Most Famous Golf Courses

Introduction

Golf has been played for hundreds of years and there are now around 40,000 golf courses worldwide. These range from humble municipal 9-holers to 54 hole country clubs with virtual palaces as a clubhouse!

Unlike most other sports, in golf, you can play at the same venues as your golfing heroes. Although it may cost you a pretty penny in some cases!

Let’s take a look at some of the most famous golf courses on the planet and see how many you have managed to play.

Most Famous Golf Courses

Most Famous Golf Courses In The World

St Andrews Old Course

St Andrews is rightly known as the “home of golf”. Some of golf’s standards were set here such as a round being 18 holes and the size of the hole.  Home to the Royal and Ancient Golf club who are long-time administrators of the game.

This is a classic out-and-back links played over crumpled fairways dotted with fiendish pot bunkers. Down the ages, many of the greats of golf have won here including J.H.Taylor, James Braid, Bobby Jones, Sam Snead, Peter Thomson, Bobby Locke, Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros, Sir Nick Faldo And Tiger Woods. 

The whole area is steeped in the history of golf and any golfer that visits St Andrews is surely going to be affected by it. While a green fee on the Old Course is hardly cheap compared with many other golf courses it is not too bad.

The Old Course and several of the other courses are run by the links trust for the benefit of the people. This means local citizens can get preferential rates at the golf courses including the Old Course.

Augusta National

Given that the course has only been in existence for around 90 years it shows the power of television that it is now one of the two most famous courses in the world.

Every spring golfers and non-golfers tune in to see the annual Masters Tournament played at the same venue where hardly a blade of grass is allowed to be out of place.

Designed by one of the greatest players in history, Bobby Jones, in conjunction with one of the greatest architects Alistair Mackenzie. The course winds its way up and down a hilly piece of property that was once a plant nursery.

Presented in pristine condition the Masters Tournament has a particular effect on British golfers who have spent six months battling wind, rain and muddy playing surfaces. It is an unofficial signal that the golfing season proper has started.

Unfortunately, unless you move in the right circles your chances of playing Augusta are slim to none and your chances of becoming a member are even less than that.

Even getting a ticket for the Masters can be quite tricky as there is a long waiting list. In recent years things have opened up slightly for those with deeper pockets who can afford one of the hospitality packages.

The Augusta National will be near the top of pretty well everyone’s must play list.

Pebble Beach Golf Links

Running along the cliff tops with magnificent views of the Pacific Ocean this has to be one of the most scenic golf courses on the planet. Its fame has no doubt been amplified as a host venue on the PGA Tour for many years and also where Watson defeated Nicklaus in his famous US Open victory.

pebble beach 18th hole
Pebble Beach 18th hole

Originally opened in 1919 and designed by Jack Neville and Douglas Grant, the course has had work by Alistair Mackenzie and Jack Nicklaus amongst others in the intervening years.

Unfortunately due to the law of supply and demand the green fee at Pebble Beach is one of the highest in the world. It will cost you an eye-watering $595 plus a cart or caddie fee! It is easy to see why some people decry golf as a rich man’s game.

TPC Sawgrass – The Stadium Course

Created to be the permanent home of the Players Championship on the PGA Tour. Designed by Pete Dye with the aim of offering fans a better viewing experience than a normal golf course. The site also plays host to the tour headquarters.

Water plays a huge part in the defence of the course, no more so than on the iconic ‘island’ green 17th hole. If we are splitting hairs then strictly speaking it’s a peninsular

The Belfry – Brabazon Course

You might be surprised to see this course on the list but as a four-time Ryder Cup host and regular European tour venue, I think there are many golfers and nongolfers who would recognise the Belfry.

Although there are three courses on site it is the Brabazon which is undoubtedly the most famous as the Ryder Cup was held there in 85,89,93 and 2002.

The 1985 edition was special as it was the first time the US had lost since 1957!

The course was developed In the 70s and designed by Dave Thomas and Peter Alliss although it has since undergone a few changes.

There are really two iconic holes, the 10th and 18th. The 10th is a short par-4 with a green protected by water. The 18th is a long dogleg par-4 with a triple tier green and a large expanse of water to be cleared with your approach.

Quite a few American hopes sank in the water on 18 during the Ryder Cup.

