Do you fancy teeing off at the Royal & Ancient's historic headquarters, sinking a putt by a monkey-shaped Caribbean bunker or while looking out for buffalo? Here are five classic golf courses where bogeys and birdies are second to the jaw-dropping location. Whether you're a novice or a Tiger Woods in the making, these unique greens will put a swing in your step — and your club action.
Old Course, St. Andrews, Scotland
It's the mother of all courses: the world's most famous, one of the oldest, and one of the most desirable of all golf pilgrimages. So why is this classic "out and back" links course so enticing? Golf has been played here for more than six centuries. It has hosted the British Open 28 times since 1873. Swilcan Burn, one of the most famous water hazards in the sport, has a Roman-era bridge over the burn. Teeing off in front of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club clubhouse puts you right in a part of history. And playing the notoriously difficult par-4 17th hole — the famous Road Hole — will send a tingle down your spine.
Leopard Creek Country Club, Mpumalanga, South Africa
Nestled on the edge of Kruger National Park, this isn't any old golf course. You'll be teeing off near a crocodile-filled river, on a picturesque peninsula where there are regular sightings of hippos, antelope and buffalo. Water features play an important part of this stunning, Gary Player-designed course. The 13th hole is one of the course's most memorable: It's on the edge of Crocodile River and 105 feet above the water level, with magnificent views of Kruger Park.
Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, United Arab Emirates
This immaculate course was created in the 1990s, when golf in the Middle East was in its infancy. Now, golfers from around the world praise its facilities. Date palms and coconut trees dot the well-groomed, undulating fairways — smooth as a lush green carpet. The sleek white clubhouse is shaped to mirror the sails of a traditional dhow (Arab boat), a reminder of the contemporary architecture in the city a short drive away. The course is floodlit, so it's perfect for a cool evening round to escape the harsh Arabian sun.
The Green Monkey, Barbados
Although it won't be easy to get up from your chaise longue and leave that sun-kissed beach, it's worth the effort to play this luxurious new course, named after the Bajan green primates. Designed by Tom Fazio, the tabletop landscape is carved from an old limestone quarry, and lush fairways contrast strikingly with exposed rock faces — an unforgettable sight. Your adrenaline will surge on the ninth hole, which plunges 100 feet into the quarry. And you won't forget the bunker at the 16th hole, where a grass island is shaped like a monkey.
Pebble Beach, Calif.
Pebble Beach, almost a century old, is famed as the venue for Tom Watson's neat chip in the 1982 U.S. Open. Golfers will be challenged by the water hazards that make it such a memorable course, with holes 5 through 8 on a promontory between Stillwater Cove and the mighty Pacific. Just to prove that top golf courses aren't always reserved for privileged members, this one is open to anyone willing to pay the steep greens fee.