The South West's golfing hotspot
The most western of the southern counties blessed with the famous sand belt which allows for some of the very best heathland courses in the country.
Before getting into the golf, it’s worth noting that Dorset is one of the the most varied and picturesque counties in all of the UK. The region is blessed with numerous areas of outstanding natural beauty, offering visitors stunning views of the lush green countryside and the historic Jurassic Coast. This varied terrain has provided a perfect set up for a whole range of courses including colourful heathlands, pristine parklands and cliff top settings with unbeatable views.
Dorset is widely regarded as one of the UK’s premier golfing holiday destinations and particular Bournemouth is seen as one of the UK’s golfing hotspots. In part due to its great nightlife, large selection of courses in close proximity and of course long sandy beach!
Perhaps the only issue is that there may appear be too much choice when planning your next golf break to the region.
It’s our job as the South West Golf Travel Specialists to inform and inspire about all the best that the South West has to offer, and that is exactly what we hope to achieve here.
No matter what your budget, standard or requirements, we’re sure Dorset will have an option to tick all the boxes for you and your golfing group. Give the article a read and then why drop us a line to discuss your next golf break!
With the embarrassment of golfing riches in this region, this list has been tough to compile. There are certainly more than 10 courses within the county that can make a case for an appearance on this list.
So here we go. From 10 to 1. The very best courses in Dorset…
10. The Dorset Golf & Country Club (Parkland/Lakeland)
The Parkland/Lakeland loops at the award-winning Dorset Golf & Country Club make up the 18 championship holes. Both starting and finishing at the clubhouse, the course offers a variety of holes from well protected, long ranging doglegs such as the Lakeland 5th, to risk reward holes like the Parkland 1st or Lakeland 3rd.
With a number of tee positions, the course is very much playable for all standards, however from the back tees, the course plays to over 7,000 yards and has played host to a number of prestigious events notably; The South West PGA Championship, The Mastercard Tour Event, County Championships, West of England Seniors and County Matches.
Famous course designer Martin Hawtree who works closely with the R&A on Open Courses designed the course in the early 90's. His signature undulating greens and clover shaped bunkers feature across the course and in the spring/early summer, the course is lit up by colourful rhododendrons.
For those wanting to stay on-site at the beautiful Scandinavian lodges or hotel, The Dorset offer stay and play packages which include dinner and breakfast, plus golf across all 27 holes at the resort.
9. Dudsbury Golf Club
As a venue Dudsbury offers the whole package. One of the best parkland courses in the region, a well-appointed hotel and excellent leisure facilities. It is one of only a few stay and play golf facilities in the region and well worth your consideration as a base for your Bournemouth golf tour or as a stand alone stay and play visit.
The course itself offers something different from the many heathland golf courses on this list. Whilst the course can get wet during the winter months, it blossoms in the summer months into one of the finest parkland courses in the South West.
This Donald Steel design is certainly no pushover, running out from the tips not far from the 7,000 yard mark. Set in the north of Bournemouth, the course meanders around the 160 acre estate bringing water into play on a large number of the tree-lined holes.
It's reputation is one which may often be overshadowed by it's neighbouring courses such as Ferndown, however Dudsbury in its own right has hosted some prestigious events down the years including the famous "South West Week" and professional EuroPro Tour contests.
Both midweek and weekend availability is possible here, despite the club's active membership. This is a brilliant addition to any Bournemouth golf tour and one which may be the missing piece to tie together an unforgettable tour in the local area.
8. Bridport & West Dorset Golf Club
Set on the Jurassic Coast cliffs above West Bay, Bridport Golf Club is a favourite.
Featuring in many a golf tour, often alongside nearby Lyme Regis, Bridport Golf Club offers 18 holes in a dramatic setting with exceptional views.
Whilst officially a cliff-top parkland course, Bridport does at times have the strong feeling of a links, in part due to how close you get to the beach.
Set in an area of natural beauty, you certainly will not be disappointed after a day spent at Bridport. Particularly after navigating the feature 6th hole which is a 129 par 3 with no less than a 90 yard drop!
