World\u0027s 100 Greatest Golf Courses\u000AThe Methodology | Photos: The Top 20 | Best Courses In 205 Countries\u000A\u000AAmerica\u0027s 100 Greatest Courses | America\u0027s 100 Greatest Public Courses\u000AThe Methodology\u000A\u000A | Photos: The Top 20\u000A\u000A | Best Courses In 205 Countries\u000A\u000AAmerica\u0027s 100 Greatest Courses\u000A\u000A | America\u0027s 100 Greatest Public Courses\u000A1. PINE VALLEY G.C.\u000A\u000APine Valley, N.J., U.S.A. / 7,057 yards, Par 70\u000A\u000A1. PINE VALLEY G.C.\u000A\u000AA genuine original, its unique character forged from the sandy pine barrens of southwest Jersey. Founder George Crump had help from architects H.S. Colt, A.W. Tillinghast, George C. Thomas Jr. and Walter Travis. Hugh Wilson of Merion fame finished the job. Pine Valley blends all three schools of golf design -- penal, heroic and strategic -- throughout the course, often times on a single hole.\u000A2. CYPRESS POINT CLUB\u000A\u000APebble Beach, U.S.A. / 6,524 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000A2. CYPRESS POINT CLUB\u000A\u000AAlister MacKenzie\u0027s masterpiece, woven through cypress, sand dunes and jagged coastline. In the 2000s, member Sandy Tatum, a former USGA president who christened Cypress Point as the Sistine Chapel of golf, convinced the club not to combat technology by adding new back tees, but instead make a statement by celebrating its original architecture. So Cypress remains timeless, if short, its charm helped in part by the re-establishment of MacKenzie\u0027s fancy bunkering.\u000A3. AUGUSTA NATIONAL G.C.\u000A\u000AAugusta, Ga., U.S.A. / 7,435 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000A3. AUGUSTA NATIONAL G.C.\u000A\u000ANo club has tinkered with its golf course as often or as effectively over the decades as has Augusta National, mainly to keep it competitive for the annual Masters Tournament, an event it has conducted since 1934, with time off during WWII. All that tinkering has resulted in an amalgamation of design ideas, with a routing by Alister MacKenzie and Bob Jones, some Perry Maxwell greens, some Trent Jones water hazards, some Jack Nicklaus mounds and, most recently, extensive lengthening and rebunkering by Tom Fazio.\u000AROYAL COUNTY DOWN G.C.\u000A\u000ANewcastle, County Down, Northern Ireland / 7,186 yards, Par 71\u000A\u000AROYAL COUNTY DOWN G.C.\u000A\u000AOn a clear spring day, with Dundrum Bay to the east, the Mountains of Mourne to the south and gorse-covered dunes in golden bloom, there is no lovelier place in golf. The design is attributed to Old Tom Morris but was refined by a half dozen architects in the past 120 years, most recently by Donald Steel. Though the greens are surprisingly flat, as if to compensate for the rugged terrain and numerous blind shots, bunkers are a definite highlight, most with arched eyebrows of dense marram grasses and impenetrable clumps of heather.\u000A5. SHINNECOCK HILLS G.C.\u000A\u000ASouthampton, N.Y., U.S.A. / 7,041 yards, Par 70\u000A\u000A5. SHINNECOCK HILLS G.C.\u000A\u000AGenerally considered to be the earliest links in America, heavily remodeled twice by C.B. Macdonald, then replaced (except for three holes) by William S. Flynn in the early 1930s. It\u0027s so sublime that its architecture hasn\u0027t really been fiddled with in nearly 50 years, although the team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw has made a few changes to prepare Shinnecock for the 2018 U.S. Open.\u000AROYAL DORNOCH G.C. (CHAMPIONSHIP)\u000A\u000ADornoch, Sutherland, Scotland / 6,704 yards, Par 70\u000A\u000AROYAL DORNOCH G.C. (CHAMPIONSHIP)\u000A\u000AHerbert Warren Wind called it the most natural course in the world. Tom Watson called it the most fun he\u0027d had playing golf. Donald Ross called it his home, having been born in the village and learned the game on the links. Tucked in an arc of dunes along the North Sea shoreline, Dornoch\u0027s greens, some by Old Tom Morris, others by John Sutherland or tour pro George Duncan, sit mostly on plateaus and don\u0027t really favor bounce-and-run golf. That\u0027s the challenge: hitting those greens in a Dornoch wind.