Fairways to heaven: Ten trophy tracts to put on your hit list
These golf destinations come with a lifetime guarantee of bragging rights.
1. Bonnie dunes
At Bandon Dunes, on the rugged Oregon coast, you walk the wind-swept dunes with your caddie – a rare privilege on American courses. This is the closest to a true Scottish links experience as you'll find this side of the Atlantic.
2. Rhapsody on blue
Pebble Beach, on California's Monterey Peninsula, plays like Beethoven's Ninth Symphony: A quiet opening builds to a thundering crescendo. The finale? A flourish on the 18th with crashing waves and circling seagulls.
3. Southern belle
At the home of American golf, pre-eminent course architect Donald Ross described his Pinehurst Number 2 in North Carolina as "the fairest test of golf I have ever designed."
4. The bear that roared
Designed by Jack and Steve Nicklaus at a cost of approximately $1-million per hole, Bear Mountain is creating a roar on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. The 19th is a memorable par-3 betting hole with vistas of Victoria's harbour.
5. Treasure island
Four Seasons Punta Mita in Mexico boasts 19 holes and the world's only natural island green. To play the signature Tail of the Whale hole, you must carry your drive across the Pacific. At high tide, a staff member will shuttle you to the green in an amphibious golf cart.
6. Walkin' the dog
At Teeth of the Dog in the Dominican Republic, Pete Dye transformed a jagged coral reef into one of the Caribbean's finest courses. Seven holes border so close to the sea, you might get your feet wet while teeing off.
7. Maritime masterpiece
When the late Scotsman Stanley Thompson created his traditional Highlands Links in Cape Breton, N.S., he claimed that God designed it and he merely discovered it. Highlands is ingeniously routed from rocky headlands to secluded wooded glens with brilliant bunkering and rarely a flat lie.
Château des Vigiers
8. French vintage
Chez Château des Vigiers in Bordeaux, France, a white swan presides on a lake beside the 18th green, behind which looms the grand 16th-century château. Donald Steel's layout radiates among orchards, vineyards and oak forests, using Le Petit Versailles as its centrepiece.
9. Luck of the Irish
Prepare for the challenge of a lifetime on the Royal Portrush Dunluce Course on the Causeway Coast in Ireland. The most celebrated holes are the 14th Calamity Corner, requiring a precise drive over an enormous ravine, followed by Purgatory, where you aim for a striped pole and pray.
10. Prince of Wales
Royal St. David's lies in the shadow of the towering Harlech Castle in Wales. Many professionals agree that it's the world's toughest par 69, but the club's bar – one of the friendliest in the British Isles – will help soothe wounded egos.
(Anita Draycott is managing editor of GolfStyle magazine.)
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