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One of the best things about golf is that wherever you are in the world, there’s bound to be beautiful golf courses nearby. There’s no better way to spend some time surrounded by nature and get some exercise, whether you’re alone, with friends or family, or even on a business trip.
If you’re an accomplished golfer, there are certain golf courses that are most likely on your bucket list. Pebble Beach, Shadow Creek, St Andrews, Kiawah Island… Everyone has their dream golf courses to play.
Hidden Gem Golf Courses Around the World
But you may not have considered these ones, which are some of the best-hidden gem golf courses in the world. There are far too many amazing golf courses to mention in this short article, so we’ve reviewed just our 10 favorites we think that more people should know about, and play!
If you happen to be in these areas, grab your golf hat and don’t miss a chance to play on these golf courses! They’re bucket-list-worthy and well worth a few hours of your time.
1. Payne’s Valley Golf Course, Branson Missouri, America
Pictured above, this 18-hole, par-72 Branson golf course should be on every golfer’s ‘must-play’ list. Featuring generous fairways, and large, fast undulating greens protected by strategically-scattered bunkers, the course is as challenging as it is fun to play.
Golfers will find that each hole is varied and every hole needs to be navigated with a strategic approach if you want to score well. Designed by Tiger Woods, this Big Cedar Lodge course has a number of memorable holes, with a variety of fun par-3’s and some short risk/reward par-4’s.
Golfers will find the par-5 4th hole to be an excellent risk-reward opportunity, as it features a severe elevation change from tee to green. The small green is protected by water that comes into play and large oval bunkers, so you need to be accurate.
At the end of the 18 holes, you’ll be treated to an exciting bonus 19th hole. This island green par-3 is nestled in a quarry with a massive rock as its backdrop, and the golfer who lands up closest to the pin can walk away with bragging rights.
2. The Tytherington Club, Cheshire, England
Golfers of all levels will find this 6,765-yard, par-72 Championship course to be both challenging and fun to play. If you’re in Cheshire, it should certainly be on your list of things to do.
To score well on this course, you’ll need to be strategic with your club choice as well as your approach on each hole. The course is tight with narrow fairways and gentle, rolling greens that are guarded by strategically-placed bunkers. Water also comes into play on several holes and your shots will need to carry over water on holes 10 and 12.
There are a number of challenging holes, with a few featuring difficult doglegs, especially on the 16th hole, which will put your golfing skills to the test. Arrive an hour earlier before your round and practice your swing at the driving range before you tee off at the long par-4 that is the 1st hole.
3. Golfclub De Dommel, Sint-Michielsgestel Netherlands
Golfers will love the layout of this Netherlands golf course, as it uses the natural contours of the terrain to provide a fun and testing experience. The course winds through the forest and you’ll find that the fairways aren’t very wide. Your approach to the greens will have to be strategic, as subtle undulations make them surprisingly difficult to play.
At 5456 yards, this par-70 course is shorter than average, and some golfers may find the last 6 holes to be fairly close to each other. Don’t let that lead you into a false sense of security, as several of the holes feature sharp doglegs where you’ll need both accuracy and length to score well. The 17th is the signature hole and requires accuracy as an errant drive can cause you to drop a shot.
4. Roxburgh Golf Club, Roxburgh, New Zealand
Nestled in the spectacular landscape of Otago is a hidden gem that’s waiting for you to step onto the first tee and play. This 18-hole, par-68 course will test your patience and skill set while providing an exciting and enjoyable round. The course uses the natural contours of New Zealand’s terrain, with fairways that are dotted with schist rock.
You may want to pack an extra sleeve of golf balls when playing this course, as you’re likely to lose a ball if your shots aren’t on point. Every hole is varied and there are several holes that offer excellent risk/reward opportunities. The 8th, 9th, 10th, 12th, and 16th holes are prime examples.
The signature hole is the par-3, 137-yard, 4th hole, which will have most golfers reaching for their driver. However, you need to be strategic in your approach as you play from an elevated tee down to a small, undulating green. An errant or short shot could lead to a bogey!
5. Golf Son Gual, Majorca, Spain
This hidden gem in Spain should be on every golfer’s “bucket list” of courses to play, as it truly puts your skills to the test. Each hole has a set of six tee boxes, which allows golfers of all skill levels decent passage to the fairway. However, if you’re new to the game, you may find this course to be a bit more challenging even if you’re playing from the red tees.
The course has true and lightning-fast greens, with immaculate fairways and carefully-placed sand traps. Water comes into play on several holes and golfers will find holes 15 and 17 to be memorable par-3’s.
There’s a great variation in the holes, and you’ll find it difficult to pick just one favorite, although the par-5, 18th hole could come close! You can’t see the flag from the tee box, and your ball has to carry over the pond to reach the second part of the fairway.
You’ll then have to be accurate and strategic with your approach, as the green has water protecting it to the right. It’s an excellent way to end off a challenging and exciting course and leaves you wanting to come back again and try your luck!