\u000ATHE OLD COURSE AT ST. ANDREWS LINKS\u000A\u000ASt. Andrews, Fife, Scotland / 7,279 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000ATHE OLD COURSE AT ST. ANDREWS LINKS\u000A\u000AThe Old Course at St. Andrews is ground zero for all golf architecture. Every course designed since has either been in response to one or more of its features, or in reaction against it. Architects either favor the Old Course\u0027s blind shots or detest them, either embrace St. Andrews\u0027s enormous greens or consider them a waste of turf. Latest polarizing topic: Martin Hawtree\u0027s design changes at the Old Course, in advance of the 2015 British Open. Many consider it blasphemy.\u000AMUIRFIELD\u000A\u000AGullane, East Lothian, Scotland / 7,209 yards, Par 71\u000A\u000AMUIRFIELD\u000A\u000AMuirfield is universally admired as a low-key, straightforward links with fairways seemingly containing a million traffic bumps. Except for a blind tee shot on the 11th, every shot is visible and well-defined. Greens are the correct size to fit the expected iron of approach. The routing changes direction on every hole to pose different wind conditions. The front runs clockwise, the back counterclockwise, but history mistakenly credits Old Tom Morris with Muirfield\u0027s returning nines. That was the result of H.S. Colt\u0027s 1925 redesign.\u000AROYAL MELBOURNE G.C. (WEST CSE.)\u000A\u000AMelbourne, Victoria, Australia / 6,643 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000AROYAL MELBOURNE G.C. (WEST CSE.)\u000A\u000AAlister MacKenzie\u0027s 1926 routing fits snuggly into the contours of the rolling sandbelt land. His greens are miniature versions of the surrounding topography. His crisp bunkering, with vertical edges a foot or more tall, chew into fairways and putting surfaces. Most holes dogleg, so distance means nothing and angle into the pin is everything. For championships, holes 8 & 9 and 13 - 16 are skipped in favor of six from the East Course, which is ranked 28th. That \u0022composite course\u0022 was once ranked by several publications.\u000A10. OAKMONT C.C.\u000A\u000AOakmont, Pa., U.S.A. / 7,255 yards, Par 71\u000A\u000A10. OAKMONT C.C.\u000A\u000AOnce the epitome of a green chairman gone crazy (old man William C. Fownes would stake out new bunkers whenever and where ever he saw a player hit an offline shot), Oakmont now represents the zenith of architectural restoration. It began with the deforestation of thousands of non-native trees planted by decades of green committees and continued with Tom Fazio\u0027s reclamation of the game\u0027s nastiest, most notorious bunkers and deep drainage ditches. Oh yes, Oakmont also has the game\u0027s swiftest putting surfaces. They actually slow them down for professional tournament play, like the upcoming U.S. Open in 2016.\u000ABARNBOUGLE DUNES\u000A\u000ABridport, Tasmania, Australia / 6,721 yards, Par 71\u000A\u000ABARNBOUGLE DUNES\u000A\u000AA 2004 collaboration of American superstar designer Tom Doak and Australian tour-pro turned architect Michael Clayton, this is a tremendous 18 in a fantastic stretch of sand dunes along Bass Strait, the sea that separates Tasmania from Melbourne. What is fascinating is that the back nine is completely reversed from how Doak originally routed it. So was the site that good that, once construction started, Doak and Clayton were able to find nine new green sites at the opposite ends of holes originally envisioned? Or did they create those \u0022natural\u0022 green sites?\u000A12. SAND HILLS G.C.\u000A\u000AMullen, Neb., U.S.A. / 7,089 yards, Par 71\u000A\u000A12. SAND HILLS G.C.\u000A\u000AThe golf course wasn\u0027t so much designed as discovered. Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw trudged back and forth over a thousand acres of rolling sand hills in central Nebraska, flagging out naturally-occurring fairways and greens. By moving just 4,000 cubic yards of earth, and letting the winds shape (and reshape) the bunkers, the duo created what is undoubtedly the most natural golf course in America.\u000A13. NATIONAL G. LINKS OF AMERICA\u000A\u000ASouthampton, N.Y., U.S.A. / 6,935 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000A13. NATIONAL G. LINKS OF AMERICA\u000A\u000AAs the 2013 Walker Cup reminded us, National Golf Links is a true links containing a marvelous collection of strategic holes. Credit architect C.B. Macdonald, who designed National as a collection of his favorite features from grand old British golf holes. Macdonald\u0027s versions are actually superior in strategy to the originals, which is why National\u0027s design is still studied by golf architects today.\u000A14. MERION G.C. (EAST)\u000A\u000AArdmore, Pa., U.S.A. / 6,886 yards, Par 70\u000A\u000A14. MERION G.C. (EAST)\u000A\u000AWhat a treat it was to see Merion East, long considered the best course on the tightest acreage in America, hosting the 2013 U.S. Open. Today\u0027s generation of big hitters couldn\u0027t conquer the little old course. They couldn\u0027t stay on its canted fairways edged by creeks, hodge-podge rough and OB stakes and they couldn\u0027t consistently hit its canted greens edged by bunkers that stare back. Let\u0027s hope it doesn\u0027t take another 32 years for the U.S. Open to return to Merion.\u000A15. PEBBLE BEACH G. LINKS\u000A\u000APebble Beach, U.S.A. / 6,828 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000A15. PEBBLE BEACH G. LINKS\u000A\u000ANot just the greatest meeting of land and sea in American golf, but the most extensive one, too, with nine holes perched immediately above the crashing Pacific surf -- the fourth through 10th plus the 17th and 18th. Pebble\u0027s sixth through eighth are golf\u0027s real Amen Corner, with a few Hail Marys thrown in over a ocean cove on eight from atop a 75-foot-high bluff. Pebble will host another U.S. Amateur in 2018, and its sixth U.S. Open in 2019.\u000AROYAL PORTRUSH G.C.\u000A\u000APortrush, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland / 7,143 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000AROYAL PORTRUSH G.C.\u000A\u000AAn Old Tom Morris design reworked by H.S. Colt in the 1930s. He fit fairways into seams between dunes and molded one of the best set of putting surfaces in the world, making Portrush what many feel is Colt\u0027s finest design. His most notorious hole is the uphill 210-yard par-3 14th, called Calamity, as there\u0027s a steep drop to oblivion on its right. Portrush is the only Irish course to host the Open, back in 1951. Now updated by Martin Hawtree, there\u0027s talk it may finally return, perhaps in 2018.\u000A17. FISHERS ISLAND CLUB\u000A\u000AFishers Island, N.Y., U.S.A. / 6,566 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000A17. FISHERS ISLAND CLUB\u000A\u000AProbably the consummate design of architect Seth Raynor, who died in early 1926, before the course had opened. His steeply-banked bunkers and geometric greens harmonize perfectly with the linear panoramas of the Atlantic Ocean and Long Island Sound. The quality of the holes is also superb, with all of Raynor\u0027s usual suspects, including not one but two Redan greens, one on a par 4.\u000AHIRONO G.C.\u000A\u000AHirono, Hyogo, Japan / 6,925 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000AHIRONO G.C.\u000A\u000AUndoubted the finest design of globetrotting C.H. Alison, longtime partner of H.S. Colt. He laid out Hirono in the early 1930s in a hilly pine forest slashed by gulleys, clearing wide corridors and positioning greens on the crests of ridges. What makes Hirono special was Alison\u0027s spectacular bunkering, which ranged from diagonal cross bunkers, fearsome carry bunkers and strings of ragged-edged ones. Soon after completion, writers were calling Hirono the Pine Valley of Japan.