10 of the World’s Greatest Golf Courses (Outside the U.S.)

Looking to venture the world in search of the best golf courses our green planet has to offer? This list will take you from the traditional courses of the UK to Asia, as well as to the faraway coasts of Australia and New Zealand.

  1. Royal County Down – Newcastle, Northern Ireland

Half a dozen architects have redesigned this course over its 120 years. Set in a cozy holiday town, it borders the breathtaking Irish Sea and famous peak of Slieve Donard. Its greens cover 7,186 yards, and are surprisingly flat, though rugged Irish terrain surrounds it. Its bunkers are one of its highlights, and its numerous blind shots are its most challenging attribute.

  1. The Old Course at St. Andrews Links – Fife, Scotland

If you’re a history buff, this is where the game began, quite possibly dating all the way back to the 12th century! Architects either love or hate the majestic and classic course’s blind shots and gigantic greens turf. It also hasn’t been altered much from its original state, so its natural design is one of its great selling points.

  1. Royal Melbourne (West) – Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Generally known as the best course on the Aussie continent, Royal Melbourne was designed by the famous Dr. Alister MacKenzie, though he sadly never saw it to completion. The 70-year-old course is among Melbourne’s famous Sandbelt clubs, and was the first course to be considered as such.

  1. Royal Dornoch – Dornoch, Sutherland, Scotland

Known to some as the “most natural course in the world,” and a favorite among many famous players through the years, Royal Dornoch is isolated among an arc of dunes along the North Sea shoreline of the United Kingdom. The real challenge of this course has always been hitting the greens in the harsh Dornoch wind.

  1. Muirfield – East Lothian, Scotland

Its mystical Scottish landscape is only one of Muirfield’s many appealing qualities. The course’s shots are visible and well defined, and its greens are well measured to fit the expected iron of approach. It is home to “The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers,” which is considered the world’s oldest golf club, according to written evidence dating back to 1744.

  1. Cape Kidnappers – Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand

Just off the coast of Australia lies the charming and gorgeous island of New Zealand, where Cape Kidnappers sits atop a plateau around 500 feet above sea level. Known for its wide fairways, and extremely deep bunkers, Kidnappers was also the 2012 Environmental Leaders in Golf winner.

  1. Kingston Heath – Cheltenham, Victoria, Australia

Another of Alister MacKenzie’s designed courses, Kingston Heath’s bunkers are long, shaggy, and strategically placed. It is arguably THE premier course in Australia. It’s pure 18-hole layout, challenging long par four, and slick greens are some of its most treasured features.

  1. Golf de Morfontaine – Senlis, Oise, France

Just north of Paris, this quaint course is reminiscent of heathland London. Its dense, forest-surrounded holes, and tight hills sit among the gorgeous, natural French landscape. Nobleman Armand de Gramont opened the course shortly after World War One. It has since been modernized, but has managed to keep its classic charm.

  1. Cabot Cliffs – Iverness, Canada

If you can’t travel too far, why not visit our neighbors of the north? The newest on the list, Cabot Cliffs, boasts a sensational course design with impressive variety, from sand dunes to ocean cliffs. The course garnered international attention almost immediately, becoming recognized as the Best New Course of the Year among publications such as Golf Digest.

  1. Hirono – Hirono, Hyogo, Japan

Founded in 1932 by Englishman Charles Alison, and quite possibly his most notable design, Hirono is by far Japan’s most impressive course, and arguably the best in all of Asia. It has hosted all of the major Japanese championships, and its 565-yard par five 15th hole is the stuff of legends.

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