29 Of The Greatest Golf Courses In The World
Golfing is not for everyone, that’s for sure, especially since it requires a lot of patience, a steady hand and a keen eye. The origins of this unique sport date all the way back to the 15th century to Scotland, but some experts go so far as to trace its roots to the Roman game of paganica. Regardless of where it was played first, golfing is now a very popular sport, especially in Scotland, USA, Canada, Ireland, Wales and Sweden, but it is also quite appreciated in the Asian corners of our world such as China. The following list contains 30 of the most incredible golf courses in the world, including the famed Pine Valley, Augusta National and Cypress Point Club.
29. St. George’s G. & C.C.
Located in Etobicoke, Ontario, Canada, this outstanding golf course flaunts 7,145 yards of playing space and a par of 70. Designed by the renowned Canadian golf course architect Stanley Thompson, this course runs through pristine forests and across heavenly green valleys. The putting areas are bunkered together and feature hidden and treacherous curves. The bunkers were rebuilt under the supervision of Ian Andrew and required 5 years to be complete.
28. San Francisco G.C.
Located within the city of San Francisco in California, USA, the San Francisco golf course is a 6,828-yard, 71-par course that was sketched out in 1916 by 3 club members. Later, in 1923, the course was modified by American golf course architect Albert Warren Tillinghast, who added the renowned par 3 seventh “Duel Hole” on the spot that marks the location of the very last legal duel that took place in America.
27. Ballybunion G.C.
The Ballybunion golf course can be found within the coastal town of the same name in County Kerry, Ireland. This par 71 golf course flaunts 6,802 yards and is easily one of the most extraordinary establishments of its kind in Ireland. The golf course became particularly popular ever since 1971 when its clubhouse was masterfully relocated to the southern part. This changed the entire dynamic of the golf course, especially since the closing holes are now found on the northern dunes, right at the meeting point between the Shannon River and the Atlantic Ocean.
26. Chicago G. C.
The Chicago G.C. can be found in Wheaton, Illinois, USA, but you shouldn’t confuse it with the first 18-hole golf course in America. The confusion would be justified, however, since that golf course was also named Chicago G.C, but it was actually designed by C.B. Macdonald and was opened in 1893 in Downers Grove. In 1896, the club relocated to Wheaton, and Macdonald set on creating a remarkable 18-hole course of 6.200 yards. The present version of the golf course is the result of Macdonald’s assistant’s (Seth Raynor) work, who redesigned in 1923 while maintaining Macdonald’s initial routing.
25. Crystal Downs C.C.
Crystal Downs C.C can be found in Frankfort, Michigan and measures 6,518 yards. The golf course was created by Perry Maxwell, who was known to be a very close associate to Alister MacKenzie himself. Perry apparently lived on the site while he was supervising the construction of this stunning golf course, and many believe that he actually implemented some of his own artistic input into the project, especially since the course features a series of zigzagging fairways.
24. Winged Foot West G.C.
Located in Mamaroneck, New York, USA, the Winged Foot West G.C. is a par 72 golf course that measures 7,258 yards. This course was also designed by A.W. Tillinghast and actually represents one of his most spectacular works. The golf course is so incredible that it was actually chosen to host the U.S. Open in 2020. This is probably why architect Gil Hanse was tasked with the restoration of the course to its original layout. Winged Foot West is known for its difficulty, especially since its greens feature distinct slumps on their edges.
23. Barnbougle Lost Farm
The Barnbougle Lost Farm golf course can be found in Bridport, Tasmania, Australia, and what makes it particularly interesting is the fact that it features 20 holes in total. Boasting 6,849 yards of playable space, this golf course features a series of taller dunes when compared to the nearby Barnbougle Dunes course. The design was carried out by Coore & Crenshaw, even though Ben Crenshaw himself could not participate in the designing process himself due to a series of scheduling conflicts.
22. Cape Kidnappers
Golfing is quite popular in New Zealand as well. Placed within the country’s Hawke’s Bay, this par 71 course boasts with a surface of 7,147 yards and was built on top of a plateau that sits majestically at an altitude of 500 feet above sea level. Sketched out by 2004 by Tom Doak, the golf course flaunts wide fairways and offers breathtaking panoramas of the nearby canyons. In 2012, Cape Kidnappers won an Environmental Leaders in Golf Award.