Established initially in 1891, but moving to its current location in 1911, the course has seen a number of renovations over the years. After the most recent major works in 1989, the course now runs to 6,200 yards, but what it may lack in out and out length, it more than makes up for in intricate course design around natural contouring and unforgettable views.
If you’re heading to the south coast for a golf tour, it almost seems rude not to find yourself a round by the sea… and if that’s your plan, you could do a lot worse than Bridport & West Dorset.
7. Sherborne Golf Club
Sherborne Golf Club is located on the Dorset-Somerset border just a few miles to the East of Yeovil. Its location means this is a popular choice for visitors looking for a tour in the Yeovil area or as a stop off en-route to the great courses situated around Bournemouth.
Sherborne is a picturesque parkland course set in the peaceful countryside, was initially established in 1894 and has been frequent renovations over the last century. The current layout sets up as a par 72 which extends to just over 6,400 yards from the back tees and great views of the surrounding Vale of Sparkford and Blackmore Vale. Interestingly the course has only 3 par 3's, although all are of a high quality, particularly the 192 yard 9th "The Badger" which requires a long iron or fairway wood to carry the valley. The tee shot from an elevated position at the 14th also will stick in the mind. A short 300 yard risk-reward par 4 which doglegs left from the tee position with a cambered fairway.
The course is characterised by its traditional parkland features including smaller greens, at times heavily tree-lined holes and strategic bunkers. Whilst there are times when a longer carry is necessary, the designers have done a good job to offer alternative routes for shorter hitters to manage their way around the course without feeling the need to try and overdo it. In the summer months, the condition of the course is second to none and deservedly ranks as the highest-rated parkland course in the county.
6. Knighton Heath Golf Club
In a recent visit to Knighton Heath, the pro described the course as "the best of the rest", in reference to its position close to the Dorset "big 4". It's hard to argue with this statement. Kighton is a true heathland course with pine lined fairways, set on high ground and benefiting from natural drainage. Whilst it is perhaps overshadowed by its famous neighbours, the course offers an interesting and enjoyable test and is always presented in excellent condition. You could quite easily categorise as a "hidden gem".
Not blessed with a large expanse of land, there is only 90 acres on the estate, however it does not feel compacted when you're on the course and the designers have done an excellent job with the space they have. A number of holes feature a dogleg layout and changes in elevation which make for a truly interesting round. This is perhaps characterised best by the 5th hole which sweeps right from the tee into an elevated green with pine both sides. At only 300 yards, this hole should be a scoring hole... It however tends to be the early undoing of many scorecards.
The Club is situated in the north of Bournemouth, just a 10 minute drive from the centre of the town and located a few miles from Dudsbury and Ferndown golf clubs. It does not command the same green fee price as the courses further up this list and therefore is a great value and quality addition to any Bournemouth golf tour.
5. Isle of Purbeck Golf Club
The course at Purbeck offers something a little different to the other courses in the local Bournemouth area and is a little closer in style to the courses of the Jurassic Coast, a little further to the West.
A heathland course that sits high up on a plateau at Studland and offers a 360-degree vista of the Solent, Poole Bay and Harbour, Bournemouth and the Purbeck Hills. Whilst the course is fantastic in its own right, it can be hard to keep your concentration on the golf with the views on offer.
Many mistakenly characterise this as a links course, but whilst this is certainly coastal, it is a heathland, set on a site of special scientific interest and is adorned with gorse, heather and fauna. This is an outstanding area of natural beauty and quite simply is golf as its meant to be played. You'll share the course with deer, and buzzards and for the avian enthusiasts, may even spot the rare Dartford Warbler.
Condition is usually excellent, but you'll forgive the odd blemish as the greens staff have to contend with working on a site of such significance. The exposed location means that wind often comes into play and the fairways and greens notoriously play lightning-quick through the summer months.
Perhaps one of the most memorable holes is the 5th. A par 4 which starts from a high tee box set on a 3000-year-old Saxon buial ground (there's a line we haven't said too often!), and cascades downhill, doglegging right into a narrow green. The hole itself has won awards as one of the best holes in England and the view from the tee is perhaps worth the great value green fee alone!
