Here at Your Golf Travel we’re a lucky bunch in that we get to live and breathe golf all day, every day, and as part of that we play a bit too. Through our commitment to knowing the best venues for you to play, we have set foot on some pretty special courses – it’s a tough job, but someone has to do it!
After much debate in the office about what is the best course in the world from those that we have all played, we decided instead to come to a democratic decision, and create our fantasy course, based on the best holes we have ever played.
Let us know how many of these you have played, and what your favourites are.
1 – The Belfry, Brabazon Course – 10th hole, par 4, 301 yards
The 10th hole on the Brabazon at the Belfry – would you play it safe and lay up, or go straight for the green?
One of the most famous holes in golf, this relatively short par 4 really does offer all golfers the outside chance of an eagle, or as shown recently, an albatross. A hole that is perfectly set up for match play, lay up and play safe or go all out for the win. This is also a hole steeped in history, as the signature hole on the Brabazon Course, the only venue to have hosted 4 Ryder Cups, so you’ll be following in the footsteps of some of the golfing greats.
The stunning 11th hole at Quinta do Lago’s Laranjal course, and it’s unique ‘beach bunker’
The Laranjal course is one of the finest in the Algarve, and without question, the signature hole is the par 3 11th. Playing over 200 yards from the back tees, the distance is only one cause for concern. If you’re to reach the green, you’ll not only need to clear the sparkling lake that sprawls out in front of you, but also the enormous ‘beach bunker’ that guards the front, making this a truly memorable hole.
Playing 573 yards from the back tees, you are faced with a gaping canyon that needs to be crossed, with a carry of close to 240 yards to reach the fairway, with any kind of mishit guaranteed to land you in trouble. If you’re a big hitter you can take on the long green in two, but with plenty of sand protecting it, you’ll need another solid strike if you’re to have a putt for eagle.
4 – Old Thorns Manor, Hampshire – 5th hole, par 4, 357 yards
The 5th at Old Thorns is a fantastic example of how spectacular elevated tees can be
The spectacular 5th hole at this Peter Alliss designed course, offers some incredible over the Hampshire countryside from the elevated tee. With a tree lined fairway leading to a green protected by water to the left, this hole is as tough as it is beautiful. At the end of your round at this superb course, be sure to look at Jack Nicklaus and Seve’s scorecards from the inaugural round in 1982, to see how your score compares to the greats of the game.
5 – Royal Porthcawl, Wales, 5th hole, par 5, 611 yards
After four holes along the coastline, the fifth moves you back inland to some severe elevation changes. You’ll need to be accurate off the tee, as with out of bounds and choppy rough to the right, along with a numbers of pot bunkers dotted in the fairway, trouble awaits. With the green around 50 foot above the fairway, going for it in two is risky, especially as it is protected by thick gorse and a steep bank that will send the ball back if you don’t give it enough club. This beautiful par 5 is another classic risk/reward hole, and a real gem at that! Royal Porthcawl is an essential venue on any Welsh golf break.
6 – The Island Club, Ireland, 14th hole, par 4, 337 yards
With so many amazing courses in Ireland to choose from, it is difficult to pick a favourite course, let alone a favourite hole, but this one just about gets it. With landing areas varying from 11-16 yards in width, the ocean on your right and an estuary behind you wreaking havoc with the wind direction, club selection on this hole is far from simple! The 14th hole on this amazing course is the start of a demanding closing stretch that can make or break your round.
7 – Kauri Cliffs, New Zealand – 7th hole, par 3, 220 yards
One lucky YGT employee tees it up on the magnificent 7th hole at Kauri Cliffs
There can be few better visual golfing experiences than that found at Kauri Cliffs. The 7th hole is named Cavalli due to the islands which sit in the Ocean behind the hole. At just over 220 yards, this is a stiff test with anything short or right of the putting surface needing armbands to survive. If you have the chance head over to the North Island in New Zealand, grab your clubs and a camera!
8 – Montgomerie Course, Dubai – 18th hole, par 5, 656 yards
656 yards and plenty of water stand between you and the hole on the incredibly tough 18th at Montgomerie Dubai
An absolute gem of a closing hole, with trouble all around. From the tee you’re aiming at a thin strip of fairway surrounded by water on both sides so you need to get your drive away well here to avoid a card breaking score. Playing a whopping 656 yards from the back tees, it’s no wonder this is ranked the toughest hole on this superb course, and one of the best in Dubai. Walk off with a par and the post round drink in the stunning clubhouse will taste all the better.
9 – Kingsbarns Golf Links, Scotland – 15th hole, par 3, 212 yards
The 15th at Kingsbarns Golf Links is a classic example of a par 3 links
Despite being a young course, Kingsbarns is already a classic Scottish links course, and this par 3 is links golf at it’s very best. With the ocean waiting to claim anything pushed right, the smart shot is to aim towards the bunker at the back left of the green and then let the slope feed the ball back to the centre of the green – just make sure that if you are off the back tees you take enough club!
