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