Golf World Top 100: Best Golf Resorts in the World – 10-1

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What are the best golf resorts in the world? The Golf World Top 100 panel ranks and rates the best golfing getaways on planet earth in our inaugural list.

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You can find out who is on the panel that ranks the courses and the criteria we use to mark them, along with answers to the FAQs we receive around the Golf World Top 100s and the courses that were in the running for the continental Europe list by clicking here.

And before you start planning your world golf tour, be sure to check out our guides to Europe’s best coursesbest new golf courses and the continent’s best golf resorts.

Of course, if you’re not much of a traveller (and who has been for the last two years), we’ve also got your covered with rankings of the best courses in EnglandScotlandIreland and Wales, along with the best linksmost fun coursesbest courses you can play £60 and less and the best golf resorts in Great Britain and Ireland.

But now, let’s reveal the top 10 best golf resorts in the world.

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Golf World Top 100: Best Golf Resorts in the World – 10-1

Terre Blanche is one of the best golf resorts in the world.

10. Terre Blanche

Nice, France

Courses 30 Accommodation 20 Amenities 20 Setting 18 Total 88

The only entry in the top 10 without a World Top 100 course among its attractions. Continental Europe’s No.1 resort has two terrific courses though, and they are backed up by high-class accommodation, a wealth of amenities and a delightfully tranquil setting. Terre Blanche ticks all the boxes.

Cabot Cliffs is one of the best golf resorts in the world.

9. Cabot Cliffs

Nova Scotia, Canada

Courses 38 Accommodation 18 Amenities 12 Setting 20 Total 88

Canada’s top resort is in the top 10 on the back of two World Top 100 courses. Cabot Cliffs by Coore-Crenshaw is No. 22 and Cabot Links by Rod Whitman, Coore’s right-hand man, is No.45. Both enjoy a breathtaking Cape Breton setting. Chic Golf Villas and Lodge Rooms. Limited amenities.

Kiawah Island is one of the best golf resorts in the world.

8. Kiawah Island

South Carolina, USA

Courses 36 Accommodation 18 Amenities 16 Setting 19 Total 89

We think you’ll agree the strength in depth of this top 10 is crazy. Another South Carolina entry, this time the 1991 Ryder Cup and 2021 US PGA host. It boasts 242 rooms and 13 suites, 400 villas, five courses headlined by World Top 100 entry the Ocean, fitness, spa, pool, tennis, and 15 restaurants and bars.

Barnbougle Dunes is one of the best golf resorts in the world.

7. Barnbougle Dunes

Tasmania, Australia

Courses 38 Accommodation 17 Amenities 14 Setting 20 Total 89

There are two bucket-list courses here – Barnbougle Dunes by Tom Doak and Mike Clayton, and Lost Farm by Coore-Crenshaw – which are No.19 and 28 respectively in our World Top 100 ranking. Then there’s a fabulous new short course as well as a 50-room Lodge, located at Lost Farm, 22 two-bedroom cottages, and three four-bedroom, four-bathroom villas, each with its own large living room and kitchenette. There are also two-bedroom ocean villas. A Spa at Lost Farm and good dining lead the relatively limited amenities. This is mainly awesome golf, but worth every mile of the journey to Tasmania.

Streamsong is one of the best golf resorts in the world.

6. Streamsong

Florida, USA

Courses 39 Accommodation 17 Amenities 17 Setting 17 Total 90

It would have been a very worthy No.1, because its golf offering is sensational and it has at least as good accommodation and better amenities than Bandon. Streamsong comprises one hotel, three World Top 100 courses, four restaurants, spa, fishing, clay-shooting, archery, pool. Tempting, isn’t it?

Pebble Beach is one of the best golf resorts in the world.

5. Pebble Beach

Pebble Beach, USA

Courses 37 Accommodation 19 Amenities 15 Setting 20 Total 91

You think it is all about that course, but it isn’t. Pebble Beach has under its umbrella three hotels, with 492 rooms and suites in total, five courses (Pebble, Spanish Bay, Spyglass Hill, Del Monte and a nine-hole par 3), 10 restaurants, a spa, hiking/biking trails, and equestrian centre. No.5 feels low.

Trump Turnberry is one of the best golf resorts in the world.

