This week’s blog is a guide to seven courses for your golf bucket list. These seven golf courses are known for their unique layout and the incredible challenge that they offer, making them must-play golf courses for any serious player. Many of these golf courses are widely considered to be amongst some of the most prestigious in the world, therefore all players must endeavour to enjoy an unforgettable round here.
The PGA Catalunya Stadium golf course is widely viewed as one of the best golf courses in Spain, and even Europe, therefore it is hardly unsurprising that it has hosted so many PGA European Tour events. Known for its stunning views, invigorating challenge and its impeccable quality, the PGA Catalunya Stadium is certainly a strong contender for your golf bucket list. The challenge here is characterised by the regular undulations of the greens as well as the many uphill fairways. The 6th hole is the signature hole here, a tricky par four that demands excellent golf course management as players must anticipate a lengthy uphill drive. Golfers must balance the length of their shot whilst maintaining accuracy in order to avoid the huge tree positioned in the centre of the fairway, however, they must be sure to avoid the many hazards in doing so. Despite the many golf courses in the Costa Brava region, the PGA Catalunya Stadium does not fail to stand out and since its opening in 1998, it has certainly made its mark on golf in Europe. Set deep in the heart of the rolling hills surrounding the captivating city of Barcelona, golfers can enjoy a fantastic round of golf in an idyllic atmosphere, away from the hustle and bustle of the resorts in the south. Despite its calming setting, the PGA Catalunya Stadium is sure to raise some tempers with its unruly challenge. The greens here are known for the notorious placement of bunkers which have caused even lower handicappers to feel grateful for walking away from several holes with a bogey. While the PGA Catalunya Stadium undoubtedly poses as a challenge to even the most experienced golfer, those with a less refined game should not give this golf course a miss as it is widely considered to be among some of the most prestigious golf courses in the world.
The Fancourt Links golf course has been described by Gary Player as one of his biggest achievements as a leading golf course architect; that statement alone is a big enough reason to include the Fancourt Links in your golf bucket list. With a beautiful landscape and many well-designed holes, it is hardly surprising that the Fancourt Links has been voted the Best Golf Course in South Africa by Golf Digest Rankings. The Fancourt Links has set the standards for the future of golf in South Africa, and it is known and loved for its classic coastal links layout that never fails to attract golfers back, year after year. The golf course’s stunning scenery only adds to its character, as players can marvel at panoramic views of the neighbouring Outeniqua Mountains. Those that enjoy many of the UK’s best golf courses, including St Andrews, will enjoy the Fancourt Links as it comprises of many of its key features and characteristics including spacious greens and rolling fairways with undulations. The Fancourt Links is surely not a golf course for the faint-hearted, and it is an essential golf course for the bucket list for those that like a challenge. The challenge not only lies in the layout and characteristics of the golf course, but it is also due to its sheer length. Golfers are thrown in the deep end at the first hole to give them a taste of the challenge to come. Players must manoeuvre their shot down the narrow fairway to an elevated tee where they can enjoy some of the best views of the golf course.
Bulgaria is an up and coming golf destination in Europe and setting the bar for the future of golf here is the Thracian Cliffs golf course. This award-winning golf course opened in 2011, and already it is rumoured to become the most photographed golf course in Europe. This does not come as a surprise as the Thracian Cliffs is known for its beautiful coastal scenery with panoramic views across the Black Sea at every single hole on the golf course. Consistently ranked in the Top 50 Golf Courses in Europe, the Thracian Cliffs is an obvious choice for any golf bucket list. Like any Gary Player designed golf course, the Thracian Cliffs offers a unique round of golf with a new challenge to be overcome in each shot. Gary Player made the most out of the direct coastal landscape of the course, and with strong prevailing winds from the Black Sea coming at golfers from every angle, golfers must play with their A-game consistently in order to score well. Despite the Thracian Cliffs undoubtedly offering a stern test of golf, with multiple tee options, even amateur golfers do not have to miss out on a round of golf here. The views are unparalleled to anything else in Europe; it is truly unique to have a golf course that offers stunning sea views from every single hole. Due to its direct coastal location, it is heavily advised that players bring plenty of balls as any wayward shots will be carried away further than originally anticipated. The front nine holes are positioned directly on the cliffs, therefore the best views can be enjoyed here, however, the back nine holes wind through the resort more and are generally considered to be the most challenging on the course.
