There are courses that play well in the winter months and then there’s Rye, a course that might actually play better in the winter than it does in summer. The greens are true, the turf is firm and the golf is fast – as a two-ball only course, it’s a classic links golf experience that will see you back in the warmth of the clubhouse in under three hours. Jacket and tie are required but the lunch and the wine list are well worth getting dressed up for.
Royal Newmarket & Worlington
As you drive through the waterlogged fields that surround this nine-hole gem on the Suffolk / Cambridgeshire border, it’s hard to imagine that there’s a world-class golf course here, let alone one one that’s playable all-year round. The course is brilliantly routed across a parcel of sandy turf that’s a joy to play on when nearby clubs are on temporary greens. Don’t confuse the club’s low profile with snobbery – visitors are made to feel very welcome.
Ganton has hosted the Ryder Cup, the Walker Cup and the Curtis Cup, not to mention the Amateur Championship, so it’s not exactly a little-known gem. But its location – on the road from York to Scarborough, but not particularly close to either – means that even the most well-travelled golfers have often passed Ganton by. Winter is a great time to put that right, with great value green fees – where else can you play a course shaped by Harry Colt and Alister MacKenzie for just £60?
If Delamere Forest Golf Club was in Surrey, there’s no doubt that it would feature much higher on the must-play lists of visiting golfers. The Herbert Fowler-designed heathland course is every bit the equal of its more famous southern cousins, and the club offers a warm welcome to visiting golfers at any time of year — and it presents a quality a playing surface when others resemble quagmires.
For many years, Gullane Golf Club flew under the radar, overshadowed by its more illustrious neighbours Muirfield and North Berwick. Hosting major events, including the men’s and ladies Scottish Opens, has put Gullane firmly on the tourist trail, but in the winter months the minibuses full of visiting Americans melt away and the locals get to enjoy three pure links courses with stunning views and perfect greens. The #1 course is a serious championship test, but the #2 and #3 courses share the same terrain and offer fun and great value for golfers of every ability.