The 10 most jaw-dropping golf courses in the world

In search of the ultimate round? You won’t find many more stunning places to play golf than here…

February 19, 2015

Mark Twain described golf as a way to ruin a perfectly good walk. We wouldn’t say that, but we do know the frustration a bad round can cause.

If your putter is hot and you’re driving it long, you never went to walk off the course. But if you’re finding more bunkers than greens, there are many other places you would rather be.

However there are some courses with such stunning scenery and exquisite locations that your triple-bogeys and drop shots in comparison almost become palatable.

The golf courses in the below list may not necessarily be the best, the toughest or the most famous, but few can rival them when it comes to pure jaw-dropping beauty. How many have you played?

Hamilton Island Golf Club, Australia

Many golf clubs make use of an island or two somewhere on their 18 holes, but very few courses, if any, are wholly situated on their own private island.

Found on Dent Island, nestled in the middle of Australia’s Whitsundays, Hamilton Island Golf Club is unique, stunning and unforgettable. Designed by Aussie golfer Peter Thomson, the par-71 stays true to the land’s topography with varied elevation, landing areas and an ever-present breeze.

The front 9 has a more compact and technically challenging layout, but the back 9 is what you pay for. Strung along the island’s ridges and steep valleys to the south, take your time on the tee boxes to soak up the beautiful 360-degree views.

Desert Highlands, Arizona The best golf courses in the world. Designed by Jack Nicklaus, it may seem and look like it’s in the middle of nowhere, but Desert Highlands it is well worth the trip.

Ranked as one of the best desert golf courses in the world, there’s a huge amount of illustrious history behind the sand and cacti, including its hosting of the first two skins games in 1983 and 1984, played by the famous four: Nicklaus, Palmer, Watson and Player.

A ‘target golf’ concept – many of the fairways are scrub and desert – it’s a challenging course. But if things get tough you can admire the view of Pinnacle Peak looming over you.

Ko`olau Golf Club, Hawaii The best golf courses in the world. It may not be as famous as the Royal Hawaiian Golf Club nearby, but it arguably has the more jaw-dropping scenery – by a fraction.

Ko`olau Golf Club is located smack bang in the middle of a tropical rainforest, meaning looking for your ball in the rough is not only a futile task, but it can quickly feel like you’re in an episode of Lost.

Encompassing three distinct climate zones, winding ravines, stunning waterfalls, huge changes in elevation and of course general jaw-dropping views, you’ll never forget your round at this course.

Big Sky Golf Club & Country Club, Canada The best golf courses in the world. Known for its ski slopes, Whistler also has a keen golfing community, with Big Sky in nearby Pemberton the longest of four championship courses available.

What is effectively a links course – it makes use of large ponds and runs parallel to one of Lillooet Lake’s feeder rivers – all 18 holes offer unbeatable tri-valley mountain views.

Set in the foothills of the imposing Mount Currie, don’t forget your camera for this one.

Port Royal Golf Course, Bermuda The best golf courses in the world. It’s hard to believe this is a public course, especially when you consider that it plays host to the PGA Grand Slam of golf every year – when the winners of the four major championships shoot out against one another.

A recent $14.5 renovation in 2009 has kept the course in fine nick, although it is the location on the west coast of Bermuda that makes it one of the most jaw-dropping in the world.

The design by Robert Trent Jones was changed several times for legal reasons but those alterations led to the iconic 16th hole, perched on a cliff face overlooking the Atlantic.

Fancourt Links, South Africa The best golf courses in the world. With three golf courses all ranked inside South Africa’s top 20, you’re seriously spoilt for choice at Fancourt – a hotel and wildlife resort. However, often ranked as number one in the country, we’d suggest The Links.

Designed by Gary Player, the former great has previously referred to it as his greatest feat of golf course design. He also put in a lot of water hazards, so expect your ball to get wet.

The great attention to detail, natural landscape and coastal winds make it a challenging course, and found on the southern cape of the country, there are few more naturally beautiful places to play a round.

Pacific Dunes, Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, Oregon The best golf courses in the world. If you’re not a fan of links courses – which let’s be honest, really means you’re not good at playing them – then you probably won’t enjoy Bandon Dunes Golf Resort – it has no less than four separate links to choose from.

The pick is Pacific Dunes, previously ranked the number one links course in the United States. Not only does it play well – this year it will host the inaugural women’s amateur four-ball – its setting on the edge of America’s west coast is hard to beat.

Making use of the natural landscape with heather, shrubs and rough ground aplenty, it’s certainly not the easiest of courses. The 16th hole is the gem, a short par four with a sloping green.

Cypress Point Club, California The best golf courses in the world. Hop in a car from Bandon Dunes, drive 10 hours south, and you’ll reach Cypress Point, a private golf club on the Monterey peninsula. It may only have a single 18-hole course, but frequently ranked inside the world’s top 10, it’s certainly worth the journey.

Former USGA president Sandy Tatum once described it as the Sistine Chapel of golf. A fine nod indeed to designer Alister MacKenzie, who has tinkered with the bunkers over the years to compensate for the course’s short length in today’s game.

Set on the rocky coastline, your scorecard can quickly take a turn for the worse on the back 9; the 16th is a 231-yard tee shot over the ocean to a green guarded by bunkers, for example. A course of very similar ilk of course is the nearby Pebble Beach.

Cape Kidnappers, New Zealand The best golf courses in the world. Overlooking Hawkes Bay on the north island, Cape Kidnappers is every inch a New Zealand course. A 20-minute journey from the entrance gate to the golf club takes you across bush land and through a sheep station.

Rated as one of the best in Australasia, architect Tom Doak kept the course true to the nature of the land, with a stunning rugged feel and simple touches.

The back nine is where you’ll find your Instagram shot; several fingers of land with huge gullies in between guarantee high rewards for risky shots.

Augusta National, Georgia The best golf courses in the world. Probably the most famous 18 holes in the world – along with the Old Course at St. Andrews – no other course has been tinkered with so much and remained so successful.

Home every year since 1934 to the Masters, Augusta National is as beautiful for its pine trees, magnolia bushes and perfect greens as it is for the iconic moments to have happened there.

Amen Corner – holes 11 to 13 – remain some of the trickiest and most splendid in the game. The water at 15 and Rae’s Creek behind 11 and 12 too can add shots to your scorecard.