25 Golf Courses That Should Be on Every Golfer’s Bucket List
Written by Mike Noblin

Mike has been involved with sports for over 30 years. He's been an avid golfer for more than 10 years and is obsessed with watching the Golf Channel and taking notes on a daily basis. He also holds a degree in Sports Psychology.

I’ll never forget playing at Hampton Cove in Huntsville, Alabama for the first time. It’s one of the most iconic stops on the Robert Trent Jones golf trail, and the view from each tee box looks like a postcard.

After that first round at the Cove, I came to the conclusion that every serious golfer needs a bucket list. However, knowing which golf courses to put on your bucket list can be a tall order.

There are over 38,000 golf courses in the world, so it’s tough to know which ones to choose. Our goal is to help you with that.

Here are 25 golf courses that should be on every golfer’s bucket list.

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1. The Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland

The No. 1 spot on our list is a no-brainer for all golfers. Saint Andrews gave birth to the game of golf over 600 years ago, which is why folks from around the world make their way to this incredible venue. The Old Course opened in 1850 and is often the home of The Open Championship.

  • Iconic Moments: Bobby Jones became the first Amateur golfer to win back-to-back Open Championship titles in 1927. Seve Ballesteros outdueled Tom Watson and Bernhard Langer here at the Open Championship in 1984. Jack Nicklaus played his final Open Championship at St. Andrews in 2005.
  • Cost: Around $300 Per Round
  • Best Time of Year to Play: Winter (November through March)

 

2. Augusta National Golf Club (Augusta, Georgia)

Even casual golf fans won’t be surprised to see Augusta National near the top of our bucket list golf courses. The great Bobby Jones designed this course, which hosts one of the most prestigious golf tournaments of the year, The Masters. It’s hard to get a tee time at this exquisite golf course, but it’s worth visiting even if you can’t find a way to play it.

  • Iconic Moments: The late great Arnold Palmer birdied holes 17 and 18 in 1960 for the first time in Masters history to claim his second of 4 green jackets. Jack Nicklaus, known to the world as The Golden Bear, won his 5th of 6 Masters titles by nailing a 40-foot putt on hole 16. That clutch putt helped Nicklaus narrowly defeat Johnny Miller and Tom Weiskopf.
  • Cost: Must be a member, which carries an initial fee of $20,000 to $40,000. If you happen to know a member of August National, you can simply pay a guest charge of $40 per round.
  • Best Time of Year to Play: Any tee time you can get!

 

3. Muirfield Village Golf Club (Columbus, Ohio)

Speaking of The Golden Bear, why not visit his home course of Muirfield Village? Some avid golf fans say that this course is just slightly behind Augusta National as the best golf course in the US. The PGA Tour makes an annual stop at this course for The Memorial Tournament.

  • Iconic Moments: Tiger Woods made a nearly impossible flop shot that even got Mr. Nicklaus fired up back in 2012. That iconic shot helped Woods secure his 5th title at The Memorial. Another famous moment occurred here in 1977 when Nicklaus won his own tournament.
  • Cost: $175 per round (Must know a member)
  • Best Time of Year to Play: July through October

 

4. TPC Sawgrass (Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida)

Since we’re making a list of the best golf courses in the world, we have to mention TPC Sawgrass, which hosts The Players Championship each year. Sawgrass was designed by legendary golf architect Pete Dye. This means that you’ll get one of the greatest challenges of your golfing life by trying to navigate tons of water and sand.

  • Iconic Moments: In 2000, Hal Sutton bested Tiger Woods on the last hole of the tournament by nailing a beautiful approach shot into the green with a 6-iron. Woods got revenge the next year, however, as he birdied hole 17 to win his first Players Championship. Rickie Fowler came from 5 shots down to beat Kevin Kisner and Sergio Garcia at The Players in 2015, one of the best come-from-behind wins in the tournament’s history.
  • Cost: $450 (June to August); $600 (September through May)
  • Best Time of Year to Play: Summer if you want the $150 per round discounted rate

 

5. Bethpage Black Course (Farmingdale, New York)

Are you a skilled low-handicapper in need of a serious challenge? Bethpage Black is one of your best options in the country! This expansive course is consistently ranked as one of the toughest in the world, mainly because of its plethora of insanely deep bunkers.

