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Best Golf Courses in the World

from the experts in Golf Holidays

✍️ Rick Wilton | ⏰ 12 min read

Royal Melbourne Golf Club 9

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Worldwide Golf Courses You Must Play

As the saying goes: "One man's trash is another man's treasure."

There's no getting around it; a lot of things in life are purely subjective. This is certainly the case for golf courses.

Royal Portrush or Royal County Down?
St Andrews or Pebble Beach?
Augusta National or Pine Valley?

We have compiled lists of the best golf courses in:

The Best Golf Courses in the World?

Bucket List Golf Courses to Include on Your Golf Holiday

Every golfer who has been lucky enough to play any of these great golf courses will have their own opinion on which is the best of the best, but one thing is certain: they are all part of the conversation of "The World's Best Golf Courses."

With that in mind, we thought we'd compile a list of the Greatest Courses in Golf and let you know just what makes them so special, and of course why you should and how you could play them on your next golf holiday, as well as maybe a few of their neighboring courses you might want to play along the way.

Because from age-old links classics such as Royal Birkdale, Ballybunion and Royal Dornoch, to more modern masterpieces including Sawgrass, Cabot Cliffs and Fancourt Links; there are truly great golf courses all over the world. The best thing about them all?

They're out there, ready and waiting to welcome you to the first tee, and gladly accept a few of your lost golf balls after you've hit your opening tee shot...

Cypress Point

Cypress Point Club is considered by many to be the most picturesque golf course in the world. Designed by Alistair MacKenzie, this stunning course is located at the foothills of the Santa Lucia mountains.

The cliff top terrain is thrilling but beautiful and has created a golf course that few get to visit with less than 250 members and being exclusively available for members and their guests. A lot of superlatives have been used to describe the location, but when it comes down to it, Cypress Point Club is just really one-of-a kind.

Call 0800 043 6644 for more info on Cypress Point

Cypress Point facts
Location Pebble Beach, California, USA
Length 6,554 yards
Par 72
Designed by Alister MacKenzie & Robert Hunter
Established 1928

"Take plenty of balls, the 16th hole requires a 230-yard tee shot over the Pacific to a mid-sized green guarded by strategically placed bunkers."
Tom (Long Haul Team: Handicap 6)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Tom about playing this course.

Cypress Point Golf Club, California, USA

Tara Iti Golf Club

Perched on the east coast of New Zealand's North Island, Tara Iti may not be known to many, but trust us when we say it is one of the most spectacular golf courses to arrive on the worldwide scene in recent years.

The course opened for play in 2015 and was designed by legendary course architect Tom Doak, whose previous body of work includes courses such as Bandon Dunes, Barnbougle Dunes, Streamsong Blue and another of New Zealand's mind-boggling beautiful courses; Cape Kidnappers. The course sits on a beautiful coastal site that offers staggering views of the Little Barrier, Great Barrier, Mokohinau and Tauranga Islands from your opening tee shot all the way to your final putt. Rugged but beautiful, Tara Iti boasts a world-class layout, unrivalled course conditioning and some of the best panoramic views on earth, not to mention renowned levels of customer service enjoyed by both its members and visiting golfers alike.

Tara Iti is an exclusive private member's club, but it's not completely inaccessible to visiting golfers, as explained by Jim Rohrstaff, the man in charge of club memberships...

"It's a one-time visit, but that's not defined by one round and one night. If you wanted to come up and stay for a week and play 36 holes a day that's fantastic - but as a non-member-sponsored guest, it's a one-time shot. We are here for our members first and foremost but if we have availability and people go through the right process we would love to have them – and we will roll out the red carpet and treat them no differently to our members. We are very welcoming – but in a specific and limited manner."

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to a Golf Travel Expert about playing this course.

Tara Iti Golf Club, New Zealand

Pine Valley Golf Club

Pine Valley Golf Club was the creation of George Crump. This successful hotelier had never designed a course before and his work with Harry Colt is revered as one of the best golf courses in the world. Sadly, Crump died before its completion but the legacy left that is enjoyed today is one marvelled by many.

Having officially opened in 1919 and immediately was recognised as one of the sternest tests in golf. Arnold Palmer successfully challenged members who said he couldn't break 70 on his first round here, his score of 68 was considered an incredible feat and the bets he collected that day set him on his way to being a star of professional golf.

Call 0800 043 6644 for more info on Pine Valley

Pine Valley facts
Location New Jersey, USA
Length 7,181 yards
Par 70
Designed by George Crump, Harry Colt
Established 1919

"There are no weak holes at Pine Valley every single one brings unique and beautiful challenges to the visiting golfer."
Richard (Long Haul Team: Handicap 9)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Richard about playing this course.

