NCG’s Top 10: Best golf courses in the world

Courses and Travel

Welcome to our list of the very finest creations on Planet Earth

10. Pebble Beach

California, USA

The most spectacular course on the planet was originally the work of Jack Neville and Douglas Grant and will celebrate its centenary in 2019. The stretch around the turn, beginning with the cute par-3 7th, is jaw-dropping.

9. Kingston Heath

Victoria, Australia

Best golf courses

Des Soutar and Alister Mackenzie are responsible for this Melbourne sand-belt classic. It’s short and plays even more so because it is fast-running. Bring your brain and your best ball-striking. It’s also pure.

8. Merion

Pennsylvania, USA

Best golf courses

Designed by Hugh Wilson and returned to the US Open rota in 2013, when Justin Rose won. It’s a tiny parcel of land for a golf class of its stature. It’s also incredibly rich in character with its lobster pot flags and a disused quarry on the 16th.

7. Royal Melbourne (West)

Victoria, Australia

Another classic MacKenzie. The bunkering has to be seen to be believed and when it gets firm and dusty round here it can be evil. Takes subtlety to new levels.

6. Muirfield

East Lothian, Scotland

Best golf courses

Old Tom Morris was the first man to shape the land here but really the course we play today is the work of Harry Colt. It’s a brilliant piece of design on what is not necessarily the most thrilling piece of linksland. Constant changes of direction are one of its greatest features.

5. Augusta

Georgia, USA

Arguably the most famous course on Planet Earth – even more than the Old Course somehow – Augusta National is lauded every year for its astonishing beauty and presentation. What can be lost is the genius of the MacKenzie and Bobby Jones’s design which encapsulates the concept of risk and reward better than just about any other course that’s ever been designed.

4. Cypress Point

California, USA

Best golf courses

If neighbouring Pebble Beach has its clifftops, Cypress Point is arguably even more dramatic. MacKenzie made full use of its potential and the cloak of exclusivity that has surrounded it ever since

3. Royal County Down

County Down, Northern Ireland

Old Tom Morris’s original design dates back to 1889 and while it has periodically evolved since the course still plays true to its roots. Achingly beautiful, subtle and with fast, firm greens that always nudge your ball away from their centre, it is the greatest test of links golf in the world.

2. Pine Valley

New Jersey, USA

Best golf courses

Hotelier George Crump and Harry Colt can take the bulk of the credit – though many more great architects were involved to a lesser degree –for what is commonly acknowledged as America’s finest layout. It’s about to celebrate its centenary in 2018. Pine Valley is uniquely bunkered and it sometimes seems there is more sand than grass. Every last hole is a masterpiece, separate and distinct from the one that precedes and follows it.

1. St Andrews (Old Course)

Fife, Scotland

In a list like this, the Old Course is either No. 1 or doesn’t feature. Its design philosophies, courtesy of Mother Nature, can be found in every single other course in this list – and there are many examples of where the concepts have been refined. It can be a confusing place to play for the first-time visitor (and second- and third- for that matter) with its wide, apparently featureless expanses. All are swept away by the sheer romance of the closing stretch though – it’s like history in real life as you play back towards the Auld Grey Toun.

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