World's Most Famous Golf Courses
From St Andrews to Augusta National, Pebble Beach to TPC Sawgrass, some of the world's most famous golf courses are well known to golf fans for various reasons.
Whether it be from hosting historic events like Majors and Ryder Cups, regular PGA Tour tournaments, featuring in video games or for generally being regarded as some of the world's best, all golfers will know these courses. Below we pick out 20 of the world's most famous golf courses, starting with the three most well-known and then going in alphabetical order...
St Andrews Old Course, Scotland
The Old Course at St Andrews is regarded as the 'home of golf' and is top of the list when it comes to most golfers' bucket list golf courses. The 30-time Open Championship venue is open to the public and its tee sheet is always full with St Andrews residents and UK, US and global golfing tourists. The 1st and 18th holes, which feature the Swilcan Burn and Swilcan Bridge, are two of the world's most famous golf holes as well as the daunting Road Hole 17th, where the drive must be played over the Old Course Hotel. Many of the greats of the game have won at St Andrews, from JH Taylor to James Braid, Bobby Jones to Sam Snead, Jack Nicklaus to Seve Ballesteros and, of course, Tiger Woods.
Augusta National, Georgia, USA
Augusta National Golf Club is the only men's Major venue that is constant, with golf and sports fans getting a glimpse of the stunning Georgia course each and every April. For that reason, it's one of the two or three most famous golf courses in the world and it's another right at the top of every golfer's bucket list - although the club is very exclusive and private so getting a tee time is extremely difficult for regular golfers. Like St Andrews, the majority of the world's best have won at Augusta through the years and slipped on the famous Green Jacket.
Pebble Beach Golf Links, California, USA
The stunning cliff-edge Monterrey Peninsula course in California takes its place among the world's top-three most famous courses in many peoples' eyes along with St Andrews and Augusta. Pebble Beach has hosted six US Opens, with a seventh to come in 2027, a PGA Championship and many other prestigious tournaments. It also appears on the PGA Tour each year with the Pebble Beach Pro-Am and has been a feature in video games. The stretch from 6-8 is one of the best three-hole stretches in the world, highlighted by the gorgeous and tiny par-3 7th down the hill with the Pacific Ocean looming. Pebble Beach Golf Links welcomes visitors and is among the very best public courses in the US.
Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Home to the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on the DP World Tour from 2006-2021, Abu Dhabi GC is one of the most iconic courses on the European circuit. It will return to screens in 2023 with the newly-launched GB& vs Continental Europe 'Hero Cup'. Winners over the course include Martin Kaymer three times, Paul Casey and Tommy Fleetwood twice, Lee Westwood, Shane Lowry and Tyrrell Hatton. The club is famous for its falcon-style clubhouse, which pays homage to the United Arab Emirates’ national bird, and recognises the importance of falconry in Arab tradition and culture.
Bethpage Black, New York, USA
The Black Course at Bethpage State Park, New York, has hosted two US Opens, two PGA Championships and two PGA Tour events in the FedEx Cup Playoffs. These in its own right make it famous but it's also very well known with golfers for featuring in the Tiger Woods PGA Tour video games. The public course is one of five on the property and the toughest, with the 1st tee featuring a sign warning golfers that the course is extremely difficult and only recommended for players of high skill levels.
Cape Kidnappers, New Zealand
Cape Kidnappers is another true bucket list course that will likely be one of the world's most photographed golf courses. Situated in Hawke's Bay on New Zealand's North Island, the course juts out over the ocean some 140ft down offering up incredible views and an experience unlike many others. The Tom Doak design opened for play in 2000 and is considered one of the very best courses in the country. The PGA Tour hosted an unofficial limited-field event there in 2008 and 2009, won by Hunter Mahan and Anthony Kim.
Carnoustie Golf Links' Championship Course has hosted eight Open Championships, most recently in 2018 when Francesco Molinari beat the likes of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy to become Italy's first Major champion. Previously, Padraig Harrington beat Sergio Garcia at the 2008 Open, but it was the 1999 Open that Carnoustie is most famous for - when Jean van de Valde visited the Barry Burn on his way to a triple-bogey to fall into a playoff, which he lost to Paul Lawrie. Carnoustie is regarded as one of the toughest tests on the Open rota.
