Not all golf courses are created equal, so we've compiled a list of our favorite scenic golf courses from around the world. Have you played any of them?
1. Shinnecock Hills - Southampton, Long Island, New York
The sprawling Shinnecock Hills has a long history dating back to the late 1800s, although it's been remodeled a few times along the way.
This course is considered an American classic, a great test for tour pros and amateur players alike. The shots are difficult, especially with many of the trees being removed and the wind being an increased factor, but players love the natural ambiance and challenge that comes with playing this course.
The U.S. Open has been played here many times over, a relationship that will doubtless continue for years to come.
2. Cypress Point Club - Pebble Beach, California
California has some great golf courses, but we rank the Cypress Point Club at the top of the list. Pebble Beach offers spectacular beauty throughout the course as it juts through the coastal dunes, supplying spectacular views and tough shots aplenty.
The course was first opened in 1928, and it's extremely exclusive. If you don't know someone at the club, you'll have a near-impossible task to get a tee time. The only real way to play is to be invited by a member, so... get your schmoozing pants on!
But if you ever do get the chance to play this course, you'll appreciate the sound of lapping waves and the uninhibited oceanside views.
Although some criticize the 18th hole as somewhat pedestrian, the first 17 holes should be plenty exciting enough. Plus - let's be honest - it's probably worth it just to tell people you played here!
3. Royal Dornoch Golf Club - Dornoch, Sutherland, Scotland
The Royal Dornoch Golf Club is a Scottish natural treasure. It's not easy to get to the club, as it lies about a four-hour drive outside of Glasgow, but year after year, it draws in amateurs, pros, and in-betweeners a'plenty.
What's the special appeal? The timeless setting in a rural, isolated environment. The rolling hills, sandy beach, and great holes make it a masterpiece by world famous course designer Donald Ross.
The town of Dornoch has a rich history, with human settlement dating back at least 4,000 years, so if you're coming from afar, staying nearby will give you an opportunity dip your toe in Scottish culture and history, which will be well worth your time.
4. Muirfield - Gullane, East Lothian, United Kingdom
Muirfield is one of the oldest golf courses in the world.
The layout is very clever and unique. Most golfers will notice the unusual arrangement of links, with two concentric circles of 9-holes each. The course has hosted 15 Opens, and it remains a favorite among golfers for the fine views it offers of the sea and woods.
For many, Muirfield is considered the fairest Open test among golf courses, since everything is clearly laid out in front of you.
5. Kingston Heath Golf Club - Cheltenham, Victoria, Australia
The Kingston Heath Golf Club is one of the top golf courses in Australia, located in the sand belt region in the southern suburbs of the city of Melbourne.
Temperature can be a factor depending on when you play the course, since Australia is known for dry, sweltering heat at times. But no matter the season, the course is splendid and ranks among the best in the world.
Some of the most distinctive features are the bunkers, of which there are many. They're strategically placed, of course, making the average shot much more challenging.
This perfectly manicured course, surrounded by farmland, will put you in the perfect mindset to play your best 18 holes.
6. Cape Kidnappers Golf Course - Hawke's Bay, New Zealand
Hailed as one of the great modern marvels of golf, the Cape Kidnappers Golf Course was designed by renowned course architect Tom Doak and was only completed relatively recently, in 2004.
The course will take roughly 4 hours to play, and during that time, you'll appreciate the one-of-a-kind views from the dramatic cliff tops that the course was built upon.
You might lose a few balls to the ocean if you're an amateur golfer - or if it's a windy day. But losing a few balls is well worth it to play this gem. This is one of the most unique courses that you'll ever see.
7. Royal Birkdale Golf Club - Southport, England
The Royal Birkdale has been one of the most popular courses for Championship and International events, holding the record for the most held since World War II.
Not only has it been voted the top club in England, but it ranks as one of the best in the world, and for good reason! It's located on the golden links of the North West coast in Southport, and its isolation affords tranquil and relaxed play to the pros and amateurs who tee off here. The expansive plains and soft-shouldered hills make the play straightforward but challenging at the same time.
If you're an avid golfer and you're looking for a new backdrop, these courses are all worthy of your consideration!