Few sports in the world are as globally interconnected as golf. And perhaps the greatest thing about the game is that any golfer, of any ability, anywhere in the world can travel to play many of the planet's most incredible courses. They can play courses that have hosted major championships or have been laid out in some of the most magical corners of the globe.
With golfers everywhere eager to return to travel this year, GolfPass' staff of experienced writers has compiled an extensive list of the world's Top 100 golf destinations. We determined the list based on each destination's distinct allure to golfers around the globe. A strong roster of publicly accessible courses is the main criteria, but each destination's history, off-course attractions, landmarks and dining, as well as hospitality, culture and collection of private clubs were also considered. To determine where a destination should rank, we often asked the question: "Which place do I want to visit more?" The answer sometimes carried equal weight as the notion of "Where can I play?"
As you browse our Top 100, you'll see a summary of each destination's main attraction, as well as links to additional resources or golf packages to help you plan a trip. With pent-up demand for travel soaring this spring, it's never too early to get serious about your next epic golf vacation.
After considerable deliberation, we are pleased to present our list of the world's top 50 golf destinations in order, while we've ordered the second 50 alphabetically and by region.
Top 100 Golf Destinations in the World
The birthplace of the game remains the ultimate golf trip several hundred years later. The Old Course in St. Andrews, dating back to the 1400s, has since spun off six other Links Trust courses, plus scores of other charming links both old (Crail) and new (Kingsbarns) within a short drive around the Kingdom of Fife. There are enchanting attractions, from the grave of Old Tom Morris to the cobblestone streets of the medieval town full of churches, golf shops and small pubs. The "Auld Grey Toon" of St. Andrews, supported by a centuries-old and highly ranked university, lends itself to many more lodging, food and beverage options than your typical little seaside town. The soul of the game is strong and its inviting nature makes it a special place for any golfer to experience. | How to book a St. Andrews tee timeFROM $607 (USD)ST. ANDREWS | Enjoy 6 nights' accommodations at Ardgowan Hotel and 6 rounds of golf at Jubilee Course, Dumbarnie Links, Carnoustie, New Course, Old Course (Via Ballot), and Kingsbarns. GolfPass members, save $100 on golf travel packages valued over $1,000.
California's glamorous Monterey Peninsula is more than just Pebble Beach Resorts and its three World Top 100 courses on the Pacific Ocean. The charming downtown of Carmel-By-The-Sea flows into the dog-friendly beach made famous by TV coverage of the PGA Tour's AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. The Monterey Bay Aquarium anchors Cannery Row, another collection of shops, galleries and dining. Heading inland enables golfers to escape the marine layer for sunnier skies at wineries and chic golf resorts such as Quail Lodge & Club and Carmel Valley Ranch. Securing a round at Cypress Point Club or Monterey Peninsula Country Club is akin to winning the lottery.FROM $897 (USD)PEBBLE BEACH, CA | Enjoy 3 nights’ accommodations at The Inn at Spanish Bay and 3 rounds of golf at Pebble Beach Golf Links™, Spyglass Hill™ Golf Course and The Links at Spanish Bay™.
If you've ever glanced at a top 100 global golf course ranking, you've seen the two "Royals" near the top. Walker Cup host Royal County Down and Open Championship host Royal Portrush are arguably the greatest one-two punch in the game and both located within about an hour of Northern Ireland's capital of Belfast. A jaunt into the Republic of Ireland due west reveals lesser-known but remarkably rugged Irish links at Ballyliffin, Enniscrone, Carne and many more. Redesigned links by Tom Doak at Rosapenna and Gil Hanse at Narin & Portnoo add new intrigue. | Browse Ireland & Northern Ireland Golf Packages
Dubbed the "Cradle of American Golf," Pinehurst anchors the Carolina Sandhills (including Southern Pines and Aberdeen), which is in many ways North America's closest kin to the golf culture of St. Andrews thanks to the sandy soil ideal for golf and the contributions of Scottish-born architect Donald Ross. Three of the Golden Age architect's best public courses are here: Pinehurst No. 2, Mid Pines and Pine Needles, while modern additions like Tobacco Road and Pinehurst No. 4 add remarkable variety and depth of courses to sample. The charming Village of Pinehurst is full of history, golf memorabilia and fun bars and restaurants. Oh, and the USGA is establishing a base of operations here in the coming years.
The Australian Sandbelt outside of Melbourne provides a pocket of sand-based golf unlike any other. The 36-hole Royal Melbourne Golf Club, host of multiple President's Cups, World Cups and other events, is the crown jewel, but all eight of the most famous championship courses are highly regarded, especially Kingston Heath. Commonwealth, Victoria Golf Club and Metropolitan have attracted Australian Opens. A tour operator (or private club connection) can unlock access to any of them and a bucket-list trip of the highest order for anyone lucky enough to experience it. Not to be overlooked is the nearby Mornington Peninsula, with its own clutch of rugged courses worth a round, highlighted by Tom Doak and Michael Clayton's links at St. Andrews Beach.
Founded in 1999, Bandon Dunes on the coast of Oregon is the ultimate pure links golf destination in North America. Developer Mike Keiser was a major player in ushering in a new breed of 21st century remote golf resorts geared towards walking around the world. While Bandon may not have the 19th-century history of links clubs in the British Isles, the five 18-hole courses here, led by Pacific Dunes, have remarkable scenery and dunesy, rugged terrain, all of which earn top-100 accolades in various publications. It may be tough to get to this coastal section of southern Oregon, but the resort itself is all-encompassing with myriad accommodations and F&B options, not to mention exceptional service highlighted by an excellent caddie program and a 24-hour courtesy shuttle for guests. | Bandon Dunes Trip Content
The mighty Saguaro cactus of the Sonoran Desert is an American icon and it's a fixture on incredible, modern desert golf course designs throughout the Valley of the Sun. In the 1980s, Troon North brought member-for-a-day golf to the desert, and today there are scores of emerald green fairways winding through inhospitable desert from TPC Scottsdale to We-Ko-Pa. Five-star luxury and wellness resorts draw sun-starved northerners to the desert for sunshine and tranquility. | Browse Arizona Golf PackagesFROM $217 (USD)PHOENIX/SCOTTSDALE | Enjoy 3 nights' accommodations at Four Seasons at Troon North and 3 rounds of golf at Troon North Golf Club, The Boulders Resort and Quintero Golf Club.
Few golf destinations match the variety found in Northern Michigan, which, depending on how much you're willing to drive, runs about two dozen courses deep, including a collection of multi-course resorts highlighted by Boyne's three properties. Rolling hills through hardwood forests make this the elevated tee shot capital of American golf. Dr. Alister MacKenzie's private Crystal Downs heavily influenced modern architecture as a haunt of top architects Tom Doak and Mike DeVries, while Tom Watson played some boyhood golf at the historic, semi-private Belvedere in Charlevoix. Scores of affordable, off-the-beaten-path courses are waiting to be discovered. No visit here is complete without a visit to the lakeshore for Arcadia Bluffs and Bay Harbor, not to mention a jaunt to America's greatest sand trap: the Sleeping Bear Dunes.