\u000ATURNBERRY RESORT (AILSA)\u000A\u000ATurnberry, Ayrshire, Scotland / 7,211 yards, Par 70\u000A\u000ATURNBERRY RESORT (AILSA)\u000A\u000AA legendary links ravaged by WWII, it was re-established to its present quality by architect Philip Mackenzie Ross, who tore away concrete landing strips to create a dramatic back nine and built a set of varied greens, some receptive, other not so much. Its revetted bunkering is not P.M. Ross; Peter Alliss and Dave Thomas created them before the 1977 Open. More recently Martin Ebert altered some holes, notably the famed par-4 16th, turning it into a dogleg but retaining the burn before the green.\u000AKINGSTON HEATH G.C.\u000A\u000ACheltenham, Victoria, Australia / 6,494 meters, Par 72\u000A\u000AKINGSTON HEATH G.C.\u000A\u000AConsidered an Alister MacKenzie design, but in fact Australian pro Des Soutar designed the course in 1925. MacKenzie made a brief visit the following year and suggested the bunkering, which was constructed by Mick Morcom before he built Royal Melbourne\u0027s two courses. The bunkers are long, sinewy, shaggy, gnarly, windswept and, of course, strategically placed. Some say MacKenzie\u0027s tee-to-green stretch of bunkers on the par-3 15th set the standard for all Sandbelt layouts.\u000A21. PACIFIC DUNES\u000A\u000ABandon, Ore., U.S.A. / 6,633 yards, Par 71\u000A\u000A21. PACIFIC DUNES\u000A\u000AThe second course built at Bandon Dunes Resort. To best utilize ocean frontage, Tom Doak came up with an unorthodox routing that includes four par 3s on the back nine. Holes seem to emerge from the landscape rather than being superimposed onto it. The rolling greens and rumpled fairways are framed by rugged sand dunes and marvelously grotesque bunkers. The secret is Doak moved a lot of earth to make it look like he moved very little.\u000ACAPE KIDNAPPERS\u000A\u000AHawke\u0027s Bay, New Zealand / 7,147 yards, Par 71\u000A\u000ACAPE KIDNAPPERS\u000A\u000ANot a links, more like stratospheric Pebble Beach, high atop a windswept plateau some 500 feet above the sea. The 2004 design truly demonstrates the lay-of-the-land philosophy of architect Tom Doak, who ran holes out and back along a series of ridges perpendicular with the coastline, most framed by deep canyons. The fairways are wide, but Doak rewards bold tee shots that flirt with ravines and some of the deepest bunkers Doak has ever built. Cape Kidnappers was also the International winner of a 2012 Environmental Leaders in Golf Award, co-sponsored by Golf Digest.\u000ABARNBOUGLE LOST FARM\u000A\u000ABridport, Tasmania, Australia / 6,849 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000ABARNBOUGLE LOST FARM\u000A\u000AOn a site just across the river from sister Barnbougle Dunes (No. 11), with taller dunes but fewer of them, Lost Farm has not 18, but 20 holes, counting its two short pitch-shot bye holes. The design is dramatic and unusual, particularly the par-4 fifth, a dogleg right along the river, whose blind tee shot brings to mind the 17th at St. Andrews. Instead of old black sheds, a high dune blocks view of the fairway from the tee. Billed as a Coore & Crenshaw design, schedule conflicts kept Ben Crenshaw from participating in this design. Bill Coore used the usual C&C team, though.\u000A24. WINGED FOOT G.C. (WEST)\u000A\u000AMamaroneck, N.Y., U.S.A. / 7,258 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000A24. WINGED FOOT G.C. (WEST)\u000A\u000AGone are all the Norway Spruce that once squeezed every fairway of Winged Foot West. It\u0027s now gloriously open and playable, at least until one reaches the putting surfaces, perhaps the finest set of green contours the versatile architect A.W. Tillinghast ever did, now being restored to original parameters by architect Gil Hanse. The greens look like giant mushrooms, curled and slumped around the edges, proving that as a course architect, Tillinghast was not a fun guy. Winged Foot West will host the 2020 U.S. Open.\u000A25. CRYSTAL DOWNS C.C.\u000A\u000AFrankfort, Mich. / 6,518 yards, Par 70\u000A\u000A25. CRYSTAL DOWNS C.C.