21. Pacific Dunes
The Pacific Dunes can be found in Brandon, Oregon, USA and represents the second golf course ever built as part of the Brandon Dunes Resort. Due to its convenient location in close proximity to the ocean, this 6,633-yard golf course impresses with a series of 4 par 3s that create the illusion of holes coming out of the landscape itself. Rugged sand dunes, rumpled fairways and gorgeous greens blend into a remarkable golf course that actually required a lot of work and earth to be moved.
20. Kingston Heath G.C.
Another incredible Australian golf course is Kingston Heath, which can be found in Cheltenham, Victoria. This 7,101-yard course is currently regarded as a creation of Alister MacKenzie, but the course was originally sketched out in 1925 by Des Soutar. In 1926, MacKenzie improved the initial design by suggesting the bunkering, which was eventually created by Mick Morcom. Now as you can see for yourself, a lot of brilliant minds contributed to the construction of this particular golf course, which is probably why it turned out so great in the end.
19. Turnberry Resort
With a surface of 7,211 yards, the Turnberry Resort golf course in Ayrshire, Scotland was damaged extensively during World War II, which is why it had to be restored by a brilliant architect by the name of Philip Mackenzie Ross. The main modifications that Ross implemented consisted in the removal of the concrete landing strips and the implementation of a series of greens. However, the outstanding bunkering of the course is actually owed to Dave Thomas and Peter Alliss right before the renowned Open of 1977.
18. Hirono G.C.
As we mentioned before, golfing is quite appreciated in numerous Asian countries, including Japan. The Hirono G.C. can be found in Hyogo and was designed and built by none other than C.H. Alison in the 30s. The course was set within a picturesque pine forest and features exquisite bunkering. Furthermore, the greens of the course are placed in close proximity to the ridges so that players might benefit from the most exquisite views during their playtime.
17. Fishers Island Club
Sadly, Seth Raynor died before he could ever see his remarkable golf course being open, but his legacy is still here today and it keeps on attracting numerous golfing enthusiasts. The Fishers Island Club can be found in New York, USA and flaunts steep bunkers as well as gorgeously shaped greens that look amazing against the backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean. This golf course boasts 6,566 yards of space and includes numerous high quality holes.
16. Royal Portrush G.C.
This golf course in Northern Ireland flaunts a size of 7,143 yards and is widely considered one of H.S. Colt’s most impressive works. The genius behind Colt’s design consists in a series of fairways that he placed into several cracks between the dunes, which resulted in some exceptional, high quality putting surfaces. One of the most difficult holes of the course is the par-3 14th that was dubbed Calamity because it is placed in close proximity to a very steep drop.
15. Pebble Beach G. Links
Pebble Beach is a par 72, 6,828-yard golf course that provides a unique and spectacular way of playing this remarkable sport. There are 9 special holes within this golf course that are placed very near the Pacific surf. These holes are the 17th, 18th and the 4th through 10th ones, but the sixth through eighth holes are undoubtedly some of the most difficult ones on the field. In 2018 and 2019, Pebble Beach is scheduled to host an U.S. Amateur and an U.S. Open tournament respectively.
14. Merion G.C. East
The Merion East golf course in Ardmore, USA hosted the prestigious U.S. Open event in 2013. Relatively small compared to other courses on our list, Merion boasts 6,886 yards but is still regarded as one of the best golf courses in America. During the 2013 U.S. Open, many professional golf players had difficulties in besting this tricky course, especially because of the field’s OB stakes and canted fairways.
13. National G. Links of America
Located in Southampton, USA, the National G. Links of America boasts a plethora of strategically placed holes. The man responsible for the design of this fabulous golf course is none other than C.B. Macdonald, who drew inspiration from various older golf courses in Britain. The layout of the National G. Links of America golf course is so advanced and impressive that it is being studied by experts to this day.
12. Sand Hills G.C.
This amazing golf course can be found in Mullen, Nebraska, and what makes it special is the fact that its topography was well suited for golfing even before the course itself was traced. The minds behind the construction of Sand Hills belonged to Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore, and it was they who initially traced the natural greens and fairways on the site. As such, the golf course required the moving of just 4,000 cubic yards of earth in order to be complete.