Pine Valley Golf Club, New Jersey, USA

Royal County Down

Ranked 1st on Golf Digest's biennial 'World's 100 Greatest Golf Courses' list in 2016 and again in 2018, Royal County Down Golf Club needs little introduction. The golf course is nestled in the Murlough Nature Reserve, flanked by the breathtaking Mountains of Mourne and running along Dundrum Bay, is considered by many to be the most strikingly beautiful golf course in the world.

Don’t let the beauty of Royal County Down fool you, the course is a true test of golf, narrow fairways and ‘bearded bunkers’ demand excellent control of the golf ball.

More info on Royal County Down >>

Royal County Down facts
Location Newcastle, Co. Down, Northern Ireland
Length 7,186 yards
Par 71
Designed by George L. Ballie, Old Tom Morris, Harry Vardon, Harry Colt
Established 1890
Hosted Irish Open 4 times (1928, 1935, 1939, 2015)
Where to stay Belfast

"There probably isn't a golf course that tests you as much off the tee as Royal County Down. Each shot requires perfect execution to open up your approach."
Tom (UK & Ireland Team: Handicap 6)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Tom about playing this course.

Royal Melbourne Golf Club (West Course)

There are many picturesque landscapes throughout Australia but Royal Melbourne’s West course was designed to be a spectator's paradise. It’s hard not to feel like you’re in the heart of golf with such an array of undulating terrain, lush sandy soil and rugged sandstone columns along the fairways.

Alister MacKenzie's design is like the majestic sandbelt land. It snuggly fits into the contours of the undulating landscape, the bunkers with their vertical edges a foot or more tall chew into fairways and green complexes.

More info on Royal Melbourne Golf Club >>

Royal Melbourne West Course facts
Location Victoria, Australia
Length 6,645 yards
Par 72
Designed by Alister MacKenzie, Alex Russell
Established 1926

"The greens are brilliant and provide the finest putting surfaces in Australia. Large and beautifully contoured they are built to accommodate approaches from a number of angles although the further you stray from the perfect line the harder it gets."
Tom (UK & Ireland Team: Handicap 6)

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Royal Melbourne Golf Club 5


Oakmont Country Club is one of the capstones of American golf. Having hosted 9 US Opens and 3 PGA Championships, aside from Augusta National, Oakmont has hosted more Major Championships than any other in America.

With incredibly quick greens, thick rough and some of the most advanced bunker complexes in golf, Oakmont is an unrelenting test that can count Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus and of course Johnny Miller (and his 63) as past champions around this Pennsylvania course that has been enjoyed since 1903.

Call 0800 043 6644 for more info on Oakmont

Oakmont facts
Location Pennsylvania, USA
Length 7,254 yards
Par 71
Designed by Henry and William Fownes
Established 1903

"The greens here are like lightning which combined with the famous bunkering makes Oakmont one of the hardest courses to play to your handicap."
Richard (Long Haul Team: Handicap 9)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Tom about playing this course.

Oakmont Country Club

St Andrews Old Course

It would be impossible to compile a list of the best golf courses, in Scotland and the world, and not include the Old Course at St Andrews. By far and away the most iconic course on the planet, you can feel how special the place is the moment you set foot in town.

The Home of Golf needs little introduction and should be played by every golfer at least once, follow in the footsteps of golf legends and see where golf was born.

More info on St Andrews Old Course >>

St Andrews Old Course facts
Location St Andrews, Fife, Scotland
Length 7,305 yards
Par 72
Designed by Daw Anderson, Old Tom Morris
Established 1552
Hosted Scottish Open 1973
Hosted The Open 30 times
Hosted Women's Open 2 times (2007, 2013)
Where to stay St Andrews

"The 1st tee is undeniably the happiest place on earth for golfers, it is impossible not to smile standing there awaiting the centuries old challenge."
Gareth (UK & Ireland Team: Handicap 12)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Gareth about playing this course.

Pebble Beach Golf Links

Perhaps one of the most visually impressive courses in the world and arguably one of country’s most recognised courses, Pebble Beach Golf Links bound to be on every golfer’s bucket list. Having hosted the US Open on no less than 5 separate occasions and a regular stop on the PGA Tour with the AT&T Pro-Am, the game’s greatest players are constantly gracing the dramatic links.

The course itself skirts the jaw dropping, rugged coastline that gifts players unforgettable views of Monterey Bay and the Northern Pacific. Each hole at this stunning course is worthy of a postcard or two but none more so than the par 3, 7th which has you playing downhill towards the green and the Ocean. For those looking for the golfing experience of a lifetime then look no further than Pebble Beach Golf Links.