4. Turnberry

Ayrshire, Scotland

Courses 36 Accommodation 18 Amenities 18 Setting 20 Total 92

An entry that frankly needs little description, other than to say the overhauled Ailsa (by Martin Ebert) is a masterpiece and the King Robert the Bruce is also much improved. We gave it one of the highest golf marks, the setting is epic and the hotel is also hugely improved.

Pinehurst is one of the best golf resorts in the world.

3. Pinehurst

North Carolina, USA

Courses 40+2 Accommodation 18 Amenities 17 Setting 16 Total 93

Pinehurst has NINE courses and scores 93 yet isn’t even second on the list – that’s the mind-blowing quality at the top of this ranking. It’s a list of one resort after another you’d give anything to visit.

Its golf offering is akin to adding all the courses at Carnoustie to all those at Woburn to all those at Rosapenna. And they also have a fabulous nine-hole par 3 designed by Gil Hanse, The Cradle, which has quickly become a ‘must play’ part of any trip here. Like Bandon, it ‘broke’ our golf mark system.

Among the 18-holers, No.2 is in our World Top 100 at No.8, a Donald Ross design that was renovated by Coore-Crenshaw before the US Open won by Martin Kaymer. The anchor site for the US Open, it is simply a masterclass in course architecture.

Pinehurst is one of the best golf resorts in the world.

But it’s not just about No.2 – far from it. In fact some even think it might not even be the best course on the property. No.4, by Hanse, has its fans, as does No.1, where it all started in 1898. No.3, created by Donald Ross in 1910, is a fun, sporty course that has all of the great Scot’s design characteristics.

Away from the 171 holes, there are three hotels, condominiums, villas, six restaurants, spa, lawn sports, tennis, hiking/biking trails, fishing, fitness – as if you’ll have time for anything but golf!

And the hotels are top class. The Carolina has been dubbed the ‘Queen of the South’ and is a grand, century-old building with 230 rooms. A touch of class.

Gleneagles is one of the best golf resorts in the world.

2. Gleneagles

Perth, Scotland

Courses 36 Accommodation 20 Amenities 20 Setting 18 Total 94

Just three marks between Gleneagles and Bandon Dunes, yet they are so different in terms of what they offer. Of course Gleneagles has world-class golf of its own, with a World Top 100 entry (King’s), a GB&I Top 100 entry (Queen’s) and a Scottish Top 100 entry (PGA Centenary), but it can’t compete with Bandon for quality and quantity of course. Nowhere can.

Where Gleneagles becomes a much more attractive resort for many is in terms of its accommodation and non-golf amenities. There was never any doubt Gleneagles would earn top marks in both categories. The bedrooms and public rooms of the grand hotel are exquisite, mixing old-world character with new-age luxury and amenities. The bathrooms alone are an experience in themselves; even those of us who dwell only briefly on pampering will linger longer among the opulence of the retro bath, sleek shower, high-end toiletries and fluffiest of towels.

Gleneagles is one of the best golf resorts in the world.

The food has no peer, and regular readers will know we consider the breakfast at Gleneagles to be a bucket-list experience. Take your pick from the various watering holes, but take our advice and find time for at least one cocktail in The American Bar.

No resort in this ranking has more to do away from the course. There is gundog handling, archery, clay-pigeon  shooting, tennis, survival training, a spa and fitness centre, indoor and outdoor heated pools, off-road driving, horse riding, bike riding, fishing and many more we have forgotten.

But let’s not overlook the golf. In the James Braid-designed King’s and Queen’s it has two of Britain’s finest inland courses, courses that ooze enduring class and atmosphere. The King’s is the star, a World Top 100 course that has a perfect balance between challenge and enjoyment for club golfers. The Queen’s is a delight; playable and cute, a course you’d like to play time and again. And while the PGA Centenary is regarded as the No.3 here, that is very relative; it is a fixture in our Scottish Top 100 and a Ryder Cup host.

So, not the wealth of golf riches of Bandon, but for families and couples in particular, there is not a finer golf resort in the world. Very possibly the greatest No.2 we have had in all of our Top 100s. What a place.

Bandon Dunes is one of the best golf resorts in the world.

