Play the UK & Ireland’s Top 20 Courses in 2023
St Andrews, Royal County Down and Royal Dornoch, just a few examples of why the UK and Ireland is a golfing wonderland. From the historic links of Scotland, to the highly coveted Irish seaside courses, each region lends itself to an idyllic golf vacation.
You can experience Golf’s Top 20 rated golf courses with Premier Golf in 2023. Also thanks to favorable current exchange rates for Americans, you may never again see such great value on your trip.
For almost 30 years, Premier Golf’s very own Bill Hogan has contributed to the Golf Magazine Top 100 ratings. He pro provides a snapshot into the courses that make up this years top 10:
1. St. Andrews (Old Course)
After hosting the 150th Open Championship in 2022, and the plethora of pandemic trip reschedules, the St Andrews Old Course is seeing more demand than ever before. 2023 tee times are now only available through the Ballot. However Premier Golf’s team based in St Andrews can assist you through this process and fit in all the other great courses nearby. This is probably the most iconic bucket-list course in the world and is a highlight on any Scottish golf itinerary.
2. Royal County Down
The first of Northern Ireland’s famous courses to feature on the list. In the shadows of the Mourne Mountains, Royal County Down’s stunning scenery and excellent conditioning also features perhaps the best front 9 in golf, to create an unforgettable all round experience. Only a 45 minute drive from Belfast, a day here will be the highlight of any Northern Ireland Golf Tour.
3. Royal Dornoch
The most northerly course in the top 20, perched on the coastline of Dornoch Firth in the beautiful Highlands. Royal Dornoch provides a true sense of natural links golf in a heavenly setting. Simply one of the world’s most treasured golf experiences, Dornoch is always ranked as a top three favorite by travelers. Located just off the North Coast 500 (NC500) you can include a round as part of Scotland’s ultimate road trip and play many of the other great Highland links courses.
Setting of Phil Mickleson’s famous Claret Jug win in the 2013 Open Championship. Muirfield is known famously as the fairest test in golf, due to the continual change in wind direction from the circular layout of the course. Make it a day with lunch in the clubhouse and perhaps the afternoon alternate-shot round for the full monty! The most coveted course in the East Lothian area, combine a round at this majestic layout with a stay in Scotland’s iconic capital city of Edinburgh.
5. Royal Portrush (Dunluce)
Home of Shane Lowry’s popular win in 2019, the Open Championship returns to Royal Portrush for the 153rd edition in 2025. This is the only Open venue on the Emerald Isle, and among the toughest tests. Beat the expected influx of golfers as the tournament nears, and play Royal Portrush in 2023. Be sure to visit the neighboring world famous Giants Causeway as part of a Northern Ireland tour.
6. Turnberry (Ailsa)
After undergoing renovations in 2016, the Ailsa course at Turnberry weaves along the southwest Scottish coastline and offers superb ocean views from many vantage points. Someday The Open may return to Turnberry and it will be a welcome addition once again. For the perfect Ayrshire tour tour, combine this stunning venue with local Open venues; Prestwick, setting of the first ever Open Championship, and Royal Troon, which will host the 152nd Open in 2024.
7. Sunningdale (Old)
The first entry on the list from England, Sunningdale is the quintessential “heathland” course due to the colorful and penal heather lining each fairway. When combined with the Sunningdale New course, it’s ranked among the top 36 hole clubs in the world and perhaps the most elegant. Pair your round(s) at Sunningdale with a tour of Windsor Castle, a day at the famous Royal Ascot, and/or a visit to England’s capital city, London.
8. Royal St. George’s
The most iconic links course in the south of England, Royal St Georges was the first venue to host the Open Championship outside of Scotland in 1894. Lying on the edge of the English Channel, this very traditional English club provides a challenging round at the mercy of the elements. Located in the idyllic County of Kent, the region is known as the ‘garden of England’.
9. Ballybunion (Old)
Located in Ireland’s beautiful southwest, in County Kerry, Ballybunion is the top ranked course in this hugely popular golfing region. Set amongst the dunes on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, Ballybunion provides a true links experience and will test everybody. Forming a key part of a Southwest Ireland tour, where you can experience multiple famous courses, traditional Irish culture and a guaranteed warm welcome.
10. North Berwick (West) East Lothian, Scotland
The second East Lothian course to make the top 10, North Berwick is packed with unique features and famous holes that provide a memorable golfing experience. Few courses in the world are as much fun as these West Links. Sprawling out into the Firth of Forth, this famous old course was founded in 1832, one of the oldest in the world (and did we say fun?).
11. Lahinch (Old), Southwest Ireland
12. Carnoustie (Championship) Scotland
13. St. Patrick’s Links, Rosapenna Golf Resort, Northwest Ireland
14. Royal Birkdale, Southport, England
15. Swinley Forest, Berkshire, England
16. Woodhall Spa (Hotchkin), Lincolnshire, England
17. Portmarnock (Old), Dublin, Ireland
18. Royal Lytham and St. Annes, Blackpool, England
19. Prestwick, Ayrshire, Scotland
20. Cruden Bay (Championship), Aberdeenshire, Scotland