Consider a world without golf courses. Imagine suggesting the idea for the first time—what a ridiculous and extravagant suggestion that would be. To take a vast stretch of countryside, and at great cost and great labour create an other-worldly perfection out of it, an undulating dream of baize and bunker, fairway and rough, simply so that a few men, for want of anything better to do, could try to hit a tiny little ball into a tiny little hole.
Of all the propositions in the world, this one actually flew. And flew and flew. Golf courses are cropping up all over the world, in India especially. So, when it came to picking the five most stunning courses in the world, it wasn’t easy. There’s simply no such thing as an ugly golf course. Even the concept is beautiful—a celebration of both nature and man’s influence upon it, for a game so maddeningly difficult that it requires a certain Zen to even have a go.
But after an infinity of greens, a few courses stood out—so breathtaking we could only stand and gasp. From a course spanning six centuries in Scotland to one nestled on the coast of the Pacific, these are the five most stunning to our eyes.
The Old Course at St Andrews Links, Fife, Scotland
And the course also boasts unique physical features like the 112 bunkers, the most notable among them being the Road Hole Bunker, one of the most formidable bunkers of all time. The Road Hole played a stellar role in British Open history—Jose Maria Olazabal putted into the bunker in 1990, and David Duval took four shots to get out in 2000.
To win the Open Championship is a feather in every golfer’s cap, but to win at St Andrews, that’s the pinnacle. For the rest of us mortals, there’s the thrill of following in the footsteps of giants, in the shadows of history. All you need is a valid handicap certificate of 24 or less for men or 36 or less for women.
Getting there: St Andrews is a one-hour drive from Edinburgh.
Stay: Through an exclusive contract with St Andrews Links Trust, the "Old Course experience" offers packages that include tee-off times on the Old Course, accommodation at The Old Course Hotel, and a visit to the British Museum and the driving range.
Also visit: The British Golf Museum and pubs like The Vic at Market Street and Cellar Bar at Bell Street.
West Course at The Royal Melbourne Golf Club, Victoria, Australia