A well-designed golf course is a thing of beauty unto itself. In addition to the scenery, which is a given in most cases, there are distinct challenges each course presents. This compilation has been assembled with an eye toward the sheer beauty of the courses, as well as their challenges and accessibility.
The subjectivity of a list of this nature is, of course, obvious. And yes, we know you may have your own favorites, which you are welcome to mention in the comments below.
One more thing, should you decide to make it a goal to play as many of these as possible, may we also recommend investing in a good golf launch monitor and simulator to help tighten up your game as much as possible beforehand.
Pebble Beach Golf Links
Long considered a Mecca for golfing aficionados, Pebble Beach Golf Links is without question one of the most beautiful golf courses on planet Earth. Lauded by Hall of Famers, U.S. Presidents, and the Hollywood elite, Pebble was designed by the legendary team of Jack Neville and Douglas Grant.
Among all of the different ways the course is unparalleled, nine of its 18 holes run either along or near the Pacific Ocean. Pebble’s challenges include unpredictable winds, a variety of terrain, narrow fairways, and sloping greens.
Some of the greatest names in golf have hit these links, including Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Tiger Woods, and Graeme McDowell — all of whom have won majors at Pebble.
St. Andrews Old Course
Just as every lover of Jazz should have a copy of Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue album, every true golf lover should, if at all possible, play a round where the game was invented. Old St. Andrews is arguably the most famous course in the world.
Challenging players with large double greens on 14 of its 18 holes, along with a plethora of blind shots and some of the most vicious sand traps ever excavated, Old St. Andrews is as challenging as it is historic.
The site of 30 British Open championships, the current course is largely the same as it was when it was first laid out back in the 1400s. Which, by the way, makes it the oldest golf course on the planet.
Mission Hills Golf Club Blackstone Course
Heralded by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest golf club, the Mission Hills Club on Hainan Island in Haikou, China offers 22 courses, which are spread over two locations.
The club’s halo course, The Blackstone, offers a variety of elevation changes over naturally rolling terrain on a bed of volcanic rock. The lava bed comes into play in several forced carries. Moreover, the course is woven into a landscape resplendent with mature trees, awe-inspiring lakes, wetlands, and dense jungle foliage.
The Blackstone has hosted two World Cups, six World Ladies Championships, and the 2013 shootout between Tiger Woods and Rory Milroy.
Leopard Creek, South Africa
Playing a round at Leopard Creek can be akin to going on a safari. You’re likely to encounter crocodiles, hippopotami, giraffes, and buffalo. A Gary Player design, the course is situated along the southernmost border of South Africa’s Kruger National Park, with the Crocodile River serving as the boundary.
The standout hole at Leopard Creek is it’s 552-yard Par 5 13th. The green nestles snugly against the bank of the Crocodile River, some 105 feet above the water. This affords players memorable views looking upriver.
While Leopard Creek is technically a country club, the course is open to the public.