I was recently asked by someone what the 18 best golf holes I have ever played are. I have been lucky to play golf in 24 countries around the world since joining YGT 10 years ago. So this list wasn’t easy list to make! ?
Honestly, I could spend hours thinking about this and my list would probably change every 5 minutes if I did. With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of the 18 best golf holes below as quickly as I could. I’ve ignored any notion of a par for this “18 hole course” too and quite simply have picked my 18 best golf holes in the world. I haven’t ordered them either…these are just 18 banging golf holes off the top of my head.
1) Legends Golf & – Safari Extreme 19th
2) Pinnacle Point – Hole 9
3) Trump Turnberry Ailsa Course – Hole 9
4) Trump Turnberry Ailsa Course – Hole 10
5) Tralee Golf Club – Hole 16
6) Bay Hill Club – Hole 6
7) Kiawah Island Ocean Course – Hole 13
8) The Belfry Brabazon Course – Hole 10
9) Quinta do Lago Laranjal Course – Hole 11
10) Bay Hill Club – Hole 17
11) PGA Catalunya Stadium Course – Hole 13
12) Casa de Campo Teeth of the Dog – Hole 5
13) Druids Glen – Hole 12
14) Druids Glen – Hole 14
15) Monte Rei – Hole 13
16) Vale do Lobo Royal Course – Hole 16
17) Royal Portrush Dunlice Links – Hole 16
18) Leopard Creek – Hole 13
1) Legend Golf & Safari Resort – Extreme 19th
It seems only right to kick this list off with the best playing experience I’ve ever had in golf. Going to The Masters with my dad probably tops that but as far as actually playing goes, how do you beat a par 3 where you have to take a helicopter to and from the tee?!
400 meters up, and 400 meters out to a giant green and shaped like the continent of Africa. The Extreme 19th is not for the faint hearted. My poor dad who isn’t a massive fan of heights was hitting his tee shots (you get 6 balls per player to play from the tee) and then immediately running back from away the edge.
$1,000,000 for a hole in one adds to the excitement. Needless to say, I didn’t quite get one. Still, my quintuple bogey 8 is the most enjoyable 8 I’ve ever made on a golf course and probably always will be.
2) Pinnacle Point – 9th Hole (Par 3)
Staying in South Africa, we’ll head to Pinnacle Point for another incredible par 3. It’s basically impossible to pick a signature hole at Pinnacle Point, my favourite golf course in the world, but the par 3 9th is definitely a candidate.
The course at Pinnacle Point runs along the cliffs of Mossell Bay and there are forced carries a-plenty. Many tee shots having to be launched over gaping chasms to greens perched on the edge of a bluff, with the waves rolling in far below. The 9th is the most dramatic of the bunch, and with the halfway house waiting at the end you can grab a quick beer to steady the nerves before heading into the back nine for more clifftop thrills!
3) Trump Turnberry Ailsa Course – 9th Hole (Par 3)
Formerly a fairly bland par 4 with an epic backdrop, the 9th on the Ailsa Course is now a dramatic par 3 that, depending on which tees you play from, plays along or over a beautiful rocky bay to a green perched on the water’s edge. I wouldn’t recommend playing from the back tee, I had to hit a 2 iron and still didn’t make the carry despite catching it pure. Even if your tee shot finds a watery grave, this hole is now one of golf’s greatest par 3s! The hole provide one of the game’s most iconic photo opportunities.
4) Trump Turnberry Ailsa Course – 10th Hole (Par 5)
When creating my list of 18 Best Golf Holes, I did try to keep it to just one hole per course, but 9 & 10 on the Ailsa Course just can’t be left out. In fact, the par 5 10th is my favourite golf hole in the world…well…favourite golf hole that doesn’t require a helicopter anyway!
TODAY’S FLASHBACK: Playing my favourite hole in the world. Par 5 10th at Turnberry! QUESTION: What is YOUR favourite hole in golf?? PS - Keep an eye out for the back tee we played from (wouldn’t recommend ?) in the drone shot at the end. Terrifying. ? @yourgolftravel pic.twitter.com/q7WSzH2yL7— Rory Anderson (@YGTRory) May 17, 2020
The 10th at Turnberry was always a cracking hole, but the subtle changes they made to it a few years back have definitely made it better. From the back tee the drive is semi blind and requires a massive carry to find the fairway. So again, teeing it forward is definitely the way to go. But with a driver safely in play, the rest of the hole is played along the rocky coastline that gently sweeps from right to left, to a green again perched right on the water’s edge.
Walking off the green, hopefully with a par on the card, and having a look back down the hole towards the lighthouse is another classic photo opportunity and yet another reminder just how special a place Turnberry is to play golf.
5) Tralee Golf Club – 16th Hole (Par 3)
Tralee Golf Club is my favourite course in Ireland so it was always going to make an appearance on this list, it’s pretty difficult to pick a signature hole because there are just so many!
