When late November comes around with darker nights, colder breezes, and more items in your local pro shop that use the word “insulated” or “thermal” then you know it’s officially winter, and when that happens does the golfing world come to a standstill?
Well, no actually.
Years ago many golf clubs wouldn’t have been able to stay open over the winter months because of the conditions that would ravage the fairways and greens due to the adverse weather and then having golfers come to play on it. This would mean that in the weeks leading to Spring the groundsman’s work would be less about improving the course and more about trying to bring it back to life.
New drainage technology has become so advanced that the idea of having a golf course that can be played 365 days of the year is quite a regular occurrence now. And both Heathland and Link golf courses are excellent at draining so they are always available to play throughout the year.
However, while that may be the case, it is still winter and nobody wants to be out in the cold standing in freezing winds that are hurting your face and hands for just any course. To be able to get you out in the miserable winter weather it should be for some great golf course.
So here are five golf courses that are able to withstand the damages of winter weather, are incredible to play as they offer a test for every level of golfer, and are located in parts of the country that are just gorgeous and worth the trip.
Conwy Golf Club
Conwy Golf Club is one of the oldest and best golf courses in Wales with over 130 years of history that has always been considered one of the courses that would be worth braving the bitterly cold winter weather to go play on.
Located on Caernarvonshire coast the links course likes at the mouth of the River Conway and being overlooked by the Conwy Mountain the course offers breathtaking views that can be experienced around the entire course.
Sat on the coastline, with several holes running around the estuary that enters the river Conwy and the back 9 being played out under the Conwy mountains, golfers won’t have to look far to find a new awe-inspiring view when teeing off.
However, while this golf course looks like an oil painting that has come to life, it must be treated with respect as this golf course is not for the weak-willed and easily shaken, especially during the winter.
Being the only Open Championship qualifying golf course in Wales, the course is already hard enough to play on but can get so much more challenging when having to face strong coastal winds that batter the north of Wales, and the closing three holes known to be highly challenging and can easily ruin many good scorecards.
While the risk of being battered by icy cold rain or feeling your face become numb while playing head on into a gale, this golf course is worth the pain to play on.
Thorpeness Golf Club
“Playable 365 days of the year” is the line that you will be met with whenever looking up Thorpeness golf club, and it isn’t just their availability that keeps bringing people back to this historic course.
Like some of the very best golf courses in the UK, Thorpeness owes its incredible design to one of the greatest golf course designers in history, James Braid. By using the natural lie of the land to dictate where the fairways would run and the greens would sit, Thorpeness is still considered one of the finest coastal heathland golf courses in Britain with a course that has barely changed in the 100 years that the golf course has existed.
But this design of working with nature has not just been praised for years because of how great it is to play on, it has also generated great success in recent years too that has very little to do with golf.
In 2012 Thorpeness was voted as the winning golf course of “The Overall Achievement Award” in the STRI Golf Environment Awards, naming it the “greenest golf club in Britain”, with Ryder Cup winner Justin Rose there to recognise the achievement of the course.
Players can experience the native plant life, while also seeing deers and foxes often enjoying the course with you. Creating a fantastic golfing experience that you won’t forget.
Ilfracombe Golf Club
A golf course that is located on the top of rugged north Devon cliffs that seem to go on for miles, countryside views that roll with hills and valleys, and when lining up your shot from every tee being able to gaze as far as the eye can see on the Atlantic horizon. That is what Ilfracombe Golf Club offers.
Luckily the course enjoys having its very own micro-climate and so while it may be the height of winter, Ilfracombe can sometimes enjoy quite comfortably playing temperature which is always an odd experience, but a pleasant one.
With the course being impeccably maintained, Ilfracombe Golf Club can welcome golfers all year round who wish to test themselves on a truly unique course. The course may not be the longest course that you can play on and may not seem overly challenging, when the southwesterly winds come into play it creates test for golfers of ever level that offers golfers a very enjoyable round of golf.
And when you have finished, a warm and friendly clubhouse is waiting for you so that you can enjoy some great food and drink while taking in just how incredible the coastal scenery is.
Royal Ashdown Forest Golf Club
Founded in 1888 this golf course hasn’t changed in all those because of the way that the course has been designed, which has been applauded for years, leading to several mentions in Golf Worlds Top 100 lists. This is a golf course that is surely on every serious golfer’s bucket list in the UK.
This course is similar to a link course in the fact that it was designed by nature with every hole contouring to the positioning of the environment. But what has always caught the eyes of many golfers that have played this cause is the distinct lack of bunkers. There are zero on this course.
While you may be thinking that this will just make your round easier, think again. There are still plenty of water traps that can catch you out in the winter months, along with heather, trees, hollows, streams, and narrow fairways that will test even the most seasoned golfer despite the absence of sand.
However, Royal Ashdown Forest is one of a very few golf courses that is able to boast having two 18-hole courses, both being over 100 years old. The main course or “Old course” is the one that everyone talks about, but the second course at the club known as the “West course” provides equally as much interest and allure.
The design of the West course is not too dissimilar to the Old course, with both snaking their way through over 20 square miles of the Sussex countryside to create some beautiful views.
But while the Old course is known for its thick banks of heather, gorse and rough areas to challenge golfers on every shot, the West course is a tighter challenge. With its narrow tree-lined fairways and smaller, often raised greens, the West course creates a completely different type of challenge for players to experience.
As the much shorter course that sits at 5,600 yards, the West is a short but sweet course to play on.
Seascale Golf Club
Seascale Golf Club is one of those golf courses that every serious fan of golf in the UK will know and will pine over thanks to its historic reputation of being a link course on the west coast of Cumbria that “Oozes quality, class and character”.
Cumbria boasts some great golf courses, with Silloth being one of the courses that have received acclaim from a number of golf magazines and websites. But Seascale is one of the unsung courses that is known for being the golfer’s golf course with its rugged design and authentic British surrounding landscape that doesn’t try to shout about how great it is.
The traditional seaside link is kept to the high of standards year-round, so in the dead of winter, you can still expect a great round of golf on this course.
Right on the banks of the coast, with the ability to see the Isle of Man and Scotland from the course, golfers are treated to challenging conditions as they battle the winds in opposite directions to test even the most seasoned golfer with tricky and risky shots.
With icy cold winds hitting you in the face, funky and rigid land, the clever greens that can trick even the most sharp-eyed golfer, the punishing bunkers these conditions may scare many players off, but there are many who are willing to travel across the country for a chance to play on this course.