Best Golf Universities in the UK

Here we review the best golf universities in the UK. Some students find themselves playing university golf as a hobby, and others are on the path to becoming a professional and chasing their dreams on tour. Whether you are looking for an elite golf program or a way to enjoy and improve golf alongside your undergraduate courses we’ve got you covered.

To ensure we had the most recent and updated info, we reached out to coaches/organisers at each university so that they could share information about their golf teams. We’ve listed the universities in order of their BUCS Golf ranking (total golf points won by their combined teams and individuals) during the most recent season.

Best Golf Universities 2022/23

  1. Exeter (268 points)
  2. Stirling (253 points)
  3. St Andrews (204 points)
  4. Durham (129 points)
  5. Nottingham (129 points)
  6. University of Central Lancashire (119 points)
  7. Bournemouth (115 points)

University of Exeter

University of Exeter High Performance Golf
  • Club members: 150
  • BUCS teams: 6 mixed teams
  • Coach: Will Shaw ([email protected])
  • Home golf club: The Warren Golf Club

The University of Exeter has won the BUCS Golf points league for the past two seasons (21/22 & 22/23), firmly taking the number one pick for elite golfers in England and now competing with golf programs across Europe.

On campus, high-performance players have free access to a TrackMan Golf Studio and a floodlit putting and short game area 7 days a week. The program has levelled up in recent years, with new facilities and a highly specialised team of experts running the golf program.

Recent alumni include LET Professional golfer and Curtis Cup player Emily Toy, and Monty Scowsill who recently turned pro after finishing runner-up in The Amateur Championship in 2021, winning the Emirates Amateur Champion in 2022 and qualifying for his first DP World Tour start.

High-Performance Programme

The high-performance program is offered to 8-16 elite golfers each year. The program is run by Dr Will Shaw, who has a Masters in Sport Science and PhD in Biomedical Science, alongside his PGA training. Will was previously a lecturer who provided biomechanical analysis for some of the world’s best golfers.

The high-performance team includes previous England Golf physio Andy Larmour, who oversaw the physical development of multiple Tour players. Golf coach Jack Pope, a former Exeter Scholar, with a Masters Degree in Sport Science. Craig Townsend, is a scratch golfer and ex-professional rugby player. And Jerry Fox, who specialises in high-performance psychology.

It offers a holistic program that provides the following core weekly activities:

  • Strength & Conditioning
  • Functional Pre-hab conditioning
  • Sports psychology & Mindfulness training
  • Team skill development sessions
  • Smaller skill development pods
  • Free access to on-campus TrackMan Studio, putting and short game facilities

The high-performance players also compete in an Order of Merit Series where players play around some of the best courses in the South-West for additional bursary funding.

Competitive golf

Golfers at Exeter have a wealth of options for competitive golf running from September to May. The R&A Tour Series consists of 5 events across Europe, including Ryder Cup venues, trips to Spain, and Portugal, culminating in the Tour Finals, held each year at St Andrews.

There are also multiple 54-hole stroke play events held nationwide by BUCS, and all six teams compete in their respective BUCS matchplay leagues (Sourthern Prem, Western Div 1 & Western Div 2) and cups. Exeter has won all three leagues they have been entered in for the past two years.

Beginners & casual golfers

Players outside of the BUCS golf events have multiple club events ran by the golf society at their home club, The Warren, based on the south coast. The club also runs weekly beginner and intermediate sessions that are free to anyone who joins the golf club society.

If you want to try out golf but aren’t ready to fully commit, Exeter University also holds monthly pitch-up and play events, where you can turn up and hit shots and play some skills games to see if golf is for you.

Stirling University

Sterling University Golf High Performance
  • Club members: 61 members
  • BUCS teams: 5 mixed teams BUCS Premier North to Scottis Tier 3
  • Coach: Dean Robertson
  • Home golf club: Gleneagles, Dundonald Links, and Alloa Golf Club

The University of Stirling’s Head of Performance Sport, David Bond, was kind enough to answer some of our questions about the program and what students can expect. The University of Stirling program began in 1981 and has helped more than 200 students. 

As we see with all great golf universities in the UK, a strong education is paired with the ability to play golf. The University has more than 20 alumni currently playing on professional golf tours around the world and has sent more players to the World University Championships than any other University globally.

High-Performance Programme

The high-performance program is run by coach Dean Robertson. Dean is an accomplished player himself with accolades such as the St. Andrews Trophy, Eisenhower Trophy, and Walker Cup. In addition, Dean was a regular on the European Tour for more than 10 years before starting with Stirling University. 

I can tell you from first-hand experience that having a coach who understands not just the high level of play but the mental capacity this takes is incredibly important in a University program. 

Louise Duncan, the winner of the R&A Amateur Championships, was a member of the Stirling team and went on to be a full-time member of the Ladies European Tour. 

