Golf was founded as simple sport. Hand carved clubs hit balls stuffed with feathers across the windswept linksland of Scotland as golfers walked from shot to shot. Technology and course design has changed considerably since those early days, but walking the course is still a great way to enjoy the sport for those who are able. It not only provides great exercise, it allows you to fully enjoy your surroundings. With this in mind, the following are the best courses for walking golf. Note that some courses on this list are walking only, while others are just best enjoyed on foot.
Royal County Down
Newcastle, Northern Ireland, UK
Royal Country Down is one of the great British links courses, founded in 1889. The course has been updated over the years, but the original layout and routing from the legendary Old Tom Morris, with later additions from Harry Vardon, remains largely intact. The views of the Irish Sea and surrounding mountains are stunning, but make no mistake, the course is far from a Sunday stroll. It remains one of the truest challenges in golf and is arguably the best links course to never host the British Open.
Bethpage Black Course
Farmingdale, NY, USA
It’s not everyday that you can play a truly world class course, but Bethpage State Park’s Black Course is certainly one of those. Enjoy walking through stands of hardwoods as you tread the same paths as numerous professionals. The course is lauded for its exceptional design, especially it’s innovative bunkering, and is kept in excellent condition despite being essentially a municipal course.
New South Wales Golf Club
La Perouse, Australia
Full of beautiful panoramic views of both the ocean and the Australian countryside, New South Wales Golf Club is one of the most picturesque courses in the world. Designed by Alister MacKenzie, perhaps best known as the designer of Cypress Point, New South Wales Golf Club provides a tough but fair layout that will challenge any golfer. The course is perfect for walking, with few elevation changes and plenty of beautiful scenery.
Kiawah Island Resort, Ocean Course
Kiawah Island, SC, USA
South Carolina’s Kiawah Island has long been considered one of the best golf resorts in America. The resort also sets aside the morning for walking golfers on the Pete Dye designed Ocean Course. The course provides challenging golf through the dunes and wetlands of the coast, and the use of a caddie is highly advised for dealing with the often difficult conditions. This will especially come in handy with the numerous raised greens requiring careful approach shots.
Bandon Dunes, Pacific Dunes Course
Bandon, OR, USA
The Pacific Dunes course at Bandon Dunes provides an excellent example of links golf tucked on the Southern Oregon coast, and is a walking only course. The Tom Doak layout is noted for its use of elevation changes that create numerous ocean views even on the holes that aren’t on the coast. The course is still easily walkable, despite the elevation changes, with the namesake dunes and shore pines providing variety as you play one of America’s great courses.
Pinehurst No. 2
Pinehurst, NC, USA
Legendary Pinehurst No. 2 has a well-earned reputation. The Donald Ross-designed course has hosted more major tournaments than any other American course. The course encourages walking and is best enjoyed with help from a walking caddy. There’s no better way to feel like the professionals than walking through the pines to your shot while talking strategy and club recommendations. This course is rightly considered one of the best in the world and should be on every golfer's bucket list.
Old Course St. Andrews
St. Andrews, Scotland, UK
Largely considered to be the oldest golf course in the world, St. Andrews is the spiritual home of golf. Golf has been played in this area of Scotland since the early 15th century, and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews remains the most prestigious golf club in the world. Golfers can enjoy playing this course that remains walking only as they try and master the infamously difficult course that has hosted more Open Championships than any other venue.
Fishers Island Club
Fishers Island, NY, USA
Truly one of the most beautiful courses in the world, Fishers Island Club. This semi-private course is located on a small island that is only accessible from a ferry ride from Connecticut. It is a short course when compared to championship layouts, however the challenge lies with the deep rough, harsh bunkering, and raised greens. The course provides scenic views of the Atlantic on nearly every hole and will leave golfers with a lifetime of memories.
Pebble Beach Golf Links
Pebble Beach, CA, USA
Designed by Jack Neville and Douglas Grant in 1919, this course offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean while providing a stern test for any golfer. Golfers will be paying a premium, but that is the price to pay for playing one of the best courses in the world. The 2019 U.S. Open host allows carts on the cart path, however, walking the course is the preferred way of enjoying one of golf’s great gems.