To a Tee

by Edward Wilkinson-Latham

Travel Editor

SHARP Magazine

Golf has been described as nothing but a man with a stick in his hand, hitting a small ball towards a hole, but what man could ask for more? Known as ‘the great game’ golf is a sport that unites all nations of the world and the only one where you can get away with wearing tartan trousers and yellow turtleneck. With golf courses popping up everywhere from Papua New Guinea to Nunavut, here are some of the most stunning courses in the world which you could ever hope to swing on and shout FORE!

CYPRESS POINT GOLF CLUB, PEBBLE BEACH, CALIF. USA (PRIVATE CLUB)

Cypress Point in Monterey California is an exclusive private club and residential community with lots of high-end motors in the car park and excessive cashmere in the clubhouse. Ranked the most spectacular scenic golf course in the world. Cypress was formerly the course used for the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, last doing so in 1991 and is part of the renowned Pebble Beach complex, which owns six other public and private 18-hole golf courses in the 17-mile area. It was designed in 1928 by the famed golf course architect Alister MacKenzie and marries all the best characteristics of the game with stunning topography. With a rating of 72.4 and a slope of 136 on blue grass, it starts off through the dunes, leading you over rolling links to long par 5's through the evergreens, before the course ambles down to the awesome craggy fingers of the coastline and dramatic vistas of the Pacific Ocean. Fringed with palm trees, prime forest and views of the Santa Lucia Mountains the course is also home to an abundance of wildlife such as deer, sea otters and eagles that can be easily seen from the fairways. The three signature holes, 14-17 are what the course is best known for, the 115 par 3, 15 the most breathtaking. A birdie or par is possible as long as you have the ocean behind you, but the 16th tee is a daunting 220 yard par 3, hitting over the ocean to an elevated green. If you do manage to get a game, you will have time to enjoy it since unlike other course near by that have large groups teeing of from dawn till dusk, at the Cypress course you might only see one or two groups on the course at one time. It is unsurprising that this club has attracted many celebrity golfers over the decades, including comedy’s ambassador to the sport, Bob Hope who once summed up the club by saying, "One year they had a big membership drive at Cypress. They drove out 40 members." Hope paid his club fees for over 40 years, but admitted he played there only a half-dozen times. The club is owned today in part by director Clint Eastwood and members range from actors, studio bosses and the odd retired astronaut. You’ll need to be well heeled because the green fees are amongst the most expensive in the world, at $495 (plus $25 cart fee for non-resort guests) per round. PRIVATE CLUB. Green Fees: US$495 (plus $25 cart fee for non-resort guests) T: +831 624 2223

KAURI CLIFFS, KERIKERI, NZ

Perhaps the award for the most beautiful and dramatic golf course in the southern hemisphere should go to Kauri Cliffs, located on the northeast coast of New Zealand. Perched on two hundred and fifty foot cliffs with 180 degrees panoramic sea views the Pacific Ocean, the par 72-championship golf course measuring 7,119 yards offers five sets of tees boxes from 5,200 to 7,100 yards to challenge every skill level. Designed by David Harman, with wide fairways and large fair greens, fifteen of the holes play along three ridges that run parallel to the Pacific Ocean, six of which are played right alongside dramatic cliffs. The beautiful inland holes wind through marsh, forest and farmland with a fantastical backdrop of snow capped mountains. Truly one of the world's most picturesque courses it’s also a good challenge given the sea winds and some tricky dogleg contours. At Kauri Cliffs you will also find eight luxuriously appointed cottages, each containing two private suites, set into the hillside, with views over the course and out to sea. Amenities include two Astroturf tennis courts, an infinity swimming pool with spa and a fully equipped fitness centre. There are also three private swimming beaches available for picnics and barbecues.Green Fees: NZ$ 300-400 T:+64 9 407 0010 www.kauricliffs.com

AUGUSTA NATIONAL GA. USA

Every pro or aspiring amateur golfer dreams of one day putting on the green blazer that signifies the exclusive club membership to the Augusta National Golf Club. The Masters Championship has been played here since its conception in 1934, one of the four major annual championships in men's professional golf. The 18-hole course was originally designed by Donald J. Ross and was inspired by St Andrews in Scotland with wide fairways and a lack of bunkers, but over the years many changes. Traditionally, Bermuda grass throughout, the greens were changed to bent grass in 1981, resulting in a significantly faster surface. At 6,771 yards, from the longest tees for a par of 72, the course rating is 73.5 with a slope rating of 134. Generally regarded as the most revered golf course on the PGA Tour, the course is known for its crisp emerald greens and contrasting white sand traps, fringed with shrubs and deciduous forest that bloom during the Masters Competition in April. The club has 300 members at any given time and is strictly by invitation only, with an annual membership fee ranging between $25,000 and $50,000. Although there are no female members there are female caddies, the most well known being Fanny Sunesson who was the regular caddy for Nick Faldo throughout the 1990’s. PRIVATE CLUB. www.augusta.com

