OK, there’s a few problems when it comes to naming the best golf courses in the world. One is the problem facing pretty much every human-created thing on the planet, namely its complete subjectivity. Do you like sloping greens? Or fairways that punish wayward drives? Whether you are more of a maverick Mickelson or a metronomic Woods is probably going to have a rather big bearing on what you make of a golf course. The second problem is that unlike music or film. which is relatively accessible to everyone, golf courses are a bit more exclusionary and thus few people but the delusional and the super rich can claimed to have played all of them – except us here at Kenwood Towers, we’ve played ALL the courses, even the ones that haven’t been invented yet.
Here are a few of our favourites.
Royal County Down, Northern Ireland
Here’s a fun fact about Ireland and golf: they love it. Also it has more golf courses per capita than anywhere else in the world, as long as you include the North, otherwise it’s those crazy swingers the Scots who claim top spot. It should come as no surprise then that the land of Saints and Scholars has more than its fair share of golfing paradises. Royal County Down is one such place. The original links course was built by Tom Morris for the princely sum of four guineas back in 1889 though the championship venue has undergone a few major changes since.
Pebble Beach, United States
No list of the best golf courses would be complete without a visit to the land of oversized beverages and so it is we come to Pebble Beach. While its Ivy League rivals Augusta and Whistling Straits carry on the tradition of golf’s exclusivity by ensuring only a select few get to play their rolling fairways, the fine folk at Pebble Beach are happy to let the general farting Neanderthals that make up human existence find their way on to their land – as long you pay the green fees of course. Many people have paid homage to the narrow fairways and sloping greens on offer in this course but the greatest compliment was probably paid by Jack Nicklaus himself, when he proclaimed that if he could only play one more round of golf in his life he’d do it at Pebble Beach.
St Andrews, Scotland
It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows anything about the game known as holing (by no one) that St Andrews finds its way onto a list of the best golf courses in the Milky Way. The Old Course, as the name suggests, is one of the most ancient in the world and thus has occasionally been bequeathed the name “the home of golf”. Few courses share the as much iconic features as this most splendid of golfing challenges. There’s the double greens, seven of which are shared by two holes and Swilcan Bridge that crosses the first and 18th hole. The bunkers are also individually named, for some reason. Hosting some of the sports most famous occasions, including the Open Championship 28 times, no golfing fans scrapbook can be complete without a visit to St Andrews.
Innisbrook Golf Course, USA
Perhaps not as famous as its illustrious predecessors, the Innisbrook Resort is a bejeweled oasis of wonder among the glittering glory that makes up Floridian golf courses. It’s also loved by the pros themselves who earlier this year rated it in the top 10 PGA courses in a poll by Golf World. In a move that is no way a publicity stunt the course has also decided to rename its 18 holes after each of the Republican presidents, just in time for the GOP’s national convention in August 2012.
Royal Melbourne, Australia
Breaking up the US-Europe duopoly of the world’s best golf courses is the Royal Melbourne course in Australia. We’re specifically talking about the slightly more spectacular West course, though its East course is also awesome. The West course also happens to be Australia’s oldest continuing existing golf home and was founded in 1891. Down through the years this tricky perfectly undulated course has played host to a wide variety of international events and will definitely be favoured by those who think that some of the finesse of golf has disappeared in recent years with the long hitters booming their way to victory as it is landlocked and is therefore restricted in its capacity to lengthen its holes.
So, that’s our favourite five, but what are yours? Have we left out any of your particular picks perhaps? Pine Valley? Ballybunion?Muirfield? Or any of the literally eight other great golf courses that make up the world.