The US is home to 50% of the world’s golf courses. That also figures why the country has some of the most beautiful and wonderfully challenging courses. Never mind if the great game was born in Scotland, here’s where you’ll find some of the best golf getaways this planet has to offer
* St Andrews, Fife, Scotland
Any conversation about golf has to begin with St Andrews. This town of 17,000 on the east coast of Scotland is widely considered the ‘home of golf’. The area features stunning beaches, gentle rolling hills and notoriously biting Scottish weather, though braving the elements is part of the St Andrews experience. True enthusiasts can stay at the Old Course Hotel for luxury alongside the links.
* Kiawah Island Golf Resort, South Carolina, US
Boasting 90 championship holes, this small barrier island 45 minutes from Charleston is a golfer’s seaside paradise. Kiawah Island Golf Resort features courses designed by Gary Player, Peter Dye, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Fazio and Clyde Johnston, and The Ocean Course is consistently ranked as one of the top courses in the world. Holes that don’t afford sweeping views of the Atlantic take players through wooded groves of magnolia trees and alongside saltwater marshes—you’ll almost certainly see alligators while you play.
* Eden Roc, Cap Cana, Dominican Republic
The Eden Roc at Cap Cana offers exclusivity and luxury in the Dominican Republic. The resort has a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course (Punta Espada) at a nearby distance. The resort is perfect to experience the luxuries of a private beach while enjoying a game of golf, soaking in the warm beach breeze.
* The American Club, Kohler, Wisconsin, US
Though not a year-round golf destination, The American Club just outside Sheboygan is one of the most scenic places in the country to practice your short game. The Pete Dye-designed Whistling Straits features two rugged landscapes with undulating fairways, while The Straits course hugs the shoreline of Lake Michigan. Nearby, Blackwolf Run offers up two more equally stunning courses nestled in a river basin.
* K Club Resort, Kildare, Ireland
Drive 30 minutes west of Dublin and you’ll come upon two of the world’s best golf courses in the postcard-perfect Irish countryside. Straffan House, which dates back to the 1830s and was designed after a French chateau, offers the ultimate in luxury lodging, with just 10 bedrooms and a private staff. More ‘modest’ accommodations can be found in the main house, overlooking the stunning hotel gardens.
* Pinehurst Resort, North Carolina, US
The self-proclaimed ‘cradle of American golf’ can be found in the North Carolina Sandhills and offers no fewer than nine courses. Course No. 1 dates back to 1898 and the famed Course No. 2, considered designer Donald Ross’ masterpiece, hosted the US Open in June. Famed architect Frederick Olmsted was the mastermind behind the resort, and Pinehurst offers guests four different accommodations options, including condos.
* Fancourt, George, South Africa
If you’re willing to make the trek to the tip of South Africa to work on your swing, the courses at Fancourt will not disappoint. Gary Player designed all three courses—the Links, Montagu and Outeniqua—that are frequently ranked as some of the best in the world. Designed with an eye towards the George winds, the holes blend in seamlessly with their surroundings, with mountains rising dramatically in the background.
* Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, Bandon, Oregon, US
The jagged, windy coast of Oregon in many ways calls to mind the blustery conditions in Scotland, the game’s birthplace; thus, the courses at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort are built in the true links style, a rarity despite the liberalness with which the term is applied. A true links course is built along the coast, has a very open design and features few water hazards—a perfect summary of these courses, all five of which, including one par-3, are relatively new (Bandon Dunes, the oldest, opened in 1999), yet still considered some of the best in the world.
* The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs, Colorado, US
At an elevation of 6,200 ft, you’ll be pleased to see your drive sail a few yards farther at The Broadmoor, a five-star, five-diamond historic hotel an hour outside of Denver. The resort houses three courses, and the East Course features holes designed by both Donald Ross and Robert Trent Jones, Sr. The Mountain Course offers the most stunning vistas, as the Jack Nicklaus-designed par-72 runs right up against the Rocky Mountains.
* Cabot Links, Inverness, Nova Scotia
Tucked away in the northern tip of Nova Scotia, Cabot Links lives up to its name with an authentic links-style course that runs alongside Cape Breton. Calling on one of Bandon Dunes’ developers, Cabot Links affords stunning coastal views with the accompanying wind to make the game more challenging. The 12th and 16th holes in particular make the most of the seaside location, but the entire course is visually stunning.