Brilliantly colored water. Crashing waves. Rugged cliffs…
Arguably, the most inspiring settings to play golf are alongside the ocean.
Here’s my list of ten seaside layouts you absolutely must play. (I base my selections on the total golf experience, not rankings and reputation.)
Now, let’s head to the beach:
|Pebble Beach Golf Links photo by Joan Dost|
1. Pebble Beach Golf Links–There are many contenders and some pretenders, but Pebble Beach Golf Links on the Monterey Peninsula in California is the world’s premier oceanside golf masterpiece. Dont’ take my word for it, though. Here’s what Jack Nicklaus once said: “If I had only one more round to play, I would choose to play at Pebble Beach. I’ve loved this course from the first time I saw it.” Designed by Jack Neville, the course utilizes a peninsula that juts out into the Pacific Ocean providing a perfect setting for exciting and picturesque golf holes.
2. Kingsbarns–Set just outside St. Andrews, Scotland this innovative but classic design is truly one of the world’s most outstanding seaside golf experiences. A testament to modern design techniques, American designer Kyle Phillips created the dunes and rolling land movement at Kingsbarns with earth scrapers and bulldozers in 2000.
3 . Teeth of the Dog–While many of the world’s great seaside courses are situated on clifftops, the Teeth of the Dog at Casa de Campo Resort in the Dominican Republic, designed by Pete Dye, is so close to the ocean you can feel the mist from crashing waves on some holes as you putt on the green. It’s catchy name comes from the par three, No. 16 hole, which is bordered by sharp coral formations that resemble the teeth of an angry dog.
|Teeth of the Dog|
4 . Doonbeg–Greg Norman took the “least disturbance” approach to this phenomenal piece of land he was given to design this course in Ireland. There are amazing views of the Atlantic Ocean from 16 holes on this layout. Step on the first tee and you can see across a horseshoe-shaped bay to the ninth green. Built in 2002, the Doonbeg looks like it has been there hundreds of years. The massive 100-foot high sand dunes and native grasses embellish this fantastic setting.
5 . Corales–Often referred to as “the Pebble Beach of the Caribbean”, this spectacular Tom Fazio design at Puntacana Resort in the Dominican Repbublic has six oceanfront holes highlighted by rugged cliffs and coral reefs and framed by turquoise and blue waters. Fazio masterfully designed Corales so both nines would conclude with fantastic waterfront holes. The finale, the 18th hole, is a scenic and challenging beauty with a fairway that skirts around the Bay of Corales.
6 . Royal Porthcawl–Opened in 1895, this layout in the village of Porthcawl in Wales has 19th century character at every turn. You can see the sea from every hole and there are inspiring views south to Somerset and Exmoor, and northwest across Swansea Bay to the Gower Peninsula. The holes are designed facing every direction and you’ll never know when the wind will blow directly in your face. Though it’s a private club, the members at Royal Porthcawl are very friendly to visitors and you don’t feel like an intruder. Make sure you take time for a beer or single malt at the clubhouse bar, which sits 40 feet above the sea offering spectacular views.
7. Pacific Dunes at Bandon Dunes–Stretching along the stunningly beautiful stretch of Oregon coast, Pacific Dunes is a wonderland of rugged dunescape, grassy waste areas, ridges of gorse and ocean views. Holes four and five play along 100-foot-high-cliffs and No. 16, a par four has a green set on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Designed by Tom Doak, Pacific Dunes is the closest thing to a Scottish golf experience in the United States.
8 . Vale Do Lobo–One of the best ways for a golfer to experience the wonders of the Algarve in Portugal is to play the Royal Course at Vale Do Lobo. The stunning cliff-top carryover on the the par three, 215-yard (from the back tees) number 16 hole is a phenomenal experience. It’s sister course, the Ocean Course, is an oceanside beauty as well. Its rolling fairways are framed by pine trees on the front nine and you slowly play your way down to the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. The back nine has some postcard beautiful ocean panoramas.
|Royal Course at Vale do Lobo|
9. Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Resort–Site of the 2012 PGA Championship, this Pete Dye designed masterpiece in South Carolina has more seaside holes than any other course in the Northern Hemisphere–10 along the Atlantic Ocean and 8 others parallel to those. A target course that will expose golfer’s liabilities, the Ocean Course is beautiful and oh so challenging.
10. Emerald Reef–While this Greg Norman designed golf course in the Bahamas lacks the pedigree, rankings and accolades of the other courses mentioned, I assure you, this is a spectacular oceanside golf experience. Drop dead gorgeous, Emerald Reef has six holes on a peninsula that are rimmed by some of the most beautiful turquoise green, deep blue and clear waters in the world.