One of the greatest things about golf is the way it is played across natural landscapes, and there aren't many courses which use their landscapes better than these 20.
20 Of The World’s Most Incredible Golf Courses
Below we list some of the world’s most incredible courses, featuring clifftop courses, links courses, classic heathlands and more.
Some are super-famous whilst others may be lesser known to you. One thing they share is the beauty and wow factor.
Related: Top 100 Courses UK and Ireland
20 Of The World’s Most Incredible Golf Courses:
Pine Valley, New Jersey, USA
Pine Valley claims the number one spot in Golf Digest’s USA Top 100.
The New Jersey course was designed by George Arthur Crump with the help of Harry Colt and then later alterations from A.W. Tillinghast, Hugh Wilson, George C. Thomas Jr and Walter Travis.
The course is carved out of the natural sand dunes and tall, towering pines, making it the ultimate golfing test in a beautiful setting.
Royal County Down, Newcastle, Northern Ireland
Royal County Down in Northern Ireland is Golf Digest’s number one course in the world (outside of America).
The Mountains of Mourne provide a glorious backdrop, and when the gorse or heather are in bloom, it’s hard to imagine a lovelier place to play.
Now over 125 years old, the course has evolved thanks to the influence of some of golf’s finest architects, including Old Tom Morris and Harry Colt.
Pebble Beach, Monterrey Peninsula, California, USA
Pebble Beach on Monterrey Peninsula is probably one of golf’s two or three real bucket list courses.
Golf fans know it well from US Opens, Pebble Beach Pro-Ams and the old Tiger Woods PGA Tour games.
Its signature holes include the short downhill par-3 7th, the tough par-3 17th and the famous par-5 finishing hole which doglegs left around the jagged rockface and Pacific Ocean.
Shiskine, Isle of Arran, Scotland
The 12-holer at Shiskine won’t be known to most but hopefully after reading this more will go and check it out.
Located on the Isle of Arran, Shiskine is arguably one of the UK&I’s most spectacular golf courses, and it barely takes 2 and a half hours to get round.
The club dates back to 1896 and the course is right on the sea, featuring burns, blind tee shots and simply spectacular scenery.
Old Head, Kinsale, Ireland
Old Head Golf Links on a peninsula off the south coast of Ireland is without doubt the UK&I’s most spectacular setting, in fact it may well be the world’s.
Golf loving brothers John and Patrick O’Connor acquired the 220 acres of farmland in 1989 with the specific intent of creating “one of the top ten international courses and ultimately the world’s premier golf club.”
And boy they did.
Over half of the holes play alongside the huge cliff faces where at points you are two miles from the mainland.
The standout holes are 2, 3, 4, 7, 12 and 13 – all of them carry the ‘wow’ factor. Old Head really has to be experienced.
Read more on the history: Old Head Golf Links: Take a walk on the wild side
Legend Golf Course, Entebeni, South Africa
The Legend Golf Course, in Entebeni, South Africa, was designed by 18 different golfers, each one doing an entire hole, but it is famous for its 631m long par-3 extreme 19th hole.
The holes were designed by players including Padraig Harrington, Sergio Garcia, Bernard Langer, Colin Montgomerie, Justin Rose and Vijay Singh.
Harrington was the first player to par the extreme 19th.
The tee shot is played at the top of Hanglip mountain down to the green which is in the shape of Africa. You need a helicopter ride to get up and down!
The 18 hole championship course plays over 7,700 metres off the back tees, making it one of, if not the, longest golf courses in the world.
Le Touessrok, Mauritius
The Ile Aux Cerfs Golf Club at Le Touessrok Resort occupies its own island off the east coast of Mauritius.
The Bernhard Langer-designed golf course is regarded as one of the world’s greatest, set in truly stunning scenery surrounded by the Indian Ocean.
Pinnacle Point, Mossel Bay, South Africa
Pinnacle Point is South Africa’s version of Pebble Beach, playing alongside the Mossel Bay overlooking the Indian Ocean.
The course was designed by Darren Clarke and Peter Matkovich and was named ‘South Africa’s Best Golf Course’ in the Annual World Golf Awards in 2016 and 2017.
Seven holes play alongside the Indian Ocean whilst four play over the Ocean and cliffs.
Cape Kidnappers, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
It is hard to believe that the Tom Doak design at Cape Kidnappers opened in just 2004.
It appears like it has been there forever, as the holes play alongside the thin jagged edges of the cliff ‘fingers’.
Players can walk right up to the edges, 140 metres above sea level in what really is an incredible golfing experience.