More info on Pebble Beach Golf Links >>

Pebble Beach Golf Links facts
Location Monterey Penninsula, California, USA
Length 7,080 yards
Par 72
Designed by Jack Neville, Douglas Grant
Established 1919
Hosted PGA Championship 1977
Hosted US Open 1972, 1982, 1992, 2000, 2010 & 2019
Where to stay Lodge at Pebble Beach, The Inn at Spanish Bay

"Practice your putting before you play here, the slopes and the contour of the greens and are tricky to read. Pebble Beach is a must play for anyone visiting California."
Gareth (Long Haul Team: Handicap 8)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Gareth about playing this course.

Trump Turnberry - Ailsa Course

Potentially the most picturesque golf course in Scotland, on a sunny day the Ailsa course at Trump Turnberry is nothing short of glorious. Watched over by the iconic Turnberry Lighthouse, The Ailsa has a rich history to match the phenomenal views.

Four Open Championships have been played here, none as intense as the 'Duel in the Sun' in 1977 between Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus, one of the greatest spectacles in the history of the event.

More info on Trump Turnberry Ailsa Course >>

Trump Turnberry Ailsa Course facts
Location Ayrshire, Scotland
Length 7,204 yards
Par 70
Designed by Willie Fernie, Mackenzie Ross, Martin Ebert
Established 1906
Hosted The Open 4 times (1997, 1986, 1994, 2009)
Hosted Women's Open 2 times (2002, 2015)
Where to stay Ayrshire Coast, Turnberry Resort

"The 9th hole is up there with the very best par-3 you'll ever play."
Rob (UK & Ireland Team: Handicap 16)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Rob about playing this course.

Ballybunion Golf Club (Old Course)

The Old Course is perched in an idyllic position on the Shannon Estuary, offering not only a world class test of golf, but sweeping views of the rugged yet beautiful south west coast of Ireland.

At just 6,802 yards, the Old is not long, but there is a genuine premium placed on leaving your ball in the best place with the next shot in mind.

More info on Ballybunion Golf Club >>

Ballybunion Old Course facts
Location Co. Kerry, Ireland
Length 6,802 yards
Par 71
Designed by Tom Simpson
Established 1893
Hosted Irish Open 2000
Where to stay South West

"From the 7th tee onwards Ballybunion is truly spectacular, oozing class and rugged links charm from every pore. It’s obvious why many think this is Ireland’s best golf course."
Huw (UK & Ireland Team: Handicap 5)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Huw about playing this course.

Royal Birkdale Golf Club

The pedigree of Royal Birkdale Golf Club is beyond doubt, having hosted The Open 9 times, the Ryder Cup twice and a multitude of other championships including the Walker Cup and Women's British Open.

Ranked 15th in Golf Digest's 'World’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses 2018' the magnificence of Royal Birkdale cannot be overstated, arguably the crown jewel of English golf, this course should be on every golfer's bucket list.

More info on Royal Birkdale >>

Royal Birkdale facts
Location Merseyside, England
Length 7,156 yards
Par 70
Designed by Frederick G. Hawtree / J.H. Taylor
Established 1889
Hosted Ryder Cup 1965, 1969
Hosted The Open 10 times
Hosted Women's Open 6 times (1982, 1986, 2000, 2005, 2010, 2014)
Where to stay Southport

"Playing into the 17th you appreciate how amazing Harrington's shot was to claim his 2nd Open. From start-to-finish, this is a great day of golf."
Sam (UK & Ireland Team: Handicap 1)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Sam about playing this course.

Royal Portrush - Dunluce Links

Royal Portrush remains the only golf club outside of mainland Britain to ever host The Open Championship, an honour that was bestowed upon it once again as the world’s elite golfers did battle on the rough links terrain in The Open in 2019.

The already tough track will present a fresh challenge to amateurs and pros alike, as two new holes have been added in for the most exciting major of the year, potentially making an already great course even greater.

More info on Royal Portrush >>

Royal Portrush Dunluce Links facts
Location Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland
Length 7,143 yards
Par 72
Designed by Harry Colt
Established 1888
Where to stay Portrush & Derry

"Some of the best links views anywhere in the world. A very playable course if you drive it well and somewhere I'd recommend to all, such a great stretch of golf with great apres golf at Ramore in the Harbour."
Tom (UK & Ireland Team: Handicap 6)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Tom about playing this course.

Augusta National

Undoubtedly one of the best courses in the world, if not the best, Augusta National is every golfer’s dream golf course. Unfortunately, there’s very little chance any of us will ever get to play it, but as host of arguably the most iconic major championship in golf, we can experience plenty of golfing magic here ourselves by attending The Masters.