Spectacular golf is spaced out equally between New Zealand's North and South islands. The aerials of the North Island's coastal wonders, Kauri Cliffs and Cape Kidnappers, are legendary. Their accommodations are just as satisfying. The reputation of Tom Doak's private Tara Iti (relatively close to Kauri Cliffs) has taken things next level, with Coore & Crenshaw and Tom Doak slated to open publicly-accessible courses nearby. The South Island counterpunches with Jack's Point and The Hills, both backdropped by the Remarkables Mountains, and the beloved Queenstown. It's also a hotbed of adventure tourism - jet boating, bungee jumping, skydiving. If you've come this far, you might as well visit both islands ... skydiving optional.
For a week in April, Augusta is the center of the golf universe. Playing golf locally before attending the "toonament" remains on the Mount Rushmore of golf accomplishments for all amateurs. But even the other 51 weeks a year, the region has much to offer golfers. In town, the Donald Ross-designed Forest Hills Golf Club is a bargain play outside of Masters Week. Less than a half-hour east is Aiken, S.C., with several worthwhile communities for permanent residents and second-home buyers, as well as a stunning private gem in Palmetto Golf Club and one of the South's trendiest affordable public courses in Aiken Golf Club. Other area courses of note include The River Golf Club and the 27-hole Gordon Lakes Golf Course at the Army's Fort Gordon just southwest of town.
S1 E1: Omni La Costa Resort & Spa
A sublime year-round climate and a deep roster of golf courses both inland and coastal combine to make San Diego one of the most coveted golf hotspots in the world. The town of Carlsbad to the north has also become an equipment and clubfitting mecca. Five-star and multi-course resorts also abound, from the Park Hyatt Aviara to Omni La Costa (with Gil Hanse to overhaul one of its courses in the coming years) and the luxurious Fairmont Grand Del Mar. But the true main draw is municipal: The 36-hole Torrey Pines, which sports two bluffside layouts in La Jolla, including U.S. Open host, the South Course. As the stage for one of the greatest duels in modern history, the 2008 showdown between Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate, it's attracted golfers from all over to play this demanding major-championship test. Golfers can book rooms overlooking the spectacular fairways at either the Lodge at Torrey Pines or Hilton Torrey Pines.
When Pete Dye was hired to build Teeth of the Dog at Casa de Campo, the area's economy was essentially non-existent. It's since transformed into a global golf, resort and real estate mecca, and paired with nearby Punta Cana, has become one of the game's ultimate warm weather hotspots. Teeth of the Dog, Corales and Punta Espada rank among the game's best trios. Golf travelers can choose between vacation rentals or myriad all-inclusive beachfront properties. Excellent service and legendary beaches confirm D.R.'s position at the top of the Caribbean golf pecking order. | Stay and play at Casa de Campo
Golftown, U.S.A. has fallen well below its pre-recession peak of almost 120 golf courses, but most of that attrition has enabled enduring courses to excel. There are scores of layouts littered from Brunswick County, N.C., down through Pawleys Island, S.C., with three distinct sub-regions that will provide Top-100-quality courses as well as value-packed hidden gems. Mix and match between big, multi-course facilities like the 72-hole Barefoot Resort or 54-hole Legends Resort and Myrtle Beach National complexes, as well as worthy one-offs like The Dunes Golf & Beach Club, Caledonia Golf & Fish Club and sister-course, True Blue Golf Club. A deep bench, vast lodging options and ever-improving food scene makes this an ideal choose-your-own-adventure destination for all budgets. | Top 10 Myrtle Beach Golf Courses
Alberta's Canadian Rockies
There isn't a more thrilling combination of mountain wilderness and stellar golf than Alberta's Canadian Rockies. The Icefields Parkway is a three-hour drive full of glaciers, mountains and bears (oh my!) that connects two of the greatest historic courses in the world, Fairmont Banff Springs and Fairmont Jasper Park. Both courses, designed by legendary Canadian architect Stanley Thompson, are set within national parks and feature stages as awe-striking as there is in the game. Modern courses added in recent years from Stewart Creek to Kananaskis and Silvertip fill out a week-long roster of awe-inspiring rounds.
East Lothian, just east of Edinburgh, is one of the most concentrated golf meccas in the world. Its proximity to the Scottish capital aided its history and prestige. Muirfield has been lauded as a perfect examination of championship links golf (and offers limited tourist play). Its neighbors have plenty of allure, especially the quirky and scenic West Links at North Berwick. Nearby Gullane Golf Club sports 54 holes of golf of its own. Lesser-knowns like Dunbar and Kilspindie charm those seeking golf beyond the big names. And for a taste of history, rent hickory clubs to play the old nine-hole Musselburgh links, a former longstanding home of The Open Championship set within a horse-racing track.
It is the holy trinity of links - Ballybunion, Lahinch and Waterville - that attracts Americans to the southwest of Ireland. Each has their signature calling card - the cemetery at Ballybunion, the castle ruins at Lahinch and the Payne Stewart statue at Waterville. Americans will enjoy the convenience of flying into Shannon and within an hour or so of landing, they could be playing golf or resting comfortably at luxury resorts like Adare Manor (site of the 2027 Ryder Cup) or Dromoland Castle. Whether it's driving the Ring of Kerry or walking along the breathtaking Cliffs of Moher, this corner of Ireland will stay with you forever. | Ultimate Itinerary: Southwest Ireland
Ah, Maui. This is the kind of tropical vacation spot where you can let your hair down, blowing in the breeze. Another bogey? Nothing another Mai Tai and a trip to the beach or the spa can't solve. Maui's basically divided into three golf villages, each with multiple hotels and courses: The elegance of Kapalua Golf Resorts up north, the busier Ka'anapali Golf Resorts in the heart of the island and the laid back, sunnier Wailea Golf Resorts in the south. A short ferry ride from Lahaina leads to the opulence of the Four Seasons Resort Lanai. The shuttle to the scenic Manele Golf Course by Jack Nicklaus is a Tesla. Need we say more?
The allure of Scotland's northeast coast is powerful thanks to historic links and its connection to Donald Ross, who was born in the small town of Dornoch and would end up influencing the early golf design in America more than anyone else. Royal Dornoch has become a fairy tale sort of links buoyed by strong endorsements from legends like Tom Watson and Ben Crenshaw, among many others. The Highlands capital of Inverness also features two standouts, Nairn Golf Club and the spectacular Gil Hanse-designed Castle Stuart. Closer to Aberdeen, the dunes are towering at legendary Royal Aberdeen and Cruden Bay.
Nova Scotia's northern tip is home to the enchanting maritime island of Cape Breton, where an intoxicating trio of courses anchor the strong golf vibe in this area rich with Scottish heritage. Highlands Links, laid out within the Cape Breton Highlands National Park in the 1930s by Canada's very own Stanley Thompson, is one of the finest walks in golf, all 8-plus miles of it through mountains and forest and beside a church before finishing overlooking the sea. And it's just about 2.5 hours by car along one of the world's most spectacular roads, the Cabot Trail, to Cabot Links, the emerging 21st century links golf mecca home to 36 holes and a new short course in the small town of Inverness.
