Best Places in the World to Play Golf
Playing a game of golf is not all about trying to hit the ball and driving it across the greens and into the hole. It can be a great way to enjoy breathtaking scenery and pamper oneself in sumptuous accommodation. There are plenty of golf courses on the planet. Each of these offers an experience that is different from the other. Some are very challenging while others are a piece of cake. Some have the signature of legendary golfers. And if you’re wondering where you can have the best-golfing experience the planet has to offer, then you’ve got to check these 12 best places to play golf.
1. Old Course (St. Andrews) in the UK
You’re not a golfer if you don’t know the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland. This happens to be the birthplace of the game. No other golf course can lay claim to being the first and the original. There is another reason why you should play golf in this place. It is a par 72 course that remains unconquered to this very day. You’ve got to bring more than your golf bags to play in this masterpiece. Skills are never enough to conquer its cavernous and unforgiving bunkers.
The golf course features massive rolling greens that you don’t see very often. The blind shots can be nerve-wracking and the Road Hole can be a very peculiar area to swing. The Old Course is notorious for its extreme weather dependence. It may be bright and sunny one minute and drizzling the next. It is the veritable essence of the game and one that can test even the most experienced golfer.
2. Laucala in Fiji
With a golf course that sits among sheer cliff faces and volcanic mountains, the Laucala in the island of Fiji is one of the best places to take a swing at the ball. To get there, you’ll need a private jet to land on a tiny airstrip that takes you right on the edge of the golf course. Its famous 18-hole design is not only stunning for teeing off your shots. Get ready with your golf cooling towels as it can get really hot.
The par 72 golf course follows undulating fairways and weaves right through a coconut plantation that still has remnants of its glorious past. Take a moment at Laucala’s signature 12th hole. Immerse yourself with the beauty of the blue waters of the South Pacific lapping the edge of the course. It’s easy to forget you have 6 more holes to conquer.
3. Pine Valley in the US
What makes Pine Valley in New Jersey so unique is that it blends the three schools of thought when it comes to golf course design. It is strategic, heroic, and penal all at the same time. This is evident in the entirety of the course. These design philosophies are also evident in a single hole. It’s for this reason that Pine Valley remains a favorite among enthusiasts and students of golf architecture.
There are no major competitions in Pine Valley, only an amateur cup that the public can watch. The golf course features an island-to-island layout. Clusters of pine trees in their thick green foliage form the islands of the Pine Valley. Forming the “sea” is New Jersey’s signature barren landscape. It’s like having an oasis after oasis greeting you as you drive the ball to the last hole.
4. Kauri Cliffs in New Zealand
The North Island is home to the Kauri Cliffs. This rugged piece of the earth comes with a wonderful blanket of greens and pockets of brownish-gray sand traps. The Lodge provides a breathtaking view of the Matauri Bay that will make you want to pause your game each time you reach a hole. No less than 15 holes on the par 72 golf course provide an open invitation to marvel at the greatness of the South Pacific Ocean. This vast expanse of the blue comes with the small gems of the Bay of Islands.
There are 6 holes that play along cliffs. Driving in these holes can be both spectacular and nerve-wracking. You can lose your focus by the sound of the crashing waves down below. There are five sets of tees on the Kauri Cliffs to challenge every type and level of golfer. And if you happen to fail in a challenge, you can always take a seat on the grassy natural blanket. Now try immersing yourself in the full splendor of the place.
5. The Ritz-Carlton in the Grand Cayman
Fans of Greg Norman will want to play at the Ritz-Carlton golf course in the Grand Cayman. It may only have 9 holes, but this golf course is well worth every second you spend on it. Factor in the oceanfront landscape and you’ll see why many professional and amateur golfers flock to this island paradise just for a game or two.
There are 144 acres of lush grounds that complement a stunning beach. After a game on its small yet challenging course, you can sit by the beach and enjoy a refreshing drink. It doesn’t matter if it comes from the resort’s signature F&B services or straight from your golf coolers. What matters is you’ll have the best sunset to cap your day at the fairways.
6. Banyan Tree in Thailand
Whenever we talk about Phuket, we always conjure images of pristine beaches amidst a landscape of glittering nightlife. But there is a gem in this Sin City that golfers have to take note of. The Banyan Tree is Asia’s best destination for golfers. And if you don’t mind the searing tropical heat of this Southeast Asian paradise, then Banyan Tree is a must-visit.
Featuring a par 71 layout courtesy of Paul Jansen, the Banyan Tree comes with many water hazards. These can test your skill and the strength of your drive. The 6,756 yards of lush greeneries pockmarked with sand traps and other obstacles provide enough motivation to up your game. And when the game’s over, you can always find peace in the tropical foliage that serves as the backdrop to the region’s beautiful lagoons. Don’t underestimate the Banyan Tree since this course comes with full USGA specifications.