The par 3 16th, aptly named “Shipwreck”, is definitely one of many highlights of a round at Tralee. With the Atlantic Ocean just a stone’s throw to the right all the way down this testing par 3, where the green is nestled among the massive dunes that South West Ireland is so famous for, this hole is as spectacular as it is testing.
Last time I was there we played from the tips and luckily I hit one of the purest 2 irons of my life to leave an easy 2-putt for par. If you have the time, once you’ve putted out, just stand on the edge of the green and have a little moment, taking in your surroundings. Tralee is an epic place to play golf.
6) Bay Hill Club – 6th Hole (Par 5)
I played Bay Hill on a filming tour with Mark Crossfield, Coach Lockey and my colleague Gareth (A.K.A Mr Llewellyn) and it was unanimously voted as our favourite course of the tour. Unfortunately we ran out of time and couldn’t quite finish the whole course but with the sun going down, we made our way up the Par 5 6th (we tee off on 10 so only missed our last 3 holes) which is a very cool par 5.
Sweeping from right to left around a massive lake, the rest vs reward element on this hole is super fun… and kind of never wracking too! Longer hitters will be able to cut off a decent chunk of the corner and try and get home in two, while others will have to be ever mindful of the water lurking on the left.
7) Kiawah Island Ocean Course – 13th Hole (Par 4)
The Ocean Course is my favourite course in the USA and even though I’ve played the likes of Bay Hill, PGA National and Pinehurst, I have no hesitation in saying that. It’s visually quite unique too, which makes it extra special.
Famed as being one of the hardest golf courses in the world, you can expect a bit of a beating from the Ocean Course. I’ll be honest, I was lucky with the weather. I’ve somehow managed to play 2 rounds here, both days with perfect blue skies and barely a breath of wind. The course will probably give you a wedgie and steal your lunch money too, but don’t let that put you off.
The 13th is probably the best example of why the course can be so tough on the wrong day. DO NOT PLAY OFF THE BACK TEES HERE! I do recommend a walk back to the black tee and have a look at the hole from there. Imagine a 20mph wind blowing from left to right, look at the size of the target you’re aiming into and you’ll have some idea as to how this can be potentially the world’s hardest golf course.
8) The Belfry Brabazon Course – 10th Hole (Par 4)
The Brabazon Course at The Belfry has hosted The Ryder Cup four times…more than any other course in world golf. So it’s hardly surprising that what is arguably the signature hole on the course (the 18th might lay claim to that too) is one of the most iconic holes in the game of golf.
The par 4 10th is brilliant for lots of reasons. It’s famous. It’s beautiful. But best of all, it’s brilliant. A short par 4 that will tempt everyone and anyone into having a crack at the green from the tee. Probably even those who know they definitely won’t reach just so they can say they’ve done it!
Either way you choose to play the hole, whether it’s laying up into the fairway leaving wedge into the tree, or taking it on from the tee, the water hazard and overhanging trees that surround the green must be safely navigated. Do that and a birdie is definitely on the cards. Don’t, and a big number is never too far away. Risk vs reward in a nutshell.
Oh…and the halfway house is on the tee too. Did someone say beer o’clock?
9) Quinta do Laga Laranjal Course – 11th Hole (Par 3)
I have only played one hole on the Laranjal Course at Quinta do Lago. As far as I can tell, I picked the right one.
The par 3 11th here is played over a lake to a green protected by…well…I guess it’s half bunker, half beach. The gleaming white sand protects the front of the green and sweeps around the right side too, disappearing under the water as it makes its way back towards the tee.
I’ll always have fond memories of this hole as it was the very first hole I ever filmed for Youtube on a YGT filming trip. Oh…and fresh off the plane with no warmup I flushed a 3 iron to about 12 feet and holed the putt for a 2. Don’t like to talk about that though.
10) Bay Hill Club – 17th Hole (Par 3)
The 11th at Quinta do Lago and the 17th at Bay Hill because they are incredibly similar holes. As you can see I ended up going for both of them.
I just love the look of the bunkers on these holes that merge with the water hazards. Apart from these 2 holes I can’t think of another with a hazard like this and both holes are superb tests too. Long irons required from the back tees, with the option to move forward should you want an easier crack at the greens, they can be firm and fair.
It wasn’t my turn to bag a birdie when we played here. It was Coach Lockey’s day, but I would settle for an up and down for par from the front bunker any day of the week.
11) PGA Catalunya Stadium Course – 13th Hole (Par 4)
The Stadium Course at PGA Catalunya is one of the best in mainland Europe. The Tour Course at this amazing resort is pretty tidy too so anyone looking for a golf trip to Spain, this resort is definitely worth a look.
The Stadium Course is the main attraction though, and the par 4 5th is a great example of why this course is so highly admired.
The view from the tee is crazy good. Definitely a “selfie moment”. And from a slightly elevated tee you play towards a dramatic peninsula green with water short, right and long. A potential card wrecker but a beauty nonetheless.
