For most of us, golf is just an occasional pastime. Just the same, there’s something truly inspiring about teeing off at one of the world’s great courses. That’s why we encourage newbies and vets alike to explore the best golf courses in the world — starting with these five standouts.
Best for Beginners: The Balgrove, St. Andrews (Scotland)
For golf-o-philes, St. Andrews is unquestionably a mecca. Self-dubbed the “Home of Golf,” this centuries-old institution has attracted the biggest names in the sport, including Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus. Fortunately for newbies, it also offers courses for all skill levels — stretching from the pro-level Strathtyrum Course to the more forgiving Balgrove Course. Built in 1972, Balgrove has only nine holes spanning 1,520 yards. These holes are generally flat with limited obstructions and hazards, giving initiates to golf an easy, controlled way to get used to the sport’s nuances. Fees are also much lower than other courses, ranging from 8-15 Euros ($9-16 USD).
Best for the Views: Kauri Cliffs (New Zealand)
New Zealand is known for its breathtaking, sweeping vistas, so little surprise that Kauri Cliffs in Northland ranks at the top of our list. Fair warning, however: It is a championship course, measuring more than 7,000 yards with a par 72. Fifteen holes have clear views of the Pacific Ocean, and six of these are played alongside cliffs. Other holes meander inland through forest, farmland, and marsh. Honestly, the views are so incredible you could spend an afternoon driving the course on a golf cart and be satisfied. If you want to tee up, though, be prepared for a serious investment; green fees range from $234-361.
Best for Weather: Torrey Pines (San Diego, California, USA)
Set against the calm, azure waters of the Pacific, San Diego is a warm weather delight (the city hardly ever veers from its 65-degree, sunshine-y bliss). Taking advantage of these near-tropical climes is Torrey Pines, the famed golf course that hosted the U.S. Open in 2008 and has since been featured in several popular golf video games. To ensure you get a spot on the course, a tee time must be booked well in advance. Green fees range from about $75-200+, but this changes depending on the season and tee time; check the website for up-to-date-information.
Best for Onsite Amenities: Old Head Golf Links (Cork, Ireland)
Situated on a headland poking out into the Atlantic Ocean, the Old Head course is one that soaks in the mystery and majesty of Ireland while giving golfers some of the best holes they’ve ever seen. Play alongside ruins, on cliffs, and among fragrant wild vegetation on your way to nine-hole (or 18-hole) glory. Most importantly, however, make time for Old Head’s luxe, pampering amenities. Start with a meal at De Courcey Restaurant (take a trip to Asia with the fiery Korean-Spiced Broccoli, then sail into a hollandaise-bathed Grilled Kinsale Lobster) and proceed to an aroma steam at the nearby spa. If you just can’t tear yourself away from Old Head, book a room in one of the posh suites loaded with pampering amenities.
Best for Pro Lessons: Sea Island (Sea Island, Georgia, USA)
Back stateside, consider a more focused, educational golfing trip to Sea Island. Few golf resorts have in-depth instruction on offer, and Sea Island takes it a step further with their Golf Performance Center. This 17,000-square-foot facility helps you find the perfect club fit, teaches you about proper fitness for golf mastery, fine-tunes your swing, and offers instruction suitable for beginners and pros. Courses are also customizable, so you can focus on the elements of the game most important to you. The instructors, meanwhile, are some of the best the U.S. has ever seen — including top-rated swingers Gale Peterson, Jack Lumpkin, and Craig Allen. These golf vets have decades of experience and enough accolades to drown a trophy room. Visit the resort’s website to learn more about them and the specifics of Sea Island’s golf instruction.
Have a favorite nine (or 18) holes you’d like to share with us? Sent it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we may include it in this article of the best golf courses in the world!