Essential Golf: A passion for the Game

The Ten Greatest Golf Courses In the World

Golf is unique because you can follow legends’ footsteps and play the incredible venues where the greats made their name and cemented their legacy.

Here we will take a look at the world’s ten greatest courses. What constitutes the world’s top course for you is a matter of taste and opinion, but we have taken stunning aesthetics, the level of the challenge and difficulty of the course and the history made there all into account when compiling this highly subjective list of the finest golf courses in the world.

  1. Royal Dornoch Golf Club

Details: Dornoch, 6,722 yards. Par 70.

A golf course possibly not as well known as the others that will feature, especially outside of the U.K, but a course deserving of its place in the top ten nevertheless.

Tom Watson said playing Royal Dornoch was “the most fun I’ve ever had on a golf course.”

This is one of the very best golf courses in the United Kingdom but lacks the long tournament history and prestige of the other courses in the top ten due to its relative inaccessibility, which naturally diminishes its tournament pedigree.

This beautiful seaside links course has mainly elevated greens; unlike most links courses, this makes it impossible to run the ball onto the greens.

  1. Royal County Down

Details: Newcastle, Northern Ireland. 7,183 yards. Par 71.

The near-impossible angles and crazy rolls of Royal County Down stand it apart from other courses. Royal County Down runs parallel with the stunning Murlough Nature Reserve on Northern Ireland’s East Coast.

The twisting, turning and rolling holes of this spectacular course push golfers’ skills and imagination to the test while enjoying both the views of the Mountains of Morne and the glistening clear water of Dundrum Bay.

Many golfers and enthusiasts believe Royal County Down has the finest front 9 in the world of golf.

  1. Oakmont Country Club

Details: Oakmont, Pennsylvania. 7,254 yards. Par 71.

The greens are why Oakmont Country Club makes the upper regions of the greatest course in the world list. Without them being arguably the most challenging in the world, this course would be lucky to make a top 50, never mind a top 10.

The course that hosted Dustin Johnson’s first major win at the 2016 U.S Open was rumoured to have actually slowed down the greens for that, and even then, they played an enormous role as the storyline of that famous maiden major victory for DJ unravelled.

  1. National Golf Links of America

Details: Southampton, New York. 6,935. Par 72.

This golf course is a marvel of modern design. Famous holes such as the Alps 3rd, the short 6th, and the Leven 17th mean this course makes the top ten ahead of the other prominent Philadelphia course – Merion. This course is the better of the two.

‘National’ as it’s known has never been the host of a national championship, only because they have never wanted to. The 2013 Walker Cup being the exception to the rule.

  1. Cabot Cliffs Cape Breton

Details: Inverness, Nova Scotia. 6,764. Par 72.

The best golf course in Canada and the best hardcore links course outwith the U.K offers a sun-drenched, serene venue where golfers can watch the crashing waves of the North Atlantic crash into the Canadian granite while they ponder their next shot.

There are few holes in the world of golf as dramatic and stunning as the Par 3, 16th at Cabot Cliffs. Golfers play from one cliff edge to another with nothing between them but a 100-foot drop to the rocky coast of the Atlantic ocean.

  1. Cypress Point Club

Details: Pebble Beach, California. 6,524. Par 72.

Cyprus Point is simply a glorious collection of golf holes. The course has remained short over time, resisting the urge to add length to combat updates in technology, and rightly so. The course is perfect the way it is.

The iconic 16th at Cyprus Point, a stunning Par 3, is probably the most photographed hole in golf, but that is far from the only highlight. The jagged coastline of the Pacific and the mammoth dunes around the course mean any golfer who plays this almost ‘out of this world’ course won’t forget it in a hurry.

The course is renowned for breaking the “rules” of golf with back-to-back par-5s on the front nine and back-to-back par-3s on the back 9.

  1. St. Andrews (Old Course)

Details: St. Andrews, Scotland. 6,721. Par 72.

St Andrews

There’s no course anywhere else in the world that offers the flexibility for a 15-year-old, a 40-year-old, and a 70-year-old to forge a competitive round.

Modern-day architects can still learn an awful lot from the birthplace of golf with its huge double greens and multitude of blind bunkers. The great Augusta itself is one of many other great courses that derived inspiration and laid its foundations based on the variety and intricacy of The Old Course.

Even if this beautiful course didn’t have the distinguished history it does as an Open Championship host; I’m sure it would still have made the top ten.

  1. Manele Golf Course

Details: Lanai, Hawaii. 7,039. Par 72.

The only imperfection with this course is the location, and only in terms of accessibility. Every one of the Jack Nicklaus designed 18 holes gives the golfer a guaranteed view of the blue waters of the Pacific.

The most famous hole on the course is the 12th, a challenging par 3 that your average golfer would happily take a bogey on. An undulating green on the far side of an oceanside canyon will test even the best of the best.

  1. Pine Valley Golf Club

Details: Pine Valley, New Jersey. 6,999. Par 70.

Golf Digest famously described Pine Valley best, “Pine Valley blends all three schools of golf design — penal, heroic and strategic — throughout the course, oftentimes on a single hole.”

Despite having no real history of hosting big tournaments, mainly down to the difficulty there would be accomodating large crowds due to the intricate course layout, this ‘island to island’ course still ranks very highly. Pine Valley is unique with its pine trees surrounding the desert-like venue.

It is a commonly held belief that Pine Valley has the most formidable hazards the golfing world has to offer.

  1. Augusta National

Details: Augusta, Georgia. 7,435 yards. Par 72.

The staggering beauty of this course, plus its Masters tradition, makes it the obvious choice as the greatest golf course in the world.

Designed with the spirit and strategic options of St Andrews Old Course in mind Bobby Jones and his chosen architect Alister MacKenzie designed this incredible course with a risky route to every green alongside a safer path.

Great golf courses are all about narrative, and no other course comes close to matching that of Augusta National.