As summer comes to an end and fall is upon us, golf remains in full swing. The thrill of competition is only part of the reason golfers love their game; the fresh air and gorgeous natural surroundings add to the appeal. So if you love the game, check out these ten courses because they are regarded as some of the best and most beautiful in the United States.
Mukul Resort & Spa – Playa Manzanillo, Guacalito de La Isla, Nicaragua
Imagine walking across a hanging bridge to a green embraced by jungle, while monkeys just may be hovering in the treetops. Each hole has been designed around existing trees. Bridges and cart paths are made from local wood and volcanic stone. This course is fully sustainable. The 18th hole is amazing, as it brings players back to the beach for a dramatic and beautiful finale. “After wrapping their games, golfers can take off their shoes and cool their feet in the ocean,” says Carlos Hernandez, CEO of Pellas Development Group, who oversaw the design and construction of Guacalito Golf Course, as well as Guacalito de la Isla and Mukul Resort & Spa.
The Farm at Cape Kidnappers – Hawke’s Bay, North Island, New Zealand
Situated on 6,000 rolling acres of pastureland, The Farm at Cape Kidnappers is a working sheep and cattle farm channeling rural New Zealand with a modernly rustic twist. Accommodations include 22 luxurious suites and a four-bedroom Owner’s Cottage. Enjoy a round of golf on the Par 71 course, currently ranked 22nd in the world by Golf Digest. “Cape Kidnappers is unlike any course in the world,” says Jonathan McCord, PGA Head Golf Professional. “It has been described as Pebble Beach on steroids. The holes are routed along narrow fingers of land that stretch toward the water, and suddenly the golfer is greeted by a sheer drop along the dramatic cliff face, which plummets 450 feed down to Hawke Bay and the Pacific Ocean beyond. Holes 12 through 16 present one of the most scenic stretches of golf in the world, as the player never loses sight of the sea and staggering beauty of New Zealand’s stunning east coast.”
Bandon Dunes – Bandon, Oregon
Designed by Scotsman David McLay Kidd, Bandon Dunes unfolds along pristine native dunes, where expansive ocean views are revealed on nearly every hole. The course is all natural and winds through an environment of indigenous vegetation. Beyond breathtaking scenery lies the game of golf in its truest form. Winds are usually present, and the varying elements create a new experience every time players take to the course. Golfers enjoy incredible sunsets and the expansive views looking south toward the town of Bandon. On Bandon Preserve No. 6, the 13-hole par 3 course, you will find the lowest point on property, giving you a great perspective of being eye level with the ocean and sand dunes.
Whistling Straits – Kohler, Wisconsin
One of the greatest championship courses in the United States, the Straits at Whistling Straits recently hosted the 2015 PGA Championship and will host the 2020 Ryder Cup. Whistling Straits offers two courses of dynamic contrast and world-class prestige. Open, rugged and windswept terrain defines the Straits, sculpted along two miles of Lake Michigan shoreline. Borrowing influences from Irish links courses, the Straits have fescue fairways and massive sand dune bunkers. Just inland, interspersed by four meandering streams, the grassland and dunes aspect of the Irish is a deceiving tranquil landscape. The most dramatic views include hole No. 7 “Shipwreck.” Down the path to the shoreline, the picturesque par 3 creates a dramatic approach to the green.
Trump International Golf Links & Hotel – Doonbeg, Ireland
Designed by two-time British Open Champion Greg Norman, this course is set along the Atlantic shore and is the only five-star luxury coastal resort in Western Ireland. Reflecting the design philosophy of “least disturbance,” the breathtaking course has been carved from sand dune origins. Enjoy 1.5 miles of crescent-shaped beach and dunes, with Atlantic Ocean views from 16 of 18 holes. The varying speed and winds from the Atlantic can provide a different golf experience each day. The first hole at Trump International Ireland presents the glorious dunes of the old Doonbeg Golf Club. From an elevated tee, golfers stare down a winding fairway outlined by the dunes, with the green framed by a mountain of an imposing tall grass.
Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay – Lanai, Hawaii
A short ferry ride from Maui, the Manele Golf Course at Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay offers heavenly views of the Pacific from everywhere on the Jack Nicklaus signature design. Manele’s breathtaking layout is built on lava outcroppings and features three holes on the cliffs. Its signature hole is No. 12, a par 3, where the tee area is 150 feet above the crashing surf, challenging golfers with a dramatic shot to the green. Other standout holes include No. 10 and No. 13 along Hulopoe Bay, featuring holes that play along 200-foot (60 meters) cliffs with the Pacific Ocean. Following a round of golf, guests can dine and take in the breathtaking scenery at Views, the clubhouse restaurant at the Manele Golf Course, which offers a prime vantage point to see Puu Pehe, Lanai’s famed landmark also known as Sweetheart Rock, as well as Hulopoe Beach.
Kiawah Island Golf Resort – Charleston, South Carolina
Operating five public courses, Kiawah Island Golf Resort is recognized internationally for its world-class golf and breathtaking views of the Atlantic. The Pete Dye-designed Ocean Course offers epic views along 2.5 miles of Atlantic Ocean and more oceanside holes than any other course in the Northern Hemisphere. Hole No. 5 (par 3) provides excellent views with the Stono River Inlet and Folly Beach located just behind the tees. A large hourglass-shaped green runs diagonally from the right, requiring extreme accuracy and precision for putting. Hole No. 6 (par 4) is home to stunning scenery, with three wind-pruned live oaks framing the far side of the 480-yard hole.
Trump Turnberry – Ayrshire, Scotland
Trump Turnberry, a Luxury Collection Resort, is located on the captivating Ayrshire coast. Enchanting and exceptional in every way, this distinctive hotel has long been an iconic landmark on the spectacular coastline. Trump Turnberry’s championship golf courses are known the world over, specifically the Ailsa course, one of the most iconic links experiences in the world and host of four Open Championships.
Its signature holes of 9, 10 and 11 are a memorable experience for everyone who tees off on this famous course. Featuring panoramic views, set out on the rugged coastal back drop, take in breathtaking views out across the Irish Sea to the Isle of Arran and majestic Ailsa Craig, and then back across the links to the familiar sight of the red-roofed hotel, perched sentinel atop the hill. With the renowned Turnberry lighthouse a recognizable beacon for all golfers, it truly is one of the most impressive golfing destinations in the world.
Laucala Island – Fiji
This par 72 layout has been thoughtfully integrated into the environment, with minimal impact on the island’s old coconut plantation area and jungle. Unique blends of grasses were used to provide the ultimate playing surfaces. The tees and greens have been planted with a hybrid Bermuda grass called Novatek, providing smooth putting surfaces year-round. Golfers of Laucala Island enjoy the ultimate privacy, and players feel they have the entire course to themselves. Home to a variety of different terrains and course obstacles, the island’s 18 holes create distinct challenges for the most advanced golfers, while offering forgiveness and fun for beginners. Laucala’s signature par 5, 12th hole offers breathtaking views, with a seaside green extending onto the beach.
Seven Canyons – Sedona, Arizona
Located in the middle of Sedona Red Rocks, you’ll find this par 70 course designed by Tom Weiskopf. Seven Canyons Golf offers an unparalleled golfing experience with breathtaking 360-degree views of the surrounding red rock canyon. Enjoy lunch at the recently debuted clubhouse, complete with a gastropub-themed restaurant and large outdoor patio, perfect for enjoying a cocktail while overlooking the golf course and stunning Sedona vistas. “Perched high on the shoulder of Rachel’s Knoll is the tee box for the dramatic par 3 fourth hole at Seven Canyons. Most people call it our signature hole. The small, well bunkered green sets nearly 90 feet below the tee box. While you regain your breath from the climb to the back tee you are rewarded with sweeping views of Long Canyon, Lizard Head, and a glimpse of Sedona in the distance,” says Dave Bisbee, Golf Operations and Membership Director.