London is a big deal, an alpha-destination, one of those places that’s on the travel bucket list for people from countries the world over.
It’s not just Buckingham Palace, Beef Eaters, big red buses, West End shows, seriously posh shops and Michelin starred restaurants, it’s culture, class, hedonism and history all rolled into one.
What you may not know is the ‘Big Smoke’ is also a pretty incredible place to get a big adrenaline pumping golf fix.
I’m not talking about the ‘Royal’ courses in Surrey, or your privileged Sunningdales, Walton Heath, FoxHills, Queenwood etc – or exclusive London Club, Grove or countless more affordable pay-and-play venues; no, I’m talking about crazy forms of alternative golf you can find in and around the capital of the UK.
Crazy Golf Courses – London
For some reason, Londoners love a bit of crazy golf, urban golf and indoor golf.
For years, we’ve known about the amazing urban golfers playing on the streets of trendy Shoreditch in the East End of London.
Their love of teeing off in the streets has morphed into a new hybrid sport called Cross Golf.
The Shoreditch Golf Club are still leaders in the field and held the world’s first Cross Golf Open in 2015 at Queen Elizabeth Park, Stratford, London using cars, bins, bicycles, railings, concrete and wheelie bins.
In recent years, new trends have transformed social lives in Britain with people getting together for games of beer pong (beer and table tennis) or a therapeutic axe-throwing evening.
This new sports social trend has swept through golf too and now there are almost 20 alternative golf courses in London according to local experts Secret London.
Read their brilliant article on the crazy golf scene here.
You’ll come across amazing places like Junkyard Golf, Shoreditch, Mr Mulligan’s Dino Golf, Puttshack in the super-luxe Westfield Shopping Mall and the risqué Swingers in Aldgate and Oxford Circus.
Swing with Stars at Knightsbridge Golf School
If you love a bit of star spotting, then you need to book a lesson at the Knightsbridge Golf School (47 Lowndes Square, London, SW1X 9JU). This is where Sean Connery came to prepare for the most famous game of golf ever shot on the silver screen – when he played Goldfinger at Stoke Park Golf Club and had to avoid caddie Odd-Job’s razor sharp bowler hat.
Other celebrity clients have included actor Hugh Grant and Strictly Come Dancing star Anton Du Beke, who plays to a polished five handicap and is a regular on the pro-celebrity golf circuit.
You’ll find top coaches at the KGS, including founder Steve Gould, who dresses more like a yacht owning millionaire than a golf pro when he’s giving lessons. Be warned, 30 minutes of ball position, swing plane drills and grip adjustment is going to cost you more than at your average driving range; this is London after all baby!
Best places to shop golf in London
You can’t go to London and not hit the shops, so make sure you pick up some quality golf gear while you’re there. Here are three great golf shops to check out in the Capital.
American Golf, Monument
With over 100 stores in the UK, American Golf is probably the UK’s busiest high street golf retailer and it stocks the majority of the leading brand companies. Their most central London store can be found in Monument, not too far from the tube station of the same name.
American Golf is a smart choice as the store aims to offer unbeatable value and exclusive deals, especially if you sign up to its membership scheme which sends you discounts on your birthday and lots of special offers via email.
If you’re in central London, hop on a train from London Bridge over to Piccadilly Circus to find the trendy Lillywhites store.
Having been at the Piccadilly site since 1925, the store is a staple of the London High Street. With a trendy, high-end look, Lillywhites appeals to the younger golfers and stocks brands such as Callaway, Titleist and Wilson.
Capital Golf, Oxford Street
Capital Golf on Oxford Street doesn’t mess around. If you want to splash the cash and have plenty spare, then you can buy golf clubs from gold-plated brands like Bentley and Honma. No joke, Honma actually manufactures a gold-plated driver and President Donald Trump is rumoured to own one.
With brands like Ted Baker, J Lindeberg, Ralph Lauren, FootJoy and Adidas, there’s everything you need to head back to the lush green fairways of the links or the hard paved concrete of grimy Shoreditch if your time in London has fully converted you to an Urban Golfer.
There you have it, unexpectedly crazy golfing adventures in London – a city of style, sophistication and expensively coached golf swings.