Pebble Beach Golf Links
© Joanne Dost/Pebble Beach Golf Links®

Welcome to Celebrated Living’s Readers’ Choice Platinum List, a perennial go-to guide and popular summer tradition. Our travel-savvy readers have declared these hotels, golf courses, spas, and cruise lines to be the best of the best. Did your favorites make the list? Consider the following pages the ultimate resource for planning your next vacation or business trip.

Boasting some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the world, these reader-selected golf courses — including perennial favorites as well as a number of newcomers — are as much about the setting as they are about the pristine greens.

Water settings never hurt. Put a golf course near an ocean, sea, bay, lake, or firth and the appeal factor rises. Perch it on a cliff, still better. Unavailable? Call in the mountain ranges to surround the course. To complete the package, add compelling design, expert conditioning, and customer service as well as a top-notch resort experience as the glittering ribbon to tie it all together.
Mauna Kea Golf Course

Are there exceptions? To be sure, but Celebrated Living readers made their preferences clear by returning perennial favorite Pebble Beach Golf Links to the top spot on the U.S. Platinum List and giving the Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf links a stunning debut on the Platinum List in the seventh position.

Half Moon clearly studied the Pebble Beach playbook — multiple courses (Pebble’s Spyglass Hill has again been returned to the list), unparalleled lodging opportunities (The Lodge at Pebble Beach, The Inn at Spanish Bay, and Casa Palmero), and those all-compelling cliff-top holes.

Half Moon can’t claim the longevity of Pebble (the Jack Neville and Douglas Grant design opened in 1919), but the Arthur Hills-designed Ocean Course has hosted the 2008 LPGA Samsung World Championship and is a regular site for U.S. Open men’s and women’s qualifiers. And it has dramatic closing holes high above the Pacific, heading back toward the Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay.

Other California cliffside and seaside beauties include Monarch Beach golf links and Torrey Pines South course. The latter, with New York’s Bethpage Black, makes up the municipal-course segment of the list, while the former is allied with The St. Regis Monarch Beach. It loses the first two fairways for two days each year (June 25 to 26 in 2011) for the Concours d’ Elegance classic-car show — but no one seems to complain.

Further west are the Hawaiian entries — Mauna Kea golf course, the challenge at Manele, and the plantation Course — all of which have such a dizzying array of heroic, wind-blown ocean carry-shots that it’s difficult to pick a favorite (although readers put Mauna Kea in the No. 2 slot).

Further east, one of our Editors’ Mentions, Arcadia Bluffs, has just renovated its already elegant clubhouse overlooking Lake Michigan and has added 15 guest rooms with enticing stay-and-play options. Likewise, the Dunes Golf & Beach Club in Myrtle Beach extensively renovated its historic clubhouse.