Lighthouse Golf Courses

Cromer Lighthouse

A Guide to Lighthouse Golf Courses – Where to Play and Where to Stay

It’s not uncommon for lighthouses to be located near golf courses due to the scenic views and proximity to the sea. A lighthouse and a golf course create a unique setting which appeals to both lighthouse enthusiasts and golfers alike.

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If you’re a lighthouse enthusiast and a golf fan, exploring these locations can be a great way to enjoy two passions simultaneously!

Lighthouses are iconic landmarks and hold historical and cultural significance within their communities. Some golf courses incorporate their local lighthouse into a logo, connecting the golf course to the history and natural beauty of the area.

I’m not a golfer, and don’t pretend to be an expert in the sport. But I can see the attraction, which led me to wonder why so many lighthouses are located near a golf course. Much of it comes down to the location. The remoteness, space, terrain and backdrop are all important. A golf course needs undulating ground and plenty of challenges. A golfer needs to be able to play in different weather conditions and challenging winds.

It’s all part of the challenge, being able to focus and concentrate, and it’s good exercise if you don’t use the buggy!

Tee sign

Golf Links

A “links” golf course is a traditional course originating from Scotland, where the game of golf has ancient roots. Links courses are typically located in coastal regions, often on sandy terrain near the shoreline. This proximity to the sea influences the course’s design and playing conditions.

The term “links” originally referred to the land that linked the coastal dunes and was unsuitable for farming. This land provided the basis for creating golf courses.

Many famous golf courses, such as the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland, are considered classic links courses. The Old Head of Kinsale Golf Links in County Cork, Ireland, is another exclusive course held in high regard within the golfing community.

Old Head of Kinsale Lighthouse
Old Head of Kinsale Lighthouse

Golf Terms

Here are some terms you’ll hear on a golf course that are part of golf’s scoring system. They describe how a player performs on individual holes relative to par. 

View of golf course

Par describes the predetermined number of strokes a skilled golfer must take to complete a hole or course. It serves as a standard for measuring a player’s performance.

A Bogey is a score on a hole that’s one stroke over par. For example, if a hole is a par four and a player takes five strokes to complete it, they have scored a bogey on that hole.

A Birdie is a score on a hole that’s one stroke under par. If a player completes a par three hole in two strokes, they’ve scored a birdie.

An Eagle is a score on a hole two strokes under par. This typically happens when a player completes a par four hole in two or five hole in three strokes.

A Double Bogey score is two strokes over par on a single hole.

A Triple Bogey is a score of three strokes over par on a single hole.

Lighthouse Keepers’ Golf Courses

Lighthouse keepers often had spare time off duty; some were keen golfers. This could prove challenging when working on a wave-washed tower or a small island with little or no land. But lighthouse keepers were resourceful and often designed their own golf courses, using their available land or space.

There were many challenges to being a lighthouse keeper. If you were lucky enough to have some land adjacent, golfing might be a sporting pastime in addition to fishing.

Golf course management was a pastime taken up by a number of keepers when off duty. One of the requirements generally for a suitable golf course is grass, but where this was not available, keepers found other ways around it. Lighthouse Keeper Andy Bluer, for example, was a keeper at Bishop Rock Lighthouse in Scilly. He used to practise teeing off using a returnable ball from the top of the helipad!  

Bishop Rock Lighthouse
Bishop Rock Lighthouse
Photo: Patrick Tubby

Lighthouse keepers built a three-hole golf course at the Isle of May in Scotland. It was described as “something between the Old Course at St Andrew’s and the championship links of Muirfield”. Their main competitors, however, were the resident rabbits and puffins who burrowed their way around, destroying the soil cover. Since the keepers left the island, the golf course has vanished, absorbed by mother nature.

At the Calf of Man, off the Isle of Man, a similar fate came to the nine-hole course when rabbits created additional holes. This made it relatively easy to get a hole-in-one! The keepers would hold their open championship out in the Irish Sea every Sunday morning. Post automation, the course was slowly covered up by heather.