\u000A\u000APerry Maxwell, the Midwest associate of architect Alister MacKenzie, lived on site while constructing the course to MacKenzie\u0027s plans, but there\u0027s evidence Maxwell exercised considerable artistic license on some holes. Whomever did it, Crystal Downs has fairways that zigzag and rumble over the landscape and greens that have doglegs in them. One drawback is that the putting surfaces are so old-fashioned that they\u0027re too steep for today\u0027s green speeds. The club keeps a running tally on how many putts end up off the putting surface.\u000A26. CHICAGO G.C.\u000A\u000AWheaton, Ill., U.S.A. / 6,846 yards, Par 70\u000A\u000A26. CHICAGO G.C.\u000A\u000AThis is not America\u0027s first 18-hole golf course. The first was a C.B. Macdonald creation, also bearing the name Chicago G.C., which opened near Downers Grove, Ill. in 1893. Three years later, the club moved to Wheaton, where Macdonald laid out what he called, \u0022a really first-class 18-hole course of 6,200 yards.\u0022 It was remodeled into its present configuration, emulating famous holes, in 1923 by Macdonald\u0027s longtime assistant Seth Raynor. One thing Raynor retained was Macdonald\u0027s routing, with all the out-of-bounds on the left. C.B., you see, was a slicer.\u000ABALLYBUNION G.C. (OLD CSE.)\u000A\u000ABallybunion, County Kerry, Ireland / 6,802 yards, Par 71\u000A\u000ABALLYBUNION G.C. (OLD CSE.)\u000A\u000ABallybunion has always been great, but it wasn\u0027t until they relocated the clubhouse in 1971 to the southern end that it became thrilling. The move turned the old finish of anticlimactic back-to-back par 5s, into the fourth and fifth holes, and shifted the new closing holes to ones in spectacular dunes just north of the intersection of the Shannon River and the Atlantic Ocean. Honorary member Tom Watson suggested modest design changes in the 1990s. Three years ago, Martin Hawtree added new tees atop dunes.\u000AROYAL MELBOURNE G.C. (EAST)\u000A\u000AMelbourne, Victoria, Australia / 6,579 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000AROYAL MELBOURNE G.C. (EAST)\u000A\u000AFormer Australian Open champion Alex Russell and greenkeeper Mick Morcom built the West Course to plans by Alister MacKenzie, then added the East in 1931, on somewhat less inspiring land, flatter and more wooded. But the bunkering and green contours are very similar to the West. (Mackenzie had routed a nine-hole East Course that was never built. Russell incorporated a few of those holes.) A slight flaw may be that all four par 3s play in the same northerly direction. For composite tournament play, East\u0027s holes 1-3 and 16-18 are used along with 12 of the West holes.\u000A29. SAN FRANCISCO G.C.\u000A\u000ASan Francisco, Calif., U.S.A. / 6,828 yards, Par 71\u000A\u000A29. SAN FRANCISCO G.C.\u000A\u000ASan Francisco Golf Club\u0027s clever routing was done mostly by a trio of club members, who first staked out the course in 1916. A.W. Tillinghast remodeled the course in 1923, establishing its signature greens and bunkering. He also added the par-3 seventh, called the \u0022Duel Hole\u0022 because its location marks the spot of the last legal duel in America. Three holes were replaced in 1950 in anticipation of a street-widening project that never happened. In 2006, those holes were restored by Tom Doak.\u000AST. GEORGE\u0027S G. & C.C.\u000A\u000AEtobicoke, Ontario, Canada / 7,145 yards, Par 71\u000A\u000AST. GEORGE\u0027S G. & C.C.\u000A\u000AAn outstanding Stanley Thompson design routed through forest-covered glacial land, with meandering fairways that diagonally traverse valleys and greens perched on domes. The putting surfaces are tightly bunkered and full of hidden undulations. These are considered some of Thompson\u0027s best bunkers, thanks in part to Canadian architect Ian Andrew, who supervised their rebuilding over a five-year period, highlighting their sweeping lines and graceful movements.