Every avid golfer has this list. It might not be in writing, but it’s there somewhere, etched in your mind and burning in your soul. Golf courses that keep you up at night at the thought of playing one day. If all goes well, this list will evolve as courses are ticked off the list.
If the hurdles of time, money and connections disappeared with the snap of a finger, here are the courses you would find me at first (that I haven’t already played):
10. Cabot Links
Inverness, Nova Scotia, Canada – 6854 yards, par 70
As I embark on my carefree golf journey with time and money on my side, I would definitely start in my homeland of Canada. There are so many great courses in Canada, it was difficult to choose just one. However, I cannot resist the breathtaking links golf on the coast of Nova Scotia. As you’ll see in this list, my obsession with links and coastal golf is strong. With the new Cabot Cliffs on the horizon, there may soon be the chance to play two top-100 courses in the same day. Similar to Cabot’s American cousin, Bandon Dunes.
9. Golf De Morfontaine
Senlis, Oise, France – 6545 yards, par 70
Although France isn’t as famous for golf as other destinations, a trip to France is high on the list. Just north of Paris sits the very exclusive, intriguing Morfontaine and their old ivy covered clubhouse. A heathland style course designed by Tom Simpson in 1927, who also had a hand in Cruden Bay and Ballybunion. Fantastique company. Learning French might be a good start for the networking required to gain an invite to this very private course.
8. Bandon Dunes (all)
Bandon, Oregon, USA
I couldn’t possibly show up to Bandon and only play one course. I need to go there, and I need to play them all. My obsession with links golf and the United States west coast makes this selection a no brainer.
7. Olympic Club (Lake Course)
San Francisco, California, USA – 7095 yards, par 70
A city that will always be among my favorites, I’m always tickled by the idea of playing golf in and around San Francisco. The Lake Course at Olympic Club has hosted five U.S Opens. What golfer wouldn’t want to try their hand on this brutal test of golf? Steep terrain and reverse camber fairways have proven to test even the best golfers in the world. Maybe I’m a sucker for punishment, but at least looking down on the beautiful views of San Francisco will ease the pain of Olympic Club beating me up.
6. San Francisco G.C.
San Francisco, California, USA – 6828 yards – par 71
Another fantastic course in the heart of San Francisco. The allure of playing at an old, extremely exclusive club with time honored traditions like San Francisco Golf Club has got the best of me. The club is so exclusive that they require you to fill out an application just for the opportunity to fill out an admissions application. Before that you must be nominated by 7 other members. The traditional and clever routing would be more of a San Francisco treat than Rice-A-Roni.
5. Royal County Down G.C.
Newcastle, County Down, Northern Ireland – 7186 yards, par 71
I have an extremely strong yearning to go to Ireland. For more than just golf, but golf tops the list. I thought about going the practical route by listing Ballybunion or Royal Portrush, but practical wasn’t the point of this list. When I’m on my magical restriction free trip, my first stop has got to be to the private Royal County Down, on the off chance my magical connections disappear. An original Old Tom Morris design that has since seen several architects show their influence in the last 120 years, it would be the icing on the cake during a trip to Ireland.
4. The Old Course at St. Andrews
St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland – 7279 yards, par 72
The home of golf. Ground zero for golf course architecture. That is all.
3. Pine Valley G.C.
Pine Valley, New Jersey, USA – 7057 yards, par 70
Commonly ranked #1 in the world, the extremely penal and extremely private Pine Valley course would be a dream come true for most avid golfers. The course gains a unique allure not having hosted any major tournaments and therefore never being showcased on TV. The small and highly guarded male-only membership list makes it a long shot for a blogger from Canada to score an invite, but you never know. Maybe Beth and I can play on a Sunday afternoon, when ladies are permitted to play.
2. Augusta National G.C.
Augusta, Georgia, USA – 7435 yards, par 72
By far the most famous course on my list, and #1 on the list of many. Maybe I’m just rebelling. Host of The Masters tournament every April, it’s had so much TV time that it almost feels like I’ve already played it. I don’t know anyone personally who has had the chance to tee it up here, but anyone I’ve talked to who has attended The Masters has insisted that TV does not do the course justice. One of the most difficult invites to obtain in the world, playing Augusta National will remain a pipe dream for most of us mere mortals.
1. Cypress Point Club
Pebble Beach, California, USA – 6524 yards, par 72
It’s hard to think of anything better than walking the fairways of the most beautiful, most exclusive course in one of the most beautiful areas in the world, the Monterey Peninsula. I have a love affair with this area that doesn’t need justification if you’ve been there. It was also the first place Beth and I went on vacation together, which makes it a sentimental choice. You’re picturing yourself playing the famous par 3 16th hole, 231 yards over the Pacific Ocean, aren’t you? I don’t blame you, so am I. A timeless Allister MacKenzie design that is among one of the hardest tee times to get in the world. I’m sure this #1 ranking will be good karma.
There are so many incredible golf courses in the world, it’s extremely difficult (but still fun) to narrow it down to ten. It almost seems ridiculous to think of the courses that didn’t make this list that I would still give a kidney to have the chance to play, but where would be the challenge in listing them all?
What courses are on the top of your bucket list? I’d love to hear!