The Earth golf course is one of the two golf courses at the prestigious Jumeriah Golf Estates located in Dubai. The Earth course is a gem in the midst of a huge range of golf in Dubai, and it never fails to attract players back year after year. Designed by world-renowned golf architect Greg Norman, the Earth golf course offers a challenging round of golf that can be enjoyed by all players, regardless of their skill set and handicap. Widely considered to be the best golf course in Dubai, the Earth golf course is hugely responsible for Dubai’s excellent reputation as a key golf destination in the Middle East. This golf course is undoubtedly a challenge, stretching out to an impressive 7,706 yards from the back tees. Its challenging nature is not the only characteristic that makes this golf course one for the bucket list; the Earth golf course is set in a stunning landscape with the final 18th hole set on the edge of a breath-taking creek. Greg Norman had a vision for the Earth golf course; he wanted to merge all of the best characteristics found at the most famous golf courses in Europe and North America into one golf course. Therefore, the challenge here is mainly characterised by clever bunkering and undulating fairways, as well as dense areas of greenery and fauna. During their round, players can enjoy a break from the hustle and bustle of the concrete jungle that is Dubai and enjoy the naturistic setting. There are many lakes across the golf course, as well as forest areas. Four of the holes here are centred around a large white creek filled with water, and they will do well to avoid it!
The Dye’s Valley Course at the TPC Sawgrass is located in the heart of Florida and was hugely influential in the creation of the modern golf courses in the area. Even experienced golfing legends have commented on the challenging nature of the Dye’s Valley Course as it is not commonplace for water hazards to feature at every single hole on a golf course. This fantastic golf course plays to a par of 72 and is the perfect golf course for a player that is looking to have every aspect of their game challenged. Golfers are kept on their toes throughout the golf course with many water hazards and undulating fairways. Despite the fairways being relatively open and spacious, looks can be deceiving; the Dye’s Valley Course is located just a mile away from the shores of the Atlantic Ocean where harsh coastal winds can often take their toll on any weak shots. The Dye’s Valley Course is home to two fantastic par fives, however, players make the common mistake here of presuming they will be easy; the par-five 16th and 1st holes are by no means a walk in the park, even for experienced golfers. Players are thrown straight into the challenge at the very first hole, however, with careful club selection and patience, there is a good chance of scoring a birdie. The green here is one of the smallest greens across the whole golf course, and players will do well to manoeuvre their shot down the narrow fairway. The Dye’s Valley Course is known for its tiny greens, therefore the emphasis is largely on accuracy over length for players to score well.
A golf bucket list would not be complete without the mention of the Real Club Valderrama; this fantastic golf course has consistently been ranked as the best in Europe, and rightly so. If your budget permits, then the Real Club Valderrama should be at the top of your golf bucket list. Despite its creation over four decades ago, the Real Club Valderrama has managed to withstand the creation of new modern golf courses in the area and has consistently remained to be considered the best golf course in Spain. The golf course has been impeccably maintained thanks to regular renovations; however, it has still retained its amazing authentic character that it is known best for. With limited tee times available, the Real Club Valderrama is never overplayed, therefore it is always in perfect condition. The Real Club Valderrama comprises of some unique holes that demand excellent golf course management as well as the complete focus and patience from all of its players. Even if golfers feel they can’t play to their maximum potential here, they can enjoy the stunning landscapes and watching their fellow players face their peril. The greens are notoriously fast which make it even more difficult for golfers to manoeuvre around the many strategically placed sand traps and bunkers. Players must be sure to keep the best of their skill until last as the last few holes are widely considered to be the most challenging. The 17th hole, named the Los Gabiones, was reconstructed to intensify its challenge by adding a huge water hazard just to the front of the green.
The PGA Centenary Course is one of the three fantastic golf courses at the famous Gleneagles Golf Resort. Designed by Jack Nicklaus, the PGA Centenary Course is the most acclaimed golf course in Scotland and is widely known for its beautiful landscapes and the invigorating challenge that it is home to. Jack Nicklaus admitted that he can only take limited credit for the success of the golf course as the original landscape he had to work with was already a “masterpiece” that required minimal construction. However, Nicklaus sought to create a unique golf course that would attract golfers back year after year. It is fair to say that Nicklaus achieved his vision, and since he has been commended for creating one of the highest-ranking golf courses in Europe. The PGA Centenary Course is undoubtedly one for the bucket list and is sure to be loved by all golfers that can appreciate a classic Scottish golf course with all the best characteristics of American courses thrown in. In 2014, the PGA Centenary Course cemented its reputation as one of Scotland’s best golf courses when it hosted the Ryder Cup. Since then, the PGA Centenary Course has received the exposure and praise it deserves. The golf course is a challenge for even professionals as it measures out to an impressive 7,300 yards from the back white tees. Throughout, players can enjoy some truly spectacular views of the idyllic Scottish countryside that are best seen from the two-tiered green at the second hole. Many of the greens here are well-protected, therefore long hitters will do better in their approach shots here than at other technical golf courses.
We hope that you have enjoyed this week’s blog and that you have fresh inspiration for some new additions to your golf bucket list. All seven of these golf courses are critically acclaimed, designed by some of the best golf architects in the world. For an unforgettable and invigorating round of golf, all seven of these golf courses are a fantastic option.