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UK: Where to Play

Must Play: Celtic Manor Resort (Twenty Ten Course)

Must Play: Celtic Manor Resort (Twenty Ten Course)

Must Play: Celtic Manor Resort (Twenty Ten Course)

http://www.celtic-manor.com
Location: Newport, Wales, 30 minutes from Cardiff and about 2 hours from London
Cost: £80-£140 ($134-$234)

A spectacular match-play course in the Usk Valley with plenty of risk-and-reward dilemmas, the Twenty Ten and two other championship courses are part of the 1,400-acre hotel-and-golf-course complex built by businessman Sir Terry Matthews, who was born on the site when it was still a maternity hospital. Purpose-built for the 2010 Ryder Cup, the Twenty Ten has huge viewing banks over the closing holes.

Photo courtesy of Celtic Manor Resort

UK: Where to Play

Hidden Gem: Marlborough Golf Club

Hidden Gem: Marlborough Golf Club

Hidden Gem: Marlborough Golf Club

http://www.marlboroughgolfclub.co.uk
Location: Marlborough, Wiltshire, about 90 minutes from London
Cost: £30 ($50) weekdays; £40 ($67) weekends

Founded in 1888, this course has history and stunning scenery — views of the chalky Marlborough Downs. It also offers plenty of challenge, particularly at the more hilly original nine.

Photo courtesy of Marlborough Golf Club

UK: Where to Play

Must Play: Royal St. George's Golf Club

Must Play: Royal St. George's Golf Club

Must Play: Royal St. George's Golf Club

http://www.royalstgeorges.com
Location: Sandwich Bay, Kent, 30 minutes from Canterbury
Cost: £140 ($234)

Rich in history, Royal St. George's hosted its first Open Championship in 1894 and was originally designed to rival the Old Course at St. Andrew's in Scotland. Due to host the Open again in 2011, the Sandwich course has been called a "cathedral of golf" that rivals Carnoustie for challenges.

Photo courtesy of Royal St. George's Golf Club

UK: Where to Play

Hidden Gem: North Downs Golf Club

Hidden Gem: North Downs Golf Club

Hidden Gem: North Downs Golf Club

http://www.northdownsgolfclub.co.uk
Location: Caterham, Surrey, 50 minutes from central London
Cost: £20 ($33)

Founded in 1899 as a nine-hole and extended in the early 1970s, this course may not be long, but it's quite tight and rewards accurate play. Small greens run fast in the summer, and at some points, the course rises to 850 feet above sea level. North Downs is a regular host to regional PGA qualifying competitions.

Photo courtesy of North Downs Golf Club

UK: Where to Play

Must Play: Carnoustie Golf Links (Championship Course)

Must Play: Carnoustie Golf Links (Championship Course)

Must Play: Carnoustie Golf Links (Championship Course)

http://www.carnoustiegolflinks.co.uk
Location: Carnoustie, Angus, 25 minutes from Dundee
Cost: £130 ($217)

Rightly famous and famously rigorous, it's one of the world's must-play courses, "hard but fair," according to Tiger Woods. It has various tees people can play off, and its closing hole is a great leveler, making even seasoned pros weak at the knees.

Photo courtesy of Carnoustie Golf Links

UK: Where to Play

Hidden Gem: North Berwick Golf Club

Hidden Gem: North Berwick Golf Club

Hidden Gem: North Berwick Golf Club

http://www.northberwickgolfclub.com/
Location: North Berwick, East Lothian, 45 minutes from Edinburgh
Cost: £75 ($125) weekdays; £95 ($159) weekends

This highly welcoming historical gem is rising up in the world rankings and is likely to be a qualifying course for nearby Muirfield. But it gets its fair share of distinguished visitors: A previous North Berwick captain, Arthur James Balfour, went on to be U.K. prime minister from 1902 to 1905. The 13th, or "Pit," is memorable for the wall that predates the course, built to keep livestock off the beach.

Photo courtesy of North Berwick Golf Club

UK: Where to Play

Must Play: The Belfry (Brabazon course)

Must Play: The Belfry (Brabazon course)

Must Play: The Belfry (Brabazon course)

http://www.thebelfry.co.uk
Location: Wishaw, Sutton Coldfield, 20 minutes from Birmingham
Cost: £140 ($234)

The Brabazon is the U.K. headquarters for the PGA. It is the "spiritual home" of the Ryder Cup, according to Golf Monthly — it has hosted more matches than any other venue. Once a shabby hotel near Birmingham, it was transformed by former PGA director Colin Snape in the late 1970s into a world-renowned resort set in over 550 acres of stunning countryside. It was given a more recent upgrade, and the redesigned sixth has been praised by golfer Lee Westwood.

Photo courtesy of The Belfry

UK: Where to Play

Hidden Gem: Farthingstone

Hidden Gem: Farthingstone

Hidden Gem: Farthingstone

http://www.farthingstone.co.uk
Location: Farthingstone, Northamptonshire, 25 minutes from Northampton
Cost: £20-£35 ($33-$58)

Opened in 1973, this championship-level course is unusual in terms of layout and setting. It offers some picturesque and challenging golf, tucked at the head of a valley between two woods. The signature hole is the par-four third, or "Two Tite," which requires two long and accurate blows to a very small green, according to Cameron Ritchie of Golfbreaks.com.

Photo courtesy of Farthingstone

UK: Where to Play

Must Play: Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Must Play: Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Must Play: Royal Birkdale Golf Club

http://www.royalbirkdale.com
Location: Southport, 40 minutes from Liverpool
Cost: £165 ($276) weekdays; £195 ($326) weekends

Founded in 1889, this is the most famous and, some would say, finest course in England's golfing capital, Southport. Cut deep into the sand dunes, it may not be blessed with the views of Turnberry, but it has what one fan calls an "amphitheater" feel and is surrounded by natural beauty. As for the golf, it's a fair course, beautifully designed and not a little feared.

Photo courtesy of Alan C. Birch

UK: Where to Play

Hidden Gem: Leasowe Golf Club

Hidden Gem: Leasowe Golf Club

Hidden Gem: Leasowe Golf Club

http://www.leasowegolfclub.co.uk
Location: Moreton, Wirral, 20 minutes from Liverpool
Cost: £32.50 ($54) Monday through Thursday; £37.50 pounds Friday through Sunday

Overlooking Liverpool Bay, historic Leasowe may not be as grand as nearby neighbors such as Open qualifier Wallasey, but it offers great value in one of the priciest golfing areas in England; plenty of opportunities to test your skills and sandy, well-drained fairways in top condition.

Photo courtesy of Lydia Helene Irving

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