The Ranch & Coast area is a Mecca for great golf. From Aviara in Carlsbad to Torrey Pines, home of the 2008 U.S. Open, there are enough championship courses in greater San Diego to make our own top-ten list. But it’s a big world out there and our readers know how to travel, so we’ve let our search roam to the ends of the earth.
Some of the best golf in the world is private, so we’ve eliminated members-only clubs. However, we have included a couple of amazing private courses that allow limited public play. And we’ve tried to strike a balance of challenging courses with scenic landscapes so you don’t have to be a PGA player to have fun. Here they are in random order.
Pebble Beach Golf Links
Par 72 ~ 6,737 yards
Pebble Beach, California
It’s impossible to create a listing of the world’s greatest golf courses without including Pebble Beach. Home of the AT&T Pro Am, this challenging course designed in 1919 along a protected bay has dramatic views of the Pebble Beach and Carmel shoreline. It’s also a great location for classic lodging and fine dining.
St. Andrews Old Course
Par 72 ~ 7,279 yards
St. Andrews, Scotland
Every golfer has the home of the game on his or her bucket list. The views along the North Sea are magnificent, but the same location can be a hazard to your score. Along with weather hazards, there are bunkers for the ball to land into that make the average sand trap look like child’s play. St. Andrews has four additional 18-hole golf courses, a nine-hole course, and a practice center. Early reservations a must.
Muirfield Village Golf Club
Par 72 ~ 7,221 yards
The legendary home to the world’s oldest golfing society, Muirfield is a challenging course for golfers who want to test their ability. If you’re game, you’ll have played in the honorable company of the world’s best.
Pinehurst Country Club
Par 72 ~ 6,968 yards
Pinehurst, North Carolina
If Pinehurst Course #1, where the U.S. Open has been played, is a bit too challenging, there are eight scenic, tree-lined courses in this remarkable facility. Why not spend a week or so and try a few?
Royal County Down Golf Club
Par 71 ~ 7,186 yards
Newcastle, Northern Ireland
This gorgeous course is nestled in Newcastle, at the feet of the majestic Mountains of Mourne in Northern Ireland. The links stretch along the shores of Dundrum Bay, zigzagging back and forth to provide a new vista from every hole.
Hualalai Golf Club and Resort
Par 72 ~ 7,053 yards
This Jack Nicklaus design along the ocean follows the natural ups and downs of the island’s lava flow. The signature 17th hole takes golfers to the sea with a green “that touches the ocean.” While semi-private, the championship course is open to guests at the lovely Hualalai Four Seasons Resort.
Kawana Resort, Fuji Course
Par 72 ~ 6,691 yards
The dramatic backdrop of towering Mt. Fuji and ocean views create one of Asia’s top golf destinations. The 450-yard 15th hole reminds many of Pebble Beach.
The Glades Golf Club Championship Course
Par 72 ~ 7,944-yards
This lovely Greg Norman-designed course on Australia’s Gold Coast sports a total of 98 bunkers, a Norman feature that insures most golfers will get to play in sand. In addition to the rolling greens, a wetland creates a natural wildlife sanctuary within the grounds.
Bandon Dunes Golf Resort
Par 71 ~ 6,633-yards
Perched on a high bluff along the rugged Oregon coast, the Bandon Dunes course unfolds along native dunes with ocean vistas along every hole. Scotsman David McLay Kidd designed the course to honor what golf should be.
Par 72 ~ 7,215 yards
Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
Home of the Players Championship, this iconic course has been featured worldwide for its notorious par-3, 17th hole that finishes on an island green. That feature has been the subject of calendars and more than a few curses. Brian Douglas
Pebble Beach Golf Links: Photo by Evan Schiller and Joann Dost