Nowadays, the world's top millionaires do not settle for just another beach house, a couple of condos, a castle in Europe, and a private car collection that could easily outshine a museum. Not anymore. The newest trend is joining a private country club and taking the golf game one step further. Interestingly enough, some of the most expensive membership-only clubs are based in the United States. But the oldest ones are in the United Kingdom, the birthplace of the game, and less restrictive when it comes to memberships.
With each new season, golf players take their clubs out and warm up their wrists for some spectacular games. All they need is the right course. Any player is well aware of the importance of playing on a world-renowned course, one that has felt the footsteps of the greatest players in history. With so many country clubs worldwide, not all are the same. But that's exactly the beauty of the game: no course is like the other. Throughout the Globe, there are history-filled country clubs offering breathtaking views, with holes that even Tiger Woods would have problems hitting. The consecrated courses on the following top 10 most exclusive country clubs in the world have become famous not only thanks to the notorious games they hosted, but also thanks to their spectacular view. From Old Course in Scotland, the place where it all began, to New Zealand and its picture-perfect Cape Kidnappers, there are some exclusive country clubs in this world that no millionaire of passionate golf player can miss.
10 Valderrama, Spain
A newer country club, founded in 1974, awaits golfers in Spain. The course takes players along old oak trees, all the way to a lake in which roaring waterfalls splash. It was the venue for the first Ryder Cup in Europe back in 1997 and is currently one of Europe's most famous. Located in the Andalusia region in southern Spain, Valderrama has one 18-hole course, and three 9-hole courses. Expect to pay a weekend green fee of $471 per person.
9 Royal County Down Golf Club, Ireland
Opened in 1889 in Newcastle, North Ireland, the Royal County Down Golf Club is one of the oldest country clubs in Ireland. It might not be the most expensive, with only $40 per person, per round, not including equipment hire, but it is definitely home to one of the best courses in the world and playing here is definitely on any golfer's to-do list. With two 18-hole courses, it is enclosed by the Mourne Mountains and the Irish Sea, and overlooks Dundrum Bay. Keep in mind that it is as beautiful as it is challenging.
8 Cape Kidnappers, New Zealand
Located on the eastern coast of North Island, New Zealand, the golf course at Cape Kidnappers is the ultimate picture perfect spot to hit those holes. In fact, it is the very place where pictures for those annual golf calendars are taken. The courses stretch along the Hawke Harbor, on a rugged,yet green coast. With very difficult courses, any wrong move will send your ball straight into the Pacific Ocean. The private country club is New Zealand's best and was founded in 2004. In high season, you can expect to pay $350 per person for the 18-hole course.
7 Old Head Golf Links, Ireland
Located in the Old Head of Kinsale, a spectacular headland to the south of Ireland,Old Head Golf Links not only promises a challenging golf game along the rugged terrain, but an enchanting view at the same time. The country club welcomes its members with the Lusitania Bar, a five-star restaurant, the quintessence of Irish hospitality. In addition, the place has seen its share of history being written, as it is in the vicinity of Old Head, a local landmark, the place where the RMS Lusitania sank back in 1916, the event that determined the US to enter World War 1. Expect to pay $400 per person, per round.
6 Pinehurst Country Club, North Carolina
Back in 1894, Sand Hills in North Carolina have seen the opening of the Pinehurst Country Club with its eight remarkable courses. Nowadays, it is home to the highest number of holes among all country clubs in the world. Each is picturesque in its own way, with tree-lines and bunkers. It is the very place where Payne Stewart won the US Open in 1999, and it is the venue for the 2014 US Open. The Number 2, Number 4, and Number 8 golf courses have been ranked among the best in the golf world. During the season, expect to pay $375 per person, per round. Luckily, there's another option. For $398 per person per night, non-members can enjoy three rounds of golf plus dinner and breakfast, all based on a two-night minimum stay, with the Donald Ross Package.
5 Pebble Beach Golf Links, California
What do the US Open and Ryder Cup tourneys have in common? Pebble Beach Golf Links in California is the most coveted venue for both events, as it is considered one of the best golf courses in the whole world. Stretching along a rugged coastline, it opens up to a lovely view of the Pacific Ocean thanks to its picturesque location in Carmel Bay. Designed by Jack Neville, there are many holes quite close to the rocky coast, while the game is pushed a bit further into the ocean on a peninsula retching out at sea. The most famous golf course in the US is the most challenging at the same time. Both the terrain and the wind will influence you game, pushing you to the limit. Pebble Beach Golf Links is a public golf course, but nonetheless exclusive. Expect to pay $475 per person, per round. Non-members pay an extra $35 per cart.
4 Shadow Creek Golf Course, Nevada
North Las Vegas is is the proud host of a 18-hole golf course that is more than just another country club, it is one of America's most remarkable man-made gems. With over 21,000 trees, it is a well hidden country club where intimacy is at its best. For $500, you will be driven to the course and back in a limousine, and you'll have your own personal caddy to guise you along. Non-members cannot get in unless they've been invited by MGM Mirage Resorts.
3 Old Course at St. Andrews , Scotland
The United Kingdom could very well rival with the United States when it comes to the number of spectacular and challenging golf courses. But in terms of historical golf clubs, it is definitely the winner. The most famous golf course in the world is at St. Andrews, on the east coast of Scotland. Golf has been played at Old Course ever since the 15th century, so the place truly deserves its name. In addition to the Old Course, the St. Andrews country club is also home to a 18-hole course, a 9-hole course, as well as a practice center where players of all levels can either learn the basics or improve their skills. St. Andrews is a public country club. However, this does not make it less exclusive than all the other private membership-only ones. The 18th hole of the course awaits players near the Royal and Ancient, the institution that regulates golf in Europe. Expect to pay $324 per person, per round.
2 Muirfield Golf Club, Scotland
Home of The Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, Muirfield is a national treasure that has been writing the history of golf playing since 1744. In fact, Muirfield is the oldest golfing society in the world. The exclusive country club has a male-only membership policy and women are only allowed as guests. An exclusive private club, Muirfield is without doubt one of the greatest golf courses in the world, the place where your game and talent will be put to the test. Its fresh green fields near Edinburgh saw Jack Nicklaus win his very first British Open in 1966.
1 Pine Valley Golf Club, New Jersey
With a rather mysterious vibe to it, Pine Valley Golf Club is a highly exclusive, male-only membership country club. Not only is it a private club, it is also hard to find, making Pine Valley one of the best choices for all those who value their privacy and don't want their whereabouts to be known. The picturesque virgin woodlands of Pine Barrens in New Jersey are home to one of the best golf courses in the world. The country club was opened for the first time back in 1913, and since then membership has always been granted to those invited by the board of directors. There are around 930 members from all corners of the world. Women are only allowed on the course on Sunday afternoons and guests can only enter if invited and accompanied by a member.
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