Fair Isle has two lighthouses on the island, which is around 3 miles long and half a mile wide. In addition to knitting, the keepers often took to playing golf in their spare time. They even set up an inter-lighthouse championship, though one keeper, when asked about the quality of the course, replied it was “rough”!

Fair Isle South Lighthouse had six holes on the Skaddan grounds.  There are peninsulas and jagged rock cliffs surrounding the course.  It has to be one of the most remote golf courses in Scotland and possibly the UK.  The keepers used broomsticks as pins, and steamed pudding tins were used instead of cups.

Besides rabbits and puffins burrowing, other hazards included rocks, of which there were many in some locations. One wrong bounce and the ball would end up in the sea!

Hyskeir Lighthouse marks the southern end of the Minch and has several low bridges connecting the low-lying islands.    At Hyskeir, part of the island hosted a golf course. A former lighthouse keeper described it. “It has five tees, so the eighth hole is quite different from the fourth when you come to play it the second time around. The tees are not just flattish grass areas, like, say, at Old Course, but properly built up platforms”.

Lighthouse golf course at Hyskeir
View of the golf course from Hyskeir Lighthouse
Photo © Jim Barton (cc-by-sa/2.0)

A footbridge linked the course at Hyskeir to a further little islet.  The course was started around 1982, and parts were returfed to cover rocky outcrops. Four of the keepers were avid golfers, but there were never more than three on the island at one time.

Before automation, the Out Skerries Lighthouse Keepers were housed on the island of Grunay. This island is across the water from Bound Skerry, where the lighthouse stands. The island was later sold off, and John Bentley bought it with his wife.

During his residence, Bentley set up a nine-hole golf course. He mentioned this when he later put the island up for sale again. The next owner was William Roxburgh, and he invited the District Technician over for a game of golf when he was visiting the lighthouse.

There is no evidence of a golf course there now, and the former shore station stands derelict.

Stay at a Lighthouse near a Golf Course

Not all the lighthouses near a golf course are available to stay in. Access can be difficult unless you’re a member or guest of the golf club. Some lighthouses now offer unrivalled luxury, something the keepers would not have experienced in their day.

Here’s my guide to lighthouses near golf courses, where to play and where to stay.

Please take care when visiting lighthouses or golf courses to keep off the course (unless you’re playing!). Please also be mindful of accessing private property.

And remember, if you’re crossing a golf course to reach a lighthouse, be very careful of low-flying golf balls.  If you hear “Fore” then watch out!

Lighthouses near a Golf Course

North Foreland Lighthouse, Kent

North Foreland lighthouse and golf course
North Foreland Lighthouse
Photo © Philip Halling (cc-by-sa/2.0)

North Foreland Golf Club was founded in 1903 and has a wonderful logo of North Foreland Lighthouse.  The golf course is on land adjacent to the lighthouse, and I remember a former keeper saying he often returned golf balls over the fence!

The course has 18 holes, a restaurant and the aptly named Lighthouse Bar.  The Halfway House is also open. The golf course is open to visitors.

Where to stay

You can stay at the lighthouse cottages at North Foreland Lighthouse.

Cromer Lighthouse, Norfolk

Cromer Lighthouse

The Royal Cromer Golf Club is on a spectacular clifftop adjacent to Cromer Lighthouse.  The course was founded in 1888 and became the Royal Cromer Golf Club through the patronage of the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII.

Visitors are welcome.

Where to stay

The cottages at Cromer Lighthouse offer holiday accommodation.

Flamborough Head Lighthouse, Yorkshire

Flamborough Golf Course
Photo © JThomas (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Flamborough Head Golf Course has two nearby lighthouses on the famous headland!

The Old Lighthouse, or Chalk Tower, is located on the boundary, and the current operational Flamborough Head Lighthouse is a short walk away. The lighthouse is open to the public for tours.

Visitors to the golf club are welcome.

Where to stay

There are many cottages to stay in around Flamborough Head.

