Golf is a very popular sport all around the world with millions of people playing it and tens of millions of fans watching the broadcasts. While it may have originated in Scotland centuries ago, it has since spread to many other countries. Each of them now has its own unique golf culture and traditions with players taking great pride in it all.
In this article, we will take a closer look at some of the countries where golf is the most popular, perhaps among the most popular sport in general, and delve deeper into what makes it such a beloved pastime. For those among you who like traveling, these would be the best golfing destinations on the planet.
The United States
A very sports-oriented country in general, there are a few sports Americans do not care about. The United States is home to some of the world’s most famous golf courses, mainly including Augusta National, Pebble Beach, and Pinehurst. It is also the birthplace of some of the most legendary golfers such as Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods. Golf is a popular sport in the US with millions of people playing the game each year. The PGA Tour, which hosts professional golf tournaments nationwide, is headquartered in Florida. It is also a very popular leisure and socializing activity with numerous clubs.
Scotland is considered the birthplace of golf. The sport has been played there for more than half a millennium. The country is home to some of the world’s oldest and most prestigious, and most popular golf courses led by the legendary St. Andrews. This is widely regarded as the “home of golf.” Scotland is also where the first-ever Open Championship was held all the way back in 1860, making it the oldest of golf’s four major tournaments. Basically, if you care about the sport, there is no place better to visit than Scotland.
Strange to some, especially those in the West, golf is hugely popular in Japan with an estimated 14 million golfers across the country. It is actually so big that it is a common pastime among businesspeople with many companies having golf courses for employees. Japan has also produced some successful professional golfers like Hideki Matsuyama and Ryo Ishikawa for example. Like everything else, the Japanese take golfing very seriously and have a very methodical, respectful, and disciplined approach to it.
South Korea has quickly become a powerhouse in the world of women’s golf mostly thanks to athletes like Park In-bee, Kim Sei-young, and Ko Jin-young dominating the LPGA Tour in recent years. Golf is a popular sport among the South Korean people with thousands of golf courses across the country. The country has also hosted several high-profile professional tournaments like the CJ Cup and the KPGA Championship. With Japan, it is a great example of how far-reaching the sport has become in recent times as the two countries lead the Asian continent in this game.
As you can see, the English-speaking world has a fondness for golf. The Aussies love the trends that hail from Europe, especially the British Isles, so naturally, they care about golf. Golf is a popular sport in Australia with many world-class golf courses there. Two of the biggest include the Royal Melbourne and the New South Wales Golf Club. The country has produced several successful professional golfers including Adam Scott, Jason Day, and Greg Norman. The Australian Open is a prime event on the professional golf circuit.
Like Scotland, and due to the proximity to the birthplace of the game, Ireland has a rich golfing history and is home to some of the world’s most famous courses. The Royal Portrush and Ballybunion are two of the most prestigious and famous. The country has produced several successful professional golfers too, including Padraig Harrington and currently one of the best players in the world, Rory McIlroy. Ireland also hosts the Irish Open, a popular event on the European Tour. If you ever plan a trip to Scotland for nothing but golfing reasons, make sure to stop by Ireland as well.
7 Must-Visit Golf Destinations
So those were the countries, but what about actual destinations like courses and clubs? Following are the most prime destinations and therefore must-visit places for golf enthusiasts:
1. St. Andrews, Scotland
St. Andrews, the “home of golf”, is a must-visit destination for any golf enthusiast no matter how serious or skilled. The town is home to the famous Old Course, played on for over 600 years. The course is also where the Open Championship has been held more times than any other course. Basically, it is the Mecca of golf.
2. Pebble Beach, California
There are many reasons to go to Cali, right? Well, Pebble Beach is one of the most iconic golf courses in the United States so it is great for golfers too. located on the Monterey Peninsula in California, it is a must-see course that offers stunning ocean views and challenging holes. This is definitely a favorite among golfers who demand good scenery and pleasant weather whenever they play. Pebble Beach has hosted several major championships including the US Open and the PGA Championship.
3. Augusta National Golf Club, Georgia
Augusta National Golf Club is home to the Masters Tournament, one of golf’s four major championships. The course is known for its beautiful landscaping and challenging holes, including the infamous “Amen Corner.” If you are serious about your game and want to play against great competition, this is where you will find them any time you come.
4. Royal County Down Golf Club, Northern Ireland
Royal County Down is a championship links course known for its stunning scenery. Except for great golfing potential, it offers stunning views of the Mountains of Mourne and the Irish Sea. Like most on the list, this course has hosted several prestigious tournaments as well, including the Irish Open and the Walker Cup.
5. Cape Kidnappers, New Zealand
Cape Kidnappers is a unique golf destination located on the North Island of New Zealand. Do not worry about the name. The only thing getting kidnapped will be your time and good fun! The course is perched on top of 400-foot cliffs, with amazing views of the great Pacific Ocean. It is quite a challenging course designed by the legendary golf course architect Tom Doak. A distant destination worth every penny.
6. Mission Hills Golf Club, China
We mentioned Japan, we talked about South Korea. However, one of the top places for golfing in Asia, and the world, is China. Mission Hills Golf Club is actually the largest golf club in the world with 12 courses designed by the biggest names in golf like Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman. The club has hosted several professional tournaments so far, mainly the World Cup of Golf and the Asian Amateur Championship.
7. Sun City Resort, South Africa
We must not forget about the scenic and breathtaking continent of Africa. Sun City Resort in South Africa is home to two championship golf courses, the Gary Player Country Club and the Lost City Golf Course. The courses have a lot in store including majestic views of the South African landscape with opportunities to spot wildlife right on the course. Sun City has hosted several big tournaments like the Nedbank Golf Challenge.
Michael is a former professional golfer turned prolific writer who brings his love for the game and a sharp wit to FloridaEliteGolfTour.com. With years spent on the green and behind the desk, He has a knack for turning complex golf strategies into digestible advice, making his articles as entertaining as a hole-in-one on a par five.