5 of the World’s Most Exclusive Golf CoursesLast Updated: August 1, 2020
Whether you regard golf as “a good walk spoiled” or the ultimate primer in developing a winning mindset, it can’t be denied that the courses on which it is played are things of beauty. The world’s most elite golf courses are places with elite admission prices and policies, but for anyone who plays the game, they’re prices worth paying, policies worth abiding by. Here are just five of the planet’s most exclusive courses.
The great golfing legend Jack Nicklaus offered a useful perspective on the most exclusive golf courses when he remarked: “Ask yourself how many shots you would have saved if you never lost your temper, never got down on yourself, always developed a strategy before you hit, and always within your own capabilities.”
Nicklaus’s implicit lesson is that the quality of the golf depends as much on temperament as it does on whether you are playing on one of the most exclusive golf courses or a humble municipal course.
It’s beyond doubt that the kinds of lessons Nicklaus claimed are there for the taking in golf make the sport such a big draw among entrepreneurs and high achievers.
But golf has phenomenal popular appeal too, and major economic impact. In the UK alone in 2016, the golf industry paid some £1bn in tax, while UK golfers spent a total of £4bn on the sport. The worldwide spend is phenomenal, with an unrelenting demand for everything from golf clubs to umbrellas; from polo shirts to balls and gloves.
While elite level golf has an elite, exclusive price tag too, it’s a price that anyone with more than a passing interest in the game is prepared to pay. For enthusiasts, golf is a zen state of mind, and the world’s most exclusive golf courses are the ultimate zen temples.
Here are 5 of the most exclusive golf courses in the world — they vary in their respective climatic conditions, scenery, and green fees, but for golfers, and the kinds of lessons Nicklaus says the game can teach us, they’re a character-building investment.
1. The Green Monkey, Sandy Lane, Barbados
Situated on the glittering west coast of Barbados, Sandy Lane, famous as a getaway for the rich and famous, boasts three golf courses. Among them is the one that every golfer in the world would like to play a round on—The Green Monkey, created by celebrated course designer Tom Fazio. However, golf at The Green Monkey is an ultra exclusive experience, and comes only as part of a package for guests staying at the resort. According to Investopedia, the most inexpensive suite at the resort costs $1,000/€875/£690 per day, with average green fees of $240/€210/£165. It’s likely that for the vast majority of golfers, a round at The Green Monkey will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
2. Shadow Creek, Las Vegas, Nevada, US
Like The Green Monkey, Shadow Creek is so exclusive that cameras are not allowed on the course. This is unsurprising, given that the fairways and greens are traversed by a veritable who’s-who of CEOs, celebrities, and, it’s rumoured, US Presidents and other world leaders. Here is a pretty good insider’s eye-view of the course, however—the club’s general manager, PGA professional Mark Brennerman gives ‘Golf Guru’ Dennis Silvers the lowdown on his favourite holes on the course, as well as details of some of the famous patrons who’ve played Shadow Creek over the years.
However, the good news is that there is a way for non-celebs to play the course, if you’re prepared to pay. The green fees cost a not entirely out of the question $500/€437/£345, which will buy you one of only the first two or final two tee times of the day; limousine service to and from the club (you cannot simply drive up and casually walk into the clubhouse); and a caddy. Shadow Creek, originally opened in 1989 in what was once the wilderness of the Mojave Desert on the outskirts of Las Vegas, is now snugly engirdled by the city’s suburban growth. But its exclusivity is almost unparalleled, offering a truly special experience for anyone with more than a passing interest in golf.
3. Old Head Golf Links, County Cork, Ireland
One of Ireland’s golfing jewels, Old Head was designed by Ron Kirby, Robert Trent Jones, and Jack Nicklaus. Its fairways and greens, situated close to and occasionally bringing into play the stunning cliffs and rugged Atlantic coastline, are exposed to gusts and breezes that amplify and already stiff challenge to even the world’s greatest golfers. Eighteen holes at Old Head in 2016 costs €160/£126/$182 during low season, and €240/£189/$274 at peak, and there is a flat year-round fee for rental of carts (€60/£47/$68) and clubs (€45/£35/$51). Caddy fees range from €35/£27/$39 to €50/£39/$57 per bag. Definitely one of the most exclusive and special rounds of golf available anywhere in Europe.
4. Trump Turnberry Resort, Ayrshire, Scotland
Turnberry has a mythical place in the hearts of golfers. It’s regarded as the birthplace of golf, and became a general household name after the epic 1997 Open Championship battle between golf legends Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson, forever after known as ‘The Duel in the Sun’.
Encompassing three courses, The Ailsa, The Kintyre and The Arran, situated on the Firth of Clyde, the Turnberry resort was purchased in 2014 by Donald J Trump (now President of the US) and there have been significant tweaks and improvements to the course and its facilities ahead of the Open Championship in June 2016. Although details of green fees are not available on the resort’s website, Investopedia has reported that a round on the famed ‘Duel in the Sun’ Ailsa course costs around $325/£224/€284.
5. Pebble Beach Golf Links, California, US
Pebble Beach Resorts, encompassing 5,300 acres of coastal lands between Carmel and Monterey in California, and five golf resorts, including Pebble Beach Golf Links, which most famously hosts the US Open. Interestingly, though, notwithstanding such elite cache, the Links course is open to the public. So, if golfing is your thing, it’s likely that Pebble Beach Golf Links will be a must-play. A round of golf at the Links costs $495/€433/£341 – $630/€551/£434 (the upper limit including the green fee, and optional caddie fee of $80/€70/£55 with suggested $35/€30/£24 to $55/€48/£37 gratuity). But for the true golfing fans, the asking price is well worth it. Here’s an appetite-whetting taster, as Chuck Dunbar, PGA Professional at the course, analyses the tricky par 3 seventh hole.