The courses every golfer should play at least once in their lifetime

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick March 1, 2021 17:02

Combine a game of golf with an experience like no other – from historical sites to volcanos to sheer cliff tops to wild animals. Here are the courses every golfer should play at least once in their lifetime.

 St Andrews Old Course, Scotland

 Scotland is known for two things golf and whiskey. Its fame for golf is thanks to St Andrews. Known as ‘the home of golf’, the St Andrews Old Course is steeped in history and tradition. Built in 1552, this challenging course plays either clockwise or anticlockwise. Golfers are privileged to walk over the 700-year-old Swilcan Bridge to get to the 18th hole. There are large double greens; seven shared by two holes, each offering putts of 30m each.

In 1873, the first 18 hole British Open Championship was hosted here and has hosted the championship a further 29 times. In 2022, the 150th Open Championship will be at St Andrews Old Course.

St Andrews

Ballybunion Golf Course, Ireland

Designed and built in County Kerry in 1893, Ballybunion Golf Course is situated in a town rich in history from Mesolithic times. Early Iron Age treasures have been found in the area, and it is steeped in Norman history.

The course is set on the west coast of County Kerry, with beautiful undulating fairways tucked amidst the sand dunes hugging the Atlantic coastline. With its golden beach, towering cliffs and ancient caves, Ballybunion is a perfect course to add to any golf tour.

Westman Islands Golf Club, Iceland

Iceland is obsessed with golf. It is home to a mere 321k people, 60k of whom play golf on one of the 65 courses.

Westman Island Golf course is wedged between an extinct volcano and the rocky Atlantic shore on Heimaey island, a short ferry trip from the mainland.

In mid-June, the sun does not set, affording players the unique opportunity of playing golf under the midnight sun. While the golf might be unforgettably challenging, the memory of the remarkable scenery will linger forever.

Pebble Beach Golf Links, California USA

 Host to the US Open six times, Pebble Beach is spectacular as it has players on greens teetering over the ocean for the first nine holes. Enthusiasts say it is one of the most beautiful courses in the world. It boasts long, narrow fairways, sloping greens and panoramic ocean views.

Created in 1919, Pebble Beach is steeped in tradition and boasts a distinguished set of champions. 2023 will be a landmark year as it will play host to the US Women’s Open as well as the men and senior men’s championships.

Ocean Course, Kiawah Island Golf Resort, South Carolina

One of five championship golf courses on this island resort, Ocean Course is its flagship, created in 1991 by Alice Dye – the ‘first lady’ of golf architecture – and her husband, Pete, for the Ryder Cup. On account of the conditions, the course was described by players as “War on the Shore.”

Explicitly designed to capitalise on the magnificent views of the shoreline.

With its grand slopes, numerous bunkers and lush vegetation, exposure to the coastal elements makes it known as America’s most challenging course.

The 2021 PGA Championships will be held in May at the Ocean Course.

Fun fact – in 2008, Ocean Course was the first course made available to play online golf when helicopter cameras and GPS trackers mapped the course to produce accurate geographic simulation.

Olivos Golf Course, Argentina

Comprising three sets of nine hole courses, Olivos is rated the top golf course in Argentina. Created in 1931, this course features beautiful big trees laid out over an extraordinary piece of land, demanding that every shot is taken with precision and care. Expert design and a beautiful setting make Olivos a renowned golfer’s paradise. 

Pinnacle Point Golf Course, Mossel Bay South Africa

Pinnacle Point, designed by Peter Matkovich, is home to Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen, not far from where he shot his famous round of 57, which launched his career.

Pinnacle Pointe golf course is set on top of a rocky cliff formation with breathtaking panoramic views of the Indian Ocean. Located in a conservation area, a unique rule applies; any ball played wide into the protected ‘fynbos’ vegetation may not be retrieved. A rule to protect the player from a potential snake bite and protect the local flora. Instead, the player is directed to proceed according to the ‘water rule’.

A club member was overheard saying, “Pinnacle Point is like Pebble Beach on steroids –  A great test of golf amidst the most beautiful scenery in the world.”

Kauri Cliffs at Matauri Bay, New Zealand

With Cavalli Islands and Cape Brett’s views, Kauri Cliffs is a course designed for all abilities and standards. 15 holes are carved into the coastal cliffs that plunge several metres into the Pacific Ocean, offering mesmerising views.

A surreal experience is on offer to any golfer teeing off at Kauri Cliffs – definitely a mind-blowing experience and one that every golfer should play at least once in their lifetime.

Mission Hills Golf Club,  China

 Mission Hills is also a golf mecca and another must for any golfer’s bucket list. It is the world’s largest golf club judged by the Guinness Book of Records in 2004. It boasts 12 18-hole golf courses built on  Hainan Island between Dongguan and Shenzhen, 25 miles north of Hong Kong.

Mission Hills

Operated like a busy airport, 4000 caddies are dispatched each day to accompany the players over 5000 acres of land.

Some courses, some designed by champions, are first-class and feature verdant vegetation, woods and challenging elevations.

 With almost 40,000 golf courses worldwide to choose from, there is incredible pressure on owners and designers to create a course that will attract the 24 million players out there to their fairways.

A few have a head start on the others by virtue of their spectacular locations, making for unforgettable rounds of golf. Above is a fantastic selection of the best courses that every golfer should have the good fortune to play on at least once before they die.


Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick March 1, 2021 17:02
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