Top 10 Most Scenic Golf Courses

By Ian Critser

Tara Iti (Photo by L.C. Lambrecht)

In a world rich with stunning golf courses, some layouts simply stand above the rest. Sure, there is a seemingly endless amount of courses that occupy seaside linksland or are blessed with a mountain backdrop, and while they’re definitely scenic, not all of them can make the cut for this list.

The 10 courses I chose all possess that “x-factor” that cements each of them firmly in the upper echelon of scenic courses. From mountainous Canadian courses to layouts draped over the cliffs of Ireland, here are the top 10 most scenic courses in the world (in no particular order).

Cypress Point Club
Pebble Beach, Calif.

Alister Mackenzie’s masterpiece perfectly winds its way through forest, dunes, and finally, dramatically out to the Pacific Ocean, where the jaw-dropping finishing holes are undoubtedly some of the most photographed in the world.

Photo by Patrick Koenig

Royal County Down
Newcastle, N. Ireland

From the elevated 4th tee box onward, the stunning Mourne Mountains and charming skyline of the village of Newcastle serve as a backdrop during most of the round. If that’s not enough, the Irish Sea is always in view to the east.

Photo by Kevin Murray

Tara Iti
Mangawhai, New Zealand

Tom Doak’s sandy, wide-open routing allowed for the unique vistas of New Zealand’s northwestern coast to be on full display at Tara Iti, exposing endless views out to the Pacific Ocean as well as to the hilly Barrier Island that lie just off the coastline.

Photo by L.C. Lambrecht

Cape Kidnappers
Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand

Draped dramatically on distinct finger-like cliffs that are the perfect width for golf holes, the land that Cape Kidnappers sits on is unlike any other golf course property in the world, making the views truly spectacular.

Lofoten Links
Gimsøysand, Norway

Smushed in between tall, jagged mountains and rocky seashore, Lofoten Links is also one of the only courses in the world where golfers can play under the Northern Lights. Enough said.

Photo by Kevin Murray

Old Head
County Cork, Ireland

Another one of golf’s unique properties, Old Head juts out over two miles into the Atlantic and is separated from mainland Ireland by just a narrow, rocky isthmus. The cliff-side holes here are undoubtedly some of the most stunning in the world.

Photo by L.C. Lambrecht

Cabot Cliffs
Inverness, Nova Scotia

The routing of the aptly named Cabot Cliffs takes full advantage of its namesake landforms, many of which force players to hit nerve-wracking do-or-die shots, like the tee shot on the now-famous par 3 no. 16.

Photo by Evan Schiller

Banff Springs
Banff, Alberta

Routed right up against the base of the Canadian Rockies, no landform makes a big, brawny layout seem so small as the way the massive sheer faces shrink Banff Springs.

Fishers Island Club
Fishers Island, N.Y.

Occupying the northern tip of a tiny, narrow island between New York and Connecticut, nearly every hole at Fishers Island boasts a sweeping water view. The highlight of the day is cresting the hill on the 4th hole, revealing one of the best punchbowl greens in golf.

Photo by Graylyn Loomis

Sleepy Hollow
Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.

There is arguably no better scene in golf than sunset behind the par 3 no. 16 at Sleepy Hollow. Sitting on a bluff high above the Hudson River, the view is teased throughout the round which eventually finishes in a perfectly dramatic fashion.

Photo by Ben Hillard

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Which courses did I leave off of my list? Let me know in the comments section!