England Golf Breaks: Top Ranked Courses on the Mackenzie Trail

This MacKenzie Trail takes you through the six most authentic Dr. MacKenzie courses that are ranked in the England Top 100. There are several others of the Doctors courses in the top 100 but they no longer met our validity test. This is normally because since 1933 when he died these courses have engaged golf architects to modernize their course or repair it after World War 2.

Two courses are seaside links golf courses, three are heathland or moorland, and one is parkland. We have selected hotels at York, North London and Lewes. York is probably the most interesting city in the North of England. In North London, we picked a hotel near the golf course but you could equally stay in the West End of Central London if preferred. On the South coast, Lewes is between 2 nearby, pleasant seaside towns, Brighton and Eastbourne. 

Your England Golf Break Itinerary 

Day 1 Arrive at London drive to the York Marriott Hotel for three nights.
Day 2 Play Alwoodley, one of England’s premier inland courses. It is a heathland and moorland gem with fine springy turf and much heather and gorse.
Day 3 Play Seaton Carew Old, a seaside links golf course which is the 10th oldest in England

. The Old course virtually retains the original Alister Mackenzie layout which will maintain any serious golfer’s attention and concentration.

Day 4 Play Moortown, a moorland course with a famous and stunning 156-yard par three known as ‘Gibraltar’ as its signature hole. Drive to the West Park Lodge Hotel at Hadley Wood, North London for two nights.
Day 5 Play Hadley Wood, a gem of a parkland course that keeps closely to MacKenzie design principles and has an elegant Georgian Clubhouse.
Day 6 Play Littlestone Championship course a challenging links course on the South Coast. Drive to the Pelham House Hotel at Lewes for 2 nights.
Day 7 Play Crowborough Beacon, an enchanting heathland course in a dramatic setting with incredible views. One of the most scenic courses in the country, it has changed little over the years, and is a fine golf course in a wonderful location.
Day 8 Depart from London Airport

Alwoodley Golf Club

Alwoodley is recognised as one of the finest inland courses in England and is the pick of a cluster of courses stretching across the moors north of Leeds. Dr. MacKenzie’s design is one of rare subtlety and sophistication. Alwoodley is a natural heathland/moorland course with fine crisp springy fairways. There is a profusion of heather, whins and shrubs.

The bunkering is superb requiring strategic choices. The greens are large and many are undulating. It is an out and back course with the inward nine normally tougher as most holes are played into the prevailing wind from the Yorkshire Moors. It is 6900 yards, par 72 from championship tees.

Seaton Carew Old Course 

A true links course Seaton is the 10th oldest course England and provides a memorable challenge in the dunes north of the mouth of the River Tees. Its unfashionable location on the North East coast with an industrial skyline and backdrop gets some negative comments.

However, the Old course virtually retains the original Alister Mackenzie layout which will maintain any serious golfer’s attention and concentration. It is an out and back layout and relatively flat which means it is always at the mercy of the wind. The fairways undulate gently and there are a few dunes. (6603, par 71 from back tees)

Moortown Golf Club 

Moortown off the back tees is now up to 7000 yards (par 71 SSS 75) and it possesses some very testing, long par fours. It is a classic moorland course with lovely bouncy turf. The fairways are wide many are flanked with heather, but despite the length, accuracy is the more important strategy.

The 10th hole is known as Gibraltar and is the signature hole of the course (156 yards par 3). The name comes from it being built over a large rock. The thought-provoking holes, in keeping with MacKenzie principles offer a great deal of variety in look feel and shot-making.

Hadley Wood Golf Club

Hadley Wood is a Dr. Alister MacKenzie design which is engaging as well as challenging. It represents the golden age of course architecture and is the jewel in the crown of North London parkland courses. It could be a blueprint for the “Course Doctor’s” 13 principles including raised plateau greens, some of them sporting two tiers and guarded by strategically placed bunkers. There are two distinct loops of nine holes and each hole is entirely unique and requires a different technique to be used, needing a full selection of clubs.

The course plays 6,517 yards from the back tees, in the classic four par-fives and four par-threes configurations and lives up fully to its par 72. It is challenging, enjoyable and thought-provoking with some long drives down the fairways and other holes which require accurate and precise putting.

Littlestone Championship Links Golf Course

The club was founded in 1888 and has hosted many major championships in a long and distinguished history. It is unusual in that as a visitor, you are classed as a “Member for the day” and can play from any tee you wish. It is particularly known for its magnificent greens as they are some of the best examples of firm, true and well-paced putting greens in the UK.

The course plays across fairly flat links land with a range of sand dunes. Everything is in view from the tees including a significant number of bunkers. There are numerous good holes and In keeping with MacKenzie principles, the finishing holes are very tough. It is 6676 yards from the back tees, par 71. 

Crowborough Beacon Golf Club

The golf course has a captivating charm being delightful undulating heathland. It is some 800 feet above sea level with panoramic views over the South Downs. The fairways are springy heathland / moorland turf. It is an area of outstanding natural beauty and the golf club as owners of Crowborough common are responsible for maintaining it as natural heathland habitat.

From the tees, only bunkers punctuate the natural landscape and finding the right place on the fairway is often easier said than done. Accuracy is normally more important than length and hitting the small greens can be a challenge. The signature hole is a 190 yard par 3 called ‘The Speaker’. Your tee shot is across a gully avoiding a large pit to the left of the green. It is 6319 yards from the back tees and par 71.

Learn more about our England Golf Tours here. See our South West England Golf Tour, where you take a brief foray into Wales. With 5-star golf breaks in Scotland and Ireland too, explore your options. 

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