Golf aficionados usually do not pay much attention to their own level of competitiveness. For many, the fundamental reason to play this sport is to visit new, beautiful golf courses and meet new friends who share their passion. If on top of that, they take a couple of good swings, the game will stay in their minds, along with the memories of beautifully landscaped environments, probably in far away lands. And although there are thousands of golf courses all over the world, and some of them have impeccable infrastructures, the most beautiful may be closer than we think, and are worthy of visit, just for the pleasure of discovering new destinations.
Surely, the Scottish shepherds who spent their free time hitting any rounded object with a stick, around the 15th century, would have never imagined the future ramifications of such an innocent way of relaxation.
These are some of the most amazing golf courses in the world.
(The Chameleon, Mayakoba, Mexico)
Designed by Greg Norman, this 18-hole course is set amidst a tropical forest with paths featuring sand dunes, mangroves, cenotes and crystalline lagoons. The wild beauty of a Caribbean golf course, at the edge of a relaxing turquoise sea, near Playa del Carmen, is ideal for those who enjoy the spectacular beauty of a natural and pristine landscape. The PGA Tour has chosen the Chameleon to host the Mayakoba Classic, the only official event of this competition celebrated outside the US or Canada.
Without a doubt, this is one of Spain’s classic golf courses considered by many the best in the country. It has received important awards and accolades for the preservation its natural environment, and badgers, royal owls and Caspian turtles make it their home. Valderrama was the site of the first Ryder Cup celebrated outside British territory, and during many years it also hosted the Volvo Masters. It is located within the exclusive Sotogrande community and is famous for being one of the world’s best-kept golf courses.
Stone Forest International Country Club
Surrounded by ancient stone formations, this 54-hole golf course near Shilin National Park, is a super-exclusive golf club that integrates ecology and great luxury and boasts three great courses. In addition, designer Brian Curley incorporated groupings of prehistoric monolithic stones, turning the place into a combination of open areas and difficult passages among the rocks.
Doonbeg Golf Club
Inaugurated in 2002, the Doonbeg, golf course, designed by Greg Norman, is located to the west of the Clare county, in Ireland, a mile and a half from the beach. Imagine a coastal paradise, hidden in a secluded corner and bathed by the Atlantic Ocean. Here, the opportunity to play golf becomes some kind of unique privilege. Discover an untamed landscape that extends as far as your eyes can see through sand dunes and thousands of years of history. Its 14 greens and 12 fairways turn this golf course into one of the most colorful in Europe.
Legend Golf & Safari Resort
(Limpopo, South Africa)
If you are the adventurous kind and like to take risks, don’t wait one more day and play a few morning rounds before a hunting afternoon in the heart of Africa. The Legend Golf & Safari Resort offers both alternatives. It boasts big private hunting grounds where you will be surrounded by lions, hyenas, hippos and rhinos next to a magnificent 18-hole golf course, designed by the best players in the world. And if this were not enough, don’t miss the 19th hole, called extreme, accessible only by helicopter.
Pebble Beach Golf Links
This has been the only golf course to receive the unanimous vote of the PGA Advisory Board as the most beautiful golf course in the world, perhaps because its privileged location along the steep and abrupt Carmel Bay in California. Classified by Golf Digest as the number one public golf course in the United States, it is home to five of the most important competitions celebrated in the USA. This 18-hole paradise offers impressive views of the sea in peaceful and relaxing surroundings. Most fans would agree that anyone who calls his or herself a true golfer deserves to play at least once in his life at Pebble Beach.
Kauai Lagoons Golf Club
We can’t imagine a more wonderful place to spend our vacation that in the paradisiacal Hawaiian Islands, where, in addition to their natural beauty, the golf courses will leave you breathless. The Kauai Lagoons Golf Club, located in the colorful southeastern corner of Kauai (the garden island), offers a surprising space for golf fans. It was renovated in 2011 under the supervision of Jack Nicklaus, and it is said that it has the longest section of holes next to an ocean (27). It is the ideal place for unforgettable days enjoying your favorite sport amid the pristine nature of the island and the incredible hospitality of the Hawaiian people.
(Hawkes Bay, New Zealand)
Designed by the legendary landscape architect Tom Doak, Cape Kidnappers was completed in 2004, in a 5,000-acre old cattle farm. It extends throughout several parcels of land, which extend towards the sea amidst 600-foot high cliffs. New Zealand is a country of large unspoiled spaces and great beauty, and this golf course is a clear example. Experts consider it one of the great wonders of modern golf. It recently hosted the Kiwi Challenge, which brought together some of the best PGA TOUR players under the age of 30. ■