Ayrshire & Kintyre, Scotland
The Birth of the Open Championship delights visitors who journey to this line of coastal links to the south of Glasgow. Prestwick Golf Club, once 12 holes when it hosted the original Open in 1860, is now a raw and rugged full 18 with heavy influence from Old Tom Morris. On its northern border is Royal Troon, a fixture in the current rota. Then one of the world's most famous golf hotels, Turnberry, lies in a more remote section of Ayrshire to the south and has been delighting visitors for more than a century. Adventure-seeking golf groups will hire a helicopter and travel across the Firth of Clyde to the Mull of Kintyre, the southern tip of the Kintyre Peninsula, where the famed Machrihanish and rugged modern Machrihanish Dunes drip with Paul McCartney vibes.
Nowhere else in the country is there two modern major championship venues open to the public so close in proximity. Erin Hills (2017 U.S. Open) and the Straits Course at Whistling Straits (multiple PGA Championships and a Ryder Cup this fall) are separated by roughly 70 miles. They anchor an impressive triangle of golf, highlighted by the four Pete Dye courses at the American Club/Destination Kohler and are complemented by The Bog (Arnold Palmer), Brown Deer Park (a former long-time PGA Tour host) and the Bull at Pinehurst Farms. If this sounds like too much golf, relax and recharge at the Kohler Waters Spa, one of the luxurious amenities of the Midwest's only five-star golf resort. | Browse Kohler Golf Packages
South Africa, at the southern tip of the continent, has a long history of producing champions (Gary Player, Ernie Els and others) thanks to its weather, golf culture and plethora of courses (roughly 450). Playing all three perennial World Top 100 contenders - Links at Fancourt (site of the 2003 Presidents Cup), Durban Country Club and Leopard Creek at the edge of Kruger National Park (accessible only with a stay at a nearby safari lodge) - will require some serious travel. The ideal trip would involve at least 3-4 days on safari, a weekend at the 54-hole Fancourt on the "Garden Route" and a week or more exploring the incomparable Cape Town (tee up Pearl Valley and Arabella). Adventurers will include Johannesburg to take on the "Extreme 19th Hole" at Legend Golf & Safari Resort, a 400-yard par 3 atop a mountain only reachable by helicopter.
Historic Charleston, S.C., is an iconic southern city with exquisite architecture and restaurants. It's paired with one of golf's greatest islands, Kiawah Island, home to five resort courses (plus two privates). The main event is the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, a daunting PGA Championship and Ryder Cup host. Choose lodging between the long beaches of the island or stay in style in Charleston's historic city center near the recently revamped Charleston Municipal Golf Course. | View our Kiawah Island Stay & Play package from $177/night
With 72 miles of shoreline, Lake Tahoe covers a lot of ground across two states in the High Sierra. Adventures in the woods (hiking) and on the water (beach, boating) abound wherever you decide to tee it up around the lake. Casinos tower above the south shore, home to the lake's best golf resort, the Lodge at Edgewood Tahoe, and the always bustling Heavenly ski village. Truckee, 10 miles off the lake's northern shore, has a decidedly more laid-back California vibe that skews luxury between the Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe and the golf communities of Old Greenwood (a PGA Tour host designed by Jack Nicklaus), Schaffer's Mill and Martis Camp, the latter two both being exclusive private clubs. Heading farther north reveals off-the-radar but just as dramatic semi-private courses like The Dragon at Nakoma and Grizzly Ranch. | Best of Truckee Stay and play features Old Greenwood and more
Welcome to the home of "lava golf", where actual lava still flows into the ocean from one of the world's most active volcanoes. Golf resorts line the sunny Kona Koahala coast like fancy dominoes - Four Seasons Resort Hualaila, Waikoloa Beach Resorts, Mauna Lani Auberge Resort Collection, Fairmont Orchid, Westin Hapuna Beach Resort and the place that started it all, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, built by Laurance S. Rockefeller in the 1960s. Black rock, remnants of centuries-old lava flows, the predominant feature of lava golf, frames the fairways, along with swaying palm trees and ocean views.
Cabo, located at the tip of the Baja Peninsula where the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez meet, delivers what's become the quintessential "California weekend" - sun, sand, ocean and golf, all splashed with luxury dining and resorts. Ever since Jack Nicklaus built Palmilla in 1992, golf resort and real estate development has boomed. Every time an architect builds a seaside stunner, another one comes along - The Cove Club at Cabo Del Sol by Nicklaus (1994), Dunes at Diamante by Davis Love III (2009), Quivira by Nicklaus (2014), Rancho San Lucas by Greg Norman (2020) and Costa Palmas by Robert Trent Jones Jr. (2020). Playing is expensive, but so worth it, often including free food and drink at elaborate "comfort stations".
Vegas has a built-in advantage for buddies trips - endless nightlife and casino entertainment. Although the expensive rounds costing between $400-$750 get all the attention - Shadow Creek, Wynn, Cascata - there's plenty of other choices for golf from roughly $200 (Bear's Best Las Vegas, Rio Secco, TPC Las Vegas) to the more wallet-friendly Las Vegas Paiute (54 holes), Angel Park (45 holes) and Primm Valley (36 holes). Golfers without cars wanting to stick close to the Strip gravitate to Bali Hai. Extending the trip to Mesquite (Wolf Creek) and St. George, Utah, (Sand Hollow) comes highly recommended for some of the most scenic inland golf on the planet. | Browse our Nevada golf packages
“The Happiest Place on Earth” is not just for little kids but grown golfers as well. Bay Hill hosts the PGA Tour every year, as well as visitors who stay on site in the boutique lodge and immerse themselves in the legacy of Arnold Palmer. Multi-course resorts like Reunion, Walt Disney World (54 holes), ChampionsGate (36 holes) and more provide easy access to the parks, and dozens of independent courses can be added to an itinerary that fits any budget. Last but certainly not least, Streamsong has gone from out-of-the-way curio to arguably the state’s most sought-after resort in less than a decade of existence. Heading north of Orlando, Ocala is relatively close by and has several budget-friendly golf options. As America ages, The Villages continues to mushroom in size as the world's largest community of "active adults," with more than 30 golf courses and counting for the over-55 set.
Whether it be parkland or links, Dublin has long been Ireland's hub of tournament golf. Consider the 2006 Ryder Cup at The K Club, the 2012 Solheim Cup at Killeen Castle and countless Irish Opens at Portmarnock, County Louth, Royal Dublin, Druid's Glen, Mount Juliet and Carton House. Any combination of these would make for a special Irish itinerary. The city's tourist attractions - Guinness Storehouse, pubs, distilleries, castles, the Book of Kells - can easily pair with a comfortable stay at the K Club or Carton House in the countryside.
This sunny desert outpost east of Los Angeles is all grown up from its days of being a sleepy hangout for Hollywood's 'Rat Pack'. Its vast collection of golf resorts and high-end private clubs attract snowbirds from as far away as Chicago and Canada. While La Quinta Resort & Club teams with PGA West for the most courses (7), 36-hole retreats like Indian Wells Golf Resort, JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa and Westin Mission Hills Resort & Spa are just as compelling and luxurious.