The complex has undergone a number of ownership changes over the past several years but tee times are still relatively easy to obtain through Golfnow. Although I would question whether £185 represents good value for money. For an extra £64, you can have two nights of accommodation in the hotel and a round on the PGA National. That certainly seems a better option.

Bandon Dunes

Okay strictly speaking this is a resort rather than just a course. However, despite the fact it has only recently been built, it has created a fantastic buzz amongst golf fans.

Set on the coast of Oregon this is about as close to an authentic Scottish links experience as you will achieve anywhere outside Scotland. The emphasis is more on golf rather than anything else although it certainly isn’t cheap with peak rate green fees coming in at $295.

If I could afford it this is definitely one golf trip I would love to do.

Wentworth – West Course

Another long-time European tour venue hosting both the PGA Championship and also the World Matchplay.

Originally designed by Harry Colt the course underwent an expensive revamp which in my opinion ruined it.

Up until relatively recently, it was possible for visitors to pay a green fee even if it was an expensive one (I paid £180 in 2004!). These days unfortunately it is a member-only facility with a joining fee reportedly of £100,000 and an annual subscription of £16,000 or more.

Brookline – The Country Club

One of the founder members of the USGA and one of the most exclusive clubs in the United States of America. It has hosted a number of amateur and professional championships. England’s own Matt Fitzpatrick won the US amateur there in 2013 but two other incidents have elevated The Country Club’s level of fame.

francis ouimet
Francis Ouimet

In 1913 a young local amateur named Francis Ouimet held off the challenge of Harry Vardon and Ted Ray to win the US Open. More controversially the 1999 Ryder Cup exploded when Justin Leonard’s teammates stormed the 17th green after he holed a long putt. In the aftermath, Jose Maria Olazabal missed his putt

Trump International Golf Links – Aberdeen

More famous really for its owner and the trials and tribulations surrounding its planning and subsequent development. Even before ascending to the presidency Donald Trump was a polarizing individual. 

His involvement in a project to develop a course capable of hosting the Open Championship along with residential properties that might destroy a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) led to planning wranglings and arguments amongst local residents and politicians for many years.

Despite all this, the golf course has received very many favourable reviews. Although as long as the “Donald” is involved it is extremely unlikely that the Open Championship would ever be staged there.

Muirfield

A classic links on the East Coast of Scotland and the home of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh golfers. A long-time member of the Open Championship rota, the members decided to allow ladies to join the club after a bit of a backlash. This means the R&A have now reinstated the club and the Open Championship will at some stage be back at one of its best venues.

Like most venues of its standing, the green fees at Muirfield are not cheap. It will set you back £310 for a round. You can always try the winter green fee of £110 if you want to save some money.

Most Famous Golf Courses In The United States Of America

  • The Augusta National
  • Pebble Beach Golf Links
  • TPC Sawgrass – Stadium Course
  • Brookline – The Country Club
  • Bandon Dunes
  • Pine Valley
  • Bethpage Black
  • Pinehurst No.2
  • Oakmont
  • Whistling Straits

Most Famous Golf Courses In The UK

  • St Andrews – Old Course
  • The Belfry – Brabazon Course
  • Wentworth – West Course
  • Trump International Golf links-Aberdeen
  • Muirfield
  • Royal Birkdale
  • Carnoustie
  • Royal Lytham and St Annes
  • Royal St George’s
  • Royal Troon

Most Famous Golf Courses In Australia

  • Royal Melbourne – West
  • Kingston Heath
  • Barnbougle Dunes
  • The Metropolitan
  • New South Wales

Most Famous Golf Courses In South America

  • Jockey Club, Argentina
  • La Paz, Bolivia
  • Rio 2016 Olympic Course, Brazil

Most Famous Top Courses In Asia

  • Hirono
  • Kawana – Fuji
  • Naruo

Most Famous Golf Courses In Europe

  • Valderrama
  • Crans-sur-Sierre
  • Paris National (Albatross)

Most Famous Golf Courses In Africa

  • Gary Player Country Club
  • Leopard Creek
  • Fancourt – Links

Most Famous Golf Courses: Conclusion

I am not contending that these are necessarily the best courses but that they are some of the more famous courses from their respective areas.

What do you think? Have I got it right? How many have you played?

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