Golf Magazine's Travelin' Joe Passov has seen thousands of golf holes during his worldwide travels, but not all have left a lasting impression like these 18. Prepare to be wowed.
Cape Kidnappers Golf Club -- Hawke's Bay, New Zealand -- No. 15: Par 5, 650 yards
This monster from Tom Doak falls away precipitously on both sides of the fairway and sports a horizon green that's perched on a bluff overlooking the sea. Unless you peer over the edge from the left side of the fairway or on the green, it's not as dramatic on the ground as it is in the air. Fortunately, I've seen it via helicopter as well -- there's nothing like it anywhere.
2 of 18Mike Ehrmann/SI
Cypress Point Club -- Pebble Beach, Calif. -- No. 16: Par 3, 231 yards
Actually, I would include the entire triumvirate of 15, 16 and 17, because they're each ridiculously beautiful, but the big enchilada is Alister MacKenzie's greatest par 3 and a half.
3 of 18Kohjiro Kinno/SI
Pebble Beach Golf Links -- Pebble Beach, Calif. -- No. 7: Par 3, 106 yards
Without question, the 8th hole offers the greatest second shot in golf -- provided you've hit it far enough off the tee to see your target -- and the walk up 18 must be done at least once in your life. However, the hole that best encapsulates Pebble's visual glory is the tiny par-3 7th, stuck out on a tiny spit of land and framed brilliantly by sand and ocean.
4 of 18Robert Beck/SI
Augusta National Golf Club -- Augusta, Ga. -- No. 13: Par 5, 510 yards
Its superior risk/reward options notwithstanding, in springtime, there cannot be a more beautiful inland hole on earth. Tall pines, banks of azaleas, Rae's Creek and those four striking framing bunkers will haunt your brain forever.
5 of 18Evan Schiller
Old Head Golf Links -- Kinsale, Ireland -- No. 12: Par 5, 564 yards
I have no idea what "Courcean Stage" means, as this hole is called, but the real story is the incredible aesthetics this course dishes out, most notably at this wild par 5 that starts with an uphill drive over a cliff edge and concludes on a dramatic ridge top overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
6 of 18Bob Martin/SI
Trump Turnberry Resort (Ailsa) -- Turnberry, Scotland -- No. 9: Par 4, 449 yards
One of the most memorable holes in the British Isles, Gene Sarazen called it the greatest par 4 in golf. To reach the back tee, one ascends a narrow, steep path, the reward being vertigo -- inducing views of the surf crashing against rocks, the monolith known as Ailsa Craig jutting out of the sea, a lighthouse to the left and oh, yes, a glimpse of the fairway. From the green, the remains of the castle of Robert the Bruce come into view. Good luck keeping your head down.
7 of 18John and Jeaninne Henebry
Black Diamond Ranch (Quarry) -- Lecanto, Fla. -- No. 15: Par 4, 371 yards
The famed quarry holes (13-17) are so dramatic, it's hard to pick one to single out, but my vote goes to the 15th. Between the strikingly handsome sand and water features and the rock ledge framing the green, it's hard for the average golfer to fathom how Tom Fazio created such beauty from such inhospitable terrain.
8 of 18Brain Morgan
Trump International Golf Links-Scotland -- Aberdeen, Scotland -- No. 14: Par 4, 445 yards
You've got to climb to the elevated back tee to absorb the entire tableau, but it's worth the trek for the jaw-dropping vistas of the North Sea, its beach and an amphitheater of gigantic dunes framing a fairway that's wider than it looks.
9 of 18Fred Vuich/SI
St. Andrews (Old Course) -- St. Andrews, Scotland -- No. 18: Par 4, 361 yards
Clearly, No. 17 is the must-play hole at the Old Course, but for sheer grandeur, my vote goes to the incredible panorama at the 18th tee, with the Swilcan Bridge in the foreground, the Royal & Ancient clubhouse and Hamilton Grand in the background, and the vibrant Auld Grey Toon flush to the right.
