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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
Larry Olmsted
From the Print Edition:
Kurt Russell, May/June 2006

(continued from page 6)

Honorable Mention: Adare Manor is another Kildare-like luxury resort that resonated with the experts, but Pedrero made a unique case for the little-known Rosapenna Hotel. "All the truly great golf lodging in Ireland —Adare, Kildare, Carton House and others —come with American-style parkland courses that are, frankly, boring. If you are going all the way to Ireland, you don't want Robert Trent Jones or Palmer: try the 36 true links holes at Rosapenna, carved through immense dunes: it's the only resort in the Emerald Isle with two such layouts."

Ireland —Best Course
Ballybunion Old
The concentration of great courses in Ireland was almost too much for our panelists, with emotional favorites in Royal County Down, Royal Portrush and Waterville, among others, but when the votes were tallied, Ballybunion Old won easily, marrying rich history with towering dunes.

Honorable Mention: Royal County Down stirs a fever in golf fans, and those who favor the course, like Evan Rothman, usually have extremely strong feelings. "Royal County Down is the best and best-looking course anywhere in the world. Period, end of discussion," he said.

England and Wales —Best Resort
The Grove
The combination of a modern luxury hotel built on a historic estate plus a whimsical parkland routing by Kyle Philips, all just outside of London, swayed our voters.

Honorable Mention: Bovey Castle has lodging to rival any of the luxury castle hotels of Ireland, and grounds to rival Gleneagles, and while little known, this latest offering from Peter de Savary, developer of Skibo Castle and the Abaco Club, wowed visitors. The castle and its historic course sit smack in the middle of Dartmoor National Park, England's largest.

England and Wales —Best Course
Royal Birkdale
Designer John Fought called the course "friendly and fun," while Bill Hogan went so far as to say it has "probably the most consistent presentation of classic links holes in golf."

Honorable Mention: Sunningdale Old, just outside of London, is one of the parkland gems that made Harry Colt famous as the greatest designer of the genre.

Other Regions
Whistler, British Columbia
  With several great courses, an array of hotels —including a Four Seasons, Pan Pacific, Fairmont and Westin —and a high-end pedestrian resort village bursting at the seams with bars, restaurants and shops, Whistler has a lot going for it as a golf destination.

Honorable Mention: Banff Springs, known as the Castle in the Rockies, is one of the most unforgettable hotels with one of the most unforgettable settings in golf. Its Stanley Thompson course is a roller-coaster ride that includes the par-3 Devil's Cauldron, one of the greatest holes on earth.

Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic
Pete Dye's Teeth of the Dog has been the Caribbean's top-rated course for as long as there have been ratings, and his new Dye Fore layout here might be even better. Throw in a huge range of facilities, including the largest public shooting grounds in the western hemisphere, and you have a bona fide full-service resort. Teeth of the Dog reopened in December after an extensive face-lift, and is better than ever. Honorable Mention: Sandy Lane, Barbados. Since its Green Monkey course just opened, not many golfers have been there to see it, but this pricey luxury hotel with the Caribbean's only two Tom Fazio designs is quickly moving up in the golf world.

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