Above Par

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Is there a better way to spend the day than on a stunning golf course under the sun? These courses will capture your attention, thanks to gorgeous settings, top-tier accommodations and exhilarating designs. From Ireland to Thailand to the U.S. and more, golf courses are now found in 85 percent of the countries around the world. The question isn’t whether people are playing the game, it’s where to play the game.

Old Head Golf Links – County Cork, Ireland

Fascinating history, Ireland’s culture, and a great round of golf are all rolled into one at this truly extraordinary setting for a golf course. The 220- acre piece of land is shaped like a diamond and stretches out two miles over the Atlantic Ocean. It can almost be called an island with numerous caverns and splashing waves just below the course. “The links and practice area occupy 180 acres, and the remaining 40 acres of unspoiled cliffs frame the course,” says Brent Dornford, the marketing director at Old Head Golf Links.

Located on the South West Coast of Ireland, as the incredible brainchild of the late John O’Connor and his brother Patrick, the club has developed into one of the most recognized and sought-after golf experiences anywhere on Earth, according to Dornford. The headland has been home to countless lighthouses, some of which can still be seen along the golf course, and was once grazed by sheep and cattle before it became an unforgettable destination for players. “Old Head has been a significant landmark throughout Irish history,” says Dornford. “In 1993, the course began to be built, and in 1997, the links were opened for play, becoming a part of global golfing history that will be forever admired.”

Nature and Ireland’s culture are ruling forces that can be felt throughout the course with every swing. The waves that are crashing against the cliffs, along with ocean views on both sides are enough to make this course a challenging favorite. “Nine holes play along the cliff tops with all 18 holes providing unsurpassed ocean views,” says Dornford. “With the ever-changing sea breezes, the course provides a stern but fair test to the touring pro and the high handicapper alike.”

Though the setting of the course alone was enough to skyrocket Old Head Golf Links to the top of many golfers’ bucket lists, the collaboration of designers takes it to a new level. “The course was designed and constructed by a unique team, Ron Kirby, the late Eddie Hackett, the late Dr. Joe Carr — Ireland’s most successful international amateur golfer, Paddy Merrigan, Liam Higgins, and finally, Haulie O’Shea,” according to Dornford

Amata Spring Country Club — Chonburi, Thailand

Photo Credit |Richard Castka/Sportpixgolf.com

The Amata Spring Country Club in Chonburi can be found on the eastern coast of Thailand, but it is well worth the travel for a chance to play on this championship-level course. According to Mike Mckenna, the Deputy General Manager of the Amata Spring Country Club, “we pride ourselves on world-class service and golf course conditions to match. The property’s infrastructure was strategically designed to host such events, inviting the world’s best to test their game around the distinct design.” The exclusive private club boasts an 18- hole course that was designed by architect Lee Schmidt from Schmidt-Curley Design. No detail, small or large, was overlooked in the design or accommodations. In 2005, the club was established with hopes of creating one of the finest facilities in Thailand and has since staged some well-known championships. “Amata Spring delivers it all,” says Mckenna. “The tranquility of the rolling fairways and water features make this an experience like no other.” Fascinating history, Ireland’s culture, and a great round of golf are all rolled into one at this truly extraordinary setting for a golf course. Perhaps one of the most notable aspects of the course is the 17th hole. The floating green, known as The Island Green, is only accessible by boat. The par-3 hole was designed to challenge players, but also offer guests an opportunity to experience the beauty of the course’s setting. According to Mckenna, “we have Asia’s only floating green and only the second floating green in the world. The 17th hole is surrounded by water.” Unsurprisingly, this unique attraction makes the Amata Spring Country Club truly unforgettable. With the idea of luxury always in mind, the Amata Spring Country Club has some changes underway. “Our Club prides itself on its hospitality and club life, making our members and guests feel relaxed and at home throughout the property,” says McKenna. “On the golf course, we have made significant changes to the landscape areas to improve the visual aspect of the course.”

Pebble Beach Golf Links — Pebble Beach, California

Photo Credit | Evan Schiller

“Pebble Beach has been rated the greatest public golf course in America by Golf Digest since its rankings came out in 2003. It hosted its sixth U.S. Open in 2019 and will stage its first U.S. Women’s Open in 2023,” according to a Pebble Pebble Beach Golf Links — Pebble Beach, California Beach representative.  Since officially opening in February 1919, the course has come a long way offering the Pebble Beach Golf Academy, a short course opening in 2021, and much more. Players are likely to catch some ocean spray at hole seven where the wind largely becomes a factor. Hole 17 boasts a challenging and iconic hourglass-shaped green. Hole five was designed by Jack Nicklaus and opened in 1998, while hole eight has been said to be his favorite approach shot in all of golf, according to Pebble Beach Golf Links. Although players may never want to leave the course, there’s also a scenic 17-mile drive along dramatic coastal cliffs with views of pristine beaches and mystical forests to enjoy as well. A large part of the game is the connection to the outdoors, which Pebble Beach embraces and encourages throughout the resort.

Terravista Golf Course — Porto Seguro, Brazil

Terravista is a jewel to be discovered in South American Brazil, in a country known only for its ability in football,” says Carlo Filippo Lovatell, the president of Terravista Golf Course, which offers players the chance to play right on Brazilian cliffs. The Terravista project started in November 2000 and continues to draw players of all skill levels from around the world.

The 18-hole course that is located on the cliffs of Trancoso in southern Bahia was designed by the American Golf Architect, Dan Blankenship. The project, which began in 2004, was carefully constructed to offer two entirely different courses. The first round, holes one to nine, are a part of the Atlantic Forest, while the second round, holes 10 to 18, are closer to the beach with four holes on the cliffs, where wind challenges even the most skilled players. “It is a dynamic golf course, where the player can enjoy the rainforest scenery and soon after, the view of the sea and cliffs. Challenging greens and wide fairways entertain and test all kinds of golf players,” according to Lovatell.

A favorite among players and other guests is hole 14, which has been considered a postcard of golf in Brazil, surrounded by natural beauty. Lovatell explains that it is “an impressive par-3 where you must cross the 40-meter cliff from one side to the other to reach the green. Unforgettable!”


By Marlene Ridgway This article originally appeared in Homes & Estates

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