by Matt Alderton | November 29, 2017
Swim with sharks. Learn to fly a plane. Bungee jump. Write a book. Run a marathon. See an erupting volcano. From the interesting to the insane, people dream of doing all sorts of things before they die. As an incentive planner, it's your job to help them cross at least one thing off their list as thanks for a job well done. If your incentive recipients measure fun in units of "par," that thing should be 18 holes at one of these world-famous golf destinations. Steeped in history, tradition, sport, and scenery, each promises to leave incentive winners with memories that stay with them long after the game is over.

St. Andrews, Scotland
St. Andrew isn't just Scotland's patron saint; he's also the namesake for St. Andrews, a town on Scotland's east coast that is known as the "home of golf." Its nickname is well deserved: Not only is golf said to have originated in St. Andrews in the 15th century, but the town also is home to the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, which was established in 1754 and serves as golf's official governing body in 140 countries around the world -- everywhere but the United States and Mexico, to be exact. The area is home to seven public courses, including the iconic Old Course, which is the oldest golf course in the world and, as such, a popular "pilgrimage" site for avid golfers across the globe. Stay at the 144-room Old Course Hotel and be sure to check out the famous attractions in town, including St. Andrews Cathedral and The British Golf Museum.

Ballybunion, Ireland
The Scots may have invented golf, but the Irish have certainly perfected it. Case in point: Ballybunion, a coastal town and seaside resort in County Kerry, Ireland. Home to the Ballybunion Golf Club, which was founded in 1893, it boasts two traditional links-style golf courses: the Old Course and the Cashen Course, established in 1893 and 1984, respectively. Occupying a stretch of sand dunes on Ireland's southwest coast, both courses overlook the Atlantic Ocean and are just a short drive from other Irish golfing gems, including Lahinch, Waterville, Tralee, and Old Head. Five-time Open champion Tom Watson called the Old Course "one of the best and most beautiful tests of links golf anywhere." Although the private golf club lacks onsite accommodations, adjacent options include the boutique Teach de Broc guesthouse, the five-star Tides B&B, and the 45-room Cliff House Hotel.

Hawke's Bay, New Zealand
There's a reason director James Cameron chose to film the movie Avatar in New Zealand: its landscape is otherworldly. And so, it turns out, is its golf. Especially in Hawke's Bay on the east coast of New Zealand's North Island. Known for its beaches and wineries, it's also home to Cape Kidnappers, an 18-hole course that was designed by famed golf course architect Tom Doak. Opened in 2004, it occupies a series of finger-shaped ridges and valleys that overlook the sea from atop steep cliffs and bluffs that plunge into the water below. The dramatic terrain makes not only for gobsmacking views, but also challenging gameplay. Stay at the course's lodge, The Farm, which is a member of Relais & Châteaux and one of the top 100 hotels in the world, according to Travel + Leisure.

Kohler, WI
Back in the States, some of the best golf can be found in some of the most unexpected places -- like the Upper Midwest. There, you'll find not one, but four golf courses designed by Hall of Fame architect Pete Dye: the River and Meadow Valleys courses at Blackwolf Run and the Straits and Irish courses at Whistling Straits. The latter is the highlight, having hosted the PGA Championship three times. Designed in the style of an Irish links course, it sits on what used to be an abandoned airfield. Thanks to 7,000 truckloads of dirt, however, the once-flat Straits is now a rolling landscape of sand dunes, native grasses, and approximately 1,000 bunkers. Although the prettiest holes are the eight adjacent to Lake Michigan, the most challenging are located further inland. Nearby, stay at The American Club Resort, which was ranked as one of the best hotels in the country in 2017 by U.S. News & World Report. And don't miss the spa; owned and operated by The Kohler Co. -- known for its luxurious plumbing fixtures -- it's one of the most sumptuous spots in the Midwest.

Pebble Beach, CA
Located in Monterey County, CA, Pebble Beach Resorts is home to five distinct golf courses: Peter Hay Golf Course, Del Monte Golf Course, The Links at Spanish Bay, Spyglass Hill Golf Course, and the eponymous Pebble Beach Golf Links, which was built in 1919 and designed by Jack Neville and Douglas Grant. One of the most famous golf courses in America, if not the world, the latter has hosted five U.S. Open national championships and is slated to host its sixth in 2019. Although it plays slow -- five- and six-hour games are typical -- players are grateful for every moment they get to spend on the seaside course, which is best known for its par-5 18th hole; a crescent-shaped hole that hugs the rocky cliffs separating Pebble Beach from the Pacific Ocean, The New York Times once called it "a perfect intersection between golf and nature." For views of the hole and the striking scenery behind it, stay at The Lodge -- a 161-room hotel built the same year as the golf course, where you also should dine at The Tap Room, a steakhouse and watering hole renowned for its extensive collection of historic golf memorabilia.