Of the world’s 245 countries, golf courses are found on 208 of them — that’s an astounding 85% of the world’s nations!
And of the 33,161 facilities worldwide, the U.S. is home to more than 15,000 of them.
With that many golf clubs globally, you may be wondering, what are the best golf courses in the world?
Some have brought pro golfers to their knees. Some have resulted in tears and anguish. And some are just plain beautiful.
So here, we’re going to discuss nine of the most noteworthy courses around the world. Next time you’re visiting one of these areas, try your hand at a game and see how you compare to the greats.
1. The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island in South Carolina
Kiawah Island is home to some of the nation’s most awe-inspiring courses.
Both designers and pro players have stepped onto this land, whether at the PGA Championship or the Ryder Cup. The resort golf courses on this island win accolades year after year.
One that stands out above the rest is the Pete Dye-designed Ocean Course.
Prepare to get swayed by strong breezes from the Atlantic. This is one of the course’s most substantial handicaps, boasting winds stronger than anywhere in the world other than Ireland and the UK.
Because of this, players can sometimes expect up to an 8-club difference on holes.
2. Ko’olau Golf Club in Hawaii
This Hawaiin golf club has earned the title of one of the “Top 100 Places You Can Play.”
It’s equal parts unique and beautiful. As you play, your views include the likes of sprawling hills and towering, lush greenery.
But that doesn’t mean it’s not incredibly hard to play.
As far as difficulty goes, the official number doesn’t extend beyond 155. But when Ko’olau first opened, experts rated it a 162. The USGA went to Hawaii to dispute this rating and ended up choosing a larger one of their own — 172.
Since then, the course has undergone some changes, making it a tad easier, but not by much.
3. Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Golf Club in China
This awe-inspiring course sits at an elevation of 10,800 ft. while looking upon the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, which sits at an astounding 18,360 feet.
That makes it the highest course in Asia and the second-highest in the world!
Needless to say, the views at this highly-rated course are incredible.
It’s also the longest par 72 course in the world, extending an amazing 8,548 yards long. Within that, it also boasts the longest par 5 hole in the world — 711 yards.
Because of its elevation, golf balls fly an average of 15%-20% farther than expected, so prepare for this handicap if you’re visiting this exotic and difficult course.
4. Bethpage Black in New York
You know a course is going to be difficult when its first hole holds a warning sign: “The Black Course Is An Extremely Difficult Course Which We Recommend Only For Highly Skilled Golfers.”
Think you’ve got what it takes to call yourself a highly-skilled golfer?
If so, Bethpage Black is the course for you.
Voted one of America’s 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses, Bethpage offers an exceptional design on all its five 18-hole courses. It’s so great, in fact, that it regularly hosts tournaments like the United States Open Championships and PGA Tours.
5. Seminole in Florida
This rectangular site on Juno Beach was designed by the clever Donald Ross, who stationed each hole in a different wind direction.
Expect to see a plethora of bunkers and exposed sandy patches. In fact, the later designers created the bunkers to mimic ocean waves, which is what you’re surrounded by as you play.
Seminole is one of America’s most exclusive clubs, and in 2021, it’ll host the Walker Cup.
It’s been ranked as one of the 100 greatest courses since 1966.
6. Saujana Golf Club in Malaysia
You know the courses are challenging when the club gets nicknamed “the Cobra“!
This course is situated atop rolling hills with scores of bunkers, mounds, fairways, lakes, and more. It’s difficult enough that it’s hosted the Malaysia Open an amazing seven times. It was also the first course in Asia to host the European & Asia PGA Tour event.
Its nickname is for good reason, as Saujana Golf Club is recognized as the toughest and trickiest in the country.
7. Chicago Golf Club in Illinois
This historic course was established in 1892 by Charles Blair Macdonald.
Why is it historic, besides pre-dating the 1900s?
Well, it was the first course in the United States to feature 18 holes — a tradition that’s lasted until now.
It was also the first to establish the “out-of-bounds” rule in the U.S.
Its designer, Macdonald, was a huge fan of slicing the ball, so expect many holes to favor a slice.
For 200 acres of fun and fury, make sure to visit this property.
8. Kingston Heath in Australia
You know it’s a good course if it hosted the World Cup of Golf in 2016.
It’s got another great recognition — the course is one of the top 100 in the world. If you’re in Australia, you must check out this premier site.
The holes are demanding, challenging, and strategically designed. The last five finishing holes are known as the best in all Australian championship golf.
If you want to see what greatness is made of, try your hand at these holes.
9. Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina
Pinehurst has nine courses, but number two is renowned.
It’s known as Donald Ross’s masterpiece — and he’s designed other great courses on this very list. So if it’s considered his masterpiece, you know that’s saying something.
Pinehurst No. 2 is one of the world’s most celebrated courses. It’s hosted more single golf championships than any site in the U.S. and has even held back-to-back U.S. Opens and U.S. Women’s Open Championships.
To put your skills to the ultimate test, try out this famous Ross creation.
Can You Handle the Best Golf Courses in the World?
So, think you could play a round or two of golf on one of these acclaimed courses?
Before you step out on the green, make sure you’re prepared. With greatness comes responsibility. Since these are some of the best golf courses in the world, expect to bring your A-game.
Check out this article on common golf terms you’re likely to hear while exploring these amazing spaces.