Purbeck is one of our most popular course choices in Bournemouth and whilst set outside the town, is accessible via the chain ferry, meaning the journey to the course from the town in itself is an experience. Weekend tee times are possible and is often the course of choice to ensure a tour of the finest courses in the region are possible over weekend dates.
4. Broadstone Golf Club
So we come to the top 4. Perhaps the toughest top 4 to pick from any of the south west counties and if we're honest there is hardly anything to choose between the next 4 courses. Ask 100 golfers familiar with this region and you'll very likely get 4 different course orders.
Broadstone is without doubt one of the finest heathland courses in the south of England. An unspoiled sand based course nestled within 250 acres of heath, gorse, pines and colourful rhododendrons, the course is always ranked highly within any South West list worth its salt.
The course runs 6,400 yards through one of the most picturesque layouts in the whole south west. The front nine winds its way through rich heathland, while the elevated back 9 offers golfers panoramic views of the Dorset countryside, from Purbeck Hills to Poole Harbour.
Broadstone simply must be included in any serious Bournemouth tour. Whilst the on-course experience is World class, off the course, the contemporary clubhouse bar complete with views of the first and last holes provides a great spot for a post-round drink or two.
Sometimes high ranking golf clubs have a reputation for a stilted, stuffy environment. Not Broadstone. You can expect a friendly welcome in all areas of the club to truly make for a memorable visit.
3. Remedy Oak Golf Club
Those who have visited Remedy Oak in the past will vouch for the fact that this exclusive course has to be considered as one of the finest parkland designs in the south of England.
Until relatively recently the club was for the use of its members and guests, however recent changes mean this Open Qualifying venue can be enjoyed by those lucky enough to secure a tee time.
As you walk through the pine-lined fairways and navigate well-positioned ponds complete with quaint bridges, it's perhaps the closest you'll feel to playing Augusta in the South of England. This parkland course stretches 7100 yards through the gated estate, set in the beautiful Dorset countryside and is maintained to the very highest standard. The members of this great venue demand nothing less.
The course was designed by former Ryder Cup captain John Jacobs and opened for play in 2005. In that time it has developed a reputation as one of the finest inland courses in Britain and is regularly ranked within the top 100 courses in the UK.
For a course of this age to have already built a reputation of this stature is quite remarkable and almost unheard of. Its quality means we now refer to the traditional Bournemouth "Big 3" as the "Big 4".
2. Parkstone Golf Club
One of our most requested golf courses in the whole of the South West.
A sand-based heathland set close to Poole Bay and Poole Harbour, affording fantastic views of both.
The course is lined with pine, heather and colourful rhododendrons creating a picturesque setting for a memorable round of golf.
Perhaps one of the attractions here is that the course plays to only 6,300 yards from the back tees. Length is not necessarily required here, instead shrewd course management and solid ball striking will produce a good score.
One of the original, famous Bournemouth “Big Three”, which has contributed to the region becoming one of the most popular golf tour destinations in the country. The beautiful Parkstone Golf Club is one of the countries premier heathland courses and is regularly ranked well inside the UK&I top 100.
The current layout of the course has been in place since modifications were made in 1937 by legendary course designer James Braid. A varied and challenging round of golf awaits, with five excellent short holes being accompanied by five varied par 5’s. All this in meticulously kept surroundings of the beautiful Dorset coast.
Whilst it is possible to gain a tee time at Parkstone, this is a members golf club with limited visitor tee times available each week. We advise having flexibility with your dates to have the best chance of including Parkstone on your tour. We are one of less than a handful of selected, official tour operators to work with Parkstone, so contact us for the best chance of gaining access to this wonderful course.
1. Ferndown Golf Club (Old)
So to our number one on this list.
In truth there is very little to choose between the top 4 on this list and if you are lucky enough to line up these 4 courses during a week, you really are looking at a bucket list tour.
The Old Course at Ferndown Golf Club is one of the most prestigious venues in the south of England. An England Championship golf venue, which has played host to some of the top events including regional qualifying for The Open Championship in 2023.