Barns Ness Lighthouse, East Lothian

Barns Ness Lighthouse
Barns Ness Lighthouse
Photo: Patrick Tubby

Barns Ness Lighthouse is located alongside Dunbar Golf Club.

There is a coastal walk leaving Dunbar Harbour, following signs for East Beach; you can walk along the beach if the tide is out. Do check tide times first, and alternatively, you can follow East Links Road and head towards the Dunbar Golf Club.

Take care to avoid flying golf balls when you follow the track to White Sands, passing old lime kilns before you reach Barns Ness Lighthouse.

Visitors are welcome to the golf club.

Where to stay

Self-catering accommodation is available at Barns Ness Lighthouse.

Fidra Lighthouse, East Lothian

There are two golf courses at Archerfield Links, one of which is the Fidra Course which has deep bunkers, sand dunes and fabulous views of Fidra and Bass Rock Lighthouses.  Fidra is said to have been one of the islands to inspire Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.

Where to stay

There are many places to stay near North Berwick and the surrounding area.

Girdleness Lighthouse, Aberdeen

Girdleness Lighthouse
Patrick Tubby

Aberdeen has four 18-hole golf courses and a nine-hole course.  

Balnagask (Nigg Bay) Golf Course has spectacular views of Aberdeen Bay, and Girdleness Lighthouse is adjacent.  Dolphins are often spotted in the bay here.  

Where to stay

Stay at the lighthouse cottages at Girdleness Lighthouse.

Kinnaird Head Lighthouse, Aberdeenshire

Fraserburgh is the most north-easterly town in Aberdeenshire. It has two courses; the Corbie Hill Course with 18 holes and The Rosehill with 9 holes.  Visitors are welcome.

Fraserburgh Golf Club was founded in 1777, and there are fine views across Fraserburgh Bay. Fraserburgh Harbour Lighthouse can be seen from the beach, as can Kinnaird Head Lighthouse and the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses, which is well worth a visit.

Chanonry Lighthouse, Moray Firth

The Fortrose and Rosemarkie Golf Club runs along the Chanonry Peninsula and alongside Chanonry Lighthouse at the end, along the Moray Firth.  It is a fantastic spot to view dolphins.

The golf club is open to visitors, and you can enjoy refreshments in the clubhouse.

Where to stay

Find accommodation near Chanonry Point.

Turnberry Lighthouse, Ayrshire

Turnberry Lighthouse

Trump Turnberry is home to four open championships.  Turnberry was the first purpose-planned golfing resort in the UK.  It has a hotel on site and acquired Turnberry Lighthouse, which sits on the edge of the golf course.

Turnberry Lighthouse was built in 1873 and automated in 1986. In 2016, Trump Turnberry bought the lighthouse and now offers a luxurious two-bedroom suite—a far cry from the days of the lighthouse keepers! The lighthouse suite also has a private sitting room.

There are two courses, The Ailsa and King Robert the Bruce courses. Even if you’re not a golfer, you can enjoy some luxurious dining in the King of Scots dining room, which is part of the lighthouse.

Where to stay

Several suites are available to stay in at Trump Turnberry, including the Lighthouse Suite.

Old Head of Kinsale, County Cork 

Old Head of Kinsale
Old Head of Kinsale

The Old Head of Kinsale is a spectacular rugged peninsula, with the Old Head of Kinsale Lighthouse at the end of the headland.  Old Head Golf Links occupies 220 acres, and there are caves beneath.  There is a spa and a la carte restaurant on site and suites.

The lighthouse is not generally accessible to the public, and the golf course is restricted to golf club members.  However, the lighthouse occasionally has open days twice a year, in May and August, when special access is given to visitors.

The Lusitania Museum and Old Head of Kinsale Signal Tower is a restored viewing point looking across to the Old Head of Kinsale Headland.

The Old Head Lighthouse Kinsale Instagram page has some great photos of the lighthouse and golf course.

Where to stay

Galley Head Lighthouse Keepers Cottages are close by.

Lighthouses near golf courses

Some of the lighthouses listed are available to rent.

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In A Lighthouse

Throughout the world, lighthouses are available.