You’ve finally carved out some long-awaited vacation time that you plan to use engaging in one of your favorite activities – playing golf. Now all you must do is decide on a location. To help you winnow your list down, here are some of the nation’s most exclusive golf courses. The rub, though, is that not everyone can get in.
The following are clubs with small memberships and where a member must accompany every playing group. Some of them are top names; others you may not have heard of. The listings are in no particular order.
Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, Ga.
Many consider play at Augusta National, where no less than the Masters Tournament is held each year, the ultimate golf experience. Not only is the course impeccable, but each hole is unique and the lovely azaleas and rolling green hills make for a pleasing environment. The 12th hole is one of the world’s most famous and is the heart of Augusta’s Amen Corner. You may want to hang in the golf lounge for a bit if you want to try this vaunted hole.
Pine Valley Golf Club, Pine Valley, N.J.
Established in 1913, scenic Pine Valley is often considered one of the world’s most difficult courses, but one which also has more classic holes than any other course. It’s been said that each hole is a masterpiece. In fact, Pine Valley’s 5th hole is one of the finest and most challenging you’ll likely ever experience – if you get the chance.
Annenberg Estate at Sunnylands, Rancho Mirage, Calif.
This nine-hole course in the Coachella Valley is so exclusive that it’s chiefly reserved for high-level national and global leaders who could use some “pause” while seeking to solve urgent national and international issues. Unless you’re invited by the President of the United States, you may never get the opportunity to play there.
Due Process Stables, Colts Neck, N.J.
A combination private golf club and equestrian center, impeccable Due Process was founded by securities broker Robert E. Brennan who poured $40 million into the course and club – before being convicted of investor fraud. The 7,157-yard course is said to be demanding although the topography is comparatively flat.
Vineyard Club, Edgartown, Mass.
The membership is small for this club located on Martha’s Vineyard and chiefly consists of those who are on the island for a short vacation. And the initiation fee? More than $500,000. Originally designed in 2002 by Donald Steele, the club was redesigned 13 years later by Gil Hanse. The claim is that the club is the world’s first to be organically maintained.
The Links at Fisher Island, Miami Beach, Fla.
To play this course you’ll need to be accompanied by a property owner on this island a tad south of South Beach. The course offers laser-leveled tees, thoughtfully placed bunkers, and paspalum supreme grass, and is surrounded by knock-out views of Miami’s skyline. Every hole is distinctive, including the par-4 7th along the city’s shipping channel.
Morefar Back O’Beyond, Brewster, N.Y.
Located north of New York City, this secretive 500-acre, 18-hole course is different in that it’s owned by a company – Starr Insurance, formerly AIG. Access is limited to employees and their guests, although charity events are sometimes held there. The course features a small driving range and includes a restaurant.
If you can gain access, there’s nothing quite like the cache of playing on one of the nation’s most exclusive golf courses. And if you cannot, well, you can always dream. After all, these are some of the nation’s most difficult tee times to secure.