Known as one of Bournemouth’s “Big 3”. When you visit Ferndown, you follow in the steps of golfing legends such as Faldo, Jacklin, Langer & Norman. The club is a pine and heathland heaven set in beautiful Dorset countryside just a few miles from the seaside town of Bournemouth. The main event at Ferndown is the fantastic Old Course, an intricately designed 18-hole heathland course designed by open champion Harold Hilton and will challenge and delight players of all skill levels.
The course always looks stunning and is playable all year, enjoying pristine grooming from tee to green that earns it comparisons to the world-famous Augusta. Full of subtle hazards, well-positioned bunkers and beautiful heathland settings, the old course at Ferndown will stimulate your golfing senses while hitting the sweet spot of peace and tranquility.
If all of this wasn’t enough for visitors there is also the Alliss course, a challenging 9-hole course with a variety of tee positions and starting points and is a fantastic course enjoyed by members and visitors alike. If you want an introduction to the top quality golf on offer in Dorset then look no further than Ferndown Golf Club
Unfortunately we only had room on this list for 10 course, but Dorset is lucky enough to have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to golf. See below a few courses which really should also be considered as part of your next Dorset golf tour.
Popular golf packages
3 Nights, 4 Rounds
3 Nights, 3 Rounds
2 Nights, 3 Rounds
1 Nights, 2 Rounds
3 Nights, 3 Rounds
3 Nights, 4 Rounds
3 Nights, 3 Rounds
2 Nights, 3 Rounds
You’ve viewed 9 of 18 packages
Packages you might be interested in
2 Nights, 3 Rounds
2 Nights, 3 Rounds
Who are Golf South West?
Founded in 2015, we are the West Country golf travel specialists. We provide our clients with bespoke golf tours and stay & play golf packages for small groups and golf societies alike.
We are both a domestic golf tour operator working directly for our clients and regional golf DMC who act as an agent for international outbound operators hoping to have their clients experience the beautiful West Country and it’s golfing delights!
We work closely with our venues to ensure our customers receive the best value available for golf travel within the West Country.
Our expert team are on hand to ensure you receive the very best service, choice and advice when planning your next golf break. We are proud to announce our nomination for Best Inbound Golf Tour Operator for England at the 2022 World Golf Awards.
Which regions are covered by Golf South West?
We also work with selected, popular golf resorts across the UK including those under the management of Marriott, plus 4 time Ryder Cup host The Belfry, Celtic Manor and many more.
If you are planning a golf break, we are the only call you need to make.
What is the best way to get in touch?
Why choose Golf South West as your tour operator?
GSW is run by golfers and endorsed by golf professionals across the South West of the UK.
We are a fully insured, experienced and recommended golf tour operator, who are backed by Protected Trust Services, meaning your booking is secured and safe. We offer tours to an exclusive and unrivalled selection of venues across the South West of England and Wales, including some courses which can be tricky to access. We are also proud members of Golf Tourism England and IAGTO, who only work with only the best and most reputable companies in the industry.
You can rest assured that as a client of Golf South West you will not only receive the best service, advice and choice, but you will also find the best value golf breaks in available in Cornwall, Devon, Bristol, Dorset, Somerset, Hampshire and many more!
What is Protected Trust Services?
Protected Trust Services Limited (PTS) provides security for client and consumer funds through market-leading software and innovative management. PTS prides itself on customer service, flexible thinking and cost-effective solutions for its members.
PTS offers a unique and comprehensive solution for businesses to trade through a secure trust account using a performance-enhancing software system developed by PTS.
Protected Trust Services guarantee 100% financial protection to the consumer, ensuring total consumer confidence.
Any bookings made via Golf South West Ltd from the 1st July 2021 are protected under the PTS Trust. Bookings made before this date will continue to be processed through our original system. If you have booked with us before, please ensure you have the up-to-date bank details to make your payments. If you are unsure, please speak to your Golf South West representative.
View the PTS brochure for more information on the protection this affords you as a client of Golf South West.
How do GSW keep money safe?
We are extremely proud of the service we provide and a large part of this is ensuring our client’s money is safe. Our practices comply with the 2018 package travel directive meaning that your money is safe with both ourselves and the venues your choose to visit.
