I still remember when I was a young boy and my dad taught me how to golf. I was probably about five or six years old and from the moment I stepped onto the course, I fell in love with the sport.
Since then, golfing has remained a bonding opportunity for us and has continued through to the next generation with my son and I. Although, I self-admittedly, am not a good golfer, I truly enjoy a challenging and well manicured course and the traditional aspects of a country club.
As part of our global travel guide, I’m proud to introduce you to our list of ten of the top golf courses in the world. Some private and others public, this is simply a list of ten great courses and shouldn’t be construed as a list of the ten best in the world. Based on user reviews, authoritative rankings and professional affiliation, we’ve compiled a list of courses that we believe even the most discerning golfer would be proud to play at.
Sebonack Golf Club – Southampton, New York
Most of the older golfers in the Hamptons tend to favor Shinnecock Hills as their country club of choice due to its rich history and the lineage of its membership. However, Sebonack has attracted a new crowd of elite members willing to pay its $650,000 membership fees. While much of the cost is arguably due to the exclusivity of membership, it’s also due, in part, to an exceptional and challenging golf experience. The newly formed Sebonack has taken some risk, in what many critics say is a powerful stance of confidence sitting directly between the ancient National Golf Links of America and the four-time U.S. Open host Shinnecock Hills in what many describe as the nation’s most wealthy and discerning community. The course is abundantly challenging and from what I’ve been told, features only exceptional holes of superlative quality. If you can afford its membership, critics say you won’t be disappointed.
St. Andrews Links – Scotland
Possibly one of the most famous courses in the world, St. Andrews is home to some really exceptional golf. Of its six public courses, the one we’re most interested in and that’s won our award for the one of the top 10 courses in the world is the Old Course at St. Andrews. Dating back more than six hundred years, it’s widely believed to be the oldest golf course in the world, although it remains of the highest quality despite its antiquity. The course has been an important part of the history of golf shaping the way courses around the world have been designed for centuries. One of the most unique features of the course is the the large double greens. Seven of which are shared by two holes each. In addition to its unique layout and setting, the course remains one of the most challenging and difficult courses for professional and amateur golfers alike. It has consistently received rankings and accolades as one of the top golf courses outside of North America by a range of golf magazines and authorities.
Augusta National – Augusta, Georgia
Augusta National has, for years, remained one of the most influential golf courses in the world, playing home to the Masters Tournament since 1934. It’s a classically designed course in terms of architecture and, unfortunately, its policies have remained somewhat “classic” as well. The club only began allowing African-Americans to join as of 1990 and prohibited women from joining its roster until 2012. Despite its ongoing criticism, the club has continually maintained its defense, citing that its a private membership club. Despite these regulations and its history of prejudice, it earns a ranking in our list due to its exceptional course structure, its history as one of the most challenging courses and its treatment and service level to its roster of registered members. The course has undergone more renovations and changes than any other top course in the United States, but despite its consistent ranking as one of the best golf courses in the world, it has, to date, refused to receive any official ranking. If you are looking for a private course that offers some of the best golf around; look no further than Augusta.
Pebble Beach – Pebble Beach, California
Pebble Beach is one of few public courses that has received critical acclaim since its construction. A hub for professional golfers, it has played host to some of golf’s most prestigious tournaments, including the annual AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, and five U.S. Open Championships. The exquisite beauty and unique landscape challenges of Pebble Beach have thrilled golfers and spectators alike. The course was designed by Jack Neville and Douglas Grant, and utilizes its natural rugged coastline to increase the difficulty of its sloping greens, cliffside fairways and wide-open vistas. It’s a remarkable course and offers a selection of amenities for the traveling golfer as well as the local.
Pine Valley – Pine Valley, New Jersey
In 2012, Pine Valley received the prestigious award of being named number one in Golf Magazine’s 100 Top Courses in the U.S. Despite its rich history as one of America’s top courses, the grounds and clubhouse remain simplistic to say the least. The history of the course dates back to amateur golf enthusiasts who not only risked everything, including selling their homes to pay for the construction and design of the course, but took it on as a project to build the most exceptional course in America. There are several places on the grounds for out-of-town golfers to stay and the course offers free shuttle service to and from the airport. Quite possibly the most iconic collection of par fives and par threes in the world, the course is known for its consistency throughout and prides itself on being one of the toughest courses to play on the planet with a slope of 155 from the championship tees. This course is for the true golfer looking for great golf rather than just great amenities.
Royal County Down – Northern Ireland
No list is complete without the addition of Royal County Down in Northern Ireland. Now granted it has long been a passionate argument whether Royal County Down actually rivals Royal Portrush, but the job of a good journalist to conduct a ton of research. I haven’t had the opportunity to play this course, but based on the information I’ve seen and heard, Royal County Down is second-to-none, with views of the majestic mountains, the salty Irish Sea and its globally admired run of traditional Irish holes. It’s a resplendent course in a picturesque holiday town. For those looking to travel to Northern Ireland, there is no course more favored by the locals and visiting pros alike.
Seminole – Juno Beach, Florida
Seminole is one of the few courses in the Sunshine State that has remained so consistently well ranked as one of the best bunker courses in the world. The 18-hole championship course and practice facilities are open to the public and feature a fairly large portfolio of amenities. In fact, the course has been used consistently by the powers of industry as a stomping ground over the years for hashing out business deals. It has old country club charm with the amenities of today that are sure to please even the most discerning golfer.
The Madison Club – La Quinta, California
The Madison Club is arguably the most exclusive private course in California home to its own residential community of players. It’s a modern interpretation of quintessential Californian country clubs offering membership to a select and elite few who apply. While this course isn’t open to the public, it does deserve a spot on this list due to its rich and gratifying amenities, it’s consistently challenging course and the level of service it provides to its members. The parkland style course is an unmatched experience for even the most seasoned professional golfer and if you’re lucky enough to join the country club, you’re sure to remain satisfied, even if you never play at another course for the rest of your life.
Cypress Point – Virginia Beach, Virginia
With five courses in one, Cypress Point is often considered the pinnacle of golf for those looking for a relaxed, out of the way experience. Built on a part of the Sajo farm, it offers spectacular surroundings with the added benefits of membership opportunities at this course that also remains opened to the public. From its world renowned greens and fairways to the meals served at the main clubhouse, Cypress Point is sure to please you every time you tee off. It’s an immaculate course known for the quality of its staff and the loyalty of its members.
Address Montgomerie – Dubai
Dubai has been nicknamed the “billionaires playground” and it plays host to some of the wealthiest and most discerning people in the world. The course, set in the heart of the prestigious and elegant Emirates Hills features both an 18-hole championship golf course as well as 5-star rated accommodations that have been regained as being one of the top destination courses in the world.
What’s really great about the course is that it offers rich features for golfers and non-golfers alike, making it a superb destination choice when traveling with your family. Regardless of whether you’re an avid golfer, are a connoisseaur of fine dining or just want to relax in the spa or poolside, the club offers an unparalleled number of facilities and services to ensure a superlative experience for the most discerning Dubai traveler.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this quick primer on some of the world’s best rated golf courses. Of course, the quality of a course and its facilities are based solely on the experience of the golfer. Do you have a favorite course you play at? What amenities do you look for in a club?