\u000ACARNOUSTIE G. LINKS (CHAMPIONSHIP)\u000A\u000ACarnoustie, Angus, Scotland / 7,421 yards, Par 71\u000A\u000ACARNOUSTIE G. LINKS (CHAMPIONSHIP)\u000A\u000APerhaps the homeliest, certainly the longest and toughest of Open venues, Carnoustie is a no-holds-barred layout intended to test the best. James Braid is usually credited with the present design, but it was green chairman James Wright who in 1931 created the stirring last three holes, 17 and 18 harassed by twisting, turning Barry Burn. In the 1968 Open, Jack Nicklaus complained that a knob in the middle of the ninth fairway kicked his drives into the rough. When he returned for the 1975 Open, he found it\u0027d been converted to a pot bunker.\u000AGOLF DE MORFONTAINE\u000A\u000ASenlis, Oise, France / 6,545 yards, Par 70\u000A\u000AGOLF DE MORFONTAINE\u000A\u000AA timeless 1927 design north of Paris by British architect Tom Simpson, Morfontaine looks suspiciously like a heathland course around London, with windswept Scotch pines and clumps of heather atop a base of sand. But it\u0027s tighter than Sunningdale or St. George\u0027s Hill, and the forest surrounding holes is far denser. A decade ago, American architect Kyle Phillips updated the layout, adding a new 12th green to extend the par-5 by 60 yards. It fits in perfectly.\u000ANEW SOUTH WALES G.C.\u000A\u000ALe Perouse, New South Wales, Australia / 6,829 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000ANEW SOUTH WALES G.C.\u000A\u000AOn the dramatic rugged seacoast of Botany Bay near Sydney, on the spot where Captain Cook first stepped onto Australia in 1770, La Perouse is renown for its ocean views and high winds. On his brief but productive 1926 trip, Alister MacKenzie prepared a routing for the course, but it was radically altered during a 1936 remodeling by Eric Apperly and by neglect during WWII. A succession of post-war architects have slowly re-established the integrity of the design, most recently Greg Norman.\u000ATHE LINKS AT FANCOURT\u000A\u000AGeorge, Western Cape, South Africa / 7,578 yards, Par 73\u000A\u000ATHE LINKS AT FANCOURT\u000A\u000ACreated by Gary Player and then-associate Phil Jacobs from a dead flat airfield, over 760,000 cubic yards of earth were churned and piled to create the first faux links in South Africa. (Player later added the similarly-themed Bramble Hill G.C. next door.) They used cool-season grasses to promote bounce-and-roll on their topsy-turvy fairways. Greens, mostly long and thin or wide and shallow, are guarded by revetted pot bunkers. The Links at Fancourt hosted the 2003 Presidents Cup as well as the 2005 South African Open and 2012 Volvo on the European Tour.\u000A35. BETHPAGE STATE PARK (BLACK)\u000A\u000AFarmingdale, N.Y., U.S.A. / 7,366 yards, Par 71\u000A\u000A35. BETHPAGE STATE PARK (BLACK)\u000A\u000ASprawling Bethpage Black, designed in the mid-1930s to be \u0022the public Pine Valley,\u0022 became the darling of the U.S.G.A. in the early 2000s, when it hosted both its 2002 and 2009 U.S. Opens on it. Then it became a darling of the PGA Tour as host of the 2011 Barclays. Now the PGA of America has embraced The Black, awarding it the 2019 PGA Championship and 2024 Ryder Cup. Heady stuff for something that was once a scruffy state park haunt.\u000A36. PRAIRIE DUNES C.C..\u000A\u000AHutchinson, Kan., U.S.A. / 6,853 yards, Par 70\u000A\u000A36. PRAIRIE DUNES C.C..\u000A\u000APrairie Dunes was the top nine-hole course in America for 20 years. By the time the club found funds to expand it to 18, original architect Perry Maxwell had passed away, but his son Press was able to add nine more holes seamlessly, putting three on the front nine and six on the back. He also replicated his father\u0027s great greens. Prairie Dunes reflects all that is Kansas: sand dunes, prairie grasses, yucca plants, cottonwoods and constant wind.\u000A37. FRIAR\u0027S HEAD G.C.\u000A\u000ABaiting Hollow, N.Y., U.S.A. / 6,846 yards, Par 71\u000A\u000A37. FRIAR\u0027S HEAD G.C.