Golf holds a wide appeal because of the ambience, the challenge and the tranquillity a man experiences when on a course. A golfer is gifted with the guiltless ability to be able to disappear for a weekend on a golf trip, unlike its counterpart the rugby tour; which is often viewed in a negative light of drunken chants, mindless courting and impertinent initiations. It’s the reputation that a golf trip has that enables a man to visit the most beautiful and obscene places in the world, whatever his motive is. So to help you achieve your inner golfing hedonist, we give you our golf course bucket list. From New Jersey to China we bring you our pick of the best, the most exotic and the most enthralling golf courses, in the world…
1. KAURI CLIFFS AT MATAURI BAY, NEW ZEALAND – PAR 72
For the man who plays for the view, Kauri Cliffs features on the fringe of New Zealand and the plunging cliffs above the Pacific. Away from the shore, the beautiful inland holes wind through marsh, forest and farmland. Our little description of it already gives off the impression of a picturesque grassland that could only feature in The Wind and the Willows. We’ve knocked it into our bucket list for the breathtaking views, challenging holes and flawless course design.
2. PINE VALLEY GOLF CLUB, USA- PAR 70
Widely regaled by those who know, Pine Valley is praised for its consistent level of challenge and conditioning for keen golfers. The mysterious golf course is regarded as the best, yet the hardest to find. Without knowing the geography of the area, residents claim it near impossible to access the course entrance; through hidden back roads and crevices, it’s as if it holds the same invisibility as the Thunderbirds hideout on Tracy Island. It makes it onto our bucket list for its reputation, evasiveness and star-graced course.
3. PEBBLE BEACH GOLF LINKS, USA – PAR 72
The course Jack Nicklaus said that if he only had one more round to play in his life then he’d play it there. Often stated as one of the most popular attractions in the US, just behind the Empire State building, the Grand Canyon and Dolly Parton. The course features narrow fairways, sloping greens and panoramic views of the ocean and rocky shores. It makes it onto our list for its prized affiliation with the star-spangled banner.
4. MISSION HILLS GOLF CLUB, CHINA – PAR 73
The world’s largest golf club according to the Guinness World Records. Featuring twelve 18-hole resort and championship courses, it’s impossible to omit from this list. The resort features on the beautiful island of Hainan, and with the mountainous scenery the area is simply stunning – just be wary of the notorious January to February thick fog, which makes playing golf about as feasible as teaching a tarantula to knit.
5. ROYAL COUNTY DOWN, NORTHERN IRELAND – PAR 72
Regarded as one of the most challenging courses in Great Britain, Royal County Down presents itself as a tough test for aspiring golfers. The fairways are lined with masses of native plants, wild tussocks cover the bunkers, and the wind off the sea can often spoil a shot – it’s the golfing equivalent of Ninja Warrior, without the monkey bars. We see it as a course that is sure to be considered.
6. MUIRFIELD VILLAGE GOLF CLUB, SCOTLAND – PAR 71
The golf course for the exquisite gentleman, Muirfield Village Golf Club is home to the world’s oldest golfing society; sporting a secretive reputation similar to that of the Freemasons or the Illuminati. We’ve included it for your chance to bask in the historical tradition of the country where golf arguably began.
7. LEOPARD CREEK, SOUTH AFRICA – PAR 72
It’s not often that you step onto a golf course and fear for your life – Leopard Creek is not for the faint hearted. Lying along the Southern Border of South Africa’s Kruger National Park, the course often plays host to crocodiles, hippos, buffalo and elephants – reminiscent of scenes you’d see on The Lion King rather than on a golf course. We suggest you give it a try for the stories, the potential Instagram-animal-hashtags and, of course, the golf.
8. ST ANDREW’S (OLD COURSE), SCOTLAND – PAR 72
The parental home of golf is an unarguable must for any keen player. With the chance to play golf against the sophisticated elegance of the 500-year-old course, St Andrew’s is, in our eyes, the premier location to initiate your golf pilgrimage.
9. ROYAL MELBOURNE GOLF CLUB, AUSTRALIA – PAR 72
A unique golfing experience on arguably the best golf course in the Southern Hemisphere is, for us, a chance that cannot be missed. It’s a course that is guaranteed to separate the best from the best – the Beatles from the Stones, the Mayweather from the Pacquiao… a course that will define exactly the calibre of golfer you are.
10. NIRWANA BALI GOLF CLUB, INDONESIA – PAR 72
Set along the dramatic coast line amongst manicured gardens and traditional Balinese rice paddies, the course even includes three holes on the cliffs of the Indian Ocean. If you fancy clambering around the jagged rocks with a golf club like a sophisticated Indiana Jones, then this is the course for you.
If, however, you fancy playing a course with an exotic twist, check out our 6 of the most bizarre golf courses in the world article.
Royal County Down Photo captured by Aidan Bradley©
This article featured in The Gentleman’s Journal [03.06.2015]