1. Bandon Dunes

Portland, USA

Courses 40 (+10) Accommodation 16 Amenities 12 Setting 19 Total 97

It had to be Bandon Dunes. With a staggering FOUR courses in our World Top 100 and the fifth a contender for that list, this golf Mecca in Oregon simply had to be our No.1 resort.

As our marking system indicates, we want resorts that offer more than just great golf, and while Bandon’s accommodation and especially non-golf amenities are limited compared to many in this list, four World Top 100 courses is simply bewildering. So much so that Mike Keiser’s resort broke our marking system. Scoring Bandon 40/40 for its courses would have meant scoring other resorts unflatteringly low to compensate. We’ve thus adapted Bandon’s marks, so the rest can look sensible.

The five 18-holers – by David McLay Kidd, Tom Doak (2), Bill Coore-Ben Crenshaw (2) – plus a brilliant 13-hole Par 3 are the reasons you fly to Oregon. There are two inns, 44 cottages, a massage centre, fishing and hiking. But this is all about the golf – and it is, in no uncertain terms, the greatest show on earth.

Read the full story of Bandon Dunes, here.

Bandon Dunes is the best golf resort in the world.

The Scotsman who started a dynasty: David McLay Kidd on his big Bandon Dunes break

My father was a greenkeeper and eventually estates manager at Gleneagles, so I was around golf all my life. I took a landscape architecture degree and worked a little in the industry before joining Gleneagles myself. They had been bought by Guinness, who decided they were going to spread the Gleneagles brand by creating more Gleneagles-inspired resorts all over the world; Gleneagles New York or Gleneagles Caribbean. They created a small team to start that process and I spent the next few years travelling the world, looking at different sites Guinness were buying or thinking of buying.

Gleneagles then decided not to build the 10 resorts they were planning and, towards the end of my time with Gleneagles Golf Development, through necessity we started to sell our services to third parties.

One of those services was me, as a course designer. And along came Mike Keiser who, strictly speaking, hired Gleneagles Golf Development to build Bandon Dunes. Every major design firm had looked at the land, but a friend of his, Rick Summers, who is a golf publisher on the East Coast and who also knew Ian Ferrier at Gleneagles, said, “Why don’t you hire a Scotsman to do this project?” He said, “I would if I could find any”. So that’s how we came to be in touch.

Golf course architect David McLay Kidd talks about his work at Bandon Dunes.

I went over to Bandon Dunes with my father for a week and then met Mike and I thought, he’s probably not going to hire me, so I was as blunt as a Scotsman can be. I said, “You’re going to build a pastiche, American-style course with cart paths and crass things. However, if you weren’t going to do that and were serious about building a links, these would be the fundamental things you would have to do. You’d have to make people walk, and keep the clubhouse away from the beach because the way the land is, the only way to get to the clubhouse would be to drive the access road through the course. No Scottish or Irish links would have that.

Anyway, Mike liked what he heard and must’ve thought I had something about me, so invited me back again. In the autumn of 1997 I started building it and was there every single day until it was finished. I had been indoctrinated with this Scottish golfing sensibility my entire life and, aged 27, I found myself building a links in America. So I was spewing forth that fairways had to be wide, bunkers had to be strategic not penal, greens had to look like they were seamless in the landscape.

Bandon Dunes is the best golf resort in the world.

Did I think it would become the Mecca it is today? When we were building Bandon Dunes, Mike mused as to whether to offer only Bud or include Bud Light, and whether there would only be cheeseburgers on the menu. The expectation was that there would be fewer than 10,000 rounds a year, so the amenities would be minimal. So I guess the answer is a ‘No’!

>>> The Best of the Best – the Top World 100 resorts analysed >>>

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chris Bertram, Golf World Top 100 Editor

Chris Bertram is the Golf World Top 100 Editor.

He was born and brought up in Dumfriesshire and has been a sports journalist since 1996, initially as a junior writer with National Club Golfer magazine.

Chris then spent four years writing about football and rugby union for the Press Association but returned to be Editor and then Publisher of NCG before joining Golf World and Today’s Golfer as Senior Production Editor.

He has been freelance since 2010 and when he is not playing and writing about the world’s finest golf courses, he works for BBC Sport.

A keen all-round sportsman, Chris plays off 11 – which could be a little better if it wasn’t for hilariously poor lag putting which has to be seen to be believed.

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