7. Terre Blanche in France
If you’re the kind of golfer who doesn’t mind mixing a swing at the greens with a bevy of water activities, then Terre Blanche is for you. This golf course in Southern France’s Provence Cote d’Azur is a favorite destination not only by professional golfers. It is also a favorite hangout of wealthy vacationers in their super yachts of the French Riviera. Taking its cue from its famous coastline, the Terre Blanche comes with water features that are both stunning to look at and challenging to overcome.
The Terre Blanche provides two 18-hole championship golf courses. It also boasts of picturesque lakes, waterfalls, and forests. The villas and suites that the resort offer all boast of stunning views. One can always get golf gifts and other cool merchandise from the different shops at the resort. And if one is craving for some sumptuous meal, a Michelin starred restaurant is on hand.
8. La Manga in Spain
The Iberian Peninsula cradles a golf course that is three times the size of the Principality of Monaco. La Manga in the Spanish region of Murcia is that huge. This is a destination that has to do with anything and everything about golf. There’s a golf training center for absolute newbies to the game. There’s also an academy golf course that features 9 holes. It’s perfect for training and practice. And then there’s La Manga’s pride – three PGA-certified 18-hole golf courses.
La Manga continues to cater to the golfing needs of Iberians and foreign guests. The golfing destination also features 28 tennis courts for those who wish to smash some balls over a net. A large spa facility is great for relaxing the body after several swings at the greens. Should your tummy need a filler, 20 restaurants are waiting to feed you right across the La Manga.
9. Abaco Club in the Bahamas
The warm Caribbean sun kisses your face the moment you strike a pose at your first hole in this 18-hole course. The Abaco follows the traditional golf links that Ireland and Scotland are famous for. You’d have to get ready to negotiate dizzying sand dunes. But what makes this golf link special is the fact that you will be skirting the shoreline. One wrong drive and you’ll be searching for your ball in the turquoise waters of the Bahamas.
The Abaco can be very testy. The putting greens are never on even terrain. They are always sloping. Driving the ball will put to test your hand-eye coordination as well as your ability to interpret the direction of the wind. The sand traps can also be unforgiving. They resemble the giant waves of sand that you see in the Sahara. They’re deep and can trap you on the field.
10. Grand Resort Bad Ragaz in Switzerland
If you’re looking for a different kind of golfing experience, very few can come close to what Grand Resort Bad Ragaz can offer. Switzerland is popular for its Alpine ski resorts. What you may not know is that it is also home to two golf courses high up in the Heidiland region of the Swiss Alps. You can try your luck at the 18-hole PGA Championship golf course and feel the presence of Rory McIlroy, Adama Scott, and Rickie Fowler in your game. If such is not your thing, you can always head to the Bad Ragaz’s 9-hole Executive golf course.
Take note that Heidiland is Switzerland’s leading health and wellness resort. You can always rely on good ol’ Swiss health care to make sure you’re in top shape after slugging it out with the snowy course. You can then pamper yourself to a relaxing thermal bath or sauna.
11. One&Only Palmilla in Mexico
If sandy beaches and postcard sunrises before teeing off in the greens are your thing, then you need to consider One&Only Palmilla. This golf resort in Los Cabos is a favorite among Latin American golfing aficionados and professionals. It has the distinction of being Jack Nicklaus’ first golf course design in Latin America. It comes with three 9-hole golf courses with each one offering a different kind of experience and views. Some find the Arroyo to be unforgiving while others point to the Ocean as more challenging. Still, there are those who say that the Mountain offers the most challenges in the golf resort.
One&Only Palmilla comes with tees that stagger. They can be daunting to novice players. The elevations provide a rare glimpse of the Sea of Cortez and the Baja Peninsula. The manmade lakes in the golf course provide a great contrast to the sea of green. These also afford golfers of every level to test their skills in positioning their drives so that the ball lands on the green and not in the blue.
12. Velaa Private Island in the Maldives
This island paradise in the Indian Ocean is not a destination that you can see in every golfing magazine but it should. The only issue with the Velaa is that it is a private island. And as private islands go, this one can cost you a fortune.
The 9-hole golf course on the island may not be the kind of course that you want to play in, but it does have its charm. For starters, its creator, Jose Maria Olazabal, specializes in short games. This means you will also need to brush up on your driving skills to meet the par expected for each hole. The good news is that the private resort also has a golf academy for those who want to learn or perfect their golfing skills.
Enjoying a game of golf doesn’t have to be all about the game. If you can also incorporate some other activities, then you can say that your golfing experience is more meaningful. These 12 golfing destinations should help you get that meaningful experience.
- Best Golf Destinations, US News Travel
- Ranking the Top 20 Golf Courses in the World, Bleacher Report