London Bridge. Buckingham Palace. Abbey Road. London's tourist attractions can keep visitors busy for days. So could playing its golf courses if you have connections to get on heathland gems like Wentworth or Swinley Forest. Other luminaries like Sunningdale, St. Georges Hill and Walton Heath welcome visitors certain days for the week or by staying at resorts such as The Grove or Stoke Park. A leisurely two-hour train ride brings Open Championship golf in Kent into the mix - Royal St. George's (hosting its 15th Open this summer), Royal Cinque Ports (the links known as 'Deal' hosted in 1909 and 1932) and Prince's (1932). All three have their charms. Royal St. George's is brawny and demanding; Deal sporty and fun. Prince's recently redesigned 27 holes offers onsite accommodations.
Tasmania and King Island, Australia
These remote links golf outposts are only for the adventurous, and if we're being honest, the well-heeled bucket-list chaser. Tasmania, reachable by flights through Melbourne and Sydney, features the iconic duo of Tom Doak's Barnbougle Dunes and Coore & Crenshaw's Lost Farm. Tiny King Island (an hour flight from Melbourne) is golf's newest glamour girl, countering with Cape Wickham Links by Mike DeVries and Ocean Dunes. If you've come this far, you can't really do one and not the other. The time in the sky will feel paltry compared to the awestruck feelings on the ground.
Kauai is the quietest of the four main tourist islands in Hawaii but the tidy collection of golf courses here make a loud statement with more oceanfront holes than any other island. The world-famous north shore features world-class beaches combined with the Makai Golf Club at Princeville. The game's best used to duke it out on the South Shore at Poipu Bay during the Grand Slam of Golf, and the revamped Timbers Hokuala Ocean Course has the best closing stretch in the islands. Or, feel like a local at Wailua muni or the enchanting and casual Kukuiolono. | Best of Kauai golf package from $497 (GolfPass members save $100)
Nine of the 12 courses of "England's Golf Coast" run almost uninterrupted along more than 20 miles of pristine linksland north of Liverpool. Eleven of them are more than a century old. Combined, Royal Liverpool (Hoylake), Royal Birkdale and Royal Lytham & St. Annes have hosted 33 Opens between them. Not to be forgotten, Southport & Ainsdale Golf Club held Ryder Cups in 1933 and 1937. Exploring small-town pubs and coastal villages is part of the charm.
Considering the San Francisco Bay touches four distinct communities - San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland and Napa/Sonoma Counties - it's no surprise there's such a variety of courses to explore. The peninsula rewards golfers with legendary private clubs, coastal golf at Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay and a major championship venue (TPC Harding Park), but punishes them with cooler temps under the marine layer. Wine country attracts couples who can play golf and drink together at elegant resorts like Silverado and the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn. Oakland (Poppy Ridge, Wente Vineyards) and San Jose (Cinnabar Hills, CordeValle) don't get the credit they deserve. Even the beaches of Santa Cruz and Dr. Alister MacKenzie's famed Pasatiempo is within reach just beyond the Santa Cruz Mountains. | Ultimate Itinerary: 5 days in San Francisco
Venture east of the Cascade Mountain Range and you'll discover sunny high desert anchored by the charming town of Bend, home to a seriously outdoors-loving populous who love mountain biking and white-water rafting followed by microbrews along the Deschutes River in the evening. This destination, already on the map thanks to the Sunriver Resort, exploded in popularity during the early 2000s housing boom and numerous, exceptional golf developments were added, highlighted by Pronghorn, Tetherow and Brasada Ranch.
Cornfields? Think again. Visionary Mike Keiser has transformed area sandy pine scrubland into a hilly golf wonderland in short order, building three courses at Sand Valley Golf Resort since 2017 with more on tap. Although this bucolic section of the Midwest already had some worthwhile places to play, Keiser added the necessary buzz to put it on the map. The classic Langford/Moreau-designed Links at Lawsonia has become a favorite of architecture buffs. SentryWorld - home to the famous "Flower Hole" on a RTJ Sr. design that will host the 2023 U.S. Senior Open - will debut a boutique hotel this summer. Madison (University Ridge) and the Wisconsin Dells (Wilderness Resort, Trappers Turn) are great towns for different reasons: Madison as a vibrant state capital and college town on a lake and the Dells for its waterparks and family entertainment.
Spain makes a strong argument as Continental Europe's top golf spot. The home of legendary Seve Ballesteros, Spain was the first country on the continent to host the Ryder Cup in 1997. The Costa Del Sol region, set along the Mediterranean Sea, features Valderrama, the country's most lavish and famous club. Several dozen clubs stretch along the coastline and feature fine scenery for golf and excellent Spanish cuisine and wines after. | Finca Cortesin Stay & Play Package from $615
Pete Dye’s collaboration with Jack Nicklaus at Harbour Town kick-started the modern era of golf course design, helping make the attendant Sea Pines Resort the centerpiece of any big visit to Hilton Head. If you have private club access, the options both on the island (Long Cove Club, Wexford Golf Club) and just off in Bluffton (Colleton River, Berkeley Hall, Secession, Chechessee Creek Club, Old Tabby Links and several more) are really special. And even if not, other resorts like Palmetto Dunes and Port Royal have their own charms. A few miles northwest of Hilton Head, Palmetto Bluff and its highly ranked Jack Nicklaus Signature course at May River Golf Club represent a boutique resort splurge option. | Sea Pines Stay & Play from $207
Florida’s Atlantic coast is home to one of the largest collections of golf courses – public, private and resort – in the world. Dozens of pros and thousands of golf nuts call the Palm Beach area home, and the PGA Tour comes to call at the Champion Course at PGA National’s 90-hole resort every year. Farther south, Fort Lauderdale and Miami have dozens of their own options for snowbirds and visitors, from the upscale Turnberry Isle and Doral to local favorites like Crandon Park.
A decade ago, who would have thought the land of live entertainment in Branson in southwest Missouri would become one of the greatest golf hotbeds in the U.S.? Few other than Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris, whose vision in transforming Big Cedar Lodge into a bona fide golf wonderland is being realized. Few resorts in the world can match Big Cedar's breadth of scenic golf offerings, from a putting course to short courses to an incredible driving range, and finally the spectacle that is the 19th hole at the new Payne's Valley, designed by Tiger Woods. Closer to Kansas City is another Ozarks hotbed, Lake of the Ozarks, which has its own notable properties such as Old Kinderhook and The Lodge at Four Seasons. | Browse our Ozarks golf packages
Europeans know and love Portugal's warm climate, especially its southern Algarve region, which faces the easternmost Atlantic Ocean. It is home to dozens of courses and resorts like Palmares, Amendoeira and the vast Don Pedro Collection of courses. If you like great wine, world-class food and a lively beach scene along with your golf, the Algarve is a great option. Portugal's capital city of Lisbon, meanwhile, boasts more history and off-course attractions, as well as top draws Oitavos Dunes and Penha Longa.
