The World's Best Public Courses

Cigar Aficionado expert panel picks the best places you can play, plus names the top private clubs on the planet

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One & Only Palmilla
With its new wing of luxury suites and the best butler service imaginable, plus 27 Nicklaus-designed holes on site, Palmilla is a self-contained fantasyland, the only stand-alone golf hotel resort in the crowded and luxurious Los Cabos region.
Near-perfect weather year-round and a multimillion-dollar face-lift, including the addition of überchef Charlie Trotter's only restaurant outside Chicago, were other drawing cards for our panelists.
Honorable Mention: Cabo del Sol and Isla Navidad both had numerous fans. With stunning coastal holes, Cabo del Sol is the only course in Mexico to crack the world's Top 100 lists. The charms of Isla Navidad include a wonderful Robert Von Hagge 27-hole layout, a great hotel and the town of Barre de Navidad.
South America
Llao Llao, Argentina
Most golf travelers have never heard of this resort near the ski town of Bariloche, but Nancy Berkley calls it a "perfect destination, set amongst fiords in the mountains," and Bill Hogan said, "Llao Llao has a five-star hotel resort with a nice golf course in one of the planet's most spectacular settings."
Fancourt, South Africa
The Gary Player —designed Links, which hosted the Presidents Cup, is the most famous, but the three marquee courses here are all great, as is the lodging, which stacks up favorably against any other destination.
Honorable Mention: Sun City, in South Africa, came in second for all the same reasons: multiple, impressive courses, first-rate lodging and dining, and romantic African ambiance.
Continental Europe
San Roque Club, Spain
This is where the Ryder Cup players stayed when they competed at nearby Valerrama, which is private but has arrangements with the club to grant access to its guests, reason alone to visit. But San Roque also has its own 36 strong holes, and the oldest Robert Trent Jones course in Europe, the classic Sotogrande, is right next door.
Larry Olmsted is a frequent contributor to Cigar Aficionado and the editor of The Golf Insider, a monthly newsletter.
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