At the Legend Golf & Safari Resort, located on the South African veld, zebras occasionally roam the 18-hole course. In China, golf’s growing popularity among the booming middle class means the adventurous golfer can tee off in a host of unexpected locales, including next to a UNESCO World Heritage site. In London, duffers can take the tube to a number of challenging courses. From the most storied clubs in the world to the hottest newcomers, The Financialist brings you some of the world’s best courses to practice your short and long game and — hopefully — bring down your handicap.
1) Augusta National Golf Club, August, Ga. USA
Most Challenging Hole: Hole No. 12: Par 3, 155 yards/ 141 meters
More than just an exquisite golf club, Augusta National is a part of the sport’s history. Co-founded by legendary amateur Bobby Jones and home to the annual Masters Tournament, this stubbornly all-male enclave finally extended membership to two women earlier this year, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore, a South Carolina businesswoman.
2) Medinah Country Club, Medinah, Il. USA
Most Challenging Hole: Course 3, Hole No. 12: Par 4, 476 yards / 435 meters
Home of the 2012 Ryder Cup, the Medinah country club garners a fair bit of attention for its clubhouse, which looks like something out of 1,001 Arabian Nights. While the clubhouse may represent unabashed kitsch, the course itself offers some of the country’s more challenging golfing.
3) Cypress Point Club, Pebble Beach, Calif. USA
Most Challenging Hole: No. 16: Par 4, 401 yards/ 366 meters
Located on the tip of California’s Monterey Peninsula, Cypress Point is America’s response to the legendary courses of Scotland. Although the stiff ocean breezes can wreak havoc on your long game, the swirling fog can dampen greens, and the Pacific acts as the ultimate water trap, Cypress is probably the course every golfer dreams of playing.
4) Stone Forest International Country Club, Kunming, Yunnan, China
Most Challenging Hole: Leaders Peak Course, Hole No. 11: Par 4, 331 yards / 302 meters
Opened last year, the Stone Forest golf club is adjacent to the Naigu Stone Forest, a UN World Heritage site. Golfers get to play their long and short games zigzagging through limestone rock formations that pierce the ground like giant stalagmites.
5) Hirono Golf Club, Honshu, Japan
Most Challenging Hole: Hole No. 12: Par 5, 550 yards / 502 meters
Japan’s oldest golf club, located about 15 miles (24 kilometers) northwest of Kobe, makes up for its small size with a lush setting and challenging holes, including many peppered with deep bunkers and tight curves.
6) Royal Melbourne Golf Club, Black Rock, Victoria, Australia
Most Challenging Hole: No. 6: Par 4, 428 yards / 391 meters
Consistently ranked among Australia’s best golfing experience, the club’s West Course is located in Melbourne’s sand belt. The name is apt, and errant shots generally end up in one of the course’s infamous bunkers.
7) Jumeirah Golf Estates, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Most Challenging Hole: Earth Course, Hole No. 18: Par 5, 620 yards / 566 meters
Specifically designed to attract professional golf tournaments, the Jumeirah resort hosts the DP World Tour Championship. With a $5.5 million purse DP is the richest tournament on the European Tour.
8) Muirfield — The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, East Lothian, Scotland, UK
Most Challenging Hole: Hole No. 1: Par 4, 450 yards / 411 meters
Golfers have teed up at Muirfield since 1744, and it is where golf’s 13 original rules were drafted. Rule number 1: “You must Tee your Ball within a Club’s length of the Hole.” As for the course, it is a true links experience, challenging players with unceasing wind, thick rough, and small putting surfaces. Photo:
9) Hampstead Golf Club, London, England, UK
Most Challenging Hole: No. 2: Par 4, 458 yards / 418 meters
With just nine holes, Hampstead is British golfing distilled into its essence. Just an hour (on the Northern Line) from Canary Wharf, Hampstead is known as one of the world’s more challenging nine-hole courses.
10) Legend Golf and Safari Resort, Entabeni Safari Conservancy, South Africa
Most Challenging Hole: Hole No. 19: Par 3, 437 yards / 400 meters (from the foot of the mountain to the back of the green)
Just about everything is one-of-a-kind at the Legend Golf Club. The course has a unique wild setting in the South African bush and gets regular visits from game species. However, what really puts it on the map is its famous 19th hole – no, it isn’t a drink at the clubhouse. You know you’re in for a treat when you have to ride a helicopter to tee-up.
Photo Credits: Flickr — Augusta: Brettchisum; Medinah: Danperry; Cypress Point: Ryascolot; Stone Forest: Ryan Farrow; Hirono: PeachyKeen103; Royal Melbourne: Hone Morihana; Jumeirah: Misc9; Muirfield: Muirfield — The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers; Hampstead Golf Club: Norbert Nehring; Legend: Legend Golf & Safari Resort.