\u000A\u000AThe challenge for architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw at Friar\u0027s Head was to design some holes in breathtaking sand dunes perched 200 feet above Long Island Sound, and other holes on an ordinary potato field to the south. Said Crenshaw, \u0022Our job was to marry the two distinct elements. We didn\u0027t want one nine up in the dunes and the other down on the flat.\u0022 The solution was to move the routing back and forth and to artfully reshape the farm fields into gentle linkslike land. They pulled it off.\u000AROYAL BIRKDALE G.C.\u000A\u000ASouthport, England / 7,173 yards, Par 70\u000A\u000AROYAL BIRKDALE G.C.\u000A\u000AThree generations of the Hawtree design firm, oldest in the world, are responsible for Royal Birkdale. Patriarch Frederic G. did the present design, with its surprisingly flat fairways and docile greens between towering dunes, in 1931. Thirty years later, son Fred W. remodeled it, adding the now-classic par-3 12th. Forty years after that, grandson Martin revised the course for its ninth British Open. Royal Birkdale has also been the venue for the Women\u0027s British Open, Ryder Cup, Walker Cup and Curtis Cup.\u000AKAURI CLIFFS\u000A\u000AMatauri Bay, New Zealand / 7,151 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000AKAURI CLIFFS\u000A\u000ALike Cape Kidnappers 400 miles to the southeast, Kauri Cliffs occupies an old sheep ranch atop an ocean-front plateau laced with canyons. Unlike Kidnappers, the 2000 layout by design-and-built guy Dave Harman of Orlando, has hills of native rough, stands of fern and more forced carries over gorges. The topography allowed Harman to string the seventh and eighth and 14th through 17th holes parallel to the edge of the Pacific, although several hundred feet above it. Sadly, Harman died in 2004 of tongue cancer. Kauri Cliffs was his finest achievement.\u000AANYANG C.C.\u000A\u000ABugok-dong, Kunpo-si, Kyonggi-do, South Korea / 6,951 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000AANYANG C.C.\u000A\u000AKorea\u0027s top-ranked course was cut from thick tree cover in 1968 by Japanese golf architect Chohei Miyazawa, but it didn\u0027t become great until Robert Trent Jones Jr. remodeled the layout in 1996, reshaping greens, rebunkering holes and adding some strategic ponds, particular on two par 3s, the fourth and 17th. The club\u0027s name was changed to Anyang Benest Country Club in 1996; it reverted to its original name in 2013.\u000ASUNNINGDALE G.C. (OLD CSE.)\u000A\u000ASunningdale, Ascot, Berkshire, England / 6,627 yards, Par 70\u000A\u000ASUNNINGDALE G.C. (OLD CSE.)\u000A\u000AA Willie Park Jr. design that dates from 1901, it\u0027s perhaps the most advanced design of its day. Chopped from a pine forest but designed like a links, with the ninth at the far end of property, it plays like a links, too, for there\u0027s a sand base beneath the turf. The Old has big greens, as Park put a premium on approach putting, and artful bunkers, with both angled cross bunkers and necklaces of sand hampering direct routes to some greens. To American visitors, the look of Sunningdale brings to mind Pine Valley or Pinehurst.\u000ACABOT LINKS\u000A\u000AInverness, Nova Scotia, Canada / 6,854 yards, Par 70\u000A\u000ACABOT LINKS\u000A\u000ANot a natural links, though it looks like it, Cabot Links was manmade by designer-shaper Rod Whitman on a coastal coal mine staging area that serviced mines beneath the sea. Bump-and-run on firm fescue turf is the game on this understated links, with muted dunes, austere bunkering and gentle, generous greens. Call it Canada\u0027s Portmarnock, though Ireland has no match for Cabot\u0027s postcard par-4 11th, a dogleg-left around a tidal yacht basin. In early routings, it was to be the closing hole.\u000A43. SEMINOLE G.C.\u000A\u000AJuno Beach, Fla., U.S.A. / 6,836 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000A43. SEMINOLE G.C.