Colorado Rocky Mountains
Mile-high golf and Fourteener scenery are hallmarks of a trip to Colorado's Rocky Mountains. The Front Range features notable Denver metro courses like Bear Dance and Fossil Trace, while the Colorado Springs golf resort hotbed is led by one of the west's most storied golf spots, The Broadmoor. Head over the Continental Divide and a collection of ski towns and resorts like Breckenridge, Keystone and Beaver Creek double as cool summer escapes. Head even farther west and you'll find lesser-known gems like the Golf Club at Redlands Mesa. | Colorado golf packages
Northeast Florida has a largely Southern feel but benefits greatly from the Sunshine State’s balmy climate. The First Coast runs from the state border down through St. Augustine and includes resorts like Amelia Island, TPC Sawgrass and World Golf Village, plus several worthy public courses like North Hampton and St. Johns Golf & Country Club. Drivers get easy access via I-95 and the Jacksonville International Airport (JAX) is in the midst of an expansion project. | Sawgrass Marriott Stay & Play package featuring the PLAYERS Stadium Course from $487
Exceptional hospitality, value and conditions lure worldwide golfers to Thailand, which is Asia's most popular golf destination. Seaside Phuket is the main draw, highlighted by Blue Canyon Country Club, while there are other pockets of excellent courses like Hua Hin, home to Black Mountain and Pattaya, and Siam Country Club among others. Remarkable historical sites and wildlife encounters are also abundant. You can stay and play lavishly on a relatively modest budget and receive five-star service everywhere you go.
This fishhook-shaped island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean benefits from the temperate waters of the nearby Gulf Stream, plus a small but potent roster of golf courses, headlined by the classic Mid Ocean Club, designed by Golden Age master Charles Blair Macdonald. Port Royal Golf Club, which hosts the PGA Tour’s Bermuda Championship, is a scenic marvel, and the new Five Forts Golf Club at the island’s east end adds a new option as of mid-2021. Bermuda’s location roughly midway between North America and Europe makes it a viable destination from both continents.
On the western edge of the U.K.. Wales has a small but satisfying and eclectic mix of courses. The most reputable resort, Celtic Manor, hosted the 2010 Ryder Cup, but the undisputed medal links of the nation is nearby Royal Porthcawl, whose combination of scenery and challenging green complexes holds its own with any top GB&I venue. Its compliments are a mix of quirky and remarkable, starting with the rugged "Links in the Sky," Pennard Golf Club. To the north Royal St. David's, set beneath Harlech Castle, is a jewel, while Nefyn & District may have the most scenery-per-dollar of any course in the world. | Wales Stay & Play featuring Royal Porthcawl, Pennard and Celtic Manor
A gorgeous drive north from Vancouver along the inland passage, you'll pass one of the locations for the movie Happy Gilmore (Furry Creek) before ultimately arriving in Whistler, the mountainous Winter Olympics host that has become a summer playground in recent years. There is a fab four of golf courses highlighted by Nicklaus North and Fairmont Chateau Whistler that showcase the spectacular Coast mountains and abundant wildlife. At a lower elevation, its golf season is also longer than Alberta's Rocky Mountains. | Best of Whistler Golf Package from $357
The first and most successful golf trail rolls on since launching in the 1990s. It's a great drive-in value destination for so many in the Midwest and East Coast. There are pockets of high-end experiences - Ross Bridge south of Birmingham and The Grand Hotel's Lakewood Club near Mobile - but the trail's strength is its quality and consistency from all 11 stops. Building short courses predates the current trend, showing incredible foresight. Although everybody has their favorite, the biggest stops might be the best - the 54-hole Capitol Hill and 54-hole Grand National.
Canada's smallest province is also its most charming with welcoming locals and an abundance of seafood (ranging from free mussels in golf clubhouses to popular Lobster Supper dinners). The small capital city of Charlottetown has wonderful dining and pubs. The province made a big push into golf in the 1990s and the result is an abundance of courses with affordable stay-and-play packages. The Links at Crowbush Cove is the A-lister, but Dundarave and Green Gables are also must-plays.
World Top 100 Destinations: Nos. 51-100
Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico
Fans of 'Breaking Bad' will love the inclusion of Albuquerque, an underrated city back-dropped by both the desert and the mountains. The landscape is pleasing to the eye and the green fees relatively easy on the wallet. It's the bargain version of Scottsdale and Las Vegas rolled into one. Albuquerque's casino golf resorts are good launching points: Isleta, Sandia and Santa Ana Star. The Hyatt Regency Tamaya is home to the highly regarded Twin Warriors Golf Club. The 27-hole Paako Ridge is likely the best of bunch. Adding an hour detour to Santa Fe delivers the arts and Black Mesa.
Western Pennsylvania, western Maryland and northern West Virginia are home to some lovely scenery and an eclectic mix of golf courses. The headliner here is Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, with two Pete Dye golf courses and one of the most eccentrically decorated resorts you will ever see, including a lodge that pays homage to the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright. Rocky Gap Resort and Lodestone top the list of western Maryland options, while Oglebay Resort, owned by the State of West Virginia, is a pleasant mid-budget option in Wheeling. In contrast, The Greenbrier, home to the historic Old White, a rare C.B. Macdonald/Seth Raynor classic where the paying public can actually get a tee time, is one of America's most opulent golf resorts.
Atlanta and Lake Oconee
There is plenty of golf within range of America's busiest airport and a heartbeat city of the South. About an hour east of town is sprawling Lake Oconee, anchored by the large combined resort/community of Reynolds Lake Oconee. Other nearby golf courses of note include the semi-private Harbor Club, and the quiet and private Cuscowilla. Closer to town, Echelon Golf Club and Cherokee Run Golf Club feature on the latest Golfers' Choice list, while the reversible nine-hole Bobby Jones Golf Club in the center of town has drawn considerable praise since reopening in 2018.
Atlantic City, New Jersey
Atlantic City's golf-and-gaming scene beats Las Vegas in two important categories: history and majors! Atlantic City Country Club is where the term "birdie" originated, while Seaview Golf Club hosted the PGA Championship back in 1942. Atlantic City's golf architecture is quite refined - the two classic courses on the bay, a wild inland "links" at Twisted Dune, a thoughtful landfill restoration at McCullough's Emerald Golf Links and a stout modern "country-club-for-a-day" motif at Shore Gate Golf Club, among others. The 'AC' is perfect for golf bachelor parties and buddies trips. | New Jersey Golf Packages
Blue Ridge Mountains
The air isn’t quite as thin up here as it is out West, but in the summertime, there are few pleasanter places to play golf than the mountain South. Northern Georgia has charming courses like Old Toccoa Farm and Brasstown Valley. The North Carolina communities of Asheville, Hendersonville and Cashiers are loaded with excellent, mostly private golf courses, plus a few resorts like the historic Omni Grove Park Inn. Virginia boasts The Homestead, and its exquisite Cascades course, and Primland, a remote mountainous property with its own powerful telescope to view the stars.
Brainerd and the Iron Range, Minnesota
In the land of 10,000 lakes, the best might be surrounding Brainerd two hours north of the Twin Cities. Two multi-course resorts, Madden's and Cragun's, roam the shores of Gull Lake. Nearby, Breezy Point and Grand View Lodge, deliver even more golf and pampering. Architect Jeff Brauer trekked even further north toward the Iron Range and Boundary Waters to design the two courses at Giants Ridge, plus Wilderness at Fortune Bay, a casino resort on Lake Vermillion.