It is one of the world’s most photographed courses and will be on most golfers’ bucket lists.
Loch Lomond, Scotland
The former Scottish Open venue Loch Lomond is one of the world’s most beautiful and unique courses.
Situated right on the edge of the stunning Loch Lomond, the championship golf course, always kept in perfect condition, has phenomenal views of the loch and mountains.
It is a very exclusive club so unfortunately most golfers won’t get the chance to play there.
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Fancourt Links, George, South Africa
On South Africa’s south coast, midway between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, Fancourt is at the heart of South Africa’s famed ‘garden route’.
It’s a supremely beautiful stretch of coastline with a moderate climate and incredible array of flora and fauna.
Fancourt has three courses, all designed by nine-time Major Champion Gary Player.
The premier track is the Links, venue for the 2003 Presidents Cup and the 2012 Volvo Golf Champions event won by Branden Grace.
It’s an incredible design inspired by the great links tracks of Scotland and Ireland and is generally regarded as one of the very best courses in South Africa.
Set on the exclusive island of Sentosa, Sentosa Resort features two championship golf courses, both with stunning views of the Singapore Straits.
The Serapong and the New Tanjong have hosted some elite tournaments like the Asia Pacific Amateur, HSBC Women’s Champions and Singapore Open.
The Serapong Course is regarded as one of Asia’s best whilst the New Tanjong is well worth playing too.
Cypress Point, Monterrey Peninsula, California, USA
Cypress Point’s 16th hole (pictured above) is surely one of the world’s greatest golf holes.
It opened in 1928, designed by Alister MacKenzie, the man behind Augusta, as well as Robert Hunter.
Just like its neighbouring Pebble Beach, it plays along the jagged coast line along the Pacific Ocean.
Royal Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
Royal Melbourne’s West Course is regarded as one of the world’s greatest courses, and just like Augusta National and Cypress Point, it was designed by Yorkshireman Dr Alister MacKenzie.
The club has two courses, the West and the East, playing out over the typical Aussie Sandbelt that so many golfers dream to play on.
It hosts the 2019 Presidents Cup and has hosted 16 Australian Opens.
Banff Springs, Banff, Canada
Set amidst the Candian Rockies and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Banff National Park, Banff Springs is a uniquely beautiful golf course that won’t be found anywhere else on earth.
The course is framed by the sensational mountains and beautiful fir trees throughout, making it an experience like no other.
Old Course, St Andrews, Scotland
The Old Course or the ‘Home of Golf’ as its known is probably top of most golfers’ bucket lists and one of the top two iconic golf courses in the world along with Augusta.
It has hosted the Open Championship on 29 occasions.
Golfers know it for the famous opening and closing holes, the Swilcan bridge, the Road Hole and the Hell Bunker.
Ballybunion, County Kerry, Ireland
Ballybunion in Ireland is considered by some as the Republic of Ireland’s number one golf course.
Ireland is home to some of the greatest links land in the world and Ballybunion makes use of its natural surroundings perfectly.
Set on the Atlantic Ocean in the south-west of Ireland, the 125-year-old Ballybunion is home to 36 holes and the Old Course is what keeps the visitors coming.
Augusta National, Augusta, Georgia, USA
Ask anyone what course they’d like to play in the entire world and Augusta would likely come top.
The home of the Masters, designed by Alister MacKenzie and opened in 1933, is arguably the world’s greatest course, set amid stunning woodland with beautiful flora including its famous azaleas.
Golf fans know the course like the back of their hands having seen it on TV year after year, with the famous Amen Corner, and par-5 15th, par-3 16th and par-4 18th the most memorable holes.
Adare Manor, County Limerick, Ireland
Adare Manor in Ireland recently re-opened after an 18th month re-design by Tom Fazio which has seen the course become one of the world’s best.
Rumoured to be hosting the 2026 Ryder Cup, Adare Manor is now referred to as Ireland’s Augusta with its sensational conditioning, green complexes and new sub air system.
It commands a high green fee at €350, the country’s highest, but in this case you get what you pay for.
Swinley Forest, Ascot, Berkshire, England
The delightful Swinley Forest showcases English heathland golf at its best.
The short 6,400 yard par 69 course was designed by Harry Colt and is the club is like no other, with no handicaps, no competitions and no captain.
It is lined with heather, pines and rhododendrons and has some of the best putting surfaces you’ll find.
A round at Swinley is very, very hard to beat.
Have you played any of these courses? And what are your favourite courses in the world?
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