The popularity of golf continues to increase worldwide and golf tourism has become a multi-million dollars industry. It is estimated that over 50 million golf tourists travel the world to play golf on some of the around 32,000 golf courses worldwide.
There are about 25 million registered golfers in North America, over 5 million in Europe, and the number of golf players in Asia is increasing at an astronomical rate. Golf tourism actually represents the largest sports related travel market. The following seeks to highlight some of the best golfing venues on the 6 continents:
Europe: Europe has over 4,000 golf courses and the "best" destinations is likely to be a matter of personal preference. However, the UK, especially Scotland, is steeped in golfing tradition and courses that have hosted the Open Championship are popular. These include Carnoustie, on the North Sea coast, Turnberry on the east coast and of course, the Old Course at St. Andrews.
Asia: Thailand leads the way in Asian golf destinations with 250+ courses offering a superb range of experiences for golf tourists. In late 2011, the International Association of Golf Tourism Operators declared the Black Mountain course at Hua Hin as the best in the region. With a wide variety of holes, many offering breathtaking views of the nearby countryside, with tees ranging from 7,350 to 6,100 yards, it is suitable for all.
North America: The USA has more golf courses than any other country, so picking the best will again be subjective. Most golfers would probably have the Augusta National Golf Club, Georgia at the top of their list. It has hosted the prestigious Masters tournament, one of golf`s 4 Major Championships, since 1934. However, it is virtually inaccessible to golf tourists. An alternative may be the Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina, featuring eight 18-hole courses and one of the world`s leading golf resorts.
South America: Argentina has the most golf courses in South America. Designed by celebrated architect, Robert Von Hagge, Buenos Aires Golf Club opened in 1994 and is considered one of the best courses on the continent. The design features 9 lakes to catch the wayward shot. It consists of 27 holes that may be combined into different 18-hole layouts. With 4 sets of tees, it is suitable for players of all abilities.
Africa: South Africa is the premier golfing destination on the African continent, offering 500+ courses. Amongst these, the 18-hole, par-72, Gary Player-designed course at the Leopard Creek Country Club continues to be highly-ranked, despite only being available to those staying at local lodges. Occupying an area of outstanding natural beauty, across the Crocodile River from the renowned Kruger National Park, this tree-lined, parkland course offers some superb golfing challenges. An intimidating 7,361 yards from the back tees, it will test the best players, while additional tees at 6,651 yards and 5,530 yards (women) make it enjoyable for all golfers.
Oceania: Whilst New Zealand is seldom at the top of any list of potential golfing destinations, it offers some excellent courses that should not be overlooked. The region of Taranaki occupies the western coastal region of New Zealand`s North Island, surrounding the active volcano, Mount Taranaki, standing at over 8,300 feet high. The nearby Hawera Golf Club offers an 18-hole, par-72 public links course that welcomes visitors and offers very competitive green fees. Although a relatively modest 6,120 yards it presents a good test, especially when the sea breezes blow, with small greens requiring accurate approach play.