At Your Golf Travel, we think The Masters offers the best spectator experience golf has to offer, and since our early days, we have sent thousands of golf fans from all over the world to Augusta National to enjoy the ultimate golf experience: a week as a Masters Patron.

The Masters has produced some of the most historic moments in major championship history. Experience magical moments like Tiger Woods’ win in 2019 for yourself while walking the fairways at the world’s most famous golf course, taking in holes like Firethorn, Redbud, and Pink Dogwood, and of course, the famous trio that makes up Amen Corner.

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to a Golf Tournament Expert about The Masters.

Augusta National 15

Royal St George's Golf Club

Nestled in the dunes of the beautiful Kent coast, Royal St George's Golf Club is a course of outstanding natural beauty and, since it’s establishment in 1887, it has been considered one of the best courses in Britain and indeed the world.

Dramatic undulations, thick, heavy rough, upturned saucer-shaped greens, and devilish pot bunkers all add to the challenge but it is perhaps the routing of the holes at Sandwich that provides the toughest conundrum for the golfer. Unlike many classic links courses that have a "9 out and 9 back" design, the holes at Royal St George's point every which way, meaning that when the wind us up, the golfer has to constantly be on their toes, assessing its direction and speed. Follow in the footsteps of Open Champions past including Collin Morikawa, Sandy Lyle, Greg Norman, and Darren Clarke, and see if you are up to the test.

More info on Royal St George's >>

Royal St George's facts
Location Sandwich, Kent, England
Length 7,204 yards
Par 70
Designed by Dr. Laidlaw Purves, Hugh Alison, Frank Pennink, Alister MacKenzie
Established 1887
Where to stay Kent

"A serious test of golf, regardless of the tees you play off or the wind on offer."
Rob (UK & Ireland Team: Handicap 16)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Rob about playing this course.

Bandon Dunes (Pacific Dunes)

Located just North of Bandon Dunes, Pacific Dunes has been cited as a masterpiece by many critics, one of which states that it is mature beyond its years given that it only opened in 2001.

Designed by one of the masters of his craft, Tom Doak, who relied on an ingenious design concept and let Mother Nature work her wonders on this classic links layout. Pacific Dunes is not only unique in its beautiful surroundings but also in the way it's designed making it a real pleasure to play!

More info on Bandon Dunes >>

Bandon Dunes (Pacific Dunes) facts
Location Oregon, USA
Length 6,633 yards
Par 71
Designed by Tom Doak
Established 2001

"The par 4 13th commonly plays into the prevailing wind which increases its length, there is more room for error with your tee shot than you might think from the tee itself. The green is massive in depth so be sure to double check the yardage for your approach, which must be struck straight and true in order to avoid running into one of the cleverly placed run-off areas."
Sam (Long Haul Team: Handicap 1)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Sam about playing this course.

Ocean Course at Kiawah Island

Having been catapulted onto the golfing scene following the 1991 Ryder Cup dubbed the ‘War on the Shore’, the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island has gone onto host all four of the PGA of America’s major tournaments and is widely regarded as one of the most celebrated courses in America.

The stunning ocean views that golfers are treated to throughout their round are the perfect accompaniment to the incredible Pete Dye designed golf course which is setup in a way that will test every facet of even the best golfer’s game. The wipsy rough gives the course the feel of some of the great UK links courses but with a twist. Any golfing fanatic will have this course on their bucket list and with Your Golf Travel ticking it off has never been easier.

More info on Ocean Course at Kiawah Island >>

Ocean Course at Kiawah Island facts
Location Kiawah Island, Charleston, USA
Length 7,356 yards
Par 72
Designed by Pete Dye
Established 1991
Hosted Ryder Cup 1991
Hosted PGA Championship 2012, 2021
Where to stay Kiawah Island Resort

"With Gators, Ospreys & other amazing wildlife all over the place, as well as plenty of Ryder Cup & PGA Championship history on display in the clubhouse; relaxing after your round is almost as enjoyable as playing the course itself!"
Rory (Marketing: Handicap 8)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Rory about playing this course.

Fancourt Links

The Links at Fancourt opened for play in 2000 and quickly turned heads in the world of golf, hosting The Presidents Cup in 2003. Designed by the legendary Gary Player, this is now regarded by many as the best golf course in Africa, quite the achievement when you consider the endless list of world-class courses on offer on the continent, particularly in South Africa itself. Player, who has also designed many other great golf courses in South Africa, said of The Links at Fancourt:

“I feel this is one of the very best golf courses in the world, even though it may have been built on the worst piece of ground – clay as flat as an airport. I’m proud to have worked as the course designer and could not be happier with how it turned out. It has been designed to make golfers feel as though they were at Ballybunion, Dornoch, or St Andrews with rolling fairways, pot bunkers, big greens, high rough, and a seascape appearance.”

