The ultimate bucket list of global golf courses

For some, the game of golf is typically associated with businessmen ‘sealing deals on the greens’, or retirees looking to stay active in their twilight years. However, due to the events of the past two years, the game has experienced somewhat of a resurgence amongst a variety of age groups and demographics in the midst of the global pandemic.
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A graphic which reads: Ultimate golf course bucket list

In 2020, 24.8 million US residents played on a golf course, an increase of 500,000 (and 2%) compared to 2019. What’s more, a record 3 million individuals in the states played the game for the first time last year.

If you're purchasing new golf clubs or booking a golfing trip abroad, and want to spread the cost without paying interest, you may want to consider a 0% interest credit card.

To help any beginners, as well as those with a lifelong passion for the sport, the team at have looked into the affordability, accessibility and social media presence of some of the most prestigious golf courses around the world.

Above par: The ultimate global golf courses 

A total of 53 golf courses around the world - all of which allow visitors and non-members to play, were analysed on a range of key factors aimed to determine the ultimate global golf courses. 

Golf Course map
Updated 13 October 2021
Golf CourseCountryTotal Score (/100)
1. Bethpage BlackUSA85.38
2. St Andrews (Old)Scotland82.7
3. Carnoustie (Championship)Scotland77.68
4. Pebble BeachUSA75.4
5. Bandon Dunes (Bandon Trails)USA74.24
6. Kiawah Island Resort (Ocean)USA62.7
7. St Enodoc (Church)England62.3
8. Sunningdale (New)England61.54
9. Royal Dornoch (Championship)Scotland60.4
10. Pinehurst (No.2)USA59.62
11. Castle StuartScotland58.46
12. Portmarnock (Championship)Republic of Ireland58.1
13. Cabot LinksCanada57.68
14. Cabot CliffsCanada57.3
15. Barnbougle DunesAustralia56.16
16. Royal Portrush (Dunluce)Northern Ireland55.76
17. TPC Sawgrass (Stadium)USA55.76
18. Victoria Golf ClubAustralia55.38
19. Woodhall Spa (Hotchkin)England54.24
20. Lahinch (Old)Republic of Ireland53.84

And the winner is....

With a score of 85.38/100, the course that scored the highest is the Bethpage Black course, located in Long Island, New York. Boasting a rich history, it was originally opened in 1936 and has twice been the home of the U.S Open Championships, in 2002 and 2009. With 21,938 hashtags relating to the course, as well as 33,884 check-ins on Facebook, it’s clear the course is hugely popular amongst members and visitors alike.

A round of golf at Bethpage Black will set visitors back approximately $65 (£47.41). 

Bethpage Black


Following closely behind in second place with a score of 82.7/100 is the world-famous St Andrews old course in Scotland, known for being the oldest golf course in the world. It’s only right that it ranks so highly, especially as the course is considered by many to be the ‘home of golf’ after first being played on in the early 15th century.

St Andrews (Old)


Rounding off the top three is another Scottish course - Carnoustie Championship - which scores 77.68/100. Carnoustie has hosted the British Open Championships no fewer than eight times, with the most recent being in 2018, and is recognised as the 10th oldest club in the world. 



Green fees: Which of the world’s best golf courses are the most affordable?

When you factor in the cost of high quality clubs, balls, clothing, club membership and competition fees, it’s fair to say that golf is one of the more expensive hobbies you can take up. 

So, considering how much of golfers' hard earned cash is already being put towards the sport, which of the world’s most famous courses charge the most affordable (and expensive) rates for a full eighteen holes?

Updated 13 October 2021
Golf courseApproximate cost of 18 holes
1. Bethpage Black£47.41
2. Barnbougle Dunes£70.96
3. Barnbougle Lost Farm£70.96
4. Kawana (Fuji)£77.69
5. West Sussex£85
6. Paraparaumu Beach£86.89
7. Ganton£90
8. Cabot Links£92.33
9. Royal Aberdeen (Balgownie)£95
10. St Enodoc (Church)£105

Playing at the world’s most lustworthy golf course doesn’t have to break the bank. Bethpage Black, which ranks top overall, is also the most affordable course of those analysed at just $65 (£47.41) on weekdays.

The second and third most affordable courses, at $134 AUD (£70.96) are the Barnbougle Dunes and Barnbougle Lost Farm courses, both located in Tasmania, Australia. Both courses have won multiple global awards and accolades, and offer up breathtaking views of Tasmania’s North-East coast. 

Barnbougle Dunes


The fourth most affordable course for golfers looking for a bargain is the Kawana Fuji Golf Course, one of the most famous in Japan, where a round costs ¥11,800 (£77.69). The beautiful course puts the rich natural features of the surrounding areas to use and is located within the grounds of the historic Kawana Hotel, which was first established in 1928. 

Kawana Golf


At the other end of the spectrum, the most expensive courses emerged as Ardfin in Scotland (£1,300), Pebble Beach in California (£419.49), and TPC Sawgrass in Florida, where a round of golf will set you back £400.36. 

Updated 13 October 2021
Golf courseApproximate cost of 18 holes
1. Ardfin£1,300.00
2. Pebble Beach£419.49
3. TPC Sawgrass (Stadium)£400.36
4. Whistling Straits (Straits)£350.54
5. Real Club Valderrama£341
6. Kiawah Island Resort (Ocean)£337.69
7. Pinehurst (No.2)£336
8. Kingsbarns£328.00
9. Trump Turnberry (Ailsa)£325
10. Kingston Heath£308

The most Instagrammed golf courses

In addition to working hard on reducing their handicap score, it’s only natural that golfers are inclined to take to their social platforms and share their journey among friends, family and like minded individuals with mutual interests in the game. 

