10 of the world’s most impressive golf courses
Combine breathtaking views with a challenging yet immaculate course and you’ve pretty much got all the ingredients you need for an unforgettable golfing experience.
So where in the world can deliver this mix? There are plenty of contenders, but here are 10 courses that deserve a special place on your bucket list…
There are few better starting points than the 600-year-old home of golf. The Old Course at St Andrews not only has an amazing pedigree behind it, but also some of the most challenging gameplay in the world. Best known as the natural home of The Open, famous features include Swilcan Bridge and Hell Bunker and a series of super-sized greens, of which seven are shared by two holes each.
Better still, the fact that The Old Course is a public course makes it perhaps the world’s most accessible elite-level golfing venue in terms of cost. The adult fees-per-round currently range start at £85 for low season. Booking in advance means a wait of up to a year. If you happen to be in the area, why not try your luck with the traditional Old Course ballot, drawn two days ahead of play?
Royal County Down vies with nearby Royal Portrush for the title of Northern Ireland’s most impressive course. For Royal Country Down, the backdrop is formed by a combination of the magnificent Mountains of Mourne, while the course itself snakes along the shores of Dundrum Bay. Bunkers overhung with with red fescue and heather further add to the atmosphere, while fast domed greens provide an unforgettable challenge to even the most seasoned links fans.
It’s been the home of the Masters Tournament for more than 80 years and its dreamlike meadowland setting never fails to amaze. The wish of golfing legend, Bobby Jones when he teamed up with architect, Alister MacKenzie was to create the type of course where true champions could test their mettle, but in the type of environment that golfers of all abilities could relish.
For those of us who settle in each year to watch the Masters coverage, features such as Amen Corner, Magnolia Lane and Rae’s Creek are already familiar. Actually getting to experience them in the flesh is a tall order though: somehow befriending a member seems to be the only way in for visitors!
“Pebble” is scheduled to host the U.S. Open again in 2019 for the sixth time. For $495 excluding cart and caddy fees, you can play there too. This is famously the course Jack Nicklaus would choose if he only had one more round to play. Against the backdrop of the Pacific, a combination of fiendish water hazards help to make holes 7 to 10 one of the most exciting sequences of holes in the world.
Two great golf course designers, Alister MacKenzie and Alex Russell amalgamated 12 holes from Royal Melbourne’s ‘West’ and ‘East’ courses to produce Australia’s - and one of the world’s finest. Combining a natural beauty reminiscent of Augusta National with Scottish links characteristics, huge bunkers and some of the fastest greens in the world, the Royal Melbourne Composite Course is continually rated as a must-visit golfing venue.
England’s National Golf Centre boasts the Hotchkin Course, ranked high among the world’s (and certainly England’s) best inland golf experiences. If you relish dramatic bunkering and a tough tactical challenge all set among exquisite heathland, it’s a must. Look out for special deals such as £200 fourball offers on the Hotchkin, and there are also discount tee rates available to members of England Golf-affiliated clubs.
When it was created 12 years ago, the aim of the architects behind Cape Kidnappers was to create a modern marvel of golf. The course sits on the site of a former sheep station and its fairways make the most of a series of incredibly deep ravines. It’s dramatic, sparse, and will test your trajectory control skills to the limit for your ball to leap from one ridge to the next.
Leopard Creek sits at the southern border of the Kruger National Park, and sightings of elephant, crocodile, hippo, antelope and buffalo are to be expected both from and on the course. The vistas are unforgettable, while playing highlights include the par-five 13th where the green is situated on the edge of the crocodile river, but set 32 metres above the water level.
When it was created in 1986, the vision for Les Bordes was to build the ‘Augusta National of Europe’. Situated in the Loire Valley, this heathland course has been tended to perfection and offers an unrivalled variety of features and vistas, all nestling among a fairytale-like birch forest.
The work of renowned designer, Tom Fazio, The Green Monkey is part of the exclusive Sandy Lane resort, and play is limited to hotel guests. Built on an old quarry, the course makes the most of a 22-acre canyon, offering stunning views over the ocean from the higher holes. Expect to encounter ravines, cliff edge drops, cross hazards and much else besides in a truly unique rollercoaster of a round, all in a sumptuous setting.
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