Golf by the water hits differently, doesn't it?
Not every green has to be perched at land's end for this to be true, although at places like Pebble Beach, it's awfully special. But merely being near a big body of water - being able to see it, hear it, smell it - tends to confer an air of importance that most inland golf courses struggle to match. Perhaps it's the fact that the game began by the sea, and playing latter-day courses on the water feels like a direct honoring of that old tradition.
In the past, I have often tried to argue that a course's setting should not count too much for or against it. There are courses near water that have disappointed me and there are courses with relatively pedestrian inland settings that have utterly wowed me. But I cannot deny that whenever people ask me to list my few favorite courses, the ones that bubble to the top tend to be on or near the water.
Poets and artists have grappled with the ineffable grandeur of rivers, lakes, seas and oceans for millennia. As a mere golfer, who am I to deny the power of big waters?