at the elevated 4th tee. The 198-yard, par-3 12th is also very

special. From the tee you’ll drink in breathtaking sea and mountain views but then you need to fully focus on the job in hand: firing a long iron across a craggy inlet to a green precariously located on a rocky headland. The par-4 18th is a fine closing hole played towards the clubhouse, a restored 13th century castle. Location: 7 miles SE of Downpatrick on B1. Winter rates: Mon-Fri: £24. Sat-Sun: £32. 2-FORE!-1: Mon-Fri. Tel: 028 4484 1219.

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EUROPEAN CLUB, CO. WICKLOW

Where Harrington warmed up for both his Open victories... Why it’s so great: The European Club was the first links to be built on Ireland’s east coast in the last century… and it was definitely worth the wait. The 20-hole (no, that’s not a mistake) links is only 15 years old yet it looks and plays like it’s been around for decades. Irish journalist turned course designer Pat Ruddy has created a masterpiece amid towering dunes on the Wicklow coast. The European Club is in fact Ruddy’s ‘baby’ – he not only designed it, he also runs and owns it. Virtually every hole is breathtaking but

none more so than the spectacular par-4 12th which runs along the coastline before finishing with a huge, undulating green. The 7th is another highlight, an awesome par 4 which is good enough to have been placed in a ‘world’s top 100 holes’ listing. The pick of the short holes is probably the 14th, where you need to take careful aim to find a plateau green shielded by intimidating, giant dunes. The experience is enhanced by the two extra short holes – 7a and 12a – which make The European up to an unusual 20 holes.

Padraig Harrington warmed-up for both of his victories in the Open Championships by playing in the Irish PGA Championship here. Ruddy set the course up both times to replicate the challenge the Irishman would face at Carnoustie and Birkdale. Tiger Woods has also tackled this beautiful Irish beast.

Location: 30 miles south of Dublin off the N11. Winter rates: All week: £79. Tel: 00353 404 47415.

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COMPETITION Great British Courses

COMPETITION

PLAY AT A RYDER CUP VENUE!

You and three friends could be playing Celtic Manor’s new course... We have teamed-up with the Celtic Manor Resort and Golfbreaks.com to give readers the chance to play the 2010 Ryder Cup course and enjoy a fantastic, two-night luxury stay at the five-star South Wales resort. Celtic Manor’s new Twenty Ten Course is the first in history to be built specifically with the staging of the Ryder Cup in mind. It boasts many memorable risk/reward challenges with water hazards on half of its holes. The winner – and three friends – will play this superb course as well as the other new course at Celtic Manor, which has been designed by Ryder Cup legend Colin Montgomerie. It features deep pot bunkers and dramatic tee shots across ravines. With the original Roman Road layout completing an impressive

portfolio of three championship courses – and other facilities including two luxurious clubhouses and a stateof-the-art golf academy – Celtic Manor is the ultimate golfing destination. Two hotels with 400 bedrooms, two spas, two state-of-the-art health clubs, tennis courts, mountain biking, walking trails, a kids’ club, crèche and five restaurants illustrate Celtic Manor’s superb off-course facilities. The prize ● Two nights’ accommodation for four people sharing two rooms including a full Welsh breakfast each morning. ● A round for four players on the Twenty Ten course. ● A round for four on The Montgomerie. ● Complimentary use of the leisure facilities in the Forum Health Club.

HOW TO ENTER Just answer this question: When will Celtic Manor be hosting the Ryder Cup? A. 2010 B. 2008 C. 2012 Enter on our website at www. todaysgolfer.co.uk/competitions. Postal entries should be sent to Today’s Golfer, Media House, Lynch Wood, Peterborough, PE2 6EA. The entry deadline is November 16, 2008. T&Cs apply. Dates subject to availability, prize must be taken by end of October 2009. Prize is non-transferable and cannot be redeemed for cash. Excludes all meals except breakfast and any beverages and extras within the hotel, which must be settled upon departure.

WO OV RTH £1, ER 50 0

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Great Value Golf Courses In Great Britain