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and Spokane, Washington
Much of the Pacific Northwest’s golf destination fame comes from the likes of Bandon and Chambers Bay, where water views captivate visitors. But the mountains are pretty compelling, too, especially when you pair them with a lake like Coeur d’Alene in northern Idaho’s panhandle. Two resort layouts – the Coeur d’Alene Resort, and Coeur d’Alene Casino (including Circling Raven Golf Club) – are fine destinations, but don’t sleep on Spokane’s vibrant local scene, including the scenic and historic Indian Canyon Golf Course. | Circling Raven Stay-and-play from $347
Florida Gulf Coast
The calm, warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico have been a siren call for vacationers, snowbirds and prospective permanent residents as long as Florida has had air conditioning. And over the decades, golfers have chased a ball around hundreds of courses from Marco Island and Naples up through Ft. Myers, Sarasota and Tampa. Resorts like Tiburon (Naples), Innisbrook (Tampa) and Saddlebrook (Tampa) offer multi-course experiences while one-off gems like River Hall (Alva), Waterlefe (Bradenton) and Old Corkscrew (Estero) all feature on our Golfers' Choice list of the Sunshine State's most popular courses.
Florida Panhandle, Alabama/Mississippi Gulf Coast
The southward-facing edge of the Gulf of Mexico is a hotbed for drive-in golfers seeking some of the best beaches in America, making it a great family summer spot with plenty of golf close at hand. On the Florida Panhandle, Sandestin's 72 holes and thousands of lodging units make it a popular destination-within-the-destination, while standalone courses like Kelly Plantation (No. 5 on our latest Golfers' Choice list for Florida) are worthwhile as well. Alabama's Gulf Coast has hits like Kiva Dunes, the 36-hole Craft Farms facility and the Lakewood Club, the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail's southern outpost. Mississippi's Gulf Coast is a haven for golfers and gamblers with casino resorts aplenty and high-roller courses like Fallen Oak, Shell Landing and Grand Bear. | Browse Mississippi Golf Packages
Georgia's Golden Isles
The Peach State’s coastline is a fabulous mix of beach and massive marshes with several courses taking advantage of some excellent scenery. Encompassing St. Simons and Jekyll Island, the Golden Isles is a quiet region beloved by golf groups and families. Sea Island Resort is one of the best higher-end places to stay and play on the east coast, while Jekyll’s budget-oriented golf is appealing as well. It should only grow in popularity after an upcoming renovation. Located just off-islands, Sanctuary Golf Club is a reasonably priced hidden gem. | Browse Georgia Golf Packages
Indiana is unsung as a golf destination compared to neighbors Wisconsin and Michigan, but its value and longer season are a big draw. As the home of legendary architect Pete Dye, there is a strong lineage of his designs from metro Indianapolis, including Brickyard Crossing and The Fort, to the beautifully hilly southern Indiana, where his modern marvel at French Lick compliments one of the Midwest's most historic golf and casino retreats.
Los Angeles and Orange County, California
LA's grit and the OC's glamour - it's a yin and yang like something out of a Hollywood movie. Ocean golf is the biggest allure at the 36-hole Resort at Pelican Hill, Monarch Beach Golf Links and Trump National Los Angeles. Meanwhile, LA's courses tend to have history more on their side. Beyond the country clubs (Riviera, Wilshire, Los Angeles CC), most golfers pack the local munies of Rancho Park (15 LA Opens from 1956-72) and Griffith Park. Daily fees litter the hilly landscape but a word to the wise. Try to keep your itinerary compact. Traffic will snarl in a heartbeat. | Pelican Hill Golf Package
Long Island, New York
How could a tiny sliver of urban sprawl without a single golf resort make our list? Well, how about that roster of exclusive private clubs ... Friar's Head, Garden City, Sebonac, Shinnecock Hills, Maidstone, National Golf Links of America. If you can get on 1 or 2, plus Bethpage Black, that's a dream trip. Even if you have to slum it on the public munis like the Red Courses at Eisenhower Park and Bethpage State Park or Montauk Downs State Park, a taste of the Hamptons and its fresh seafood ain't all bad.
Maine delivers something other mountainous ski regions like Colorado can't - an oceanfront coastline. One day, a golfer can smack a tee shot from a tee 100 feet above the Carrabassett River at Sugarloaf Resort and the next enjoy the breeze off the water playing 18 at scenic Samoset Resort. Touring the state's best public courses - Sunday River, Bethel Inn, Boothbay Harbor, etc. - might be the best way to savor Maine's rugged natural beauty, especially in fall.
Nebraska's Sand Hills
The super-private Sand Hills Golf Club put this region on the map in 1995, but it can be a tough ticket to punch, though the club has been known to respond positively to letters from golfers who express an interest in architecture. Luckily, plenty of playable courses have sprung up since. The Prairie Club is a regional favorite for its two big courses and Gil Hanse-designed Horse Course. Farther south in the state, Wild Horse Golf Club in Gothenburg and Bayside Golf Club in Ogallala are popular choices. Jim Engh's Awarii Dunes is a wild ride of its own.
New Orleans, Louisiana
No city in America has the history and flavor of New Orleans. The small collection of available golf courses are diverse enough to warrant tee times in between epic parties and exquisite dining. For a true NoLa vibe, Audubon Park in Uptown is one of the great urban short courses in the world. You can also play where the pros play and seek out the famous alligator, "Tripod" at TPC Louisiana. Or, put on a few miles and cruise the bayou experiencing courses of Louisiana's Audubon Golf Trail. | Ultimate Itinerary: New Orleans
The closure of Ko'olau and the news that Pacific Links is selling the land originally planned for a new Tiger Woods design in the Makaha Valley was a blow in 2020. Fortunately, the island's core remains strong. Turtle Bay Resort's Arnold Palmer Course on the North Shore and Kapolei Golf Club have both hosted the PGA Tour Champions in the past, while the LPGA Tour sports a long history of enjoying the sunshine and spoils of the Ko Olina Golf Club and the nearby Four Seasons Resort Oahu and Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa. | Oahu Golf Packages
Seattle and the Kitsap Peninsula, Washington
When golfers catch the Pacific Northwest in all her summer glory - sans fog, wind and rain - there might not be a prettier place to play golf in America. The 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay officially put the Puget Sound region on the map. Point your compass in any direction of the Emerald City to find both secluded mountain resorts, like Little Creek Casino to the south and Suncadia to the east, and waterfront playgrounds, such as Semiahoo north near the Canadian border and Port Ludlow to the west on the Kitsap Peninsula, home to multiple must-play courses.
Northern Michigan gets tons of attention (rightly so), but the southwestern quadrant of the state is home to a great roster of courses revolving around Grand Rapids, whose three area Mike DeVries designs – Pilgrim’s Run, Diamond Springs and Mines Golf Course – form a formidable, affordable trio. Nearer to Kalamazoo, Gull Lake View Resort’s six-course offering is topped by Stoatin Brae, one of the best public courses to open in the 2010s.
Texas Hill Country
San Antonio and Austin are separated by about 60 miles and border the rugged Texas Hill Country. It's here where the majority of Texas' tourism takes place thanks to The Alamo and state capital. TPC San Antonio and Omni Barton Creek are the show-stoppers, while La Cantera, Wolfdancer and Horsehoe Bay are all popular resort getaways with fun lodging and scenic, challenging courses to play. | Browse Texas Golf Packages
Smaller and quieter than its Phoenix-Scottsdale neighbor, Tucson boasts a collection of luxury hotel brands and multi-course properties set in scenic and quiet Sonoran Desert. Omni Tucson National, Ventana Canyon, Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain and the Westin La Paloma present a fine foursome of championship desert golf and peaceful spas and pools.