If you receive a golf scholarship to the University of Stirling, expect the following: 

  • Performance coaching
  • International training camps and competitions – including trips to Dubai, Portugal, Spain, Ireland, and the US.
  • Mentoring
  • Sports psychology
  • Strength and conditioning; screening and support
  • Sports science support: lifestyle/nutrition/hydration
  • Golf biodynamics
  • Performance lifestyle management
  • Essential clothing and equipment
  • Physiotherapy
  • Scheduling and tournament support
  • Diagnostic performance analysis and support
  • Access to all areas of excellence to support athlete development
  • Opportunity to stay on campus
  • Academic flexibility depending on the golf tournament schedule, which can include assessment extension, exam deferment, and study extension periods

Competitive golf

The competitive nature of the Stirling programs is strong. The men’s and women’s teams compete at Scottish, British, European, and International university levels. 

The following is a testimonial from a former player a great way to describe the Stirling program and all it has to offer: 

Jack McDonald, mathematics graduate, and Walker Cup player, said: “The University of Stirling performance golf program has been pivotal to my ongoing development and success. The skills, habit, and mindset I am learning are providing me with the tools and ability to perform under pressure.”

Beginners & casual golfers  

The University of Stirling is committed to giving all students an opportunity to expose themselves to the sport. There are programs like Just Play Sport and others that will offer periodic exposure to the game of golf. 

St Andrews

St Andrews University Golf high performance
  • Club members: 300
  • BUCS teams: 5 mixed teams
  • Coach: Ian Muir ([email protected])
  • Home golf club: All 7 Course Run By Link Trust

St. Andrews University is located in Scotland and is known for having a very strong academic background. Golfers at this school will have a strong degree and rigorous academic year to back up their accomplishments on the golf course.

The head of golf at St.Andrews University is Ian Muir. Ian was very helpful in providing us with details about the facilities, student support services, and the fact that St.Andrews is the current BUCS champion.

High performance

The high-performance program is where the best St Andrews golfers stand out. Each player is n a different journey, and Ian Muir is careful to make sure that coaching and training sessions are personalized to the needs of a player.

Every player on the team has a personalized plan to help them reach their individual goals. I can tell you from having played university golf (although in the UK) that this individualized approach is a great way to go about the process.

Working on short chips for a few hours when you are struggling to square the fairway wood clubface at impact won’t get you where you want to be in any short period of time.

Each student in the high-performance program has access to St.Andrews Links. In addition, practice sessions are scheduled to ensure that players can still participate in tournaments and their classes all at the same time.

As an American with dreams of eventually playing some golf in the UK. The major benefit I see of the St.Andrews golf program is the Links Ticket. The Links Ticket grants access to all courses in St.Andrews; this includes the Old Course.

As a young college golfer, I had access to Bethpage Black, which was an incredible experience, but it’s not the Old Course. St.Andrews takes their high-performance golf program quite seriously, attempting to make it the best in the UK. With the impressive program they have set up, it’s no surprise that St.Andrews can be found at the top of the BUCS rankings.

Competitive Golf

Five mixed teams from the University of St.Andrews, play in both strokeplay and knockout competitions against other universities. Within the university, there are also weekly matches and competitions over at St.Andrews Links.

There are competitive opportunities at St.Andrews, regardless of your playing ability.

Beginners & Casual Golfers

To help ensure that all golfers have access to the game, St.Andrews has a partnership with St. Andrews Links Trust and St. Andrews Links Golf Academy to encourage lessons and game development. This program is open to both students and staff and is run by PGA professionals.

If your goal is to develop your golf game and eventually be a part of one of the better golf universities the UK has to offer, then St.Andrews could be a great choice.

Durham University

Durham University Golf high performance
  • Club Members: 35
  • BUCS Teams: 4
  • Coach: George Cheatle
  • Home Golf Club: Ramside Hall Golf Club

The rest of the teams on our list did not respond to our request for information in time to publish this article. The information is pulled from their website, and if they do reach out regarding more details about the program, we will update accordingly.

Durham University has four teams that compete in the BUCS leagues. Some golfers have financial support, while others play at the club level. 

As a student-athlete of the University golf program, you can expect some of the following benefits and support services:

  • Professional coaching structures
  • Performance and individual technique video analysis
  • Personalized, sport-specific strength and conditioning programs and fitness support
  • Access to sport psychology support
  • Enhanced access to physiotherapy and injury prevention support
  • Access to comprehensive pre-season, term-time, and summer season training programs
  • Enhanced lifestyle and time management support/mentoring for selected athletes
  • Personalized nutritional guidance seminars and additional nutritional information

In addition to the BUCS competitive golf program, there are also friendly matches against Formby and Ganton. The club team meets every Tuesday at the home course of Ramside Hall Golf Club, and they also use the Durham Sports and Wellbeing Park to further develop their game.

Nottingham

[email protected]

  • Club Members: 45
  • BUCS Teams: 4
  • Coach: Antony Ryder
  • Home Golf Club: Varies, Beeston Fields, Riverside Driving Range, and more.

The University of Nottingham is another school that takes its golf program quite seriously. This is a great spot for those looking to develop into strong players, as there are opportunities at all levels.