6. Ring of Kerry Golf & Country Club, Greenane, Ireland
This hybrid golf course features a mix of parkland and heathland terrain and has a links-like feel to it. If you happen to be in Ireland or you’re not against traveling to find great golf, it’s absolutely worth a round at this course near Killarney.
It’s a challenging course, featuring exciting elevation changes throughout and water on a number of holes, enhancing the experience by adding an element of challenge that requires concentration and strategy.
The 13th and 14th holes are considered the signature holes of this course. “An Neiden”, the par-3 13th, begins with an elevated tee and is played down to a water-guarded green with a severe left-to-right slope. In contrast, “Tahilla”, the par-4 14th, plays uphill along a doglegged, sloping, narrowing fairway to a bunker-protected green.
Even if you’re used to playing courses with wild elevation changes, take care to stay focused here. Every hole boasts stunning panoramic views over Kenmare Bay, and it’s known as one of the most scenic courses in the country. Enjoy the beauty, but don’t get distracted!
7. West Cliffs Resort, Vau Portugal
Located practically on the beach, the West Cliffs Golf Course is a spectacular place to spend a few hours swinging your golf clubs. The dramatic layout looks out onto the Atlantic, with views of the Berlengas Islands and Óbidos Lagoon.
Don’t let the superb views take up too much of your thoughts, though, because you need strategic thinking and concentration to get a good score on this course. The holes are routed around the natural landscape, giving it a raw and untouched feeling, like you’re playing on the original hills and dips of the coastal terrain. And of course, the coastal wind is always a factor.
The links-style involves plenty of rolling fairways, spacious and undulating greens, and numerous bunkers, some of which are completely natural and others that have been carefully placed to offer a test of your skills.
It’s a tough and unforgiving course, so beginners might not enjoy the experience. But experienced golfers will love the test. It’s located about an hour away from Lisbon, but if you book a stay-and-play package and take an extra golf shirt, you can play two rounds in two days.
8. Ambassador Golf Club, Windsor, Ontario, Canada
If you’re looking for a great round of golf for a very reasonable price in Canada, the Ambassador Golf Club should be your choice. This gem is located in Windsor, Ontario, a little out of the way, but it’s worth a trip if you’re looking for a fun, links-style course to spend a morning at.
The course is one of the flattest you’ll find, but it’s been designed in such a way that the gameplay is far from boring. Gently rolling fairways, contoured greens, and strategically-located sand traps present an interesting challenge.
Its signature hole is the 15th, a drivable par-4 with a risk/reward element. A subtle dogleg to the left is flanked by a long bunker and a water hazard on its left-hand side. The right-hand side of the hole is also dotted with bunkers, making this a hole that requires strategy and precision.
You’ll find a tricky trio in the 5th, 6th, and 7th holes. The 5th is the shortest par-3 on the course, but don’t let that fool you. Large bunkers surround the green and the wind can wreak havoc on elevated shots. Keep the ball down to get a good score here!
Hole 6 is the hardest of the course. It’s a par 4 with a risk/reward style layout, leading to a well-protected, tiered green. The 7th is easier and sports an amazing view over the whole course from the elevated tees.
9. Kemer Golf & Country Club, Istanbul, Turkey
This course is situated in the foothills of the Istranca Mountains, in the Belgrade Forest. The result is a lovely, intimate-feeling golf course, with a keen sense of being out in nature and away from the city scenery. It’s the headquarters for the Turkish PGA, so it’s kept to the highest standards. Each hole feels like a world of its own, surrounded by dense forest which means wayward shots will be lost or punished!
Doglegs are commonplace, with light undulations throughout the fairways and a light scattering of bunkers. Water hazards are few, but when they do appear, they add an element of excitement to the hole. Holes number 7 is a tricky par-5 that features a long, winding stream that comes into play twice. It has a subtle double dogleg and the curvy fairways make it more of a test.
Another exciting hole is the par-4 14. It has a late dogleg to the left, requiring a water carry to get to the green, which is fast, contoured, and guarded by two bunkers.
10. Tower Links Golf Club, Ras al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates
You may not expect to find a great round of golf in the United Arab Emirates, but Tower Links is an extremely worthwhile visit if you’re in the area.
A mix between a desert-style and a parkland course, Tower Links offers enough challenge for golfers of all levels but is a true championship course from the back tees. You’ll need to have your head in the game from the very start because each hole requires thought and careful precision.
Water is prevalent throughout the course, so you’ll need to stay true from the tee box. Other exciting and possibly frustrating hazards include uniquely-shaped and carefully-placed bunkers, a couple of blind tee shots, and mangrove trees that can snap your ball up if you go off course.
Hole number 8 is the longest par-3 in the Emirates and features water and tricky bunkers. The 18th presents an opportunity for an eagle if you’re willing to take the risk but can also leave you with a double bogey if you aren’t precise. Floodlights fully light the first nine holes, so the opportunity for a late afternoon/evening round is there if you want to try something unique.
Featured Image Credit: Branson Convention and Visitors Bureau.