Golfer's Dozen: The World's 12 Best Courses You Can Play

By Ryan Watson

There are some courses that are every golfer aspires to play at least once in their lifetime. The kind of courses that burst with history, ample challenge, and immaculate conditions. The following list is our 12 best courses in the world that the public can play, provided you're willing to shell out some money and book your tee time very far in advance. Get ready to pack your bags and head out to golfing paradise!

St. Andrews

KY16 9XL
St. Andrews, Scotland

There's no better place to start this list off with than a trip to Scotland and golf's spiritual home: St. Andrews. St. Andrews is the oldest 18 hole course, in fact, it set the standard of 18 holes. The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews is the spiritual home of golf and the responsible for codifying the rules of golf. Golfers can feel the importance of the links and their 600 years of history that permeates the course. Golfing legend Old Tom Morris was the principal designer of the 18 hole course, introducing the concept of the double green in the 1860s. The course has hosted the most British Opens, a record 29, and hosted its first tournament in 1873 when the Claret Jug was debuted. The course remains a public course, but golfers must have an official handicap of 24 or lower for men and 36 or lower for women to be able to play the Old Course. Golfers are well advised to book far in advance to play such hallowed grounds.


Meols Dr.
Hoylake, England

Another historic course that continues to play great, Hoylake has had a huge effect on the professional game. This links course was completed in 1869 by Robert Chambers and George Morris and would host its first British Open in 1897. It is also the location of the first international golfing match, contested between England and Scotland in 1902. Hoylake would also host the first contest between Great Britain and the United States in 1921, originating what would become known as the Walker Cup. The course is noted for its difficult par-3s. For example, the 15th hole features a very narrow green surrounded by five deep pot bunkers. Golfers should look to book tee times well in advance, as members are given preference in tee times.

Kiawah Island (Ocean)

Kiawah Island Golf Resort
One Sanctuary Beach Drive
Kiawah Island, SC 29455

A beautiful Southern experience, the Ocean Course at Kiawah Golf Resort boasts the most seaside holes in the Northern Hemisphere with 10 of its 18 holes located directly on the coastline. The quality of the course is attested by the tournaments it has hosted; including a Ryder Cup, PGA and Senior PGA Championship. The course is also scheduled to host the 2021 PGA championship. In addition to the spectacular views, the course is best known for the strong and unpredictable winds which act as an ever-changing hazard.

Yas Links Abu Dhabi

Yas Links Abu Dhabi
Yas Island

Abu Dhabi is known for its rapid development and luxury accommodations, and Yas Links represents much of the new look of this desert city. The course was designed by links specialist Kyle Phillips and is an excellent example of the class British links style. The course involved extensive reshaping of the coastline and used almost 2 million cubic meters of dredged sand from the Persian Gulf to make this beautiful and authentic layout. It is a very open layout and uses water (and the sculpted coastline) on 8 of the holes. Be warned, however, this course is on the list for its great design and not for beautiful views which are lacking on most of the holes.

The Broadmoor (East Course)

1 Lake Ave
Colorado Springs, CO 80906

Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs, CO is a luxury resort nestled in the Rocky Mountains. It is home to three excellent courses: the Donald Ross designed East, the Robert Trent Jones designed West, and the Jack Nicklaus designed Mountain. It is the original East course that receives the lion’s share of plaudits given to Broadmoor, and it’s easy to see why. It is a parkland style course that enjoyed a facelift in 1952 from Robert Trent Jones and is full of beautiful tree-lined fairways and undulating greens. Playing at over 6,000 ft above sea level means longer drives, and that has made the Broadmoor especially popular with seniors and has seen it host two different U.S. Women’s Open.

Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club

Links Gate, Lytham Saint Annes

This 11-time host of the British Open traces its roots back to 1886 when club professional George Lowe designed this iconic course. It was later modified in the early 20th century by several architects, setting up Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s to be as challenging a links course as any. It is known for its intimidating sand hills and numerous bunkers, as well as it’s fast and tricky greens. While no longer next to the sea thanks to shifting coastlines and lacking some of the undulating fairways common to links courses, Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s gives golfers a metric ton of history and an even greater challenge.

The Royal Melbourne Golf Club

Cheltenham Rd
Black Rock, VIC 3193, Australia

Australia’s oldest golf club, The Royal Melbourne, is home to the world famous West course. The course was designed by Alister MacKenzie, the legendary Scottish course architect responsible for both Cypress Point and Augusta National. The course is widely seen as a “second shot” course as the relatively wide fairways provide some comfort in tee shots. However, approach shots must be accurate or golfers will be punished by difficult greens and strategic bunkering. And accurate golfing strategy is exactly what is needed to conquer this MacKenzie classic.

The Greenbrier Resort (Old White TPC)

300 W. Main Street,
White Sulphur Springs, WV 24986

West Virginia's Greenbrier Resort has been hosting guests since the 1700s, including over half of the U.S. presidents, and is also home to the oldest American golf course. While that particular course is members only, the public can play the 1914 Charles Blair Macdonald designed Old White TPC Course. Home of The Greenbrier Classic, an annual FedEx Cup Event, the course provides an opportunity for amateurs to play the same course as the best in the world.

Royal Portrush Golf Club

Dunluce Rd.
Portrush, Northern Ireland

The Royal Portrush Golf Club is home to two link courses, the Dunluce Links and Valley Links. While the Valley Links is a fun course in its own right, the Dulce Links is the more famous of the two and is scheduled to host again in 2019. The club, founded in 1888, hosted its first British Open in 1951 and remains the only course outside of England and Scotland to host the tournament. The course was designed by Harry Colt and features numerous difficult and striking holes. One signature hole is the 5th hole that features a heavily rolling green perched on the edge of a small cliff. The course demands accurate shotmaking and looks to punish golfers for errant shots.

Pebble Beach Golf Links

1700 17 Mile Dr.
Pebble Beach, CA 93953

Pebble Beach is an instantly recognizable name in the world of golf. Long considered one of America’s greatest courses, it combines beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean with an outstanding design. It is known for 9 holes that overlook the ocean from atop rocky cliffs. The course is oozing with history as it has hosted numerous PGA Tour events and majors. Golfers will enjoy the the finishing hole as they tee-off to the sound of waves crashing on the par-5 dogleg that requires a forced carry over the ocean. Be sure to book tee times very far in advance as this remains one of America's most popular courses.


Duncar Rd.
Gullane, Scotland

Muirfield, one of golf’s historic courses, has hosted 16 British Open Championships and is still in rotation. It is home to the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, an organization with records dating back to 1744. The club would build Muirfield in 1891 with a course designed by Old Tom Morris. It would host its first Open Championship the following year in 1892. It is a links style course that is noted for its looping layout, something incredibly uncommon for its time. It also makes sure that the prevailing winds blowing in from the Atlantic Ocean remain widely inconsistent and prove to be a constant challenge.

Pinehurst No. 2

80 Carolina Vista Drive
Pinehurst, NC 28374

The course known simply as "No. 2" was designed by Donald Ross in 1907. Noted for its difficulty, it has played host to both the U.S. Open and the U.S. Women's Open. This championship caliber course features crowned greens that have been known to make or break a golfer's score. The course demands strategy from players and rewards accurate shot shaping. The course is kept in immaculate condition and golfers will appreciate the time they spend on the fairway (while lamenting when they are shooting from the trees) while trying to set up an easy putt on the notoriously tricky greens.

About the Author

Ryan Watson is a freelance sportswriter and history professor. He has been an avid fan of golf since his father signed him up for golf camp as a young child. Ryan enjoys following the professional game and learning about new equipment and gadgets.