What is FineGolf?

Fine Golf courses are found on a variety of poor soil terrains, usually linksland or heathland and occasionally moorland or downland. They all have naturally draining ground with predominantly fine grasses and give a high “joy to be alive” factor.

Many ‘fine’ courses are not predictable and fair: a bit like life.

Skill: They require judgement, improvisation and vision as the indicators of skill.

Fairways: Their fairways are firm, composed of fine, wiry grasses and present a ball sitting down that needs to be squeezed, rather than scooped from a high grass lie. They are dry, bouncy and running, and brown off in a dry summer.

Course Design: Their design requires shots to be negotiated within the natural movement of the land. Shot making is required – with the yardage chart of less use, particularly in the wind – and where often shots are more successful the closer they are played to the ground like the bump and run.

Challenging: Fine Golf is more of a challenge to skill and brain than to brawn and fairways are often bumpy and quirky. The style of bunkering is small, deep and gathering-in, rather than huge and flat.

A typical FineGolf shot with creativity:

..was when Greg Norman, playing in The Open at Royal Birkdale in 2008, took a 5 iron to hit his ball only 120 yards into the wind.

It flew no higher than 8 feet off the ground to a plateau green surrounded by bunkers. With a crispness in the strike, he imparted backspin that stopped the ball pin high after two bounces and some roll-out.

The shot excluded the problem of his ball being blown off-line when flying high. It required creativity and unusual skill to overcome a challenge that was giving problems to many of the other professionals who are more used to predictable target golf.  An example being Michelson’s famous shot from the pine needles with no back-spin, at the Augusta Masters, that pitched and stopped by the pin. It was a skillful shot but lucky that the target green was so soft and receptive.

Natural, conservationist, austere, or sustainable:

‘Fine’ courses are the most varied, produce the best playing conditions, are lower cost to build and maintain and have less repercussions for the environment while encouraging natural flora and fauna.

Courses for all abilities:

‘Fine’ courses become more delightful the more they are studied and played. They offer problems to golfers of all abilities. They are never hopelessly insurmountable for the high handicapper nor fail to challenge and interest the expert.

Dogs are quite often seen on ‘fine’ courses.

Character: Come off the 18th on a ‘Fine’ course and you can remember each hole whereas, with the bulldozered sameness of many of the big new lush target courses, one hole is often similar to another in the memory.

Natural methods: ‘Fine’ courses use austere greenkeeping methods without the use of much fertiliser, only enough water to just keep the grass alive in a drought and lots of aeration.

The key aspect:

There are many aspects that differentiate ‘Fine’ from ‘lush target’ golf but the fundamental and most important is that ‘Fine running’ golf is played on fine turf predominantly bents and fescue grasses (slow-growing, deep-rooting, wiry, drought-resistant, fine-bladed grasses) whereas ‘lush target’ golf cultivates Poa annua – (fast-growing, shallow-rooting, thirsty, annual meadow grass).

The epitome of the ‘Finest’ golf course is the style of those on which “The Open Championship” is played.


When “The Open” bandwagon moves on, we are left with an improved, renovated, course that is in the best condition because the powers that be pursue a long-term policy of austere, conservationist, natural greenkeeping, tested and proven over time and exercised through common sense, that takes into account the needs of the ordinary golfer who wants to play all the year round.

We want to hear your views. Please do leave us a comment below

Reader Comments

On December 30th, 2008 Ralph Biggadike (USA) Said:

This first edition looks terrific. Both Andrew and I found it very interesting.
Best wishes for continued success.

On March 29th, 2009 Laurent Khaiat Said:

I like your site. Very well designed and many great comments on great courses.

On April 20th, 2009 Gerald W Stratford Said:

Truly well done.
Now, if only you could influence some more courses on our side of the Pond.

On September 16th, 2009 Kevin Munt Said:

Coming upon http://www.finegolf.co.uk was one of those lovely little discoveries you get every now and again on the internet. It is very gratifying to find people who still appreciate playing golf off and upon keen fine turf. I am a greenkeeper who was lucky enough to work with Jim Arthur. I worked as Course Manager at Royal Dornoch and Hankley Common golf clubs and they don’t come much better than that to get a lesson in how to play ‘links’ golf.

On October 12th, 2009 Paul Dolton Said:

Hi, ,just found your site and am glad to see there are people who want to play the game as it should be.
A while ago I packed in my main job and became a greenkeeper (2.5 years at the oxfordshire and 1 year at southfield GC, braid and colt,)now gone back to old job as it gives me more time to play golf.

The problem seems to me is an obsession with lines and patterns which needs too much water and feed to keep grass lush to make stripping stand out even more. Pressure from members to get their course like the “one they saw on sky last week”.
We need more greenkeepers to stick to traditional ways when it comes to water and feed.

Anyway good luck with the site and look forward to more reviews.

On January 6th, 2010 mike bowline Said:

I have played golf in the States for 40 years, and I maintain the four weeks I spent playing links golf in UK were the most fun rounds of my life! Lowest scores? No. Most fun: YES.
Thank you for your excellent site that profers the way the game is supposed to be played.

On September 10th, 2010 Clive Agran Said:

I’m a journalist writing some stuff on golf for a website. Needing to find out more about Frank Pennink, I googled his name and discovered this intriguing site. It’s ‘wasted’ half-an-hour of my time but I’ve enjoyed every minute and wish ‘Fine Golf’ the very best of luck.

Dear Clive, How very kind of you to send us your good wishes. Do use the ‘tell a friend’ button on the home page to pass on a message to your golfing friends. The more who are aware of FineGolf the better. Regards Lorne

On May 4th, 2011 Phil Gates Said:

A fantastic website that celebrates and supports the values and traditions of british golf. Congratulations to all involved. Phil Gates MG Course Manager St Ives GC

On July 9th, 2011 Duncan Cheslett Said:

I had the pleasure of Lorne’s company the other day over 36 holes at Cavendish Golf Club in Buxton. He told me about this website and I have just spent a very enjoyable couple of hours perusing it.

I’m now converted to fine golf. All I have to do is learn to play it!

Keep up the good work, Lorne.

Dear Duncan,
Thank you for your kind comment and your company. It was a most enjoyable day playing the Mackenzie designed Cavendish GC with the ‘World Atlas’ website guys.
Pity the greens are so high a percentage of Annual meadow grass and very receptive but the course design is tremendous and gives many challenges for only 5700 yards.
Best wishes,

On November 28th, 2011 Edward Said:

I too love playing the courses mentioned here. However, I think we ought to keep in mind that the high numbers of golfers wishing and able to play many of the courses today makes greenkeeping policies of yesteryear hard to maintain. Many fairways, if left without irrigation, would become dustbowls by August and require re-seeding annually. My own club has 40,000 rounds each year played on it, probably 500% more than 30 years ago.

Dear Edward, Thank you for your valid comment over usage of courses nowadays with all the compaction that gives, aeration becomes even more important. I don’t think anybody says no irrigation. It is over-watering that is the sin economically, agronomically and environmentally.

On October 16th, 2012 Paul Gray Said:

What a great concept/campaign. Having grown up on a true links I’ve had my fair share of funny looks when trying to explain to some less informed souls that high drives and backspin aren’t all the game is about. So good to see you encouraging changes in the right direction.