11. Barnbougle Dunes
The Barnbougle Dunes golf course of Bridport, Tasmania was created thanks to a collaboration between Michael Clayton and Tom Doak. However, the course is best known due to its unique and picturesque location in close proximity to the Bass Strait. This par 71 golf course measures 6,721 yards. Since it was opened in 2005, the course has received nothing but positive feedback, which is why it falls just short of reaching no.10 on our list.
10. Oakmont C.C.
Our top 10 regarding the world’s greatest golf courses starts off with Oakmont C.C – a 7,255 yards, Par 71 course that can be found in Pennsylvania, USA. As one of the oldest golf courses in the country, the Oakmont was sketched out by Henry Fownes and opened in 1903. The course was designed following the principles of the Tudor Revival style and is particularly famous for its hazardous Church Pews bunker.
9. Royal Melbourne G.C. (West CSE)
The Royal Melbourne golf course in Victoria, Australia was designed by Alister MacKenzie and was built in 1926. The course is integrated seamlessly into its encircling topography and boasts pronounced bunkering that sometimes features edges that are 1 foot tall. Several of the holes in the course are dogleg, which means that only the most experienced and skilled players actually have a chance of playing the game properly at Royal Melbourne.
The Muirfield golf course can be found in Gullane, East Lothian, Scotland and represents one of the most enjoyable golf courses in the country thanks to its straightforward design. This par 71 course flaunts 7,209 yards and tempts with well-visible shots and regularly sized greens. Only one blind tee shot can be found on Murifield and that’s the 11th shot.
7. The Old Course At St. Andrews Links
This par 72 golf course is located in St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland, and what makes it stand out among its peers is the fact that it actually inspired a plethora of other courses throughout its existence. The course features very large greens as well as a generous number of blind shots, and the architects that drew inspiration from the Ould Course’s layout either planned their own creations as a positive or negative response to its original cues.
6. Royal Dornoch G.C.
The Royal Dornoch golf course in Scotland was built in close proximity to the shores of the North Sea, and it is widely seen as one of the most natural courses of its kind in the world. This links course was never chosen to host any modern golf tournaments because it is located on the Northern coast of Scotland. David Brice once described Royal Dornoch as the “king of Scottish links courses”.
5. Shinnecock Hills G.C
As one of the oldest links golf courses in the USA, Shinnecock Hills was modified extensively by C.B. Macdonald two times throughout its existence before it was replaced completely by a whole new design made by William S. Flynn during the 30s. Afterwards, the course was so incredible that nobody even thought about modifying it in 5 decades. Nonetheless, Shinnecock received a few upgrades in order to become ready for the 2018 U.S. Open.
4. Royal County Down G.C.
Nestled on a prime location in Newcastle, County Down, Northern Ireland, the Royal County Down golf club traces its history to 1889, which means that it is one of the oldest golf clubs in the country. The championship links measures 7,200 yards and was initially designed by Old Tom Morris, even though numerous architects implemented countless changes over the past century. This golf course features numerous blind shots but its greens are surprisingly flat in return, which means that the playing experience is a balanced and enjoyable one.
3. Augusta National G.C.
Placed in Augusta, Georgia, the Augusta National golf course is one of the most incredible and most famous courses in the world presently. Sketched out by Bobby Jones and Alister MacKenzie, this 72-par golf course was founded in 1933 and represented the host of the annual Masters Tournament since 1934. The Augusta National Golf Club has a very strict and exclusive membership policy that was the subject of controversy and criticism, especially since it would not allow any women to join until 2012.
2. Cypress Point Club
This private golf club can be found in California and features a single a single 18-hole course that boasts 3 of the most amazing golf holes in the world: the 15th, 16th and 17th, since they all ensure fantastic views of the Ocean. None other than Alister MacKenzie designed this masterpiece of 6,524 yards, but he was helped by Robert Hunter in this endeavor. What is now one of the most prestigious golf clubs in the world was opened for the first time in 1928.
1. Pine Valley G.C.
The Pine Valley golf course is the absolute best in the world right now, and it can be found in Camden County, in southern New Jersey. Established in 1913 by George Crump, the golf course was designed and built with the help of some of the most recognizable names in golf such as A.W. Tillinghast, H.S. Colt and Walter Travis. This 18-hole course stretches 7,057 yards and hosted the Walker Cup tournament in 1936 and 1985.