12) Casa De Campo Teeth of the Dog Course – 5th Hole (Par 3)
Another par 3 and I’m starting to see a pattern emerging here. Apparently I have a thing for forced carries!
The 5th hole on the Teeth of The Dog course is arguably the most beautiful in my list of 18 Best Golf Holes. It’s great fun to play as well. This is the top ranked course in the entire Caribbean. Once you get to the 5th tee, you start a stretch of holes down the coastline which are simply out of this world.
There are 5 sets of tees dotted along the coastline here. You play towards a scarily small green, perched on a little shelf that juts out into the water. It is protected by a small copse of trees on the right. I went from the back tee last time I was there and it’s only a 7 iron from there, but it’s still a fairly scary shot!
13) Druids Glen – 12th Hole (Par 3)
Another par 3…sorry folks!
Anyone who’s played Druids Glen will forgive me for including this one though. This course is often referred to as “The Augusta of Ireland” and the 12th is arguably the most spectacular hole on the course.
Played from a massively elevated tee, it’s not overly long so depending on how far you hit it, golfers will have something like a mid to short iron to a green. The green is protected by a water hazard that cuts diagonally across the front from left to right.
When you get to the green keep an eye out for the statue of a Druid in the trees to the right and make sure you take a look back towards the tee as well. You’ll see the giant Celtic Cross pattern in the flowerbed just beneath the tee. Druids Glen has arguably the best set of par 3s of any course I’ve ever played and this is the pick of the bunch.
14) Druids Glen – 14th Hole (Par 4)
This is the last course that features more than one hole on this list but just as you think you’ve played the best hole at Druids Glen on the 12th, up pops the par 4 13th. It is also an absolute banger!
Probably the toughest hole on the golf course, the 13th plays from an elevated tee, sweeps from left to right around a corner and over a pretty sizeable water hazard to a green circled by towering trees.
The drive is tough. The approach is tougher. Walk to the 14th with a par on the card and give yourself a big pat on the back from me.
15) Monte Rei – 13th Hole (Par 4)
Monte Rei is by far the best course I’ve played in mainland Europe and every single hole is special in its own way.
I do have a soft spot for short par 4s and I also love course that feature dramatic changes in elevation. Oh and views…when it’s views o’clock on a golf course I’m in heaven… The 13th at Monte Rei tick all 3 boxes.
Despite the dramatically elevated tee, it’s still definitely not drivable. Hit a good tee shot and you won’t have much more than a flick with a wedge in. The green is perched on the edge of a water hazard, all framed by the beautiful East Algarve countryside. A bad strike here or too much focus on your beautiful surroundings could still lead to trouble.
Anyone who loves golf in Portugal and hasn’t done Monte Rei yet, if you have the budget, do it. You won’t regret it.
16) Vale do Lobo Royal Course – 16th Hole (Par 3)
This is more like a par 3 and a half, but I couldn’t not include the most photographed hole in Europe of this list could I?
The 16th on the Royal Course at Vale do Lobo is set on the cliff tops, with the beach and the sea all the way up the left of the hole. It is simply stunning. Head to the back tee for a photo and then promptly back to the yellow or red tees to play the hole. Unless you want to be hitting driver on a par 3 of course.
Regardless of your choice of tee location, only a well struck tee shot will do, as yep…you guessed it…I’ve picked another hole with some forced carries.
17) Royal Portrush Dunluce Links – 16th Hole (Par 3)
Northern Ireland. Royal Portrush Golf Club. Aptly named “Calamity Corner”. A long par 3 with death all the way up the right of the hole.
I’ve only played Royal Portrush a couple of times but my impression is that the prevailing wind is off the left here, and with a giant chasm on the right of the hole. It’s really quite simple: hit one of your Sunday best or prepare to write a pretty big number on your scorecard!
18) Leopard Creek – 13th Hole (Par 5)
The 13th at Leopard Creek Country Club is great hole with a fairway that gently cambers from right to left and a water hazard that runs up the left towards the green. It has a bunker protecting the green to the right, as well as links style run off areas around the green too. Course designer Gary Player describes it as “Leopard Creek is surrounded by bush veld. The fact that you could be playing while hearing a hippopotamus snort or seeing a lion near the fence is unique, as is the pitch shot you might hit over lake full of crocodiles and hippos.”
We didn’t spot any lions, but after reaching the 13th green, you’re treated to an fantastic view out over the African bush veld. This is where we saw a family of elephants coming out of the water after an evening dip. There were plenty of hippos within a pitching wedge of the course’s boundary too.
Tell us your list of the 18 best holes
That’s it! That’s my 18 best holes in golf list. These are the most memorable for me but I could certainly do many more lists and add more amazing golf holes that I’ve been lucky to play. For now, I hope you enjoyed having a little read about some of my golfing adventures.
Let us know in the comments section about the best golf holes that you’ve played too!