Upstate New York
Escaping the big city releases tension and reveals the natural beauty and Americana vibe of Upstate New York. Turning Stone Casino Resort, a former PGA Tour host, boasts three fine championship courses and loads of classy amenities. The legendary sports towns of Cooperstown, home to the baseball hall of fame, and Lake Placid, site of the "Miracle On Ice", feature unforgettable golf at Leatherstocking Golf Course and the 45-hole Lake Placid Club, all designed by Golden Age architects. The Sagamore Resort on an island in Lake George and its Donald Ross course on the mainland are also can't miss.
History buffs who also love golf have plenty to do in Williamsburg. Notable resorts like Kingsmill and Golden Horseshoe in Colonial Williamsburg offer attractive stay-and-plays, while independent courses like Viniterra and the dueling, recently reopened Mike Strantz thrill-rides at Royal New Kent and Stonehouse have a cult following. | Browse Williamsburg Golf Packages
Interior British Columbia
Mountains and vineyards showcase the varied landscapes that attract golfers to this scenic part of western Canada. Kamloops markets five courses, including the you-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it Tobiano. Talking Rock at Quaaout Lodge is sneaky great for a course left off of Canada's annual Top 100 lists. The 36-hole Predator Ridge Golf Resort anchors the Okanagan Valley. Don't leave without playing the remote Greywolf Golf Club in the aptly named town of Panorama on the edge of the Canadian Rockies.
Mont Tremblant & Montreal, Quebec
Montreal brings European culture - the French language, cuisine and architecture, specifically - to North America. After discovering the city, and hopefully a round at Royal Montreal's Blue Course, site of the 2007 Presidents Cup and again in 2024, head north to the Laurentian Mountains for Quebec's best collection of resort courses: Le Geant (The Giant), Le Diable (The Devil) and Le Maitre (The Master), a private club accessible through a stay at the Fairmont. Don't be surprised if your playing partners only speak French. Thankfully a love of golf transcends any language barriers.
The rocky Canadian Shield and thick forest add a dramatic element to golf in "lake and cottage country" two hours north of Toronto. It all started with the Deerhurst Resort's Highlands Course, built in 1990. Today, Taboo Resort Golf & Spa, Rocky Crest Golf Resort and JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka Resort & Spa (a kilometer from The Rock by Nick Faldo) provide more options and competition. As private clubs, Bigwin Island, an island course that requires a five-minute boat ride to reach, and Muskoka Bay Club do have some restrictions on public play, but the hurdles are worth jumping through to see Muskoka's two most scenic experiences.
Niagara Falls, Ontario and New York
One of the world's greatest natural attractions sets the stage for a popular destination for golf as well. Niagara-on-the-Lake is one of the most historic courses in North America, while Legends on the Niagara and Whirpool, operated by Canada's Parks Service, are convenient and peaceful layouts minutes from the falls. The Canadian side is a popular bachelor party destination with a wealth of nightlife and casinos. | Browse Canadian Golf Packages
Vancouver/Vancouver Island, British Columbia
Separated by a simple ferry ride, but worlds apart in feel and appeal, the combo of Vancouver/Vancouver Island is as good a contrast as city-rural golf gets. After a day or two on the mainland, exploring downtown and suburban courses like Morgan Creek and Westwood Plateau, head to the island. Victoria is as charming as any city in Canada with strong courses at the 36-hole Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort & Spa and Olympic View. Up island, life slows down and turns back the clock. Storey Creek and Crown Isle will make the remote trek worthwhile.
The Caribbean’s most convenient chain of islands is also home to a wide spectrum of options for golfers. Nassau’s energy and status as a cruise hub makes it ideal for up-tempo times, especially at courses like Paradise Island’s Ocean Club and Royal Blue, which is part of the massive Baha Mar resort. Quieter times await at the luxe Abaco Club or the all-inclusive Sandals resort on Great Exuma.
The easternmost island in the Caribbean has centuries-old ties to the United Kingdom, as well as a small but strong cadre of golf courses. Designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., Royal Westmoreland is a favorite of visitors, and the exclusive Sandy Lane Resort, with its uber-luxe accommodation and upscale Green Monkey golf course, was where Tiger Woods and ex-wife Elin Nordegren got married. Apes Hill, a community and resort whose development was arrested by the late-2000s recession, is getting a new lease on life soon.
Say 'Yea Mon!' to the four best courses in Jamaica, all located near Montego Bay. The Tryall Club, recently renovated, had a long run as host of the Johnny Walker Classic. Its villas are high class. Cinnamon Hill, and White Witch are all part of an old plantation called Rose Hall, which is reputed to be haunted. Cinnamon Hill explores the scenic shoreline, while the White Witch (named after the ghost of Annie Palmer) casts her spell with panoramic views up in the hills. The Iberostar Grand Hotel Rose Hall is more luxurious than your typical Caribbean all-inclusive resort. The nearby Half Moon Golf Club community offers a Robert Trent Jones Sr. course and villas.
Hurricane Maria devastated the island in 2017, but Puerto Rico has bounced back to begin welcoming guests back to its beaches and golf courses in earnest, and many properties and courses have been rebuilt better than ever. Dorado Beach’s two golf courses sit at the center of a Ritz-Carlton Reserve resort just west of the capital city of San Juan, while the PGA Tour-hosting, 36-hole Grand Reserve Golf Club at the Hyatt Regency Grand Reserve sits 45 minutes to the east near the Wyndham Grand Rio Mar and St. Regis Bahia Beach resorts. As a U.S. territory, Puerto Rico does not require a passport to access, giving it a leg up on most of the rest of the Caribbean.
Riviera Maya, Cancun and Cozumel
Beyond the teenage spring breakers in Cancun, this stretch of coastline is mighty attractive to golfers. With so many courses and resorts, the competition for your golf dollar is fierce, meaning many courses will shuttle you to and from your hotel or offer all you can eat and drink to get your business. With four luxury hotels (Fairmont, Rosewood, Andaz and Bayan Tree) and the El Camaleon Course that hosts the PGA Tour, Mayakoba is the top place to stay and play. There's no shortage of nice all-inclusives with golf, though: Moon Palace Cancun or the Iberostar Grand Paraiso. Just don't go fetching any ball that lands in the mangroves. They're loaded with crocs.
Riviera Nayarit, Puerto Vallarta and Punta Mita
Mexico's western coast along the Pacific Ocean is loaded with golf, stretching from Puerto Vallarta to Punta Mita. Golfers can chose from boutique hotels like Casa Velas to sprawling all-inclusive properties such as Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit and Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta, where it might take a couple days to find your way around. Marina Vallarta surrounds Casa Velas, while a package delivers the mountainous jungles of Vista Vallarta's Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskop courses. Getting inside Punta Mita's gates for a stay at either the Four Seasons or St. Regis and 36 holes of ocean golf on the Pacifico and Bahia courses is every player's dream. Puerto Vallarta's Malecon (boardwalk) and the surf town of Sayulita are perfect day excursions to forget about bogeys.
