Mark Twain called golf “a good walk spoiled.” Chi Chi Rodriguez said Golf is the most fun you can have without taking your clothes off.” Bobby Jones thought the game was mystifying. If you love golf, you know that every round is different, regardless of where you play because the conditions are always changing. You may have a golf course you call home, but changing it up to a different playing field can help your game. Learn more about golf course design and where to plan your next golf trip. Think about vising one of the top ten golf courses in the world listed below.
What Makes a Golf Course Great?
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Even if you aren’t a pro golfer, you can recognize that courses have different features. Some golf courses are interesting and challenging, while others not so much. You may not realize what goes into a good golf course, but every course does have its own personality. It comes down to course architecture. A good golf course designer uses the natural beauty of the landscape to create a challenging but playable course. Here are a few elements that make a golf course great:
- Every hole should play differently, with unique obstacles, bunkers, hazards, slopes, and length.
- The golf course should be playable for golfers of all levels. It can’t be so discouraging that beginners will feel defeated, but it should also help advanced golfers take their game to the next level.
- Maintenance should be prime at the golf course. No matter how well designed a course is, a professional maintenance team needs to take care of the course that really understands the game and the course.
- Quality drainage systems will keep the course playable, regardless of weather conditions.
- A great golf course maintains the standards of play and etiquette of the game.
Which Countries Have the Best Golfing Destinations?
Chances are, no matter where you travel, you’ll be within 60 miles of a golf course. The A Position considers New York City as the top golf city in America, but many people may argue with that distinction. The United States has multiple locations for great golfing, Philadelphia, Orlando, and San Diego, just to name a few. You could play in a different location every day for a year and only reach a fraction of the golf courses in the United States. If you’re looking to take your game international, here are a few of the best countries for golf.
- Scotland – as the birthplace of golf, Scotland is the iconic location to go. The historic Old Course at St. Andrews is the premier golf course, but with over 550 courses, there’s no shortage of places to play.
- Italy – known for its food, the landscape makes this country another great location for golf courses. Choose from over 250 golf courses throughout Italy that will transport you to another world.
- New Zealand – logistically, New Zealand isn’t the easiest country to play golf, but the scenery and creativity of the courses will quickly make you forget the long flight. The 15th hole at Cape Kidnappers has a 100-meter drop off one side when you’re approaching the green.
Which Golf Courses are the Best?
We could spend days arguing about the best golf courses in the world. We’re pulling 10 of the best from the Golf Digest 100 Greatest Golf Courses. According to their list, the best golf courses are near the sea or ocean. There’s something special about playing 18 holes against a backdrop of the water with a breeze coming in that makes you adjust your swing accordingly.
1. Royal Dornoch, Dornoch, Scotland
Golf in Dornoch can be traced back to 1616. The Royal title was earned in the early 20th century, granted by King Edward VII. The Championship course is challenging for even pro golfers. The Struie is great for the entire family.
2. Winged Foot Golf Club, Mamaroneck, N.Y
Winged Foot has hosted multiple championship events since its inception in 1921. The West Course is highly recommended, but the East is also pro quality. Designed by golf architect A.W. Tillinghast, each course is considered a masterpiece and kept up to its original standards.
3. Cape Kidnappers, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand
Tom Doak designed this course using the natural landscape of the coast. It’s a complex course that features bold tee shots. It’s probably the most dramatic course in the world because you’ll be playing on the cliffs overlooking the ocean at every shot.
4. Cabot Cliffs, Inverness, Canada
In 2015, Golf Digest named this course as the “best new golf course. The courses here use the landscape as part of the backdrop and game for an inspiring and captivating experience. The Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs both feature 18 holes of exquisite golf that will challenge even the most experienced golfer.
5. Golf de Morfontaine, Senlis, Oise, France
Dating to 1913, this golf course was designed by Tom Simpson, whose work is still studied today. The course has been modernized, but the architect retained much of Simpson’s work that used the landscape to define the game.
6. Hirono Golf Course, Hirono, Hyogo, Japan
Golf Advisor calls this course the best in Japan. It was laid out in 1930 by Charles H. Alison, an Englishman who never got to see the masterpiece. The course features many unique bunkers designed by the land itself. Japanese water gardens also inspired Alison; uncharacteristically, this course features water hazards, which Alison usually dismissed in his designs.
7. Crystal Downs Country Club, Frankfort, Michigan, U.S.A
This course overlooks the eastern side of Lake Michigan. It’s a remote location, but in the summer, the weather is practically perfect for golf. Ben Crenshaw brought notoriety to the course in 1986, but its history goes back to the 1930s.
8. Barnbougle Dunes, Bridport, Tasmania, Australia
Tom Doak collaborated on this course with an Australian pro-golfer to create a masterpiece called the “ultimate golfing adventure.” The course is among sand dunes that make it an ideal location.
9. Shanqin Bay Golf Course, Bo’ao, Hainan Island, China
This course was created on land that once housed army barracks. The mountainous landscape created some challenges in designing the course. Golf Digest calls it a “quirky” course and worth the time to play.
10. The Links at Fancourt, George, Western Cape, South Africa
Considered the finest course in South Africa, this course was built on a dead flat airfield. It is unique because it doesn’t use the natural landscape in its design, but it is still a championship course.
Improve Your Game at Home
Many golf courses are struggling under COVID-19 restrictions. If you can’t get out to your course, practice your swing in your own backyard while you’re planning your next golf vacation. Shop at Rawhide Golf Ball Co. for golf supplies.