I was recently researching West Lancs and Burnham and Berrow and realized that increasingly over the last few years, I have been drawn to the lesser know courses in the UK rather than the top dogs. As several readers know, my mania about the fun, quirky and the under-the-radar courses is such that I want to be a member of North Berwick despite not having set foot on the ground.
I have had some time on my hands recently and began thinking about UK golf trips. If I were to plan a UK golf trip and didn't play any of the Top 100 in the world courses during my time there (goodbye Old Course, Sunningdale, RCP, Royal Porthcawl and Royal County Down) and wanted to play nothing but under the radar, fun quirky courses, what would I play and how would I do it?
Come with me, won't you, as I sharpen my explorer's pencil for the "ultimate" underground UK golf trip (your results may vary)!
Day 1: Fly into Heathrow and on to Hindhead Golf Club!
Most visitors to the London area probably fly into Heathrow and if you do, there are so many good heathland courses just South of the airport in the county of Surrey. I want healthland to be my first round but for purposes of this trip, it also must be fun, quirky and under the radar. Enter Hindhead, only 44 minutes from Heathrow. Glaciers made the front 9 look like a rollercoaster and all that heather looks glorious! Hindhead is a favorite of Peter Alliss who narrates this short intro to the club with some rocking 80s synth music.
The Club dates back to 1904, I'm in love with the logo and the course looks like a rollicking start to my UK trip. The bunkers with the swaying grass will sure to ease my mind and body into my UK experience. Sign me up for my first round in the UK at this place!
Day 2: I now make my way to the coast to visit Hayling Golf Club!
Since the England is an island, you better believe I am going to playing seaside golf quickly and often. Hayling doesn't get a lot of publicity but I have been eyeing it for awhile because it looks like a really fun track and its amazing to me that the course was founded in 1883.
(Photo via the Hayling GC website)
The second hole (above) is named the Sea Hole looks particularly fantastic and I have a dream about getting a bacon roll at the Beach Cafe after putting out on the 13th hole. Who doesn't have dreams about golf and bacon rolls? Hayling will inspire those dreams I tells ya!
Day 3: Onto Perranporth!
(Photo via the Perranporth GC website)
This course just looks like it has a TON of character. Be sure to go to their website and look at the "god's eye view" of the course, the hills, the dales, the sea, I am now officially all about Cornwall and all about this course! Also check out this logo! Digging that fish!
Day 4: Fly out of the Cornwall Airport Newquay to Newcastle to play Bamburgh Castle!
Why am I in love with this course already? Is it because the 1st hole is an absolutely jaw dropper? Is it because the 1st hole is also named "The Dinkie"?
Playing in the shadow of Bamburgh Castle really brings an extra element to the proceedings. As an American I have an inbuilt love/hate relationship with monarchies but I loves me a good castle. The course might measure 5,621 yards but I think I will treasure every yard I get to walk if I am lucky enough to play here.
A 5 day ticket is only 150 Pounds! Do they offer an overseas membership? BCGC, where have ya been all 'me life?
Would you play a course for just one hole? 17 holes, great, sure but what if it all comes down to one incredible hole that you will describe to your grandchildren one day? I think Eyemouth (unreal name by the way) has such a hole, their sixth hole to be precise:
I mean just look at that thing. Do you hit over a cliff to another cliff and then over stone walls to a green? Outrageous! Speaking of outrageous, this routing of Eyemouth is fascinating and would love to see how this actually works in practice.
(Photo via the Eyemouth website)
Eyemouth would be my first Scottish course of the trip and what a weird wonderful doozy this would be!
Day 5: Wrapping it all up with Dunbar Golf Club!
Nope, not Muirfield, not Gullane, not my beloved North Berwick. The course I am hitting up in the East Lothian area on this trip is Dunbar! First, I love that someone reviewed Dunbar by saying the course provides "just about everything you could ask for".
I ask for a lot and even though this is a promotional video that I am taking with some salt, my mouth is watering for this course!
Everything I have read is that Dunbar is a lot of fun, very welcoming and has a great atmosphere, exactly what I am looking for! Plus their overseas membership fees are very intriguing, VERY intriguing!
Speaking of my mouth watering (from two paragraphs ago), after spending so much time golfing I would chow down at Creel, not only the number one restaurant in Dunbar but one of the top restaurants in all of Scotland. A delicious way to end the trip!
So there you have it, 6 courses in 5 days traveling ALL over the UK. Of course, I realize Northern Ireland was excluded on this trip but I am putting Castlerock up there as a must play place when I visit. I also realize that I have left off some classic underground UK courses including Shiskine, Castletown, Hunstanton, Nefyn & District, the list goes on and on. Just even more reason to get out there and gowf them all!
What are some of your favourite underground UK courses? What should I check out after my inevitable 30 straight days of golfing North Berwick? Let me know in the comments!