An unscientific ranking of the top 10 ‘Royal’ golf courses in the United Kingdom

Let’s face it: It’s pretty hard to walk around the UK without tripping over something “royal.” You can find “royal” car washes, laundromats, pizza joints and beauty salons all over the British Isles, and we’re guessing that few of those business owners go to work decked out in a crown, robe and scepter. What you may not know is that those proprietors actually do have to get permission from the British government to use the word “royal” (or “king,” “queen,” “prince/princess,” “duke/duchess” and “his/her majesty”) as a part of their firm’s name.

Golf courses, it turns out, aren’t exempt from the Crown’s steely gaze. According to Scott Macpherson’s 2013 book, Golf’s Royal Clubs, the practice of adding a “Royal” prefix to a club’s name began in Scotland in the 1830s, when Lord Kinnaird, the captain of the Perth Golfing Society, used his connections to wrangle a royal patronage for the club from King William IV. Within a year, the Society of St. Andrews Golfers had followed suit, and today, 66 clubs in the UK and around the world (eight in Australia, six in Canada, six in Africa, three in Asia, one in New Zealand and one in continental Europe) have secured the coveted “Royal” stamp of approval.

So what’s a fan of “royal” courses supposed to do? Are certain clubs more royal than others? We polled a group of 38 of our course raters to see if we could put together a fairly unscientific Top 10. Here’s what they had to say: