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Royal Golf Courses to celebrate the Queens Platinum Jubilee

01 June 2022
7 min. read
Leading Courses
Her Majesty The Queen will celebrate the incredible achievement of becoming the first British Monarch to serve for 70 years. So, at Leading Courses, this got us thinking, how many Royal golf courses are there in the UK and Ireland?

Although the Queen herself wasn’t a golfer, her parents King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, were keen golfers and even managed to play on their honeymoon in 1923. The queen's son Prince Andrew is also a keen golfer and used to have membership at a number of prestigious golf clubs.

How many Royal golf courses are there in the UK and Ireland?

The short answer to our question "How many Royal golf courses are there in the UK and Ireland?" - there are 35 Royal Golf Courses in the UK and Ireland out of 69 in total in the world.

The next question that came up was, how does a golf club become a ‘Royal Golf Club’?  Sometimes because the royal family have enjoyed access to the club. Other times it's a case of discrete inquiry by the club itself. For most of these courses though, they have a long-standing and secure financial position. The golf club has existed for a significant period of time. 

Anyway, below is a list of the top 10 ‘Royal’ Courses, as reviewed by golfers on Leading Courses in the UK and Ireland.

The 10 best Royal Golf Courses

1. Royal Country Down

Royal County Down is located in one of the world’s most naturally beautiful links settings in the Murlough Nature Reserve. Against the magnificent backdrop of the Mountains of Mourne, the links stretches along the shores of Dundrum Bay, zigzagging back and forth to provide a different vista from virtually every hole.The narrowest ribbons of fairways thread their way through as impressive a set of sand dunes as could be imagined. The fairways are surrounded by purple heather and golden gorse, so beautiful to look at but so punishing for any who may stray from the prescribed path.

The ‘bearded’ bunkers are world famous and feature overhanging lips of marram, red fescue and heather. The greens are fast and many are domed, rejecting any shot lacking conviction. This is a true test of any player’s command of the traditional bump and run, the preferred way to play any links.

2. Royal Birkdale

Situated on the golden links of the North West coast in Southport, Royal Birkdale is possibly the finest of all courses in England. Royal Birkdale has held more Championship and International events (like The Open and The Ryder Cup) since WWII than any other golf course in the world.

Royal Birkdale Golf Club has been voted the number one golf club in England, one of the top five clubs in the UK and amongst the top 35 in the world. Visitors are assured of a warm welcome on and off the course delivering a golfing experience second to none.

3. Royal Porthcawl

Royal Porthcawls entitlement to an honored place among the worlds best golf courses is usually confirmed by playing the first three holes that run alongside, and in places seem part of, the scalloped edge of Rest Bay. The beach can appear all rock and pebbles until the surfers sea recedes to reveal 300 yards of firm sand across which the prevailing westerly whips.

Royal Porthcawl is by no means a course of fearsome length, it doesn't have a fancy lighthouse, high dunes or deep ditches. It doesn't even have a tree. But it is never out of sight of the sea or blocked from the majestic view of Swansea Bay or out of reach of a wind that is particularly troublesome on the first three and last four holes.

4. Royal Portrush

Royal Portrush Golf Club is home to one of the best and most challenging links golf courses in the world, the Dunluce Links, and the hidden gem, the Valley Links. The only club in Ireland to have hosted The Open Championship, Royal Portrush is a members club which welcomes visitors all year round to face the challenges of its courses and to brave the testing conditions.

5. Royal Dornoch

Dornoch golf club, formed in 1877, has now been a Royal club for over 100 years! Royal Dornoch always aims to exceed the expectations of frequent visitors and loyal members. However, this is done in a relaxed, informal environment, with an emphasis on traditional highland hospitality.  

The responsibility for actually designing the Championship course fell to the legendary Old Tom Morris, who used the unique links-land features to create a magical golfing experience. Over the years the Championship course has been tweaked and enhanced. Open Champion, George Duncan added new holes after the war ensuring that the course has remained a challenge in the face of ever improving equipment and continues to be regularly ranked within the top 15 best courses in the world.

6. Royal St George’s

The club has a distinguished golfing history and is proud to have hosted amateur and professional tournaments since the 1880's. The club is one of England's finest links courses, and has played host to The Open Championship fourteen times. The Club occupies a unique place in the history of golf, for it was here in 1894, that the Open Championship was first played outside Scotland.

Visitors are greeted with a warm, friendly welcome in the historic clubhouse. The undulating fairways and fast, true greens will prove a test to all amateur and professional golfers alike.

7. Royal Troon

Royal Troon lies at the southern end of that beautiful stretch of Ayrshire coastline where golf was played long before the Troon Golf Club was founded in 1878. The Club became Royal in its centenary year of 1978 and was the last of the royal clubs to be so honoured.

Several famous architects have been associated with the development of the course at it now stands. Willie Fernie, when he was club professional, James Braid and Alistair MacKenzie of Augusta fame among them. This is majestic links land with the back nine holes as demanding as any in championship golf.

8. Royal West Norfolk

Royal West Norfolk Golf Club (Brancaster) is an outstanding links course set on the North Norfolk coast. With the North Sea on one side and the saltmarsh on the other it has a wonderfully atmospheric setting.

Visitors are welcome, although numbers are strictly limited. This, together with the fact that only two-balls are allowed, keeps the speed of play up, with most rounds being completed in three hours.

9. Royal Lytham & St Annes

Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club was founded in 1886 and the present course was constructed in 1897. The Clubhouse celebrated its Centenary in 1998. It is one of the premier links courses in the world, host to ten Open Championships, two Ryder Cups and numerous other major tournaments including the Women's and Seniors Open Championships. Northern hospitality has always been famous and Royal Lytham leads the way. You will be made very welcome.

10. Royal Cinque Ports

Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club is a Members' Club with an 18 hole Championship Links golf course, regarded by many as one of the finest in the world. The Club also has excellent practice facilities, including a driving range, putting green, chipping green and pitching greens.

RCPGC is pleased to welcome visitors to the Club and has a flexible policy to suit the requirements of societies, corporate events, or small social groups. Three and four ball golf is permitted on Mondays and Thursdays. On all other days two ball golf is the only permitted format (singles or foursomes).

Share your opinion

How does this list of Royal courses compare with yours? How many can you tick off? If you've played any, please share your opinion with other like-minded golfers on Leading Courses! You can also add these Royal Courses to your bucket list, by pressing the 'heart icon' on the club page. Find all your bucket list courses in your profile.

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