Golf has for centuries been associated with wealth and luxury. In this list we have compiled 10 golf courses that are simply some of the most acclaimed works of art. The breathtaking landscapes, unique themes, exemplary services and pleasurable golfing experience make these ten stand high above the rest.
Kicking off our list is the Augusta National—home to The Masters for the past 87 years. Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts founded it in 1932 two years before they launched the Master Tournament.
Over the years, the club has spent millions of dollars acquiring the real estate surrounding its courses and facilities to insulate its members from prying eyes.
To date, this highly exclusive club does not publicly speak about its membership. However, the general consensus is that it's a maximum of 300 members— a group that includes some of the wealthiest, most influential business people in the world.
For the longest time, all the members were men until 2012, when Augusta National admitted its first two women members.
It's no surprise why its membership remains one of the most sought in the golfing sphere. Sadly, membership is strictly by invitation since there is no application process. If you somehow manage to get in, expect initiation fees ranging from $250,000-$500,000 (Forbes).
Pebble Beach Golf Links
Developed in 1919 with the aim of luring real estate investors to Pebble Beach, the Pebble Beach Golf Links now stands as one of the most beautiful golf courses in the world. Though a public golf course, playing there doesn't come cheap.
A round of golf at the 100-year-old golf course will cost you $575. In addition to that initial price, it costs $45 per person to use a cart plus a caddie fee of $95 per bag. Regardless, Pebble Beach is very popular among amateur golf lovers.
This coupled with the fact that it hosted the 2019 US open and already has the 2023 US Women's Open and 2027 US lined up; the green fees will only go up.
Shanqin Bay Golf Club
Overlooking the South China Sea, Shanqin Bay is a true gem and one of the best golf courses in Asia and arguably the most private club in the world. In fact, it has an exceedingly small membership of 30-50 people. Unlike others in this list, this is a relatively new golf course, having been opened late in 2012.
It's said that countless developers turned down the offer to design Shanqin Bay due to its rugged landscape. However, Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, one of golf's most respected architectural teams, were able to transform the seaside sand dunes into a top 20 ranking on Golf Digest.
Membership is by invitation only, while outside play is at the club's discretion(simply put, they can decide to turn you away).
The Vintage Club
Known for its Secret Service-style security, the Vintage Club is considered one of the most illustrious private golf clubs. It boasts two-18 hole Tom Fazio championship golf courses, and not to forget, it’s one of a kind 80,000 sq. ft clubhouse nestled at the foot of the Eisenhower Mountain.
The Vintage Country Club is also surrounded by a collection of over 500 multi-million dollar homes and counts Bill Gates as one of its part-time residents. To join, you need a member to sponsor you and three others to back you.
You also need to have a sparkling reputation at your other clubs and a hefty account to bankroll the $250,000 initiation fee.
The Old Course at St Andrews
Founded in 1754, The Old Course at St Andrews, popularly known as the Grand Old Lady, is the oldest golf course in the world. It was also the host to the first major professional golf tournament, the Open Championship, in 1873.
For almost three centuries, its club, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, had a male-only membership policy. This changed in 2015 when it welcomed its first female honorary members, including Princess Anne and several pro golfers.
To date, it remains as a private golf club with a worldwide membership of 2,400. That said, the club no longer owns any of the St Andrews golf courses.
They are now open to the public, and the 2400 members must share the tee times with members of other local clubs and visitors alike. Next time you are in Scotland, stop by St Andrews and play a round at the birthplace of golf.
The Pine Valley Golf Club
Covering about 600 acres of rugged pineland, Pine Valley Golf Course is often regarded as the most challenging course in the US. It is also ranked the No. 1-ranked golf course in the United States by Golf Digest.
Once a year, the public is allowed in to watch the conclusion of the Crump Cup (an invite-only amateur tournament named after the Pine Valley's founder). There are no applications, no open qualifiers to participate in this tournament.
If Pine Valley's management wants you on the course and there is an opening, you will be invited. Also, this highly exclusive club is not open to application for membership.
Instead, the board of directors reaches out directly to potential members. Currently, Its membership stands just below 1000, with most members unknown as the list is a closely guarded secret.
Cypress Point Club
Located in California, right at the edge of the Pacific Ocean, Cypress Point Club, with its dramatic cliff tops, is definitely one of the most beautiful golf courses in the world. This is another marvelous work by legendary course architect Dr. Alister MacKenzie.
Cypress Point is one of the toughest golf clubs in the world to gain access to. All its members come from the highest echelons of corporate and political arenas, along with a celebrity or two to fill in the 250 membership slots at any given time. The club has a unique membership fees model.
The annual membership fees aren't actually determined until the end of the year, once everything is tallied up.
The total amount of money required to upkeep the club (operating and maintenance costs) is simply divided by the number of members. Each one then has to pay the same amount regardless of how many rounds of golf they played that year.
The Royal Melbourne
Founded in 1891, The Royal Melbourne Golf Club is Australia's oldest golf club. It was designed by the legendary Dr. Alister MacKenzie (same guy who designed the Augusta National).
His goal was to come up with a golf course that made the game both challenging and enjoyable for both professionals and amateurs alike.
If the raving reviews of thousands of golfers are anything to go by, he achieved precisely this! With a capacity of 15,000 spectators, The Royal Melbourne Golf Club has hosted numerous national and international events.
For any visitor seeking to play a round at the 36-hole golf course, they should be a current member of an internationally recognized golf club and bring along with them a letter of introduction written from their home club.
Oakmont Country Club
Oakmont Country Club is one of the oldest and most famous golf courses in the world. Since the historic club opened in 1903, it has hosted the most US Open championships than any other course in the US (9 in total, with the tenth scheduled for 2025).
Oakmont has also been the home of three PGA Championships, five US Amateurs, and two US Women's Opens.
It also had the rare privilege of being named a National Historic Landmark in 1987. Boasting large, fast greens, narrow fairways, and punishing sand bunkers, it's currently regarded as one of the most challenging golf courses. Expect to cough a $75,000 initiation fee.
Golf de Morfontaine
The 12th Duke of Gramont, a member of the French aristocracy, hired Tom Simpson to build a golf course on his estate in Vallerie, 30 miles north of Paris. Simpson is regarded as one of the pioneers of the Golden Age of golf course architecture in the 1920s and '30s.
Initially, Golf de Morfontaine was intended for the private enjoyment of the Duke and his friends, but it soon became an extremely private club with an international membership. By 1935, it had 350 members.
The Duke passed on in 1962, and 25 years later, Morfontaine became the property of its members.
To date its doors remain closed to the public. Unless one gets an invite from one of its 450 current members, there's next to zero chance of playing at this exquisite golf course.
This is by no way an exhaustive list. There are hundreds of magnificent golf courses around the world. What's your favorite golf course? Share with us!