The BUCS Squat has 45 golfers and is a program that players must qualify for. Once part f the squad, you have access to weekly training sessions and the pre BUCS match range sessions.

The performance squat is for the top 12 members and is where the star players at the University of Nottingham can really shine. These golfers have options for sporty psychology sessions, strength and conditioning, nutritionist, and individual lessons.

For beginner golfers are those that are looking to give golf a try, the development squat would be the place to be. If you attempt the trials for the BUCS team and are unsuccessful, the University of Nottingham will gladly place you on the development squad to see what your game could turn into over time.

University of Central Lancashire

The University of Central Lancashire has some strong performance f year after year, but finding information and details about their team and program is a bit more complicated. We did find that all male players are expected to play off a handicap of 4 or less, and ladies a 5 or less.

In addition, the university states that all teams are mixed and play at Royal Lytham and Lytham Green Driver for their matches.

Trials are held to compete for the team spots.

In the year 2020, UClan was the BUCS Premier League North Champion.

Bournemouth University

  • Club Members: NA
  • BUCS Teams: 4
  • Coach: Martyn Thompson and Scott Godfrey
  • Home Golf Club: Ferndown Golf Club, Parkstone Golf Club, Parley Golf Centere

Bournemouth University, or Team BU, looks for both highly accomplished and aspiring golfers to join their squad. The Bournemouth University program has a strong Student Leadership program to offer additional levels of support and involvement for all levels of golfers.

The TEamBU golf program requires a successful trial and then the ability to work on weekly coaching and development with a strong team of coaches. When the weather isn’t great during the winter, there is a week long training abroad for the top 10 players on the team.

For the most talented players on the team, there are sports scholarships offered. These are available for up to £5,000 and can help with coaching equipment and travel costs.

Best Golf Universities in the UK 21/2022

To get a better idea as to how some of these teams perform year after year, the following is a rundown of the best UK universities for golf, ordered by where they finished in the overall 21/22 BUCS Golf league table for men’s and women’s golf.

  1. University of Exeter (224 points)
  2. St Andrews University (206 points)
  3. Stirling University (171 points)
  4. University of Central Lancashire (136 points)
  5. Loughborough (104 points)
  6. Bournemouth (102 points)
  7. Birmingham (91 points)
  8. Hartpury (90 points)

How do I get a golf scholarship UK?

Golf scholarships can be gained from two sources: i) the university you apply to may directly offer you a scholarship due to your past performance in golf. ii) All UK university students can apply to the R&A Student Scholarship fund on an annual basis.

Golf scholarships are in place to help students fund their golf while studying at university. However, look further than just the amount you will receive. Consider if you would prefer £3,000 in a golf scholarship and no structured golf programme, strength & conditioning or events. Or no golf scholarship and being a part of a £100,000 golf programme?

Some universities may offer more incentives up front but have less invested in their high-performance programme and vice versa.

In order to apply for the scholarships offered by the R&A, women players will need a handicap of 2 or less, and men will need a handicap of +1 or better. The level of competition for these scholarships is quite high, so please note the standard above is what is required to apply not receive an award.

University-specific scholarship requirements vary greatly, but most will offer some support if you have represented your country, or are part of a national squad. County-level golf and being a plus handicap is often not enough for a scholarship if you are planning on going to one of the universities listed above.

However, this should not put you off, the value in the top golf universities are in their program and the resources you gain access to.

What are some features of a great university golf program?

As I went through each of these top universities in the UK, we noticed some commonalities between the programs they offered. Here are a few things to look for when choosing your golf university:

  • Professional Coaching Staff: the coaching staff should have a strong background in the game, as well as experience competing at a higher level; winning golf championships is difficult, and this kind of support is necessary
  • Strength and Conditioning: make sure the program has the facilities, and the access to allow players strength and conditioning that is organized and specific to goals
  • Practice facilities: the practice facilities are quite important; practicing on the golf course as well as having a place to go when the weather is not ideal is quite important; looking for a program that incorporates golf technology can only further enhance performance
  • Mental Coaching: being supported by sports professionals that understand the importance of the mental game is another feature that many programs offer
  • Support Services: the support services include nutritional assistance, sports injury help, and even things like tutoring or resume development while you are a part of the university team
  • Competitive Schedule: take a look at when and whether the team competes and the events that are typically scheduled throughout the course of the year.
  • Academic Excellence: as great as playing university golf is, the importance of your degree is important as well; make sure you are happy with the academic programming and what it has to offer

Final Thoughts

We hope that this overview of golf programs in the UK has been of use to you in making your choice for where you wish to study and play golf. Always remember to look at the wider package that golf programs offer and get less caught up in upfront scholarships that can often be offered.

We would also suggest visiting your preferred choices and seeing if you can join in a training session with the team. This might require an overnight trip but is well worth it if you plan to spend 3-4 years studying at a university.

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Britt Olizarowicz is a former teaching and Class A PGA professional with more than 25 years spent with a golf club in her hand. Britt is a small business owner, author, and freelance golf expert that knows this game inside and out. She lives in Savannah, GA, with her husband and two young children.

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