HUALALAI GOLF CLUB HAWAII USA

The Four Seasons Resort at Hualalai on the Big Island of Hawaii is an amazing resort that beckons a bygone age, with classic Polynesian style architecture and white sand beaches fringed with palm trees. The Hualalai Golf Club has been designed with tasteful precision and an admirable sensitivity to the land. The 18-hole Jack Nicklaus signature course of Bermuda grass winds over 7,117 yards. A lush oasis of brilliant green fairways is contoured against black lava and the bright blue ocean, where the finishing holes truly capture the majesty of this island paradise. The longest tees rate at a par of 72, while the course rating is 73.7 with a slope of 131. Opened in 1996, the Hualalai Golf Club is the home of the annual MasterCard Senior PGA Championship Tournament and has a practice area including a 12-station driving range, three target greens, a putting green and a chipping green with sand bunker. After a round enjoy the award winning 15,000 square-foot Sports Club and Spa. Green Fees US$250. T: 808 325 8000 www.hualalairesort.com

BANFF SPRINGS GOLF, ALBERTA CANADA

When you first see the immense Banff Springs Hotel surrounded by snow capped mountains and swathes of green forest it seems like some sort of Bavarian Schloß or Baron’s retreat. A luxurious former railway hotel located in the Banff National Park, its unique blend of opulence and seclusion has been a symbol of Rocky Mountain magnificence for more than a century and some have suggested it may have been the inspiration for the Overlook Hotel in Stephens King’s horror novel, The Shining. Located amongst pristine wilderness the 6,642 yards, 18 hole Banff Springs golf course is considered to be one of the best in Canada and certainly is number one for most imposing as you tee off to views of the towering snow-capped peaks of Sulphur Mountain and Mount Rundle. The course winds along the Bow River and is characterized by wide open greens and wildlife that abounds around its fairways, The glory hole is the 4th; a 192-yard, par-3 dubbed Devils Cauldron and from the elevated tee the fairway runs across a glacial pond dotted with huge boulders, backed by a 1000-meter sheet of rock. Perhaps this is why this par 71 course has been ranked as one of the top 100 holes in the world. Green Fees: CN$149 - $219 May – October. T: +403 762 6801 www.fairmont.com/banffsprings www.banffspringsgolfclub.com

WESTIN TURNBERRY, AYRSHIRE, SCOTLAND

Surrounded by breathtaking coastal views of the Isle of Arran, the Firth of Clyde and the Irish Sea, you can see why Celtic Chieftains chose to be buried on the west coast of Scotland. The Scottish King, Robert the Bruce built his castle here and you can find the ruins on the 9th hole of The Ailsa Course, part of the Westin Turnberry Golf Resort. It lays crumpled beside the lighthouse, but you might not need the distraction, faced with a 454-yard, par-4 monster while you try to stand still in a gale force wind and hit the ball up to one of the highest points of the course. Most of the tees are elevated whereas a lot of the fairways are down sheltered amongst the dunes and the undulations make precision a challenge when coupled with the toying wind patterns. The closing holes head towards the magnificent Turnberry Hotel and Clubhouse, host to three dramatic Open Championships that made legends of Nick Price, Greg Norman and Tom Watson. Host to the 2009 championship, the course is open to the public before then so grab your tartan golfing trousers and take the opportunity to play on this unique and prestigious par 69 course. Green Fees: £65-£130 Jan-Dec. T: +1655 333991 www.turnberry.co.uk

CAP CANA DOMINCAN REPUBLIC

The Punta Espada at the luxurious Cap Cana resort in the Dominican Republic is a Jack Nicklaus Signature Course and is named after the coastline’s resemblance to the tip of a sword. The 6,200 acres, 7,382 yard-long 18-hole course utilizes the natural features of its challenging topography and eight of the holes lie directly alongside the ocean. Bluffs, beach and jungle are constant companions on this modern Caribbean classic, the most memorable being the 249-yard, par-3 13th, which features a dramatic, Cypress Point-like carry over the Atlantic. The spacious clubhouse, library, and pro shop are surrounded by gardens and palm trees, as part of the billion-dollar-plus brand new, 37,000-acre resort and residential development at Cap Cana making it the most important real-estate project in the Caribbean today. Spread over three miles of beachfront on the southeast coast south of Punta Cana it will be host to The PGA’s Champions Tour this year, a 54-hole stroke-play tournament with a 78-player field. Greens Fees: US$320 until May, US$220 from June to October. T:1 809 955 9501 www.capcana.com

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