Buy your airline ticket and pack your golf clubs. Here are ten of the most spectacular golf courses from around the globe to enjoy your next golf holiday…
NEW ZEALAND – Cape Kidnappers
“To me the key with Cape Kidnappers is that it’s just different from everywhere else,” says American architect Tom Doak, who has skilfully linked together eighteen amazing holes on a triangular headland that juts 8kms into the Pacific from the North Island wine-region community of Napier.
Cape Kidnappers fabled fingers of fairway dodge menacing ravines and skirt the Cape’s signature white cliffs which rise some 500 feet from the shores of Hawke’s Bay. “I’ve always thought that ‘Pebble Beach on steroids’ is a good description of Cape Kidnappers,” says head professional Jonathan McCord.
BARBADOS – Sandy Lane
At the exclusive Sandy Lane resort on Barbados is a Caribbean golf classic known as The Green Monkey. Created and sculpted from a once working limestone quarry, course designer Tom Fazio slowly builds drama through the first eight parkland-style holes, then startles golfers with a rapid descent into an abandoned quarry where 27-metre high coral walls dwarf the fairways.
The signature hole is the photogenic 206-metre par-3 16th, where players hit down into the old quarry to a green edged by a massive bunker featuring a grass island carved in the shape of a Bajan green monkey.
BULGARIA – Thracian Cliffs
“You will not find a golf course like this anywhere else on the planet,” says course designer Gary Player about his stunning layout framed by rugged coastal cliffs and the vast blue of the Black Sea. The 302-metre par-4 7th sums up what Thracian Cliffs is all about.
The men’s regular tee is a small island in the Black Sea and a carry of nearly 170 metres is required to reach the fairway. The best approach is to aim at the bunker on the left hand side of the fairway, but be careful, short or slightly to the right and you are in the water. Once safely on the fairway, a precise short iron second is required to the elevated green.
There may be no more spectacular a setting for a golf course anywhere in the world than Stoneforest International Country Club set among 200 million-year-old karst rocks of all shapes and sizes that have visitors reaching for their camera as often as a club.
With three 18-hole layouts, one reserved for members, Stoneforest has more than taken full advantage of its location. Some holes, playing among the rocks are simply dazzling. Others, sweeping up or downhill, are as enticing in their visual appeal as they are enjoyable to play.
The A course, rising to a high plateau, is arguably the most dramatic, while the back nine of the B course isn’t far behind. Situated at 6000 feet above sea level, Stoneforest is in a region rapidly emerging as China’s golf capital, with 15 courses in play and as many again under development.
IRELAND – Old Head
Built on a 220-acre diamond of land in County Cork and jutting out over two miles into the Atlantic Ocean, Old Head Golf Links is another of the planet’s must-plays. With the ever-changing sea breezes, and over 7,200 yards in length from the tips, the course provides a stern test for players of all levels.
Nine of the holes play along the cliff tops, and all eighteen holes provide breathtaking ocean views. The pick of the short holes is Coosgorm, a terrific 186-yard par-3 set tight to the ocean.
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SPAIN – Anfi Tauro
Designed by Robert Von Hagge, Gran Canaria’s impeccably maintained desert-style PGA championship course located among rocky canyons and gorges, teeming waterfalls and glistening lakes offers a perfect contrast to the surrounding volcanic mountains. Anfi Tauro is one of those rare courses that generate a genuine sense of awe from one hole to the next for an unforgettable round.
The course is a dream for golf photography and even the most inexperienced snapper can’t fail to capture a good image here. One of the most photogenic holes is the classic 209-metre, par-3 6th framed on either side with swaying palms and a pyramid-shaped rock as a backdrop.
SCOTLAND – Turnberry
This iconic links that regularly ranks in the world’s top 20 courses, came to international prominence with the infamous ‘Duel in the Sun’ between Tom Watson (champion) and Jack Nicklaus over four sweltering days of the British Open during July 1977. Since then, Greg Norman (1986), Nick Price (1994) and most recently Stewart Cink (2009) have made up the quartet of golfers to lift the Claret Jug at Turnberry. The 452-yard 9th, called Bruce’s Castle is one of Turnberry’s trademark holes.
Adjacent to the famous lighthouse and the remains of Robert the Bruce’s Castle, it’s a daunting par-4 especially from the championship tee which is perched on a rocky premonitory on the edge of the sea.
SWEDEN – Bro Hof Slott
From the moment you drive through the gates of Bro Hof Slott (about a 40-minute drive from Stockholm) and glimpse the white hilltop castle, manicured fairways and glistening Lake Mälaren you know you are at a special course. “Everything is big at Bro Hof. The holes are longer, the greens are bigger, the course has more water and the bunkers are larger and well placed,” says Robert Trent Jones Jr who designed this superb lakeside layout with state-of-the-art facilities.
Only open for play since 2007, Bro Hof Slott’s Stadium Course is now a world top 100 golf course and has been host to the Nordea Masters European Tour event.
THAILAND – Black Mountain
Black Mountain Golf Club at Hua Hin is one of those courses that grabs your attention the moment you enter the property. On the left before the main entrance is an exquisite 9-hole par-3 course, set in a valley with water on every hole and then you arrive at the clubhouse which sits on a ridge looking towards the black rock mountains that give the course its name.
A wonderful range of uphill and downhill holes and just enough water to make you think where to hit the ball, are among the many reasons Black Mountain has been named Thailand’s best course for the past few years. It has hosted several Asian Tour events as well as the bi-annual Royal Trophy played between Asia and Europe.
USA – Wolf Creek
Located 77 miles north of Las Vegas at Mesquite, this is 18 holes of fantasy golf at its ultimate best. Opened in 2000, this visually captivating design immediately drew rave reviews and Wolf Creek is now firmly established as one of the top public courses in the United States. Carved beautifully out of the surrounding desert, Wolf Creek looks as though strips of green velvet have been laid out on a Mars-like landscape.
After the tee shot at the 579-yard par-5 opening hole its a roller-coaster golfing adventure among sculpted hills, canyons and ravines with several elevation changes, 98 bunkers and forced carries over streams and ravines.