You probably think of places like Pine Valley, Augusta National, and Cypress Point when you hear the phrase “most exclusive golf courses. But I bet you know at least one or two people who have played at least one of those courses. For example, my dad has played in Augusta and Pine Valley (lucky dog!). On the other hand, the courses below are so good that neither you nor your golfing friends have probably heard of them. And that’s how they want it. They have so few members that you can count them on one hand, and in some cases, on one finger. Also, these courses have never been on a list… until now. Here are 10 of the best private golf courses in the world that are out of this world:
Cherokee Plantation (South Carolina)
Dirk E. Ziff is one of around two dozen members/owners of Cherokee Plantation near Yemassee, South Carolina. The property is a few thousand acres in size and features a Donald Steel-designed golf course that, in most years, accommodates less than one thousand rounds. According to the scarce information available about the club, the initiation price is around $1 million and the annual dues are $85,000. However, it is by no means certain that you will be admitted if you have the necessary funds.
Due Process Golf Club (New Jersey)
This Johnny Miller/Gene Bates-designed course in Colts Neck, New Jersey, formerly belonged to Robert Brennan, who ran a penny stock trading firm until he was imprisoned for ten years for money laundering in 2001. (after being released from prison, Brennan went to work at the course). The course, which was named after its connected thoroughbred racing stable, was ultimately acquired by a former Goldman Sachs executive and one of the inventors of Arizona Iced Tea. Now, it is perhaps the least exclusive school on our list, with a reasonably big membership (between 100 and 150, according to reports) and a rumored $350,000 entrance fee for each participant.
The Institute (California)
This Silicon Valley course adds to the surprise by adding a layer of mischief. It is entirely owned by Frys.com CEO John Fry and can stretch to over 8,000 yards if all back tees are used by him or chosen visitors. Surprisingly, the Institute was constructed without the necessary permissions, although it has now been certified code-compliant. It is slated to host the PGA Tour’s Frys.com Open in the future, so if you can get a spot in the pro-am, you might be able to play it. Aside from that, best of luck.
Morefar Back O’Beyond Golf Club (New York)
Part of this strange club is visible from another course: the municipal Richter Park in Danbury, Conn., which is located on the New York-Connecticut line. Unless you’re an invited high-ranking employee or customer of insurance company AIG, whose past CEOs Cornelius Vander Starr and Maurice Greenberg steered the home into a quiet celebrity, that’s the closest you’re going to get to this layout. Those who have played Morefar have been amazed at the statues and sculptures scattered around the course, including one in the center of a bunker, in addition to the impeccably managed surroundings. The atmosphere, and even the club’s emblem, reflect AIG’s Chinese heritage.
Porcupine Creek Golf Course (California)
Strange narrative, strange name. You may have heard of Tim and Edra Blixseth, who founded the ultra-private (but well-known for this list) Yellowstone Club in Montana and later struggled when the now-divorced couple’s financial home crumbled on them. Porcupine Creek was the couple’s private estate course until it had to be sold in 2011. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison now utilizes the course as his vacation. He did, however, welcome President Obama around in February.
Wolf Point Club (Texas)
Port Lavaca, Texas, roughly 125 miles southwest of Houston, is probably unknown to you. You’ve also probably never heard of its designer, Mike Nuzzo. Wolf Point is the ideal “backyard” golf course, designed for a single client. It features a regular 18-hole routing but is so wide and expansive that it may be played in a variety of ways. The rumpled fairways, heaving greens, and hard conditions recall the select few who have been invited to play – at the sole discretion of the proprietor – of The Old Course at St. Andrews.
Domaine Laforest (Quebec, Canada)
Thomas McBroom is a little-known architect in the United States, although he is much recognized in Canada. So, when late Canadian oil millionaire Paul Desmarais sought to create a private golf getaway for himself and his guests, he went to McBroom, who designed the course on Desmarais’ steep, vast, and secluded private estate northeast of Quebec City. Historically, invitees were transported to the course in helicopters operated by Desmarais’ firm, Power Corp.
Ellerston Golf Club (Australia)
Kerry Packer, an Australian media billionaire, had acquired a fortune of over A$6.5 billion by the time he died in 2005. Ellerston sits at the heart of the Packer family’s multi-thousand-acre stretch of property north of Sydney, where Kerry Packer told Greg Norman’s design team to identify the ideal area for a golf course and go to work. As a consequence, the course is consistently ranked in the top five in Australia…not that you’re likely to get invited. But if you do, bring plenty of golf balls because the course is recognized as one of the most difficult in the world.
Prince de Provence” (France)
This is only one of several titles given to the Robert Trent Jones, Sr./RTJ Jr. combo effort in the past. With just two dozen captain-of-industry members, this club near Vidauban is so covert that visitors are rumored to be blinded en way to the course to keep it as hidden from the outside world as possible.
Royal Palace Golf Club, Agadir (Morocco)
A golf course is hidden behind the crenelated walls of the palace that belongs to the Prince of Morocco. These walls even border a couple of the holes on the course that was designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. To play here, you will need to qualify for the European Tour’s Trophée Hassan II tournament (or its pro-am) unless the Prince personally extends an invitation to you as one of his guests. Even then, it may be several months before the next round takes place, but the course is always kept in pristine condition if the Prince gets the hankering to play.