  • Iconic Moments: Lucas Glover fought off Mike Weir, Ricky Barnes, and Mother Nature to win the 2009 US Open at Bethpage Black. Glover shot an incredible 64 during Round 2 to get him to within one shot of Barnes.
  • Cost: $70 for New York Residents / $140 for Non-Residents
  • Best Time of Year to Play: October or November

 

6. Pebble Beach (California)

pebble beach golf

No golf course bucket list would be complete without Pebble Beach! If you’re a hardcore golfer who also likes being a beach bum after your round, this place is heaven on earth. It costs a pretty penny to play at Pebble, but it’s one of those unique experiences you can share with your grandkids one day.

  • Iconic Moments: Tom Watson wins his first and only US Open title with a miraculous chip shot on hole 17 to hold off Jack Nicklaus. Johnny Miller captured his third AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in 1994 at 46 years old.
  • Cost: $635
  • Best Time of Year to Play: September and October

 

7. Pinehurst Resort No. 2 Course (North Carolina)

Pinehurst Resort course

Here’s another ideal bucket list spot, especially if you’re looking for a location that has multiple courses. There are 10 exquisite golf courses in Pinehurst, but none is more beautiful than No. 2. It was designed by Donald Ross in 1907 and later restored by the great Ben Crenshaw in 2010.

  • Iconic Moments: Payne Stewart drained a 15-foot putt to capture the 1999 US Open title on hole 18 of Couse No. 2. Pinehurst later built a bronze stature of this event, which patrons flock to quite often for pictures.
  • Cost: $329 to $389
  • Best Time of Year to Play: September to November

 

8. Riviera Country Club (Pacific Palisades, California)

We head back out west for our next selection with Riviera Country Club. The PGA Tour makes an annual stop at this location as part of its West Coast swing. Avid golfers will love and adore the famous hole 10, which is a reachable par 4 for low-handicappers.

  • Iconic Moments: Ben Hogan won the 1948 US Open title here at Riviera. Tiger Woods made his PGA Tour debut at this course in 1992 as a 16-year-old.
  • Cost: $350 (plus caddie fees and tip), and you must know a member
  • Best Time of Year to Play: Anytime

 

9. Kiawah Island Ocean Course (South Carolina)

Kiawah Island course

Here’s an ideal choice for golfers who want to book a vacation near the Atlantic Ocean. Pete Dye created this gorgeous course, so you know each hole will be beautiful but challenging. Come prepared to deal with some serious wind coming off the ocean’s shore.

  • Iconic Moments: The Ocean Course is most famous for hosting the 1991 Ryder Cup, which is known as the “War on the Shore.” It was at this prestigious event that Team USA ended an 8-year Ryder Cup drought when Bernhard Langer surprisingly missed a six-foot putt on hole 18.
  • Cost: $383
  • Best Time of Year to Play: Summer

 

10. Whistling Straights (Kohler, Wisconsin)

whistling straights golf

Golfers who live anywhere near Lake Michigan know all about Whistling Straights. Pete Dye designed 2 courses in this small Wisconsin town, and they’re both incredible! For an amazing links golf experience in the North, look no further than the Straights Course or the Irish Course.

  • Iconic Moments: While this course has had a number of big moments, none compare to the 2015 PGA Championship. That’s where Jason Day carded a -20 score to take down Jordan Spieth by 3 shots.
  • Cost: $555
  • Best Time of Year to Play: June through October

 

11. Royal St. George’s Golf Club (Sandwich, Kent, England)

Here’s one of the best international golf courses in the world. The Open Championship has been played at Royal St. George 14 times. In typical links course fashion, golfers will be challenged with crazy dunes, deep bunkers, and roughs that’ll make you cuss.

