15. CuisinArt Resort Golf Club in Anguilla, BWI: Formerly known as Temenos when it debuted in 2006, this artistic, 7,063-yard Norman creation smacks you in the face with its stunning opener. Panoramas of St. Maarten and the Caribbean Sea greet you on the tee shot, followed by a four-story drop to a green that sits dangerously close to a saltwater lagoon. Beachside greens, mangrove thickets and Rendezvous Bay backdrops are added attractions.
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14. Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club in Great Exuma, Bahamas: What could possibly be bad about a sturdy, breezy, 7,001-yard layout that twists through seaside dunes, mangroves and rock outcroppings on the front nine and that edges the gorgeous Caribbean waters of the Emerald Bay Peninsula on the back? Norman’s typical bold bunkers spice the play even further.
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13. Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Grande Lakes, Orlando, Fla.: Tiger Woods once called the greens at this low-key Norman creation some of the best he’s ever putted. Once you’ve experienced them, it’s hard to argue. With wide corridors (read: resort-friendly) and flat terrain throughout, Grande Lakes won’t knock you over with drama, but its thoughtful finesse holes and pure tranquility make it distinctive.
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12. Shark's Tooth in Lake Powell, Fla.: Unlike most Florida courses, you won’t have to clear too many lakes, bunkers or wetlands at this Panama City Beach-area semi-private spread, which aligns with Norman’s belief in minimizing forced carries where possible. You also won’t face any rough -- but you better hit it straight, because dense foliage and water await most hooks and slices. Especially noteworthy is how the firm, fast-running fairways melt right into the low-profile greens.
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11. TPC San Antonio (AT&T Oaks) in San Antonio, Tex.: Slender fairways, steep bunkers and abundant oaks define this 2010 collaboration with Sergio Garcia that serves as home to the PGA Tour’s Valero Texas Open. Small, severely sectionalized greens, heavy contour around the greens and a bunker jabbed into the middle of the 16th green are among the design gambits that vex the pros.
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10. TPC Sugarloaf in Duluth, Ga.: Formerly the longtime home to the PGA Tour’s Atlanta stop, this retrofitted residential design sports hilly lies, mammoth, rolling greens, closely mown chipping areas and innovative, free-flowing sod wall bunkers. What elevated the drama quotient at tournament time were the drivable par-4 13th, where a bold tee shot that scurries through a narrow gap could set up eagle, and the 576-yard, downhill, par-5 18th, with its two-level fairway and daunting, water-carry approach.
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9. Red Sky Golf Club (Norman) in Wolcott, Colo.: Just outside of Vail, the Shark attack arrives in the form of 18 savagely gorgeous holes at a private resort facility with every-other-day public access. Norman’s layout soars high into the hills and features panoramic vistas of mountain peaks and ski runs as it traverses dry gulches, hardy scrub and clusters of Alister MacKenzie-style sprawling bunkers.
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8. Eco-Signature at Jumeirah Golf Estates (Earth) in Dubai, UAE: Site of the recent DP World Tour Championship, this desert oasis stretches 7,675 yards across native sands, while gussied up with trees, shrubs, brilliant white bunkers and barkmulched landscape areas. Norman calls the final watery four holes, “the most challenging mile in golf,” though it didn’t bother Henrik Stenson much. At the 620-yard, par-5 18th that’s bisected lengthwise by a creek, Stenson hammered a 3-wood second to two feet to cement his 2013 victory with a final-hole eagle.
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7. Mission Hills Resort (Norman) in Shenzen, China: The original Mission Hills boasts the Guinness Book record for largest golf club in the world, with 12 courses scattered across three sites. The toughest and most dramatic course is the Norman. Amid jungle-like terrain that climbs and plunges in splendid, almost eerie isolation, the Norman serves up frighteningly deep bunkers and the hardest hole on the property, the 486-yard, par-4 12th, which plays uphill to a green backdropped by a dense grove of banana trees.
10 of 15Courtesy of GWSE
6. Nirwana Bali in Bali, Indonesia: This spiritual sounding, 15-year-old spread enjoys a stunning seaside locale on the Indonesian island of Bali. Blessed with remarkable variety, Nirwana Bali embraces deep valleys and dense forests as well as cliffs and beaches, with lush jungle vegetation framing many holes. Unforgettable is the par-3 7th, played over the rolling surf of the Indian Ocean to a diagonal green that well rewards those who risk a lot.
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5. The National (Moonah) in Cape Schanck, Victoria, Australia: Ninety minutes south of Melbourne, in the unfortunately named (for golfers) town of Cape Schanck, is a hilly, 13-year-old track dominated by more than 80 vast, wild-looking bunkers and by a set of equally massive, humpy-bumpy greens, most of which are propped up well above the fairways.
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4. El Camaleon at Mayakoba Resort in Mexico: Current home to a PGA Tour event, this unique layout 45 minutes south of the Cancun Airport wows with limestone-lined canals that bisect fairways, jungle-like mangrove swamps, natural rock caverns and two par-3s that edge the Caribbean Sea.
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3. Cornerstone in Montrose, Colo.: One of the greatest high-altitude courses in golf, this 2008 creation carved into the Uncompahgre Plateau in southwestern Colorado dishes out jaw-dropping vistas of Grand Mesa, the Cimarrons and the Sneffels Range. Amid all the alpine scenery, it’s the strategic tests that carry the day, notably with imaginative bunkering and greens that demand skillful run-ups. With a first tee at 9,213 feet, this is a breathtaking layout from start to finish.
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2. Doonbeg Golf Club in Doonbeg, Ireland: Norman sculpted this 12-year-old layout from massive sandhills at the ocean’s edge. It serves up heroic scenery and heroic shotmaking in equal measure. The par-4 6th, its elevated tee perched above the beach, the par-3 9th that practically melts into the ocean and the par-3 14th, a tiny terror of 111 yards are among the most memorable in Ireland. Doonbeg’s opener, a feel-good par-5 with a green nestled into an amphitheater of dunes, is one of the best starting holes in golf.
15 of 15Courtesy of GWSE
1. Ellerston Golf Course in New South Wales, Australia: One of the world’s most exclusive clubs was built in 2001 as the private domain of Australia’s richest man, the late Kerry Packer. Set into rugged bush country of the Upper Hunter Valley, a four-hour drive northwest of Sydney, the brawny, drama-filled course features numerous forced carries over deep gullies and ravines. The majority of the course resides in a valley, with Pages Creek influencing play on half the holes. Ellerston would easily qualify for Top 100 in the World honors, but not enough panelists have seen it.
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