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Do You Dream About Playing These Golf Courses

By: | Wed 17 Apr 2024

I am happy to hold up my hands and admit that I am a golf geek. I love playing the game and I love watching it, both in the flesh and on TV.

Life has been pretty good to me in terms of allowing me to play some of the best courses on the planet, but when I sit at home watching coverage of the PGA Tour and DP World Tour it often gets my juices flowing when I see courses that I would love to play.

Let’s just take it as read that Augusta National would be on my list and move on.

Here are some of my favourites:

TPC Sawgrass

TPC Sawgrass

The home of the Players Championship (and the PGA Tour) is a course that I actually should have played. Some years ago I won the PGA Tour fantasy golf competition - the prize included two rounds at Sawgrass. Sadly, I hadn’t read the rules properly - although I was able to enter the competition I was not eligible to win it because I do not live in the USA. Some days I can go 20 minutes without thinking about that near-miss! But seriously, what golfer would not want to stand on that 17th tee and see how many balls they hit in the water at the island green before finally finding the putting surface?

Pebble Beach

I have actually played this iconic venue - and it was everything that I hoped it would be. They describe it as a public course, but trust me when I tell you it is unlike any public course we have in the UK. For me, the most iconic hole and the one I most wanted to experience is the par-five 18th. With the Pacific Ocean on the left, waves crashing over the breakwater, and that tree in the middle of the fairway, it is one of the best golf holes I have ever played. And it's a hole that stops you in your tracks as you take it all in and think about all the legends who have walked it before you.

Torrey Pines

The venue for the Farmers Insurance Open hosted the 2008 US Open. That’s the tournament that Tiger Woods won on a broken leg, needing 91 holes to see off Rocco Mediate. And in the February of that same year I was lucky enough to spend two weeks in California (it was the same holiday when I was able to play Pebble Beach). It is another public golf course. But at what public course is your name announced when your tee-time is due? Once again, the hole that lives with me to this day is the par-five 18th with a green that slopes sharply from back to front and is guarded by a lake.

Harbour Town

Harbour Town

Is there a more beautiful course or a more perfect setting anywhere in the world? The RBC Heritage is my favourite golf tournament that isn’t a major and that is entirely because of the golf course on which it is played, with the iconic red and white lighthouse in the background. This is a picture-perfect golf course. The fairways are narrow, the bunkers are "proper" and the greens are small - and all of that means that this is a golf course that does not suit bombers. You need to plot your way around here to do well, which makes me wonder how on earth Jordan Spieth was ever able to win the RBC.

TPC Scottsdale

What’s not to love about the venue for the Waste Management Phoenix Open? Who wouldn’t want to play that par-three 16th hole, with 20,000 fans looking on and baying for blood? Erm, yours truly. But I would love to play that golf hole in the company of three close friends and imagine exactly how the pros feel when they step onto that hole knowing they are going to be loudly booed if they dare miss the putting surface!

Quail Hollow

Host course to the Wells Fargo Championship and another venue that is simply iconic. This is where Rory McIlroy won his first PGA Tour event. Having narrowly avoided missing the 36-hole cut, he shots rounds of 66 and 62 at the weekend to beat a demoralised Phil Mickelson by four shots. A bit like Harbour Town, Quail Hollow is a course that rewards golfers who find the fairway and can hit the right areas on its potentially treacherous greens.

Muirfield Village

The course that Jack Nicklaus built is an absolute masterpiece and The Memorial Tournament is always one of the best on the PGA Tour schedule. There is no one particular hole that sticks in my mind. The thing with Muirfield Village is that in tournament conditions it offers a brutal test. For the life of me, I cannot understand why it has not hosted the US Open. The rough is thick and punishing, the greens are like greased lightning - and it has brought many of the world’s best players to their knees.

Bay Hill

If Jack’s tournament is a classic on the annual schedule then the Arnold Palmer Invitational surely runs it a pretty close second. Water, trees, rough, bunkers - Bay Hill, home to the Arnold Palmer Invitational, has the lot. If you have any designs on a decent score here don’t bother turning up without your A-game and ability to be able to hit every shot in the book. If I tell you that Tiger Woods won this tournament eight times during his storied career it may give you some idea of how difficult this course can be. But wouldn’t you just love to find out how your game would stack up here?

Kiawah Island

The USA doesn’t have many true links courses but this Pete Dye monster comes pretty close, featuring lots of dunes, tons of sand and firm and fast-running fairways. Being a Dye course, of course it isn’t a traditional links but it is a course I would love to play. This is where Phil Mickelson won the 2021 US PGA Championship to become the oldest man ever to win a professional major at the age of 50 - if Lefty can play well here, I take consolation in the belief that I could probably also make a decent fist of it.


I have played a number of fine courses in Spain but Valderrama remains on my bucket list. It has hosted many DP World Tour events but is probably most famous for the 1997 Ryder Cup, won by Europe under the eccentric captaincy of the legendary Seve Ballesteros. The hole I really want to tackle is the 17th, which is a classic par five. For the mere mortals among us, this is a genuine three-shotter and the approach would have most of us trembling in our golf shoes. It is played across water to a green that slopes sharply from back to front. Find the bunker at the back of the green and you face the prospect of a shot that is almost certainly going to run all the way down the putting surface into the water.

Crans sur Sierre

Crans sur Sierre

Is there a more beautiful golf course anywhere in the world? Home to the European Masters, it is set to the backdrop of the Swiss Alps and the view on each and every hole is breathtaking. Not long by modern standards, the high altitude means that your golf ball will fly further here. Most of the fairways are lined by towering pine trees, the greens are undulating thanks to a Seve Ballesteros redesign in the 1990s, but this is a course on which the average club golfer just might have a chance to produce a half-decent score.

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