  • Iconic Moments: Greg Norman won the 1993 Open Championship at this course. It was The Shark’s second career major title. Norman shot an insanely low 64 in the final round to barely hold off Nick Faldo by two strokes.
  • Cost: $347
  • Best Time of Year to Play: March through May

 

12. Kapalua Resort Plantation Course (Maui, Hawaii)

If you ever get the luxury of vacationing in Hawaii, this is the course you just have to play! Golfers will be treated to exquisite views of both the Pacific Ocean and the West Maui Mountains. Each tee shot is breathtaking, and the fairways are wide enough for even high handicappers.

  • Iconic Moments: Ernie Els won at this course with a remarkable score of -31 for the tournament back in 2003. Jonathan Byrd hit the PGA Tour’s first 400-yard drive at this course in that same tournament.
  • Cost: $395
  • Best Time of Year to Play: Winter

 

13. Loch Lomond Golf Club (Glasgow, Scotland)

Did you know that Scotland offers more to golfers than just a links-style experience? This club is highly exclusive, so getting a tee time may be tough. Nevertheless, folks who get the privilege of playing at Loch Lomond will be treated with 5-star service at a clubhouse that resembles a castle.

  • Iconic Moments: The Scottish Open was held here from 2001-2010. PGA Tour stars like Ernie Els, Martin Kaymer, and Retief Goosen enjoyed victories at this course for that event.
  • Cost: Varies (Must know a Member or Participate in a Charity Event)
  • Best Time of Year to Play: Anytime You Can

 

14. Fancourt Resort (South Africa)

When you think of South Africa, you probably think more of exotic safaris instead of incredible golf courses. However, this resort has 3 pristine courses on the property. One of them (Links Course) was created by Gary Player and Phil Jacobs.

  • Iconic Moments: The Links Course served as the home of the Presidents Cup in 2003. The event ended in a tie after Tiger Woods and Ernie Els were dead even after 3 playoff holes.
  • Cost: $478 (Must know a Member or Stay at the Resort)
  • Best Time of Year to Play: Spring

 

15. Bandon Dunes (Oregon)

Do you want a true links golf experience without having to deal with the pains of international travel? Bandon Dunes would be a perfect bucket list location for you! You’ll get challenging hole locations, rugged terrain, and some breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean!

  • Iconic Moments: The USGA has been hosting amateur tournaments here since 2006. The most recent of these was the 2022 US Junior Amateur. Maybe one day, the PGA Tour will make a stop at one of these courses.
  • Cost: $295 (Summer) and $100 (Winter)
  • Best Time of Year to Play: September

 

16. Championship at Royal County Down (Northern Ireland)

For an incredibly gorgeous links experience, you can’t leave out Northern Ireland. The Championship Links is nestled in the heart of the Mountains of Mourne. Be sure to bring your camera because each hole would make a phenomenal postcard.

  • Iconic Moments: The course hosted The Senior Open Championship from 2000 to 2002. PGA Tour Hall of Famers Gary Player, Arnold Palmer, and Jack Nicklaus played in those events.
  • Cost: $322
  • Best Time of Year to Play: April through October

 

17. Merion Golf Club (Ardmore, Pennsylvania)

Do you love courses with some shorter Par 4 holes? What golfer doesn’t? Merion is one of the best hidden gems in the USA. It offers the perfect blend of difficult holes and fun scoring opportunities.

  • Iconic Moments: Bobby Jones won the 1930 US Amateur at Merion to complete the Grand Slam. Ben Hogan won the 1950 US Open at Merion, one of his most iconic victories.
  • Cost: $525 (Must know a Member)
  • Best Time of Year to Play: Spring or Fall

 

18. Royal Melbourne (Australia)

Why not book a bucket list vacation while playing at one of the most exquisite courses on the planet? Most golfers are wooed by Royal Melbourne’s outstanding course layout. This place has been one of the top in Australia since it was built in 1931.

