Too me the best is when you have a little of both, the courses need to be challenging and scenic There should be a place to eat drink, and unwind. You know golfers/ from guests
I personally find it offensive when little things aren’t cared for such as dirty pro shops , unclean restrooms, generally not paying attention to details!
So if the courses are in good shape I have a tendency to overlook somethings
One of many great golf courses/experiences was The Bridge, located on the south fork of Long Island. It is exclusively private and from the moment you arrive, you are made to feel like "you have arrived!" The staff was warm, polite and accommodating. The Clubhouse is very modern but once inside it has a very warm feeling about it. The facilities and the course are absolutely incredible!! The round was enhanced by the walking with knowledgeable caddies. Afterwards, we used the locker rooms and had a wonderful shower and lunch.The day was perfect for creating memories with friends, playing golf, breathtaking views of the water and just enjoying all that golf can offer...
Personally, for me, the best courses and experience were at the same place, Bandon Dunes. Went for 3 days of golf by myself and it was absolute heaven. Accomodations are nice and super convenient located on the property, free shuttles from your door to all the courses, pro-shops, restaurants and driving range. Four of the most jaw droppingly gorgeous and thoughtfully laid out courses, from the deep in the woods Trails course, to the links style Old MacDonald to the unbelievably gorgeous ocean vistas on Bandon and Pacific Dunes. And there's the newer Bandon Preserve, a shorter par 3 course that is unbelievably fun, not to mention The Punchbowl, their putting layout. Awesome caddies and everyone there from the bartenders to the front desk staff is spot on. After 36 holes, there was a hot tub ready if your back is feeling stiff. When you're ready for grub, they've recreated an Irish pub with great food and the drinks flow and everyone is meeting each other and in a great mood. And there's a smaller, more intimate bar with poker tables in the basement where stogies are encouraged. Everything about the place is absolutely heaven. Only thing I can say bad about it is the wind can be seriously vicious.
The best part of golf is standing on the first tee and being thankful that you are on the right side of the grass...and playing a round with good company!
Biggest killer for me is a course that is too crowded--which invariably leads to being slow.
Second biggest killer is cartpath only, generally with paths that are far away from (and either far above or far below) the fairway. Leads to a long, slow day....
Next is a course with poor ergonomics. Having to climb down rocks to get from the pro shop to the starter (I'm not kidding!), counfusing course routing without proper markings and directions, having to exit the fairway with your cart 150yds before the green, not allowing golf carts into the parking lot, no water buckets on the course, windscreens on all of the carts that won't pull down (because they are a solid sheet of plexiglass), having the driving range between holes #2 and #3 (and so you have to drive the cart path backwards to get back to hole #1), having to go way out of your way to visit the clubhouse at the turn (and no comfort/food station on the course instead), the list goes on...
GREAT call on Secession. It's one of my favorite whole-experience golf places anywhere. The course, the caddies, the locker room, the bar, the people...it's as complete a golf club as one could ask for.
Best experience for me is maximum back to back days of golf with good friends. A great uncrowded course with excellent staff can heighten the experience, but the worst is still a good time out with friends.
I appreciate both, but for me, it must start with a great layout!! Challenging, interesting, devilish holes. Then, you need outstanding conditioning (meaning bunkers are carefully groomed every day, the rough is tough but fair, not 4"+ deep, the greens are smooth and fast with few ball marks. The fairways are mowed carefully, not too low, not too high.
A great golf experience starts with outstanding customer service and friendly staff who meet you when you pull in the parking lot. People who are excited to see you there, offer to help or answer any questions you might have. A fully equiped Pro Shop, a well maintained driving range and friendly first tee starter,....not a grumpy old dude. On the course, it's important to have Marshalls who actually marshall,...meaning they stay on slow groups and encourage them to pick up the pace, watch them, and if they fall two holes behind, they need to be told to pick up their balls and move forward. That will likely piss them off but make a bunch of other golfers much happier. Look to satisfy the majority, in this particuar case. Just sayin....
A really nice facility where showers, locker room and 19th Hole are all welcoming and open to guests are the final pieces. Again, outstanding customer service can make up for weaknesses in other ways.
Places that I've played that stand out,....Pinehurst #2,#9, #8, #4, #6; Pine Needles & Mid Pines...in Pinehurst, NC; Torrey Pines....LaJolla, CA; Maderas, CC....Poway, CA; Orlando Ritz Carlton CC; Landfall CC (Dye and Nicklaus, WIlmington, NC); Cape Fear National GC...WiIlmington, NC; Cape Fear CC, Wilmington; Birck Boilermaker Complex (two Dye courses...West Lafayette, IN); Several in Myrtle Beach, SC (Caladonia, True Blue, TPC Myrtle Beach, Heritage; Shadow Glen CC (Olathe, KS); StoneRidge CC (Poway, CA); Snowmass, CC.. (Snowmass, CO); Cordillera, CC...(Edwards, CO); Crested Butte, CC...(Crested Butte, CO); Hasentree, CC (Wake Forrest, NC).
St Enodoc, Cornwall - UK: links course with no flat fairways & unique features eg Himalaya bunker. Will email you pix from club website.
Play twilight golf at The Wynn. Hot, but the drinks flow, the caddies are great, and the course is stupendous.