Top Golf Courses

Best Jack Nicklaus golf courses

From his hometown of Columbus, OH and around the globe, Jack has left his mark on the game of golf worldwide and we take a look at his very best golf courses.

Patrick Tarantino
Patrick Tarantino
9 mins read

When it comes to golf, no one knows more about the game than The Golden Bear himself. While Jack’s accomplishments range from Major Championship winner to book author, course design is something that he has excelled in.

He has designed or renovated over 400 golf courses worldwide including PGA TOUR and Ryder Cup courses, we break down some of the best Jack Nicklaus designs worldwide.

Champion Course, PGA National

Situated in Palm Beach Gardens, northwest of West Palm Beach sits the fantastic five-star PGA National Resort & Spa. Opened in 1981, the course was originally designed by Tom and George Fazio before Nicklaus came in and redesigned the course in 2014.

Champion Course, PGA National

Host of the annual Honda Classic on the PGA TOUR, the course’s toughest stretch of holes (15, 16, 17) are nicknamed “The Bear Trap” after the man himself. The par-3, par-4 and par-3 layout all have forced carries over water with wind playing a factor into shot making on each hole. The course in total plays less than 7,100 yards with water hazards and greenside bunkers prevalent throughout.

Champion Course, PGA National

Harbour Town Golf Links

Located on Hilton Head Island and home to the annual RBC Heritage tournament on the PGA TOUR, Harbour Town was Nicklaus’s first golf course design, with the help of Pete and Alice Dye. Opened in 1969, the course has remained relatively unchanged over the years and has become a huge travel destination for golfers worldwide.

Harbour Town Golf Links

The terrain on the island is relatively flat and only plays 7,100 yards from the back tees. The fairways throughout the course are relatively narrow with bunkers guarding the greens on every hole. The famous red and white lighthouse stands tall in the background behind the 18th green and has become the signature symbol of the course.

Harbour Town Golf Links

Nicklaus Course, PGA West

Located in the heart of the Palm Springs desert stands the PGA West complex comprised of three public courses and one private course, all designed by different people. The Nicklaus Course was opened in 1987 and co-hosts the annual American Express tournament on the PGA TOUR.

Nicklaus Course, PGA West

The course is laid out with generous fairways, large fairway bunkers, and strategically placed greenside bunkers. Water plays a significant role throughout the course with over half the holes having hazards in play. At just over 7,200 yards from the tips and with six tees to choose from, this course is a must play on a trip to Palm Springs.

Nicklaus Course, PGA West

SouthShore Country Club

Located 17 miles off the strip of Las Vegas in the serene Nevada desert sits SouthShore Country Club. This 18-hole course was opened in 1996 and was the first private Nicklaus course opened in Nevada. Situated next to another Nicklaus design (Reflection Bay) on Lake Las Vegas, the course plays sub-7,000 yards from the furthest tees and offers golfers a challenging yet enjoyable round of golf.

SouthShore Country Club

The layout has wide fairways that are shaped by large bunkering both in and off the fairway. In true Nicklaus fashion, every green is guarded by large, strategically placed bunkers however, less than half of the holes have water hazards in play. Due to the location of the course, there is a good amount of elevation changes throughout and plenty of scenic views to enjoy during your round.

SouthShore Country Club

Punta Espada

Opened in 2006, the Punta Espada Golf Club is located outside Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. Built along the east coast of the island, eight of the holes play either over or along the coastal waters of the Caribbean offering spectacular views throughout the island.

Punta Espada

Punta Espada has been ranked “#1 Best golf course in the Caribbean and Mexico” by GolfWeek as well as #35 on Golf Digest’s best courses in the world. Playing a touch under 7,400 yards from the back tees, the course uses the natural landscapes of the area to cater to golfers of all skill levels. Due to the natural waste areas surrounding the holes, the bunkering mostly shapes the fairways and guards the greens. The fairways are fairly generous with large landing areas off the tee, but approach shots need to be placed well to avoid hazards.

Punta Espada

PGA Centenary, Gleneagles

Nicklaus hasn’t done a ton of design work in Scotland, but one of the few he did complete was the PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles Resort, located 50 miles outside of St. Andrews. The resort itself was opened in the early 20th century with two great courses, Queen’s Course and King’s Course, operating as the only golf on property until 1993 when Nicklaus built the PGA Centenary Course.

PGA Centenary Course at The Gleneagles Resort

Since its opening, the course has hosted the 2019 Solheim Cup and the 2014 Ryder Cup, both of which were won by Team Europe. This course is certainly a challenging layout and is longer than both its sister courses measuring 7,300 yards from the far tees.

PGA Centenary Course at The Gleneagles Resort

The layout is a little different than others Nicklaus designs. Tee shots are narrower, bunkers are mostly next to the fairways instead of in them, and there is very little water coming into play. With a location in the Scottish hills, the fairways and greens are rather undulating with many slight elevation changes from tees to fairways to greens.

PGA Centenary Course at The Gleneagles Resort

Quivira Golf Club

Built along the cliffs of the Pacific Ocean on the tip of the Baja Peninsula sits the immaculate Quivira Golf Club. Quivira is one of six golf courses that Nicklaus designed in the Cabo San Lucas area helping to put the golf on the international map.

Quivira Golf Club

Opened in 2014, this Nicklaus design is considered one of the best golf courses in the world with its unique terrain and spectacular views. Due to the setting on which the course was built, golfers will experience blind tee shots, rising and descending elevation changes, and sandy waste areas off the fairways. Holes 1-4 play in the valley before heading up into the mountains to play holes 5-17 before playing 18 back down into the valley. Quivira is definitely one of the golf courses that you should experience at least once in your lifetime.

Quivira Golf Club

Puerto Los Cabos

Located a little further up the coast from Quivira sits the 27-hole Puerto Los Cabos. The golf club is made up of three different 9-hole routes that can be made into a number of 18-hole combinations. Two of the three 9 holes courses were designed by Nicklaus and the third one was designed by Greg Norman.

Puerto Los Cabos

Opened in 2008, the Nicklaus courses (also called the Marina Course) plays over 7,300 yards from the farthest tees. The course has two holes that border the ocean: 5th hole green and the entire par-3 6th hole. Due to the rugged landscape of the area, golfers will find a lot of elevation changes specifically from tee to fairway. The course has decent sized fairways with bunkers strategically placed near the landing areas.

The greens are undulating, but generous in sized and guarded by deep bunkers and waste areas so precision will be key on the approach. The course has been ranked in the Top 10 of Best Courses in Mexico by Golf Advisor with its highest ranking being #2 in 2021.

Puerto Los Cabos

Nicklaus Tradition Course, Reunion Resort

The Tradition Course by Jack Nicklaus at Reunion Resort, Orlando, can be as deceptive as it is beautiful thanks to the smooth parkland-style layout that flows around the resort. Many of the holes are designed to tempt golfers into hitting risky shots with potentially big payoffs, making it a great matchplay golf course that offers endless entertainment.

Nicklaus Tradition Course, Reunion Resort

Feeling inspired?
Winner of 117 professional tournaments and owner of Nicklaus Design, The Golden Bear has it all. Be sure to make a stop at one of his many courses on your next golf break.
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Patrick Tarantino

Sales Team Leader

Sales Team Leader, I advise clients on golf courses and accommodation options for our US and overseas trips

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