Top golf destinations around the world
Eight-time winner on the US PGA Tour, Juan Antonio "Chi-Chi" Rodríguez, once said "golf is the most fun you can have without taking your clothes off". The fresh air, open surrounds and the thrill of hitting a shot like no other makes golf the perfect sport to enjoy the great outdoors. What better way is there to enhance the experience than by playing at some of the best courses on offer? We take a look at some of the most picturesque and challenging golf courses around the world.
Monterey Peninsula, U.S.A.
Pebble Beach, in Monterey Peninsula, California has been the site of golf's most prestigious tournaments, including five U.S. Open Championshipsi. The region is home to world-renowned courses including Cypress Point, Spyglass Hill and Pebble Beach Golf Links, all of which are open to the public. Pebble Beach Golf Links, which opened in 1919, was coined by Jack "The Golden Bear" Nicklaus as one of the best in the worldi. Designed around rugged coastline, golfers can enjoy a challenging game and the region's natural beauty. Pebble Beach Golf Links is set to host its sixth U.S. Open in 2019i.
Named after a place mentioned in Robert Louis Stevenson's novel Treasure Island, Spyglass Hill boasts a course rating of 75.5 and is one of the toughest courses in the worldii. Opening in 1966, the course features two distinct terrains; players start in the dunes and move through pines and elevated greensii. Holes 6, 9 and 16 have been listed as the most challenging shots on the PGA tourii.
Located just a stone throw away from Pebble Beach Golf Links and Spyglass Hill, is Cypress Point. Cypress Point was designed by renowned course architect, Alistair Mackenzie, creator of Augusta National and Royal Melbourne Golf courses most notably and is a must visit if only for its signature hole - the sixteenth. The hole, a 210m par 3, requires a hefty blow over the swirling Pacific Ocean to a green well-guarded by bunkers.
Scotland is home to a number of historic golf courses, including the Royal Troon, Muirfield and St. Andrews. Coined by many as the home of golf and welcoming players since the 15th century, the 'Old Course' at St. Andrews is one of the oldest and most famous golf courses in the worldiii. Featuring bunkers that have been referred to as "greedy, lurking enemies" by legendary golf correspondent Bernard Darwiniv, the St. Andrews Old Course has hosted the Open Championships more times than any other venuev.
One of the true joys of playing St. Andrews is having the company of a wily old Scottish caddie. As where else in the world when confronted with a 120m shot will the question of “Where do I land this?" be met with your caddie taking three paces forward and saying "Here, sir"?
Queenstown, New Zealand
Queenstown has a budding reputation as a year-round international golf destinationvi. Among the many reputable courses is The Hills, which was initially the private golf course of entrepreneur, jeweller and avid golfer, Sir Michael Hillvii.
Set against a breathtaking backdrop of the Remarkables mountain range and Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown, Jack's Point is a relatively young course (designed in 2008), which is open to the public. It incorporates much of the region's natural landscape into its designviii and spans 6,388 metresix. The opening holes rise quickly and sharply uphill, taking players out of the valley floor and into a spectacular panoramic view of Lake Wakatipuviii.
In neighbouring Arrowtown is the 27-hole Millbrook Golf Course, which is also open to the public. It was originally designed as an 18-hole course by New Zealand professional golfer, Sir Bob Charles. In 2010, Millbrook was renovated to incorporate 'the Coronet Nine', enhancing the challenging aspect of the coursex. The Millbrook Golf Resort was named best golf resort in Australasia in the 2012 World Travel Awards for the third time in a rowxi.
Don't just confine your golfing in Queenstown to the big three, however, as rounds at Arrowtown and Queenstown Golf course are both extremely enjoyable. Arrowtown, in particular, provides spectacular scenery from many parts of the course in general and especially the 9th tee. On this hole a climb up the stairs to the back will afford a tremendous view of both a large part of the course and the surrounding hills.
Closer to home is Barnbougle Dunes, which is ranked the 35th best golf course in the worldxii. The creation of famed golf architects Tom Doak and Michael Clayton, Barnbougle mirrors the more historic link courses found in Scotland and Ireland. Situated on the north east coast of Tasmania, the course not only offers stunning natural views, but also some challenging and exciting golfxii.
Literally next door is Barnbougle Lost Farm, a 20-hole course that has a reputation for minimalist designxiii. Lost Farm offers a more diverse routing compared to Barnbougle Dunes, with fairways that roll both along the coast and inlandxiii. Lost Farms is also open to the public.
There is also a growing list of popular golf destinations in Asia, spanning from Nirwana in Bali to Danang in Vietnam to Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Thailand is also becoming a popular destination for golfers, offering a great selection of courses in the country's north around Chiang Mai. Hua Hin, a three-hour drive from Bangkok, has also been coined one of the best golf destinations in Thailand and south-east Asiaxiv.