  • Iconic Moments: This course hosted the 1998 Presidents Cup, which was the first time the event had been held outside of the USA. Ernie Els shot a 60 during the Heineken Classic at this course in 2004.
  • Cost: $350 (Must know a Member)
  • Best Time of Year to Play: September to May

 

19. Championship Course at Carnoustie (Scotland)

This is one of the top courses in the UK, which makes it perfect for your golf bucket list! PGA Tour star Padraig Harrington calls it “one of the best in the world.” It’s also known as “Golf’s Greatest Test”.

  • Iconic Moments: This course has been the home of The Open Championship on 8 occasions. Francesco Molinari won the 2018 Open Championship, which made him the first player from Italy to win a major.
  • Cost: $322
  • Best Time of Year to Play: April through October

 

20. Cape Kidnappers (New Zealand)

Here’s another bucket list golf course that offers stunning views on every hole. The facilities are top-notch, and folks will love some of the brutally challenging water holes.

  • Iconic Moments: Legendary architect Tom Doak created this one-of-a-kind golfing experience. Golfers come from all over the world to play the game they love on this secluded 500-foot cliff in paradise.
  • Cost: $429
  • Best Time of Year to Play: Spring or Fall

 

21. Royal Troon (Scotland)

Royal Troon has been serving the Scottish golf community since 1878. Visitors get the choice of playing either the Old Course or the Portland Course. No matter which you wind up playing, you’ll deal with the whipping wind, rugged terrain, and deep roughs that make links golf both maddening and exhilarating.

  • Iconic Moments: Greg Norman, Wayne Grady, and Mark Calcavecchia went to a playoff at this course during the 1989 Open Championship. “Calc” went on to capture his only major title that day and took home the grand prize of $128,000.
  • Cost: $378 (Old Course), $126 (Portland)
  • Best Time of Year to Play: April to September

 

22. National Golf Links of America (Southhampton, NY)

Do you plan on vacationing in the Hamptons in the future? If so, you need to find a way to get a tee time at NGLA. It’s one of the top places in the US to enjoy a true links golf experience.

  • Iconic Moments: Bobby Jones played a round on this course in 1924. Though he shot a 73, he told General Dwight D. Eisenhower that it was the most satisfying round of golf he’d ever played. For a legendary icon like Jones, that’s saying something!
  • Cost: $350 (Must know a Member)
  • Best Time of Year to Play: Summer

 

23. Quivira Golf Club (Cabo San Lucas, Mexico)

Quivira doesn’t get a ton of hype, but it’s definitely a bucket-list-worthy course if you’re ever on vacation in Cabo San Lucas. Golfers will marvel at how some holes are tucked near the ocean while others are sandwiched in between mountains.

  • Iconic Moments: Pro golf has yet to be played at Quivira. Don’t let that deter you, though. Jack Nicklaus designed this course, and it’s one of the top resort locations in the world.
  • Cost: $233-$380 (Must know a Member or Stay at Resort)
  • Best Time of Year to Play: Fall

 

24. Peachtree Golf Club (Atlanta, Georgia)

Augusta National gets most of the attention in Georgia, and rightfully so. However, this exclusive course in Atlanta is a bucket list golf destination in its own right. Bobby Jones and a few of his friends created this course, so that tells you all you need to know.

  • Iconic Moments: You’ll have to create your own. The PGA Tour has never played at this exclusive club.
  • Cost: Not publicly available (Must Be Invited)
  • Best Time of Year to Play: Spring or Fall

 

25. Valderrama Golf Club (Sotogrande, Spain)

How beautiful is this royal golf course in South Spain? It’s lovingly referred to as the “Augusta of Europe”. Valderrama is consistently ranked as one of the Top 100 golf courses in the world.

  • Iconic Moments: This gorgeous course hosted the 1997 Ryder Cup. Europe won the event with a final score of 14.5 to 13.5. Colin Montgomerie lead the way for Team Europe by scoring 3.5 points.
  • Cost: $292
  • Best Time of Year to Play: February to July

 

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Mike Noblin

Mike has been involved with sports for over 30 years. He's been an avid golfer for more than 10 years and is obsessed with watching the Golf Channel and taking notes on a daily basis. He also holds a degree in Sports Psychology.