Top 5 Golf Courses across the World

Monday, 29th June 2009 by

"Best" is a subjective word at, err... best. What one person or group values as the "top" will never be the same for everyone – still, when you're looking for something and you want the "best", it's always nice when someone compiles a list. Whether you agree or not with their assessment, in 2007 published a list chronicling the "100 Top Golf Courses in the World".1

Because seven out of the top ten are all within the continental U.S., today we're looking at the Top 5 Golf Courses scraped from their list, whilst allowing only one entry per country.

#5 Hirono Golf Club, Kobe, Japan

Hirono Golf Club, Kobe, Japan

Situated between rolling hills overlooking the city of Kobe, Japan, the Hirono Golf Club is the location of a very exclusive 18 holes. Its claim to fame isn't the number of major world competitions it's held2, instead it's simply how hard it is to get in. Apparently this is the course that all other Asian courses are measured against, but I'm not sure how anyone would know; given that getting a tee time at Hirono is nigh on impossible.

Coming in at #37 on the's list, the C.H. Alison-built course is the only entry in our worldwide Top 5 that comes from a non-English speaking country.

#4 Royal Melbourne (West), Melbourne, Australia

Royal Melbourne (West), Melbourne, Australia

Just south of the main urbanised area of Melbourne is the West course of the Royal Melbourne Golf Club which is known for its "intricate bunkering, tough but fair challenge, variety of shotmaking, and exceptionally fast and true greens". Designed by world renowned course architect, Dr. Alister MacKenzie it's ranked 6th on's list, but comes it at number 4 on our improved version!

#3 Royal County Down Golf Club, Newcastle, Northern Ireland

Royal County Down Golf Club, Newcastle, Northern Ireland

Our third course was designed by Old Tom Morris for just 4 guineas. Considered the best in Ireland, the Royal County Down opened in 1889 and today is considered the tenth most exclusive club in the world.

The imagery isn't the brightest, but does capture the climatic conditions of Northern Ireland perfectly. However, according to the club website, the Royal County Down is one of the most photographed links courses in the world, and with rolling greens peering out over the Irish Sea, it's easy to see why.

#2 St. Andrews (Old Course), St. Andrews, Scotland

St. Andrews (Old Course), St. Andrews, Scotland

This is of course where the game of golf began. Officially recognised as being designed by "nature", the 14th century-built Old Course at St. Andrews is the blessed hope of all that play the game. It is the oldest course in the world and probably #1 on the "must play" bucket-list for most golfers. For our list, it comes in at #2 (#3 on's list).

The Open Championship,3 the oldest professional golfing competition, has been held at the Old Course at St. Andrews every five years since 1873. Unfortunately, the last time a Scot won was in 1910.

The Old Course is held in the public trust by an act of Parliament, and every Sunday golfing is banned for the day to allow the course to rest, so it is instead enjoyed by locals for family picnics and leisurely strolls through the greens.

#1 Pine Valley Golf Club, Pine Valley, New Jersey

Pine Valley Golf Club, Pine Valley, New Jersey

Finally we reach the Pine Valley Golf Club. Originally built upon 164 acres of marshland by George Arthur Crump, today the private course sprawls nearly 2 sq km in the thick pinelands of New Jersey.

According to Wikipedia, Crump, a hotelier who knew the area from his hunting expeditions, was subject to obsessive idiosyncrasies that ultimately contributed to designing the #1 course in the world.

Some of those peculiarities included:

  1. Holes should not be laid parallel to each other.
  2. Consecutive holes should not play in the same direction.
  3. Players should only be able to see the hole they are playing on.

Don't expect to play here anytime soon however – to get a tee time at Pine Valley you have to be personally invited and accompanied by one of the board members! Interestingly, Tiger's been invited, though he's never played.

Have you played Hirono, taken in the views at the Royal Down, or paid homage at the Old? What do you think about's assessment of the "best"? Have they got it spot on or are there others that deserve the honour? Let us know in the comments, and make sure to leave a link to your favourite course.

  1. If you're interested in how they ranked the courses, they've detailed it for you here. ↩︎

  2. Only two such competitions took place here, both about eighty years ago. ↩︎

  3. Known as the British Open for those outside of the U.K. ↩︎