The Links at Fancourt does indeed bear plenty of the hallmarks of a classic links course from Britain or Ireland, with rolling fairways, dramatic bunkering, and upturned saucer-shaped greens, but with the stunning Outeniqua Mountains as a backdrop, there’s no mistaking that you’re playing golf in one of the world’s most beautiful countries. Fancourt Links is a must-play golf course for anyone heading to the Rainbow Nation for a South Africa golf holiday.

More info on Fancourt Links >>

Fancourt Links facts
Location George, South Africa
Length 7,579 yards
Par 73
Designed by Gary Player
Established 2000

"I encourage you to trust in your caddy whilst playing The Links, they have bundles of experience & know the undulations on the greens. Be sure you get to the course about an hour prior to your tee time to enjoy the incredible practice facilities."
Richard (Long Haul Team: Handicap 9)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Richard about playing this course.

Royal Dornoch Golf Club

The journey that thousands of golfers a year make to Royal Dornoch is often described as a pilgrimage, given how far north and just how spectacular the course is, it is an accurate description.

Royal Dornoch was ranked 2nd on Golf Digest’s 2018 ‘World’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses’, only surpassed by Royal County Down in Ireland. It is one of the most natural golf courses on the planet, it has both wildness and beauty in abundance.

More info on Royal Dornoch >>

Royal Dornoch facts
Location Sutherland, Scotland
Length 6,722 yards
Par 70
Designed by Old Tom Morris
Established 1877
Where to stay Royal Marine Hotel, Royal Golf Hotel

"Arguably one of the most underrated top-rated golf courses. I don't know anyone who has played here who hasn't put it amongst their Top 10 Courses they've played."
Gareth (UK & Ireland Team: Handicap 12)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Gareth about playing this course.

Pinehurst, No.2 Course

In 1951 and before Great Britain teamed up with the rest of Europe to take on the dominant Team USA, the Ryder Cup was held at the famous Pinehurst Resort. Such as the times, Sam Snead led the US to a overwhelming victory with GB only picking up 2 and a half points.

The No 2 course at Pinehurst has since hosted three US Opens and is considered as the toughest to have ever done so. The course tests even the most elite golfers and will have you relishing the prospect of taking on the layout where so many pros have played.

More info on Pinehurst, No.2 Course >>

Pinehurst, No.2 Course facts
Location North Carolina, USA
Length 7,588 yards
Par 70
Designed by Donald Ross
Hosted Ryder Cup 1951
Established 1907
Hosted PGA Championship 1936
Hosted US Open 1999, 2005 & 2014
Where to stay Pinehurst Resort

"Pinehurst is known for its crowned, undulating greens, which are some of the most difficult and widely celebrated in the world, it is clear that Pinehurst No. 2’s main design features were born out of Scottish influence, with Ross having cut his teeth at Royal Dornoch before he left for America."
Gareth (Long Haul: Handicap 8)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Gareth about playing this course.

More Best Golf Courses Lists

Frequently asked questions about the Best Golf Courses in the World

What is the best public golf course in the world?

The Old Course at St Andrews will take this title for many. The Home of Golf has welcomed golfers for centuries and golf can be played here by entering the ballot or by securing a guaranteed tee time in advance. There are a number of clubs attached to the course including The New and The R&A where golfers can obtain access to the course via their annual links ticket. For those without that, the ballot option is available Monday - Saturday with The Old Course being closed on Sunday.

What is the best golf course for under £100?

Unfortunately only The Old Course in the low-season via the ballot comes in at under £100 per round. With demand incredibly high, regardless of time of year, these courses to carry a premium which golfers pay each time to play. There are, however, a number of golf courses that are ranked within The Top 100 Golf Courses in the World such as Royal Aberdeen and Cruden Bay in Scotland which are under £100 per round in the low / winter season.

What is the most expensive golf course to join?

Liberty National in New Jersey is noted as being the most expensive golf course to join with entrance fees running into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The course offers incredible views back towards New York and has been a regular stop for PGA Tour players in recent years.

More About Rick

Handicap: 11
Favourite Course: Chiltern Forest
My 'Expert' areas: Kent & the Home Counties
Best trip I've done: Dubai with golf & Rugby 7's
Where my next trip is to: Ireland along the Wild Atlantic Way

Give Rick a call on 0800 043 6644 to arrange your next golf break.

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