Emirates Golf Club, Dubai, UAE
Built in 1988, Emirates Golf Club's Majlis course was the first grass golf course in the Middle East. It is a staple of the DP World Tour calendar and has hosted the Dubai Desert Classic every year, barring two years, since 1989 - which was also the first professional golf event held in the region. Some of the greats of the modern game have won around Emirates GC, including Seve Ballesteros, Ernie Els, Fred Couples, Colin Montgomerie, Tiger Woods, Henrik Stenson, Rory McIlroy and Bryson DeChambeau.
Oakmont, Pennsylvania, USA
Oakmont Country Club in Pennsylvania dates back to 1903 and has hosted a total of nine US Opens, with a tenth set to arrive in 2025. Winners through the years include Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus and Ernie Els. Dustin Johnson won his long-awaited maiden Major at the last Oakmont US Open in 2016. It's also hosted three PGA Championships, five US Amateurs and two US Women's Opens. The course has always been renowned for its difficulty, with Arnold Palmer once saying: "You can hit 72 greens in the Open at Oakmont and not come close to winning."
Pine Valley, New Jersey, USA
The gorgeous and renowned Pine Valley in New Jersey regularly tops best golf courses in America lists as well as world lists - even placing higher than Augusta National. The treelined layout dates back to 1913 and was designed by George Arthur Crump, with legendary architects such as Harry Colt, Perry Maxwell and AW Tillinghast all playing a part in the routing. The club has never held a Major or a PGA Tour event but has hosted two Walker Cups as well as a Shell's Wonderful World of Golf match between Gene Littler and Byron Nelson in the 1960s. It also holds the Crump Cup each year, which is contested by elite mid-amateurs.
Pinehurst No.2, North Carolina, USA
The North Carolina classic has welcomed numerous elite level tournaments including three US Opens, a Ryder Cup, a PGA Championship, a US Women's Open and many others. It is also set to host a further five US Opens and one US Women's Open in the coming years. The resort is arguably the country's best, with nine golf courses in total plus 'The Cradle' short course. The last US Open at Pinehurst was won by Martin Kaymer in 2014, with the Major returning in 2024.
Prestwick, one of the best golf courses in Scotland, is considered the home of the Open Championship, with the first 12 Opens contested here from 1860 to to 1872, and 24 Opens taking place at Prestwick in total up until 1925. The wonderfully natural, rumpled terrain still provides a tangible link with the challenge that those early Open competitors faced as six original greens remain along with three original holes. The club is world renowned and regularly welcomes visitors from across the globe.
Royal County Down, Northern Ireland
Royal County Down in Northern Ireland ranks as Golf Monthly's number one course in the UK and Ireland top 100 rankings, and many publications regularly rank it among the world's top courses. It is not on the Open Championship rota but has hosted multiple prestigious championships including the British Amateur, Walker Cup, Curtis Cup, Irish Open and more. The club boasts a spectacular setting with the Mountains of Mourne providing a glorious backdrop with sea views and gorse throughout.
Royal Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
The Australian sandbelt club dates back to 1891 and is home to the East and West courses, with the West regarded as the best in Australia and one of the very best in the entire world. Like Augusta National, it is an Alister MacKenzie design, and the course has hosted dozens of elite events including 16 Australian Opens. Royal Melbourne last appeared on our screens at the 2019 Presidents Cup where Tiger Woods' USA side narrowly pipped Ernie Els' Internationals.
Shinnecock Hills, New York, USA
Shinnecock Hills in Long Island, New York is one of the United States' most important venues as it's one of the USGA's five founding golf clubs along with Chicago Golf Club, The Country Club, Newport Country Club and Saint Andrew's Golf Club. The US Open has visited Shinnecock five times, with the course also holding a US Amateur, a US Women's Amateur and the Walker Cup. The club's most recent US Open came in 2018, when Brooks Koepka beat Tommy Fleetwood by a single stroke to successfully defend the title he won the year prior.
Torrey Pines, California, USA
Torrey Pines in La Jolla, near San Diego, is one of the best golf courses in California and is well known to golf fans due to its hosting of the Farmers Insurance Open each year on the PGA Tour. It's also held two US Opens, with its first in 2008 turning into an epic, as it was where Tiger Woods needed 91 holes, with a broken leg, to defeat Rocco Mediate. The Major returned in 2021 when Jon Rahm became the first ever Spaniard to win a US Open. Torrey is home to the North and South courses, with both being used for the Farmers Insurance Open. The South is regarded as the tougher of the two, and that's the one that hosts the weekend's play on the PGA Tour as well as the US Open on all four days.