The money for your golf break is paid into a trust account run by an independent partner, so you have peace of mind that no matter what happens, your money is being looked after.
What happens if we can’t go on our planned trip?
Deposits are non-refundable, but they are transferable to a new date or break. We aim to be as flexible as possible and will treat each situation on a case by case basis.
Can we make changes to our break?
Managing a group can be a thankless task and changes to the group leading up to your break are an accepted element. We make changes as stress free as possible (just see our reviews for evidence of this!). Changes can be made up to 6 weeks prior to your break. Some changes are unavoidable so for legitimate reasons we will endeavour to make last minute changes after this period, but as we would have paid our venues at this point, this would be at the discretion of the venue(s) you are visiting.
Why book with a tour operator?
Good question, could you not do this all yourself? The answer is yes you could. You are able to locate the ideal hotel with the accessibility you need to the clubs you plan to play. You could go back and forth with your target venues and line up the tee times. You could also contact each venue individually to advise them of group number changes and requests during the build up to your trip.
Alternatively you could;
– Talk to us about the trip you are planning.
– Receive quotes for perfectly crafted package meeting your ideal requirements.
– Secure the booking with small deposits staged in a way to make your life easier as an organiser.
– Have your funds fully insured and independently held by PTS, our client trust provider.
– Have changes made to whole tours with just one call or email.
– Receive exclusive extras such as free places.
– Pay less with our packages than going direct to venues.
Why can we do this?
Quite simply we have spent years (since 2015) forging strong relationships with hotel, golf club and golf resort venues across the South West. We are the expert tour operator for the region and are know for our high quality and personal service to our clients (just see our Google and TrustPilot reviews).
Who uses Golf South West?
The majority of our clients are UK based domestic travellers. We deal with groups of any size, from single travellers and couples, to large golf societies.
We also are the favoured golf DMC for the South West of England and preferred regional partner of Golf Tourism England. We regularly work with tour operators from Europe, America and elsewhere to provide bespoke tour packages allowing overseas travellers to experience the beautiful West Country.
How are package prices displayed on our website?
Prices on our our website are displayed in two ways. The first is on our Resort pages where pricing tables show the from prices for low, mid and high season golf stay and play package rates at golf resort venues.
The second is on our example tour package pages. There are often 4 prices shown here, two for low season and two for high season. The struck through price typically shows the highest price the tour can be and is often active over weekends in that season. The offer price is typically a mid week price.
Every tour quote we offer is bespoke and will vary based on a number of factors including the date, availability, group size, room type, time of day for the tee time, etc… Our package pricing is a guide to the cost of the package and is not a firm price. Please enquire for an exact cost.
We aim to provide as accurate a price as possible and therefore try to avoid using shoulder/mid season pricing or twilight green fee rates when displaying rates. You may find an intermediate price for breaks in months of April & October at certain venues.
Why are golf resort prices the same as elsewhere?
Put simply, all tour operators work from the same contracted rate card when it comes to stay and play golf resort packages. When it comes to golf tours, that is a different matter, but golf resorts are a level playing field.
If you find a vastly different price, it’s likely you’ve been misquoted and usually this does come back to bite.
The question this poses is why book a stay and play golf break with Golf South West if you can book direct or with one of the large operators and receive the same price?
Benjamin Franklin once said “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after
the sweetness of low price is forgotten.”
We have a small team so booking through us means you receive a personal service. You are more than just a number to us, we are a tour operator where you will likely get to deal with the same contact throughout the process, who will get to know you and your group and respond efficiently to your queries.
We know our venues and the people who work there. This ensures a smooth process from initial enquiry to the end of your stay.
Financially you have an extra layer of protection as your money is securely stored in an independent trust account and is fully insured when it is released to the venue(s) you are visiting.
We are fortunate to have some exclusive “extras” with selected venues across the South West. We offer 1 in 16 free on every trip AND run an exclusive voucher scheme for our stay and play client bookings.
We often feel we add further value to our clients when it comes to our bespoke golf tour packages, but you can rest assured that when making a stay and play golf resort booking, Golf South West will offer you an extremely high level of service, financial protection and may even offer you a saving or an exclusive extra!