Planning a golf trip to England? Here’s how to knock out 5 top hundred courses in the world. Royal St George, Sunningdale Old, Sunningdale New, Swinley Forest, and Walton Heath.
My latest golf vacation with my husband was to the United Kingdom. We broke it down into eight days of golf, five of which were top 100 golf courses in the world.
The itinerary went as follows:
Day 1 arrival
Arrive at London heathrow airport. Go through customs and head to rental car lot. What a nightmare. We booked an automatic car with National months ago. They shuttle you to the lot. Then representatives with iPads check you in. You stand there for a good twenty to thirty minutes before you get walked over to select a car. And my husband is a high status member and that didn’t matter. If you don’t have a reservation, the small building was packed with people in line. So I recommend an advance reservation.
It felt like forever before we got our car. So keep that in mind. We then headed off in our car towards Dover. Supposed to be a two hour 8 minute drive but an accident cost us another 40 minutes. However traffic happens. I have to say we hate driving. The wrong side of the road thing is just nerve racking. As are the hundreds of roundabouts. But unfortunately two people makes hiring a driver cost ineffective.
We stayed two nights at the Bell Hotel. Right at the entrance of the medieval town of Sandwich Kent. The next two nights we spent at the high end Salutation Hotel. See my review for each! But both are within minutes of town. Each held its own charm.
We spent the rest of the first day grabbing a late lunch/dinner and walking around the small medieval town of Sandwich. We also decided to test out several pubs and local beers. Headed to bed early as we were exhausted from the jet lag.
Headed over to Dover Castle and the White Cliffs of Dover. Took around half hour each way. Warning, the number of miles to a destination take twice as long in England as compared to the time it would take in the USA. It will say 5 miles but take 20 minutes!
In the afternoon, my husband played a late practice round at Royal Cinque Ports. There is a great half way house with food and drinks and a restroom. There is also a bar restaurant at the main clubhouse that welcomes visitors. This course is ranked 13th in England.
Back to our hotel took maybe 15-20 minutes. Dinner at Luigi’s. Fantastic Italian food. Check out my review.
Princes Golf Club. About 15 minutes from Sandwich. Three par 9 courses here. The newly renovated Himalayas, Dunes and Shore. Dunes was the weakest in our opinion. Be forewarned, this course is extremely busy on the weekends. Note, the Princes Lodge is here. It’s a bit far from Sandwich and all the restaurants and pubs. There is a main clubhouse with restaurant and snack bar that is also a halfway house as all courses end here on 9. Princes is number 57 in England.
Royal St George. This is five minute drive from Sandwich. Closest of all the courses. Highest ranked course we played, number 22 in the world. Simply stunning. This was the most formal course. The clubhouse is jackets only in any dining area. There is a halfway house but no restroom. Interesting tidbit, we could have gotten a golf cart here. Most European golf courses are walking only or golf carts for the handicapped. Oddly Royal St George, Swinley Forest and Walton Heath will let you take a cart if they aren’t all used. But be prepared for a steep price of 30 pounds.
After Royal St. George, we headed over to Ascot. Here’s where I made the biggest planning error. We should have played Walton Heath on the drive to Ascot. Stayed another night in the cheaper town of Sandwich and then played Walton Heath on the way and continue to our hotel in Ascot. Walton Heath is basically in between the two cities. An hour each way.
Arrived in Ascot area. Stayed at the MacDonald Berystede. Check out my review for that hotel. Dinner at hotel.
Played Sunningdale Old. About 12 minutes from hotel. Stunning course, number 25 in the world. There is a halfway house with food and restroom. The clubhouse has a great bar and restaurant.
Returned to hotel and headed into the small town of Sunninghill. Ten minute walk from hotel. Dinner at another great Italian restaurant, Sorrentino’s and hit a couple pubs. Check out my review.
Sunningdale New. Another great course right next to Sunningdale Old. Number 43 in the world. Sunningdale Old and New Courses are side by side so the halfway house and restroom are between the courses.
Swinley Forest. Another great course. Number 62 in the world. The clubhouse is welcoming and you can enjoy lunch and dinner. Here they let me drive a cart which was nice. There is a halfway house with a restroom. The drive is about 10 minutes from the hotel.
Afterward, we headed over to Windsor Castle. About half hour from hotel. Spent three hours enjoying lunch and touring the castle.
Walton Heath. Here was my planning error. This was a one hour drive from the hotel. There are two courses on this property. Both crisscross the heathland and look similar. Walton Heath Old course is number 85 in the world. While we were there, they were preparing for the British Masters.
There is no halfway house and no restroom. We could have taken a cart but chose to walk. This course is described as the closest inland course with a links type feel. It lived up to that description.
Be forewarned the course is on a busy road with lots of traffic. It was a pain driving around here. It was also hard to cross the street. They have a lovely bar and restaurant that welcomes visitors. We had a great breakfast here.
All in all it was a great trip. Note that the top 100 ranked courses are expensive. Roughly 220-250 pounds per round. We were not required to book a caddy at any of the courses. My husband also played by himself every round. Even though courses were busy, they never paired him with anyone, which was unusual.
The earlier you plan the trip, the easier it is to get the good tee times. Plan the golf first and then worry about hotels. The higher the course is ranked, the harder it is to get on. Some courses like Royal County Down, open tee times a year in advance. Some of these courses only allow visitors on certain days. I was able to plan this trip about four months out. But tee times were random. We usually like to play between 10-12, so we don’t have to get up too early.
This trip could definitely be shortened and just play one area at a time instead of both. We probably would have added Walton Heath New course. My husband wishes he had two rounds at Royal St. George.
All in all it was a great trip. Next golf trip is December for world ranked Diamante Dunes Course!