Golf is hailed as one of the oldest sports in the world, and players in every corner of the globe enjoy it. This is evident when looking at the rankings of professional players and seeing names such as Jordan Spieth (USA) and Rory McIlroy (Northern Ireland) on the Men’s side and Lydia Ko (New Zealand) and Inbee Park (South Korea) on the Women’s list. Having been played for the better part of five centuries, golf has spread from being a game played in the United Kingdom to being the sport of choice for juniors and adults all over the world. Whether you are just beginning your golf career or are already enrolled at a junior golf academy in the United States, learn about golf’s popularity and how the sport abroad compares to what you are used to at home.
Where Is Golf Popular?
One look at the schedule of events for the PGA Tour shows that it can truly be called “The World’s Game.” While it is no secret that no matter where you go in the world you will find a golf course, you may be surprised by golf’s popularity in various regions. Topend Sports analyzed search traffic for the term “golf” and found that it is most popular in Ireland. The United States ranked fourth, behind Canada and the United Kingdom, before being followed by South Africa and Australia. New Zealand (7th), Denmark, Finland, and Switzerland rounded out the Top 10.
Golf is a rare sport, in that you can play competitively nearly your entire life. It is unlike other popular sports around the world, such as soccer, rugby, and hockey, because you are not limited to playing competitively or professionally based on your age. Whereas a baseball or football player may play professionally into his thirties, golfers can continue to enjoy the game they love for decades beyond that. From the time you are a young child, you can begin working on your mechanics and enroll in various golf camps to help you get stronger as a player.
Kids all over the world go to camp or attend a golf academy, where they further develop as a junior golfer, and begin to compete in local and regional events. In the United States this can lead to a collegiate career and a shot at the PGA or LPGA, which brings together all of the best golfers from around the world on the same stage, week in and week out. No matter where you go in the world, you will be sure to find golf courses, training facilities, and shops dedicated to helping spread the popularity of the sport and attracting new players.
Another way that you can see where golf is popular around the world is to take a look at the number of golf facilities there are in various countries. A recent report published by The R&A found that by the end of 2014 there were 34,011 golf facilities located in 206 countries around the world. This report, produced by the National Golf Foundation (NGF), also found that there are nearly 700 additional golf courses under construction or in advance planning, and 80 percent of these are in Asia, Europe, and North America.
Iconic Golf Courses Around the World
If you ever have the opportunity, you can create a lifetime of memories by playing a round on one of the world’s most iconic golf courses. Since many are private courses and super exclusive, it would be a mistake to pass up the chance to tee off at these clubs. Here are just a few of the courses that are held in the highest regard by golfers, in no particular order.
- Andrews (Old Course) – The Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland has been the home of golf since the 15th century. The club itself is open to the public and houses four 18-hole courses, a 9-hole course, and a practice center, in addition to the Old Course. St. Andrews offers something for golfers of all ages and skill levels, making it one of the top spots on each golfer’s bucket list. While the Old Course is challenging for even the world’s best golfers, getting a reservation to play may be the toughest part.
- Royal Melbourne Golf Club – The Royal Melbourne Golf Club is located in eastern Australia and is a private club that features a pair of 18-hole courses. The club routinely makes the list of top courses in the world and offers those who play it a unique opportunity. For special events for members and tournament play, Royal Melbourne creates a composite course using 12 holes from its West course and six from its East. The club first did this is 1959 for the then-named Canada Cup.
- Blue Canyon Country Club – Blue Canyon Country Club in Phuket, Thailand is regarded as one of the top courses in Asia. It features freshwater lakes and natural hazards that flank the fairways and greens. The club offers golfers one of the most visually stunning rounds they will play, as well as holes that present a challenge for every aspect of the game.
- Chapelco – Chapelco Golf Resort in Argentina was the first in South America to be designed by Jack Nicklaus and his son. Golfers that play Chapelco are treated to amazing views of the Andes mountain range. The course was built to USGA standards, meaning that its infrastructure allows it to be playable for most of the year. Argentina itself is the biggest golfing nation in South America, with more than 300 courses.
Golf in the USA
If you prefer to stay in the United States, you will have no trouble finding world-class courses to play, as well. In fact, many of the most famous courses, and those that host top-flight tournaments, are in the USA. Whether you are a casual golfer or are enrolled in a top junior golf academy, you are likely familiar with these courses and their features.
- Augusta National Golf Club – Home of the Masters, Augusta National in Georgia may be the most widely known golf course in America. “Amen Corner,” which includes the 11th, 12th, and 13th holes on the championship course, is named as such because it is made up of what could be golf’s toughest and most notorious holes. In order to get through unscathed, golfers need to have their prayers answered.
- Pinehurst Country Club – Pinehurst, in North Carolina, has celebrated more than 120 years of golf. With eight courses, it has more holes than any other resort. Of the eight, Course No. 1 is the most iconic, with tree-lined fairways and bunkers. The Par-72 course checks in at 7,051 total yards.
- Pebble Beach Golf Links – Pebble Beach in California gives golfers an amazing scene while enjoying a day of golf. As you move your way around the course, you are treated to views of the Pacific Ocean and rocky shores. Be careful playing against the wind, however, as it can be easy to lose a ball or two along the course.
- Pine Valley Golf Club – Pine Valley is an iconic course due to its extremely private nature. In fact, there is some mystery surrounding the club, as it is hard to find. However, those who have found it say that the course is one of the finest in the world.
You can learn more about how golf is played around the world, as well as some of the most iconic courses that you can play, by contacting the International Junior Golf Academy. Located in Hilton Head, South Carolina, IJGA strives to have a positive transformational impact on young golfers as they develop. Get in touch with a representative at (888) 452-6642.