Sandwiched between a coastline that shares the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea and the Sahara Desert, Morocco occupies a unique geographical region in northwest Africa. The country has embraced golf, now with 40 courses. Tourists flock to Marrakech, although its best 36-hole club, Royal Dar Es Salam, is located in Rabat just north of Casablanca on the coast.
Golfers in Japan have always been enthusiastic, and Hideki Matsuyama’s 2021 Masters victory should only spur more yen for the game. Kawana Hotel’s two golf courses are the best-known for visitors, with the historic oceanside Fuji Course drawing comparisons to Pebble Beach. The 2021 Tokyo Olympics should give greater exposure to this country’s golf possibilities.
Malaysia boasts nearly 200 courses, many in varied settings from coastal mountains to tropical jungles. Golfers will enjoy the bargains and often speedy rounds on uncluttered courses. The 36-hole TPC Kuala Lumpur and The Mines, built upon the world's largest open-cast tin mine, should accompany a visit to the capital city of Kuala Lumpur. The beaches and laid-back culture will win you over.
Mission Hills Haikou, Hainan Island, China
Hainan Island has become Hong Kong's "Hawaii" as a tropical island escape a simple 90-minute flight away. This Mission Hills resort "only" has 10 courses instead of the 12 at its sister properties on the mainland. The resort's luxury tower hotel is surrounded by 168 hot and cold mineral spring pools, making it the "World's Largest Mineral Spring Resort". The Blackstone and Lava Fields courses are generally considered the best of the lot.
Mission Hills Shenzhen and Dongguan, China
With 216 holes spread across 12 courses and two sites at Shenzhen and Dongguan, Mission Hills is the world's largest golf resort. Despite the Chinese government's reluctance to embrace the game, Mission Hills has thrived. Many of the courses are named after famous players who lent their names as "architects" - Faldo, Els, Annika, Norman, Vijay and others. The traditional female caddies seen throughout Asia, night golf, instruction, 51 tennis courts, a spa - it's all here. A two-week stay to play every course would be an immersive experience into Chinese golf culture.
The LPGA Tour is evidence that South Korea's golf culture is as strong as anywhere in the world. Seoul also happens to be one of the world's most vibrant cities. Golf is so popular that some courses like Taekwang Country Club offer massive driving ranges with multiple levels, lights for night play and two greens side by side to handle the sheer amount of play. Its playing experiences mix the traditional (female Asian caddies) with modern touches (driverless golf carts).
Golf development is relatively sluggish worldwide, except in Vietnam, which is blessed by hundreds of miles of sandy coastline that work beautifully for golf. The Bluffs Ho Tram Strip and Hoiana Shores are new and well-regarded, with more competition coming shortly. With dozens of courses to be built in the coming years, Vietnam’s best days as a golf destination are ahead.
EUROPE AND BEYOND
Maybe the rowdy 2018 Ryder Cup inspired you to visit France for golf? Although the country's best courses are private, the 36-hole Terre Blanche Hotel Resort & Spa is widely considered continental Europe's best golf resort. It's ideally located within 90 kilometers of the celebrated French Riviera (Monaco, Cannes and Nice). Two of France's best resort courses, the Albatros Course at Le Golf National (long-time host of the French Open that was redesigned as a Ryder Cup venue) and Evian Masters Golf Club (the venue of the LPGA Tour's fifth major near the Swiss border), have been providing golf theater for two-plus decades.
Contrary to what its name suggests, Iceland is not a frozen wasteland but a unique landscape of lava fields and the most golf courses per capita of any country in the world. In the summer, golfers can tee it up 24 hours a day. Midnight golf, anyone? The sport is now the second-most popular in the nation, offering 15 18-hole courses and 46 nine-holers, many with sweeping mountain and ocean views.
Come for the culture and pack the sticks simply to experience golf in an exotic foreign land. Golf will simply be a diversion from all the other worthy activities - the sightseeing, cuisine and wine of Venice, Rome, Florence, etc. Marco Simone in Rome will host the European Tour's Italian Open this fall for a sneak peak of the completely rebuilt 2023 Ryder Cup venue. For otherworldly views of the Mediterranean Sea, pass the tip of Italy's boot to find the spoils of the 45-hole Verdura Resort in Sicily. | Browse Italy Golf Packages
England's most famous, Open Championship-worthy medal links and legendary heathlands are found elsewhere, but the country's southwest sliver of Cornwall is sparsely-populated holiday country with some splendid lesser-known clubs. The main attraction is debatable between Saunton's East and West links and the charming St. Enodoc Church Course. Burnham & Berrow, Trevose and the historic and rugged Royal North Devon in Westward Ho! make for a strong five-day itinerary in what many call the U.K.'s warmest and sunniest enclave. | England & Wales Golf Packages
Despite being one of the world's oldest civilizations, Turkey is relatively new to golf tourism. In the past two decades, the Belek region east of Antalya has blossomed into an oasis of top courses and all-inclusive resorts on the Mediterranean. Carya reigns as king, but the 36-hole Antalya Golf Club (also marketed as PGA National Turkey) is also as superb as the predominantly sunny weather. The Lykia Links at Lykia World Antalya resort is Perry Dye's wild interpretation of a seaside links.
The golf boom in the Middle East brought dozens of courses to the United Arab Emirates and Turkey, which are top destinations-within-the-destination here. Both Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the UAE appeal to golfers, with an influx of international business sure to grow an already robust golf scene. Elsewhere in the region, Oman has a smallish but well-regarded collection of courses, and Qatar, Bahrain and Egypt have their own golf options as well.
OCEANIA and AUSTRALIA
Sydney's golf scene would be more recognized if Melbourne's Sandbelt didn't steal its thunder Down Under. The city's vibrant mix of beaches, architecture, cosmopolitan shopping and the Opera House is simply intoxicating. On the south side, a trio of links share the same oceanside cliffs - the world-famous New South Wales, St. Michael's and the scruffy but dramatic Coast Golf Club. If you can't score an invite to a trio of private clubs, there's still more than enough public golf like Long Reef, another linksy coastal adventure north of the city.
The Great Barrier Reef and Whitsunday Islands draw sailing and scuba enthusiasts to this naturally spectacular northeastern state of Australia. The golf courses aren't as internationally known compared to the Sandbelt, but the roster runs deep from Brisbane down to Surfer's Paradise and the Gold Coast. Among the newest courses is Hamilton Island, showcasing the rugged beauty of the Whitsundays, while Coolum has served as an Australian Open tour stop.
South America isn't on the radar of too many golfers, except for purists on a "MacKenzie" vision quest. Dr. Alister MacKenzie made the pilgrimage to build the exclusive 36-hole Jockey Club at Buenos Aires before his death in 1934. The two courses have stood the test of time, and if you seek another MacKenzie original, head across the Rio de La Plata (river) to Montevideo's Golf Club de Uruguay, which is visitor-friendly on certain days in Uruguay's capital city. Argentina is home to roughly 300 courses, the largest by far on the continent, and two-time major champion Angel Cabrera.11 Min Read