Since its invention in Scotland sometime in the 15th Century, the game of golf has captured the world with its athletic challenge, natural outdoor beauty and long and legendary history. The standardized golf course with its sand traps, bunkers and rolling hills all evolved from the original course designs in Scotland, which were arranged on what was called “links land” — the soil-covered sand dunes situated directly inland from beaches — origin of the general course term “links.” Golf is one of the few games that use a non-standardized playing field, which has allowed the sport to generate a wealth of artistically-designed environmental masterpieces. Diamond Resorts International® timeshare, the world’s leading global resort network of vacation ownership properties with over 420 destinations, has compiled a list of some of the top courses around the world.
The Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland, is where golf was born and is considered a pilgrimage destination for many golfers. Used continuously since 1552 when the Archbishop granted the townspeople permission to play on the links, the site evolved many of the regulatory elements in today’s game such as the 18-hole design. Since then, many course elements have either been an adoption of one of its features or a direct reaction against it. While a model of design, Diamond Resorts International® timeshare notes that it is not in fact the most ancient golf course in the world, a distinction which goes to Mussleburgh course in Scotland, site of the earliest golf vacations ever recorded when Mary, Queen of Scots, visited in 1567.
Turning to the United States, the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in the town of Southampton on Long Island, New York, has earned the title of the oldest formalized golf course in the United States, founded in 1891. It is also the site of the oldest golf clubhouse in the U.S. (1892) as well as the first to admit women, which it did from its inception. It uses the natural topography of the Shinnecock Hills, a classic links course very similar to those on the British Isles. Recognized as one of the top golf courses in the world, it has hosted many notable U.S.G.A. events in its 125-year history.
The 18-hole Pebble Beach Golf Links is widely considered one of the most beautiful links in the world, hugging the rugged California coastline with wide open views of Carmel Bay. The course opened in 1919 as part of a luxury resort built by Charles Crocker, one of California’s Big Four railroad barons. Pebble Beach has hosted numerous professional tournaments in its history, beginning with the Monterey Peninsula Open in 1926, as well as five U.S. Opens.