10 – Valderrama, Spain – 17th hole, par 5, 490 yards
The famous 17th green at Valderrama leaves very little room for manoeuvre
One of the finest courses in Spain, and indeed Europe, Valderrama is a must for any keen golfer headed for the Costa Del Sol. Anyone who watched the 1997 Ryder Cup there will be familiar with the spectacular par 5 17th. As with many of the best holes, this has a huge element of risk and reward in the shape of the approach shot here. If you go for broke and hit the green in two the rewards could be huge, however the risks are also substantial. Anything short will end up wet, whilst going long results in one of the most nerve racking bunker shots you could ever imagine coming back.
11 – Le Touquet La Mer, France – 11th hole, par 4, 432 yards
One of the top golfing destinations in France, Le Touquet is the perfect venue for a golf holiday, and the La Mer course is the star of the show. The 11th is a fantastic par 4 that often plays into the wind, meaning you’ll need two good strikes to reach the large green in regulation. If you do go for it in two but don’t give the approach enough club, then you might just find yourself playing out of one the bunkers that protect the green.
12 – Gleneagles Kings Course – 9th hole, par 4, 409 yards
Miss the green with your approach to the 9th at Gleneagles Kings Course and you can forget about par!
The severe undulations and elevation changes at the King’s Course are one of the hallmarks of this fantastic track, and make club selection and strategy vital. Although the tee shot is relatively simple, with most players needing nothing more than a well hit 3 wood, the rest of the hole is a real challenge. As the fairway falls away from you, expect a downhill lie for your second shot into a green that rises sharply and is protected by sand and knee deep rough. Hit the green in two and par should be yours, miss it and your scorecard could be ruined!
13 – Forest of Arden, Arden Course – 17th hole, par 5, 516 yards
You’ll need two big hits to reach the 17th green at Forest of Arden, look out for the deer too!
The short 18th may be the signature hole of this course, but the par 5 before it takes some solid shots to negotiate it safely. You want to go slightly right to left off the tee to set yourself up with the best line into the green. With the green protected by a bunker to the left and water to the right that the green slopes towards, you need to be brave, good or preferably both to go for this one in two.
14 – Celtic Manor, Twenty Ten Course, 14th hole, par 4, 413 yards
The 14th at Celtic Manor’s 2010 course is a classic risk/reward hole however you choose to play it
There are very few holes that give players two separate risk/reward options, but the 14th at the home of the 2010 Ryder Cup does just that. Hit a driver over an expanse of water and you’ll be left with a fairly easy 8 iron approach. Alternatively use a rescue club to go left, leaving a longer iron approach to a 3 tiered green with bunkers right and water left. A classic matchplay hole!
15 – Ocean Course, Hilton Head Island – 15th hole, par 3, 210 yards
Whilst the Harbour Town Golf Links is the course that put Hilton Head on the American golfing map, the nearby Ocean Course also offers a great challenge with some stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean. The best of these views comes from the elevated tee on the 15th, with the beach behind the green being the perfect place to head to after your round. Golfers lucky enough to be heading to South Carolina have to play here!
16 – St Andrews Old Course -17th hole, par 4, 495 yards
Any golfer worth their salt has to make the pilgrimage to the home of golf at some time in their life, and there are few more iconic holes in the world than the 17th at the Old Course. Having to hit a tee shot over a five star hotel, followed by one of the most daunting shots in golf at the place where it all began, makes this a must see for any golfer, and more than worthy of a place in our ultimate 18.
17 – TPC Sawgrass, Stadium Course – 17th hole, par 3, 140 yards
It was going to take a pretty special hole to keep the 17th at the Old Course out of the penultimate spot, but this 140 yard par three does just that. So legendary is this hole, you’ll spend the whole round thinking about it, and then when you finally get there you can’t quite believe how much you’re shaking over what should be a very simple shot. Hit the green and the smile is unlikely to leave your face for hours, miss it and you’ll find yourself in good company with hundreds of tour pros who have come unstuck at this superb Florida venue during the annual Players Championship, considered by many as the ‘5th major’.
18 – San Lorenzo, Portugal, 18th hole, par 4, 371 yards
A double dog leg, with water down the left and again in front of the green, makes this a great closing hole. You can either play conventionally, and assuming you get a big drive away you’ll be left with a 7 or 8 iron into a narrow green. Alternatively, go left, carrying 230-250 yards over water to a small isthmus of land just short of the green. Hit the perfect tee shot and the hole should be yours, mess it up and you surrender it. The perfect finish to a world class golf course.
So, at the end of the round, we have a par 72 course, weighing in at a healthy 6,953 yards when playing from the back tees, with the front nine just one yard longer than the back – which despite what it may look like wasn’t planned! – with holes ranging from 140 to 656 yards. We’ve covered 18 different courses across 11 countries and four continents, taking in links, parkland and woodland courses to make up what would surely be one of the most spectacular courses known to man.
Tempted to get out and try some of these amazing courses, or any of the other thousands of venues on offer at Your Golf Travel? Call our expert sales team today on 0800 043 6644 to start planning your next golf holidays.