While North America perhaps embodies the spirit of exclusivity more than any other region, golf around the world can be tough to get onto as well. We’ve heard of places like The Old Course and Royal Melbourne, but there’s golf courses more difficult than that to play.
There’s lots of great golf (and better clubs!) represented here, including courses from France, England, Argentina, Brazil and more. Before we get started, six honorable mentions that are just as exclusive as the others, but missed the cut by a hair: Loch Lomond Golf Club in Luss, Argyll & Bute, Scotland; The Club at Nine Bridges in Jeju Island, South Korea; Carnegie Links at Skibo Castle in Dornoch, Scotland; Royal Household Golf Club at Windsor Castle in Windsor, England; The Singapore Island Country Club in Singapore; and São Paulo Golf Club in São Paulo, Brazil.
Without further ado, the 12 hardest tee times you can’t get outside of North America!
Ellerston Golf Club — Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia
A private golf course for media mogul Kelly Packer, Ellerston is a Greg Norman & Bob Harrison design outside of Sydney. Very few have played here, but somehow it’s ended up on a few World Top 100 lists. Ellerston’s future is currently up in the air due to the passing of Mr. Packer.
Golf de Morfontaine — Morfontaine, France
Often seen on World Top 100 lists, Golf De Morfontaine lies on the outskirts of Paris for the countries elite. Packed in dense, wooded forest, Morfontaine is actually home to 27 holes, all designed by famed architect Tom Simpson. Rumor has it you can play here through a travel agent, but will cost you upwards of $3,000 USD.
Santapazienza Golf Club — Itatiba, São Paulo, Brazil
Tom Fazio has often built high-end private clubs in North America, but in one of The Faz’s rare ventures outside of North America he delivered Santapazienza. Perhaps most famously known for their ‘Jesus Bridges,’ which lie under the surface of some of the ponds of the property, the closest most of us will get to playing Santapazienza is through David Davis’ Intagram account.
Shanqin Bay Golf Club — Hainan Sheng, China
Touted as one of Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw’s best, Shanqin Bay is routed through thick jungle and forest. With only 16 members, you’ll have to get extremely lucky to make the trip through this hollowed grounds. It’s so elite that when you’re on property they take your phone and put it in a lock box until the round is over—no social media here!
Les Bordes Golf International — Saint-Laurent-Nouan, France
Recently renovated by Gil Hanse & his team, Les Bordes lies as one of France’s most exclusive golf courses in the countryside. The owner of Bic (the pen company) built this course without much restraint originally, spending a ton of money on the design. Now, Les Bordes is one of the best courses in continental Europe, but also one of the hardest to play. If you have the money, you can purchase a round at Les Bordes with a room for close to $700 USD.
Hirono Golf Club — Chome Shijimicho Hirono, Miki, Hyogo, Japan
Recently restored by Martin Ebert, C.H. Alison’s masterpiece is one of the world’s best. Routed through some of the wonderful Japanese terrain, this is a big, bold golf course that requires big, bold connections to play. Good luck playing this world top 50!
Domaines de Vidauban — Vidauban, France
Previously known as Le Prince de Province, this is another ultra-exclusive golf course designed by the Trent Joneses, with Sr., Jr., and Rees all having their hands in the design phase at one point or another. With very little known about the course, it’s one of the most exclusive in the world.
Ayodhya Links — Boh Talo, Wangnoi, Ayutthaya, Thailand
With a membership that’s invitation only, whomever joins this club is among the elite, and likely the wealthiest in Asia. The story goes that Ayodhya Links was originally started by 30 of the wealthiest men in Thailand to be a private getaway. Clearly they succeeded!
Golf du Palais Royal d’Agadir — Agadir, Morocco
This Robert Trent Jones Sr. design is actually inside the summer palace walls in Agadir, commissioned by King Hassan II. Unless you’re well-respected by the Royal Moroccan family or play on the European Tour, the chances of playing here are quite unlikely.
Cathedral Lodge Golf Club — Thorton, Victoria, Australia
With a membership less than 200 people, Cathedral Lodge is an escape from the busy city of Melbourne from the vision of investment banker David Evans. This Greg Norman design is apparently considerably easier to play than Ellerston, another Norman ultra exclusive in Australia, and features generous playing corridors. Still, this is one of the hardest in Australia to grab a time at.
Ardfin Golf Course — Jura House, Scotland
The newest course on the list. Ardfin is making noise with architectural enthusiasts for its fantastic design. Those who are lucky enough to play have to get approval from Australian businessman Greg Coffey, who built Ardfin for his own personal enjoyment. Outside of actually getting on to play, it’s not the easiest to get to on Scotland’s Island of Jura. Ardfin has rumored to start to accept public tee times, but these don’t run cheep.
The Jockey Club — San Isidro, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Featuring two Alister Mackenzie courses, The Jockey Club matches exclusivity with architectural pedigree. Add in a historic past dating back to 1882 and you have a winning combo. you’ll often find top businessmen and government officials here often as a getaway from busy Buenos Aires, but finding one to host you might be tough!
Is there a course missing? Have you played any? Let me know in the comments below!