Welcome to the final part of my analysis of the state of golf in England in 2018. This part will discuss matters at the top end of the market – the very best courses in England that form the headline acts in the countries golf market.
Quality, Diversity & History
There is little doubt that England possesses a quality, depth and diversity of courses to match almost anywhere in the world. Golf Digest recently ranked their Top 100 Courses in the World (outside the USA), a comprehensive and respected review. 12 of the courses are from England.
Amongst these 12 courses are 4 Open venues and perhaps the finest heathland courses anywhere in the world.
Tradition and history play an integral part in most of the best courses in England. Royal North Devon Golf Club, founded in 1864, is the oldest Club in the country. It is also one of the best courses and contains a wealth of antique items of golfing history in the clubhouse. Golfing tourists from across the globe are attracted to these shores by this perfect cocktail of quality, diversity and history.
Whilst tradition, history and Royal connections can be a huge draw for golfers, sometimes these attributes can also work against the game in a huge way. Chief among examples of this was the recent twice played out farce that was Muirfields vote to allow Ladies to join
This embarrassing drawn out pantomime was music to the ears of hacks from media outlets like The Guardian (see link story above) who wasted no time in jumping on the bandwagon to knock the game.
Having stated the above, I have to admit that, whilst I am totally against any traditions or policies that discriminate against any of the aspects covered in the 2010 Equality Act, I would not advocate losing all of the traditions of these Clubs. Below are some extracts from the website at Rye Golf Club, one of the finest and also most Private Members Clubs in the country:
So, forget having anything to eat if you have forgotten your jacket and tie, ensure your legs are fully covered by long socks even if you are wearing shorts and you will be locked out of the clubhouse if you finish after 7pm even though the green fees are £140 per person. And leave your mobile phones at home!
But do you know what, so what! Rye is a fantastic golf course, the staff are professional and courteous and the lunch matches anything I have ever experienced. If the members wish to maintain some quaint and archaic rules without hurting anyone – to me that adds to the uniqueness of golf in England.
It has to be said that the best courses in England are generally amongst the most accessible of any of the top courses across the world. If you are willing to pay the green fee and book well in advance, generally you are able to get a game on courses and follow in the footsteps of some of the greats of the game.
Having said that, golf tourism in England for many years sat in the shadows of offerings from Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and other countries in continental Europe who in recent years have seen Golf as a means to attract tourists with plenty of disposable income.
Founded less than 5 years ago, Golf Tourism England helps to fill a vital function to promote England as a major golfing destination, to generate and promote marketing activities for its members whilst lobbying Government for additional funds to promote the game.
GTE concentrates on the best courses in the country through the promotion of regionalised Tours – for example Royal Cromer forms part of the Norfolk’s Golf Coast with Sheringham, Hunstanton and Kings Lynn.
These groups are a great example of Clubs working together for mutual benefit – benefits that trickle down to all Clubs in the region.
So in summary, give or take the odd own goal provided by old-fashioned and out of date customs, the top courses in England form a fantastic advert for the golf industry in this country. Regularly hosting the biggest golf tournament in the world, clustered together to create easy golf tours and with history, quality and diversity, the future continues to be bright for the best of the best in England.