10 of 18Wood Sabold
Pacific Dunes -- Bandon, Ore. -- No. 13: Par 4, 444 yards
A gigantic natural dune flanks the fairway to the right, while the Pacific Ocean looms below the cliffs on the left. Scattered blow-out bunkers lend further beauty and menace up the right side. The vistas are so distracting, it's easy to forget this is a modern masterpiece of design.
11 of 18John and Jeannine Henebry
Stoneforest International Golf Club (C course-Leaders' Peak) -- Kunming, Yunnan Province, China -- No. 11: Par 4, 331 yards
A half-dozen other holes here can compete with the 11th for wow! honors, including the par-3 12th on this Brian Curley-designed fantasy calendar layout in the mountains of southwestern China. With one hole after the next cocooned by rock spires, the effect is surreal.
12 of 18Evan Schiller
Royal County Down Golf Club -- Newcastle, Co. Down, Northern Ireland -- No. 4: Par 3, 228 yards
After seeing a photo in the early 1980s of this stunning one-shotter, I vowed that one day I would experience that unforgettable panorama. In May 1996, I checked it off from my golf bucket list, the hole having lived up to every expectation. From the elevated back tee, you're greeted by a sea of gorse, bursting brilliant yellow in spring, nine bunkers, mountain peaks and a hotel spire -- with the sea and its pesky breezes looming to the left.
13 of 18Matt King/Getty Images
New South Wales Golf Club -- La Perouse, Australia -- No. 5: Par 5, 515 yards
The Cypress Point-like 6th gathers most of the "holy cows" at this Alister MacKenzie design that perennially ranks among our Top 40 in the World, but the most spectacular vista of all arrives when you climb the fairway here, then peer down from the crest at Botany Bay, where in 1770 Captain James Cook of the British Royal Navy "discovered" Australia.
14 of 18Great White Shark Enterprises
Trump International Golf Links & Hotel Ireland -- Doonbeg, Ireland -- No. 14: Par 3, 111 yards
For pure grin-inducement, the tee shot at the par-4 6th might triumph at Doonbeg, thanks to its elevated tee above the beach, but for sheer audacity, my pick is this all-or-nothing, tiny par 3, shelved into the sandhills, its diagonal green backdropped by the Atlantic.
15 of 18Courtesy of Diamante Golf Club
Diamante (Dunes) -- Cabo San Lucas, Mexico -- No. 17: Par 5, 588 yards
After encountering several unique holes that twist through gigantic sand dunes, you arrive at the 17th. To your immediate right sits a wide, pristine beach and the Pacific Ocean. Straight ahead is a vast ravine that slashes the fairway on the diagonal. Following this first exciting forced carry, you face an option. Go for the green in two and you'll have to fly it over a 50-foot-tall dune. I've never seen another hole anything like this in all of my travels.
16 of 18Evan Schiller
Ballybunion Golf Club (Old) -- Ballybunion, Ireland -- No. 11: Par 4, 451 yards
We return to the sea for this magnificent natural creation, with its elevated back tee wedged in between the dunes on the left and the beach on the right. The fairway is twice interrupted by broken ground on its downhill journey to the green. It's hard, unique and thoroughly exhilarating.
17 of 18Courtesy of Mauna Kea
Mauna Kea Golf Course -- Kamuela, Big Island, Hawaii -- No. 3: Par 3, 261 yards
In 2008, Rees Jones restored this unforgettable, eye-popping one-shotter to its gargantuan length of 261 yards, much of it carry over the pounding Pacific surf from a tiny tee box set into 5,000-year-old black lava rock.
18 of 18Larry Lambrecht
Pine Valley Golf Club -- Pine Valley, N.J. -- No. 2: Par 4, 368 yards
Of all the showstoppers at the world's top-ranked course, this one just blasts you with the stunning, but forbidding aura exuded throughout the round. Its in-your-face sand and scrub from start to finish, with nothing more dramatic than the forced carry to the second green.
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