TPC Sawgrass, Florida, USA
The Pete Dye-designed Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, one of the best golf courses in Florida, is yet another to have featured in the Tiger Woods PGA Tour video games and it is home to the unofficial fifth Major - The Players Championship - each year on the PGA Tour. TPC Sawgrass is also the headquarters of the PGA Tour. The course's iconic 'island green' par-3 17th is undoubtedly one of the world's most famous golf holes, coming after the water-lined par-5 16th and then the dogleg-left finishing hole around even more water, making it one of the most demanding finishing stretches in golf.
Trump Turnberry, Scotland
The phenomenal Ailsa Course at Trump Turnberry in Scotland has hosted four Open Championships, most recently in 2009 when Stewart Cink pipped fan favourite and then-59-year-old Tom Watson in a playoff. The course's most famous feature is the iconic lighthouse, which now sits next to a stunning cliff-edge par-3 9th hole after the course was transformed in 2016 by Tom Fazio. It's one of the most expensive green fees in the UK but it's easily one of the most dramatic layouts too.
Valderrama in Andalusia, Spain, is top of the list of the best golf courses in Spain and is also arguably the best and most difficult course in Continental Europe, with its tight, undulating fairways lined with cork and pine trees. The course hosted the 1999 and 2000 WGC-American Express Championship as well as the Volvo Masters and Andalucia Masters for many years on the European Tour. And who can forget the 1997 Ryder Cup when Seve Ballesteros' Team Europe defeated Tom Kite's Team USA 14.5-13.5.
The West Course at Wentworth appears on our screens every year for the DP World Tour's flagship BMW PGA Championship, and it's also home to the Tour's headquarters. The beautiful treelined venue, up near the top with the best golf courses in Surrey, has three layouts - the West, East and Edinburgh - and has hosted the world's best golfers for decades, starting with the 1953 Ryder Cup through to the World Match Play Championship. Icons of the European game have won at Wentworth, including Tony Jacklin, Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer, Seve Ballesteros, Jose Maria Olazabal, Colin Montgomerie, Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy. Previously open to visitors, Wentworth is now an extremely private club and among the most exclusive golf clubs in the UK.
WORLD'S MOST FAMOUS GOLF COURSES - NOTABLES
Of course there are dozens of world famous golf courses and many that narrowly missed out on this list, including...
- Ballybunion, Ireland
- Bay Hill, Florida, USA
- Colonial, Texas, USA
- Congressional, Washington DC, USA
- Crans-sur-Sierre, Switzerland
- Cypress Point, California, USA
- East Lake, Georgia, USA
- Fancourt, South Africa
- Gleneagles, Scotland
- Harbour Town, South Carolina, USA
- Hazeltine, Minnesota, USA
- Hirono, Japan
- Kapalua, Hawaii, USA
- Kasumigaseki, Japan
- Kiawah Island, South Carolina, USA
- Kingsbarns, Scotland
- Kingston Heath, Australia
- Le Golf National, France
- Leopard Creek, South Carolina, USA
- Medinah, Illinois, USA
- Muirfield, Scotland
- Muirfield Village, Ohio, USA
- Portmarnock, Ireland
- Quail Hollow, North Carolina, USA
- Riviera, California, USA
- Royal Birkdale, England
- Royal Dornoch, Scotland
- Royal Liverpool, England
- Royal Lytham & St Annes, England
- Royal Portrush, Northern Ireland
- Royal St George's, England
- Royal Troon, Scotland
- Southern Hills, Oklahoma, USA
- Spyglass Hill, California, USA
- Sunningdale, England
- Tara Iti, New Zealand
- The Belfry, England
- TPC Scottsdale, Arizona, USA
- Valhalla, Kentucky, USA
- Winged Foot, New York, USA
- Whistling Straits, Wisconsin, USA
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Elliott Heath is our News Editor and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news, features, courses and travel sections as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as four Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. His first Open was in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, when he walked inside the ropes with Jordan Spieth during the Texan's memorable Claret Jug triumph. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Western Gailes, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 2-5. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!
Elliott is currently playing:
Driver: Titleist TSR4
3 wood: Titleist TSi2 HL
Irons: Mizuno MP-H4 3-iron, Mizuno MP5 4-PW
Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58
Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5
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