In fact, the hashtag #golf currently features on more than 28.5 million Instagram posts, while golf TikTok has generated more than 15.3 billion views from fans clearly eager to stay focused on the game even when they aren’t playing. 

Updated 13 October 2021
Golf courseNumber of Instagram posts
1. TPC Sawgrass (Stadium)50,168
2. Bandon Dunes (Bandon Trails)32,561
3. Pebble Beach32,475
4. Bethpage Black21,938
5. Whistling Straits (Straits)20,774
6. St Andrews (Old)15,065
7. Royal Portrush (Dunluce)14,231
8. Barnbougle Dunes11,697
9. Royal Birkdale10,610
10. Kiawah Island Resort (Ocean)10,409

When it comes to the social clout of esteemed courses analysed in the report, the TPC Sawgrass Stadium course in Florida is the stand-out winner, boasting a total of 50,168 dedicated posts on Instagram. 

TPC Sawgrass


Following behind in second and third place as the courses with the highest number of Instagram posts are Bandon Dunes (Trails) in Oregon and Pebble Beach in California, boasting 32,561 and 32,475 Instagram posts respectively. 

Pebble Beach


The report also delved into Facebook data to uncover which golf courses had the highest number of check-ins on their dedicated pages. Once again coming out on top is TPC Sawgrass with 228,094 check-ins, followed by Pinehurst No 2 in North Carolina (94,489) and the Trump Turnberry Ailsa course in Scotland (83,5777). 

Updated 13 October 2021
Golf courseNumber of Facebook check-ins
1. TPC Sawgrass (Stadium)228,094
2. Pinehurst (No.2)94,489
3. Trump Turnberry (Ailsa)83,577
4. St Andrews (Old)70,017
5. Bandon Dunes (Bandon Trails)59,903
6. Whistling Straits (Straits)53,428
7. Pebble Beach48,172
8. Carnoustie (Championship)47,091
9. Casa de Campo (Teeth of the Dog)46,250
10. Kiawah Island Resort (Ocean)42,227

The events of the past two years have meant there has never been a better time to take up the ‘socially distanced’ game of golf as a hobby. As an activity that incorporates vast amounts of outdoor space, acts as a great source of exercise and helps to refocus the mind on something positive, it’s no wonder there’s been such an uptake in interest for the game. 

But which of the analysed courses have proven the most popular worldwide over the past twelve months?

Updated 13 October 2021
Golf courseAverage monthly searches
1. Pebble Beach18,100
2. Kiawah Island Resort (Ocean)18,100
3. St Andrews (Old)18,100
4. Pinehurst (No.2)12,100
5. Carnoustie (Championship)8,100
6. Royal St George's6,600
7. Victoria Golf Club6,600
8. Bethpage Black6,600
9. Cape Kidnappers5,400
10. North Berwick (West)5,400

The most searched for courses during the past twelve months were Pebble Beach, St Andrews and the Kiawah Island Ocean course. The South Carolina based Kiawah Island Ocean course was home to the 2021 PGA Championship in May, which could explain why searches for the course were so high in the lead up to, and following the event. 

Ready to book a long overdue break? Consider a travel credit card for your upcoming adventures 

Whether our report has intrigued you to book your own bucket list break to a far-flung destination for a golfing adventure, or you’re simply looking ahead to a relaxing overseas trip in the coming months, be sure to consider a travel credit card to keep your costs down. 

Unlike standard credit cards, travel credit cards won’t charge you fees for using them overseas, in what are often referred to as foreign transaction fees. 

Can I withdraw cash from a travel credit card? 

While it’s possible, it’s best to avoid withdrawing cash using your credit card because it can be extremely expensive. Not only is the interest rate on cash advances higher than on standard purchases, some cards may charge a cash handling fee - usually around 2-3% of the withdrawal amount. If you’re using your credit card abroad, you may be charged a foreign transaction fee on top of that.  

Additionally, cash advances leave a mark on your credit report. 

Do I have section 75 protection abroad? 

Section 75 is a legal act that protects consumers when spending on their credit card, but it ONLY applies to transactions between £100 - £30,000. 

Travel credit cards will protect you within this amount, and you can claim on section 75 in two scenarios; 

  • A breach of contract - e.g. you don’t get what you’ve paid for, or to the standard initially specified

  • Misrepresentation - e.g. you are given the wrong information which convinces you to pay for a product

What are the alternatives to travel credit cards?

Travel money: If you plan ahead, you could take enough foreign currency to cover yourself and your dependents for the entirety of your trip. To help you take enough, work out how much you want to spend each day, and try to stick to this budget.

Travel prepaid card: You can add or transfer money onto this type of card, which you can then spend abroad. Some even let you withdraw cash for free abroad too. You can only spend what you top up on the card.

Debit card: You could use your debit card to withdraw cash on holiday, or for card transactions. However, you may get charged for both. Check with your bank or building society before you travel to find out how much it could cost you.

Find the best credit card for you, whether you're looking for 0% card for balance transfers or purchases or day to day spending and rewards

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About Salman Haqqi

Salman is our personal finance editor with over 10 years’ experience as a journalist. He has previously written for Finder and regularly provides his expert view on financial and consumer spending issues for local and national press such as The Express, Travel Daily, and The Daily Star.

View Salman Haqqi's full biography here or visit the press centre for our latest news.

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About Salman Haqqi

View Salman Haqqi's full biography here or visit the press centre for our latest news.