Maui – OGG
The PGA starts its year in Hawaii, and you can too. Wait until the second week of January, when the pros have cleared out of Kapalua after the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, and try to match their exploits on the oceanside Coore & Crenshaw Plantation Course.
Sydney – SYD
The usually private New South Wales Golf Club is open to the public on select days. Of the approximately 35,000 golf courses on the planet, this Alister MacKenzie gem consistently ranks in the top 50. Keep your eye on the ball (and not the ocean view) during your approach shot on the sweeping dogleg 13th, ranked the best 13th hole in Australia.
Johannesburg – JNB
South Africa is one of the world’s great grapes-and-golf destinations. Twenty minutes from the airport, the Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club has two private parkland 18-hole layouts that welcome visitors. Play both of these classics, and you’ll deserve that second glass of chenin blanc as you survey the grounds from the two-tier Main Bar.
Barcelona – BCN
As the weather heats up in Spain, the country’s finest track – the Stadium Course at PGA Catalunya Resort – beckons. Lightning-fast greens and a profusion of elevated tees make it the European answer to that other Stadium Course, Florida’s TPC Sawgrass. This one, though, has a glorious Pyrenees backdrop.
Hong Kong – HKG
Tour the metropolis; then head to quiet Hainan Island and Mission Hills Resort Haikou to challenge your friends on the lava fields of the Blackstone Course, where Tiger and Rory faced off. The greens here are tricky, but the charming caddies will give you an infallible read.
Edinburgh – EDI
Early summer days are long and warm in historic St. Andrews Links. This is your chance to play the Old Course before the masses arrive. Can’t get a tee time on your first attempt? Then keep trying via the traditional daily ballot, and in the meantime look elsewhere. From Kingsbarns to Carnoustie, you won’t find a heavier concentration of outstanding courses anywhere in the world.
Calgary – YYC
With your swing now in mid-season form, it’s time for some high-altitude golf. The Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course, designed by Stanley Thompson, is among the most enduring layouts in the world, alpine or otherwise. Take a trip back in time by renting hickory clubs; in the mountain air, the ball will still travel far.
Sydney, Nova Scotia – YQY
Dip down to Inverness to play Cabot Links, opened in June 2012 and already considered among the world’s top 100 courses. With old-world bunkering, wind off the Gulf of St. Lawrence and tee shots and approaches to the greens requiring the utmost creativity, it’s Canada’s best new course.
New Orleans – MSY
To play Fallen Oak, a sumptuous and uncrowded Tom Fazio lowland track that wends its way alongside centennial oaks and magnolia and pecan groves, book a room at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi, just over an hour’s drive from the New Orleans airport. A regular stop on the Champions Tour, the course is a sure bet. Just don’t spend too much time in Fazio’s trademark bunkers.
Istanbul – IST
Remember seeing Tiger Woods hitting golf balls last year from Asia to Europe on the Bosphorus Bridge? Well, they won’t let you do that. But you can tee it up elsewhere in Turkey; the government is pushing the sport in this growing economy. Head south to Belek, on the Turkish Riviera, and take on the Montgomerie Maxx Royal course, where the pros play.
La Romana, Dominican Republic – LRM
Some golf course architects favour a risk-reward style, but Pete Dye is clearly more about pain versus pleasure. There’s no tougher test in the Caribbean than his Teeth of the Dog course at Casa de Campo. Settle your nerves by successfully navigating the par-3 fifth hole, which requires a forced carry over coral cliffs and blue Caribbean waters, and you’ll be eager to continue the battle.
Buenos Aires – EZE
Alister MacKenzie came to Argentina in 1930 and quickly transformed several hundred acres of flatland in San Isidro into two of the most astonishing courses in South America. Play the Cancha Colorada (Red Course) at the Jockey Club, where famously undulating holes, like the devilish par-5 10th, can still show today’s new technology who’s boss.