In the world of bunkers, greens and fairways, these venues are often part of every golfing conversation around the world. Not only do they prove to be a visual treat for the spectators, they are held sacred by pro-golfers as they step up every year hoping to add another glorious chapter to the history of the game. Let’s take a look at the 5 best golf courses in the world:
Augusta National Golf Club
Probably the most iconic golf course in the world, The Augusta National has been the home of the Masters tournament for over 80 years. No other golf course has the privilege to host the same major tournament every single year. However, this architectural masterpiece developed by Alister MacKenzie and the legendary Bobby Jones was ahead of its time and deserves every bit of adulation it has received over the years.
Be it the age-old traditions or the ability to keep the game true to its foundation - Augusta has always been the standard bearer for all the top golf courses across the globe. From the Big Oak Tree that stands tall for more than a century to the famous Amen Corner escapes that have scripted several awe-inspiring moments at the Masters - the course has never disappointed fans that gather every year for golf's premier tournament.
Cypress Point Club
Even the most iconic creator of golfing greens, Alister Mackenzie couldn't dare compete with the sheer splendor that this Californian beach offered. In fact, this is one place where Mackenzie reinvented himself with sub 400-yard holes that turned out to be the best patches to play the game on the planet.
The natural sandy area tie-up to make some of the most challenging bunkers while the final three holes are played along the Pacific Ocean. Not to forget the 230-yard on the way to the 16th, played right across the ocean, often named as the greatest hole in the world. Keeping its exclusivity intact, this mesmerizing setup still remains private with less than 300 members registered at the club.
Pebble Beach Golf Links
Another gem of park on the west coast owned by the Pebble Beach resorts that has hosted 5 US Opens and 1 PGA Championship. The greens hugged by the beautiful Del Monte forest on one side and a vast Pacific coastline on the other, the golf course isn’t just a visual treat but also widely regarded as the most challenging 18 holes on the tour.
The course has witnessed some of the most iconic moments of the game including Tiger Woods’ 65-69-71-67 score that sealed a record-breaking US Open win 2000.
Architect Jack Neville’s ability to use of the rocky surface effectively has proved to be decisive as the course is still widely regarded as one of the toughest venue for a major tournament. Pebble remains a dream destination for several amateurs and fans alike, but one is likely to pay more than $500 to putt 18 holes at this golfing heaven in California.
The Old Course at The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrew's
The pride of the Scottish Links or what the locals call the ‘Home of Golf’, the old St. Andrew's course has been around since the 15th century. The course has been pivotal to the early rise and growth of the game and still is the home of The Open Championship. The greens will always be remembered for the heroics of the great Bobby Jones who clinched the first ever Grand Slam of the game.
In terms of the architecture, it still retains the age-old subtle elements including the 10ft Hell Bunker, the infamous 112 sand traps and the seven shared greens. A golfing career without a win at St. Andrew's is widely regarded as incomplete as it demands a wide range of club skills combined with high endurance levels and composure. Only 5 golfers have won the Open at St. Andrew's twice - both Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus are a part of this elite list.
Royal County Down Golf Club
A course that is more down to the gifts of nature more than anything else. Right from wobbly bunkers to the sumptuous greens – Royal County has got it all yet it isn’t all down to architectural marvel of any kind. While the other top golf courses of the 19th century were all fine-tuned down to every single blade of grass with respect to the growing influence of the game, this particular piece of land was penned down into an 18-hole structure in less than a calendar year.
Few recommendations from St. Andrews’ Tom Morris and the great Harry Vardon were enough to setup to individual 9-hole loops that go would on to stand the test of time. The club is still actively used by the European tour as it remains a favourite destination for top pro-golfers including the World No.1 Rory McIlroy.
Special mention (India): Kalhaar Blues and Greens
This golf course, opened in 2012, is one of the top golf courses in India and was designed by Nicklaus Design, a company which was founded by 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus. The course consists of a club house, a swimming pool, a restaurant and a pro shop.
It holds 18 holes, covers 7425 years and has a Par 72 layout. Based in Ahmedabad and run by Navratna Group, it is one of the most picturesque golf courses in India. It was the first golf course in the state of Gujarat to have a complete cart/buggy course.
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Honorable mentions in India: ITC Classic, Prestige Golfshire, Lucknow Golf Club