The Social Golfer – How To Play Golf in London and The UK

Playing golf in the UK as a visitor or on vacation?

Play some of London and the UK’s best courses!

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Thorndon Hall Golf Club, just 20 miles from Central London

So, you have booked your vacation or business trip to the UK, and you would dearly love to play golf while you are there. 

Is it possible to find local golfers to play with what is the best way to secure your Tee Times? And which are the best course review websites, to get feedback on the best courses to play?

Here we look at some of the things you will need to know and some of the best website to enhance your experience of playing golf in the UK…

Is Playing Golf in the UK different to the USA?

In principle, and with the additional of the new WHS (World Handicap System) , introduced in November 2020 in the UK, there is no difference. Same game, same rules.

However, there are some ‘quirks’ that you should be aware of before travelling:

  • Whether an organiser or an attendee, it is good manners to always arrive early and introduce yourself to the organiser as soon as you can, at least 15 mins before you tee-off
  • Traditionally, golfers in the UK walk the course. Most clubs offer buggies, but their use can be subject to the Greenkeeper ruling and current weather conditions
  • Not all courses have a Driving Range, but it is possible to find a local Top Golf or Trackman fitted Golf Studio in most cities
  • Not all golf courses finish at the Clubhouse, so be prepared to walk a little to get back in (especially when only playing nine holes)
  • Whilst many courses have well stocked PRO Shops, not all courses have a halfway hut, so stock up on drinks and refreshments before heading out
  • Very few UK Courses have good rest-room facilities on the course (especially problematic for women), so take any precautions you can before heading out 
  • Many clubs are now relaxing their rules on attire, check with each club you play at, the local rules. In some of the higher-end golf clubs, you may still be required to wear a jacket in the Clubhouse
  • General attire: Certainly, NO UK Golf Club will allow you to play in jeans and a collar MUST be worn on the course.
  • Be prepared for ‘Weather’, the UK’s climate allows for golf all year round but be prepared, as the locals will be ready for wind, rain, hail, snow, and blistering sunshine all on the same day!
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West Hill Golf Club in Surrey, just twenty miles from Central London

Playing Golf in the UK – Booking Tee Times…

When it comes to securing tee times, there are a no. of booking options available to you:

  1. Golf Now – is the world’s longest established and largest tee time service
  2. Tee Times UK – Tee Times UK allows you to book tee times at over 700 courses
  3. –This a great resource for UK and European Tee time Bookings
  4. – A discount voucher site with over 600 golf club affiliations
  5. Direct Booking – Book directly via a no. of Golf club websites (not all clubs offer this)

By doing your research before leaving the US, you can get to play some of the hidden gems, that most golf tourists have no idea exist! 

For example, while US golfers have heard of Celtic Manor (venue of The Ryder Cup in 2010), Gleneagles (2014) and The Belfry (1985,1989, 1993 and 2002), most US based golfers would not know where to start when wanting to play some of the lesser-known golf venues.

For instance, are you aware that the ‘official’ home of the Ryder Cup, is the lesser known Verulam Golf Club, in the Roman city of St Albans, just 25 miles from the centre of London). It was here Mr Samuel Ryder was a Golf Professional, and the original agreement signed by the first GB & US Captains, still hangs in the Clubhouse.

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Verulam Golf Club, St Albans – Home of Samuel Ryder

Playing Golf in the UK – Finding Golfers…

Overall, UK golf clubs have a long tradition at welcoming visitors to their courses and this has increased ten-fold over the last decade or more, with the ability to book tee times online and read courses reviews. 

One way to hook up with ‘local’ golfers is via Facebook Groups, or via other types of social media, but there are a couple of websites in the UK that specifically cater to the nomadic golfer. 

However, if you want to meet and arrange a game with a ‘local’ during your stay, then try The Social Golfer website. This is an online community, which allows you to join local golf events and competitions, of which they played host to over 1500 events in 2021. (See map). 

Every game is posted by an independent golfer, many of whom are also members of golf clubs, thus giving golfers the opportunity to play at courses (at Members guest rates) which you normally not have access to. 

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Map of The Social Golfer London Events

Another site, for those that have a competitive streak is Golf Empire. This site has a comprehensive list of Open golf events around the UK. The site allows you to source details on over 10,000 amateur open golf competitions at more than 1,500 golf clubs. 

However, please note, some will require a valid WHS (World Handicap System) playing handicap certificate for entry. Many of these tournaments can be entered online before you leave home.

Playing Golf in the UK – And Finally…

So, if you are travelling to the London or playing golf in the UK anytime soon, and you do not know anyone that plays golf, now you have the answers!