Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy have earned millions in endorsements and got for themselves hot girlfriends just for hitting and chasing a tiny white ball across a huge field. The game of golf is for gentlemen and, believe it or not, is an extremely difficult sport. Even athletically gifted freaks like Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley have had a hard time mastering the game. Even if you play in the most well manicured grass in the world, it is still not an easy game to play.
Though, of course, it would not hurt if you get an opportunity to play in some of the greatest courses similar to the type where major tournaments are played regularly. Here is a list of the top 10 best golf courses in the world.
1. Pine Valley Golf Club, Clementon, New Jersey
Established in 1913 by a group of Philadelphia amateurs, Pine Valley was designed by George Arthur Crump. It boasts of several unique design principles. Holes are not laid out parallel to the next and play direction changes every hole. Also, players are locked in to the hole they are playing as they won’t be able to see any other hole. Chances are every golf club in the bag will be used when you are in Pine Valley. It’s a par-70, 18-hole golf course that has hosted the Walker Cup twice.
2. Cypress Point Club, Pebble Beach, California
This is an 18-hole, par-72 golf course that opened in 1928 and designed by Alister MacKenzie. The 15th to 17th holes are among the best in the world as it plays along the Pacific Ocean. The 16th hole, as a matter of fact, features a long par-three that plays over the ocean itself. Ben Hogan holds the course record of 63 which he set during “The Match,” in which he teamed up with fellow legend Byron Nelson to beat two notable amateurs in 1956.
3. Muirfield, Gullane, Scotland
This is an 18-hole, par-71 golf course that was established in 1744 and designed by Tom Morris Sr. It has hosted the British Open, commonly referred to as The Open, 15 times. Notable winners include Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Nick Faldo, Lee Trevino, Gary Player and Walter Hagen. It has also been the site of the Ryder Cup, Walker Cup and Curtis Cup. Nicklaus said it is the best golf course in Britain and even named and designed a golf community in Dublin, Ohio after it.
4. Old Course, St. Andrews, Scotland
This is an 18-hole, par-72 golf course that was established way back in 1552. It is considered to be the home of golf as the first game ever played was on the links of St. Andrews in the early 15th century. It features several double greens, with seven greens shared by two holes each. It also features the iconic Swilcan Bridge, situated so that anyone who plays the 18th hole will have to pass through it. Sunday play is prohibited except during The Open, Women’s British Open, St. Andrews Links Trophy, St. Rule Trophy and Dunhill Links Championship. Notable winners here include Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros, Sam Snead, Bobby Jones and John Daly.
5. Pebble Beach Golf Links, Pebble Beach, California
This is an 18-hole, par-72 golf course established in 1919 and designed by Jack Neville and Douglas Grant. Playing here would afford the player a view of Carmel Bay opening to the Pacific Ocean. It has been the site of the US Open five times. Notable winners include Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Tiger Woods.
6. Royal Melbourne Golf Club, Melbourne, Australia
This is a 36-hole golf club divided into two courses. Alister MacKenzie designed the West course in 1931, while Alex Russell designed the East course the following year. For tournaments, a composite course of 12 holes from the West and six from the East are combined to form 18 holes. It has hosted the Canada Cup and the President’s Cup.
7. Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, Southampton, New York
The golf club itself was established in 1891, making it the oldest organized golf club in the United States. It was also the first club to admit women, which it has been doing since the start. The course meanwhile has 18 holes with par 70. William Flynn designed it. It has the distinction of hosting the US Open in three different centuries, doing so in 1896, 1986, 1995 and 2004. Its value has been enhanced by its inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places in 2000.
8. Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, Georgia
This is an 18-hole, par-72 golf course designed by Bobby Jones and Alister MacKenzie. It stands at the site of a former indigo plantation and it has hosted the Masters tournament every year, making it the only major golf tournament played at the same course annually. Its most famous holes are the 11th to 13th holes, which form part of the “Amen Corner.” Specifically, it consists of the second shot of the 11th hole to the tee shot of the 13th hole. Many Masters tournaments have been decided on this stretch. The club itself is deeply traditional, with a green jacket awarded to winners of the major tournament. It has received criticism however for not being attuned to the times, including exclusion of blacks until 1990, exclusion of women until 2012 and a former policy that required all caddies to be African Americans.
9. Pinehurst Golf Resort, Pinehurst, North Carolina
This is a resort established in 1895 with eight golf courses available. While the first course is probably the most scenic and picturesque, the second one is the most historic as it has hosted a number of major tournaments. It has been the site of the PGA Championship, the US Open, the US Amateur and the Ryder Cup.
10. Royal County Down Golf Club, Newcastle, Northern Ireland
This is one of the oldest golf clubs in Ireland dating back to 1889. It has two 18-hole link courses, namely the Championship Course with a par 71 and the Annesley Links with a par 66. It has been the site of the Senior British Open, the British Amateur and the British Ladies Amateur.