With lush terrains and rocky coastlines, one could easily travel from California to Australia on tour to visit the world's best golf courses. Any true golfer probably already has a personal list of dream spots, whether it's a course right around the corner or halfway around the world; but these are our seven picks for the best in the world. Some are known for their iconic history and others for their challenging courses, but all of them are renowned the world over. Photo Courtesy of Masters Tournament
Augusta National Golf Club
Augusta National Golf Club is synonymous with the Masters Tournament because it has been the host since 1934. As one of the most famous golf courses in the world, Augusta was founded by legendary amateur champion Bobby Jones and New York investment banker Clifford Roberts, and designed by Jones and British architect Alister MacKenzie.
Having opened back in 1933, this club is pretty exclusive which has been followed by criticism in the past — mainly due to their refusal to admit female and black members up until 1990. With only around 300 members at a time, there is no application process and membership is by invitation only. Costing anywhere between $10 and $30K a year, current notable members include Bill Gates and Condoleezza Rice. Photo Courtesy of St Andrews
St Andrews (Old Course)
St Andrews, Scotland, United Kingdom
The Old Course at St Andrews is pretty famous across the world as one of the oldest around, drawing in golfers of all pedigrees because of its challenging North Sea dune terrain. Found on Scotland's east coast, this 6,721-yard, par 72 course is actually open to the public despite its iconic history among the greats (like Old Tom Morris, Seve Ballesteros and Jack Nicklaus). St Andrews also has four other 18-hole courses, a 9-hole course, and a practice center for golfers of all skill levels. Though they are all public, you have to make reservations ahead of time.
Photo Courtesy of Muirfield Village Golf Club
Muirfield Village Golf Club
Gullane, Scotland, United Kingdom
Muirfield Village Golf Club in Scotland is one of the oldest clubs in the sport alongside St Andrews, with its beginnings tracing back to 1744. It is also the home of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers. A links course (developed in Scotland and characterized by dunes, uneven surfaces and sandy coil), Muirfield is the host of many major championships (11 Amateur Championships and 16 Open Championships), and is where Jack Nicklaus actually won his very first British Open.
It has an unusual layout and was one of the first courses to deviate from the standard of running links courses along the coast and back again for two sets of nine holes (with the holes in each set facing in the same direction). Instead, Muirfield is designed with two loops of nine holes, one clockwise and the other counterclockwise — meaning that each hole will have a different wind direction from the tee, assuming the wind remains blowing the same direction throughout the course of the game.
Sorry ladies, this one only accepts male memberships.
Photo Courtesy of Monterey Peninsula Golf
Cypress Point Club
Pebble Beach, California
This private club features a single 18-hole course (designed by Alister MacKenzie in 1928), which is one of eight on the Monterey peninsula, and is known for the three holes that span the Pacific Ocean — the 16th hole is the longest of the three and actually plays right over the water. Cypress Point Club spans dunes, forestry and rocky coastline, making it a beautiful and scenic experience that was designed to utilize the natural terrain. Once a co-host for the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am (the last time was in 1991), this course is exclusive to members and their guests.
Photo Courtesy of Royal County Down Golf Club
Royal County Down Golf Club
Newcastle, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
Over 100 years old, Royal County Down Golf Club is among the first clubs in Ireland, with two 18-hole links courses known as the Championship Course and the Annesley Links. The very first course at County Down was designed by Old Tom Morris, who was hired for four guineas (one British pound plus one shilling) to build a championship course, which opened in 1889. King Edward VII even bestowed royal patronage on Royal County Down in 1908. Photo Courtesy of Royal Melbourne Golf Club
Royal Melbourne Golf Club
Found in Black Rock, Victoria is a private, 36-hole course. When special guests visit or when a tournament is held, the club will create their Composite Course (12 holes from the West and six from the East), which was initially designed in 1959 when the Canada Cup — known as the Mission Hills World Cup now — was held there. Founded back in 1891, it's the oldest extant and current golf club in Australia and was chosen by the PGA Tour to host the Presidents Cup in 1998.
Pine Valley Golf Club
Clementon, New Jersey
This may be the one course you never get to play on — unless, of course, you're a pro or have major connections. Pine Valley Golf Club is incredibly private, tough to find, and pretty mysterious (they don't even have a website), but those who have gotten inside say that it's the most impressive they're ever encountered. Plus, Golf Digest Magazine continually ranks Pine Valley as the best course in America. The club was founded in 1913 on 184 acres of pinelands. Later, an extra surrounding 416 acres were bought to keep the course even more exclusive and hidden.
How do you get in? Well, according to New Jersey News, that only happens if you're a very good golfer (with at least a 20 handicap) and no matter how much money you have, you won't be able to bribe your way in without impressive statistics. Basically, they'll call you if you fit the profile. There's just one catch though, if you're a woman, it doesn't matter how good you are; apparently this is a man's world and women are only allowed to play as guests on Sundays. (What year is it again?)
If you do get an invite, or are the guest of a member (of which there are only around 1,000), you'll be one of only 135 golfers on the course on any given day.