Golf Courses

5 Of The Best Island Greens In The UK And Ireland – How Would You Get On?

Rockliffe Hall - Hole 5

One of golf’s most exciting and scary prospects is an island green – a do or die shot where the reward for success is a weird mix of elation and relief while the pain of failure is a drop and a titanic struggle for par. Because they weren’t even a twinkling in the eye for the golden age golf course architects, the Golf Monthly Top 100 of the UK&I and the Next 100 have few if any such holes. Instead, we take a look at five less well-known but nonetheless thrilling examples.

Rockliffe Hall – Hole 5

The fifth at Rockliffe Hall calls for nerve and precision

(Image credit: Rockliffe Hall)

Running beside the banks of the River Tees, this strong test of golf is suited to both tournament play and to engaging golf of a more informal nature. There are plenty of memorable holes, with water making regular appearances while adding to the drama and visual appeal. The greens on the par-5 third and the super-tough fourth are protected by it, but at the short fifth you have no option but to fly the ball to the green which has the added protection of two attractive bunkers. With its 5-star accommodation, spa, superb cuisine, and other sporting activities, Rockliffe Hall is a complete resort.

  • GF: 18 holes £90 Mon-Thu, £110 Fri-Sun

Barton-On-Sea (Needles) – Hole 9

Barton-on-Sea - Hole 9 (Needles)

Best not to be short, long, left or right on the closing hole on the Needles nine

(Image credit: Geoff Ellis,

Barton-on-Sea is blessed with three quite varied loops of nine which reflect the design genius of both Harry Colt and J Hamilton Stutt. The Becton/Needles configuration is generally regarded as the primary routing, and this climaxes with a short but thrilling par 3 played from an elevated tee to an island green that is flanked by two bunkers. There are views out to sea almost all the way at Barton-on-Sea, and a very fine and interesting mixture of downland, parkland and clifftop holes with a smattering of links golf thrown into the mix.

  • GF: 18 holes £90wd, £100we

Fota Island – Hole 18

Fota Island - Hole 18

Looking back from the clubhouse to the closing green at Fota Island

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)

As at Barton-On-Sea, Fota Island in County Cork is also home to 27 holes. The beautiful par-71 Deerpark layout has hosted three Irish Opens, the first of which was won by Colin Montgomerie back in 2001. The greens at the short third and par-5 tenth are almost completely surrounded by water, as is that at the tree-lined closing hole where a narrow strip of fairway leads precariously out to the green on a lake in front…


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