\u000A\u000AA majestic Donald Ross design with a clever routing on a rectangular site, each hole at Seminole encounters a new wind direction. The greens are no longer Ross, replaced 50 years ago in a regrassing effort that showed little appreciation for the original rolling contours. The bunkers aren\u0027t Ross, either. Dick Wilson replaced them in 1947, his own version meant to the imitate crests of waves on the adjacent Atlantic. Seminole has long been one of America\u0027s most exclusive clubs, which is why it\u0027s exciting that it will host the 2021 Walker Cup.\u000AROYAL PORTHCAWL G.C.\u000A\u000APorthcawl, Mid Glamorgan, Wales / 7,065 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000AROYAL PORTHCAWL G.C.\u000A\u000AConsidered a seaside venue but not a true links, Royal Porthcawl, situated on the south coast of Wales, doesn\u0027t have returning nines, but it\u0027s not an out-and-back routing. Instead, the front nine moves in a clockwise crescent-shaped manner, with the back nine running counterclockwise inside the crescent. Only the first three holes play adjacent to Bristol Channel, but there are ocean views and ocean winds on all the inland holes too, which are on higher ground. The 2014 British Senior Open will be contested at Royal Porthcawl.\u000A45. LOS ANGELES C.C. (NORTH CSE.)\u000A\u000ALos Angeles, Calif., U.S.A. / 7,236 yards, Par 71\u000A\u000A45. LOS ANGELES C.C. (NORTH CSE.)\u000A\u000AIt\u0027s on the edge of tinsel town, but the architecture of the North Course at Los Angeles Country Club is solid gold since its 2010 restoration by architect Gil Hanse, his associate Jim Wagner and their colleague Geoff Shackelford. It matters not that Hanse\u0027s team didn\u0027t replicate the bunkering style of original architect George C. Thomas, but rather the more visually exciting style of Thomas\u0027s associate, William P. Bell. The bunkers will look sensational when LA North hosts the 2017 Walker Cup.\u000A46. PINEHURST RESORT (CSE. NO. 2)\u000A\u000AVillage of Pinehurst, N.C., U.S.A. / 7,495 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000A46. PINEHURST RESORT (CSE. NO. 2)\u000A\u000AIn 2010, a team lead by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw killed and ripped out all the Bermudagrass rough on Pinehurst No. 2 that had been foolishly planted in the 1970s. Between fairways and tree lines, they established vast bands of native hardpan sand dotted with clumps of wiregrass and scattered pine needles. They reduced the irrigation to mere single rows in fairways to prevent grass from ever returning to the new sandy wastelands. It will be an intriguing fortnight when the 2014 men\u0027s and women\u0027s U.S. Opens are played on consecutive weeks at No. 2.\u000A47. RIVIERA C.C.\u000A\u000APacific Palisades, Calif., U.S.A. / 7,298 yards, Par 71\u000A\u000A47. RIVIERA C.C.\u000A\u000AA compact but clever design by George C. Thomas Jr. and associate William P. Bell, Riviera features everything from a long Redan par 3 to a bunker in the middle of a green to an alternate-fairway par 4. With its 18th green at the base of a natural amphitheater, Riviera seems tailor-made for tournament play. It\u0027s hosted an annual PGA Tour event, but no U.S. Open since 1948. It\u0027s the site of the 2017 U.S. Amateur. Will that be a harbinger of a bigger USGA event to come?\u000A48. WHISTLING STRAITS (STRAITS CSE.)\u000A\u000AHaven, Wis., U.S.A. 2004 & 2010 PGAs / 7,790 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000A48. WHISTLING STRAITS (STRAITS CSE.)\u000A\u000APete Dye transformed a dead flat abandoned army air base along a two-mile stretch of Lake Michigan into an imitation Ballybunion at Whistling Straits, peppering his rugged fairways and windswept greens with 967 (at last count) bunkers. There are no rakes at Whistling Straits, in keeping with the notion that this is a transplanted Irish links. It has too much rub-of-the-green for most tour pros. We wonder how the Straits will play for the 2015 PGA Championship and the 2020 Ryder Cup.\u000AVALDERRAMA G.C.\u000A\u000ASotogrande, Cádiz, Spain / 6,990 yards, Par 71\u000A\u000AVALDERRAMA G.C.\u000A\u000ABest known as the site of the 1997 Ryder Cup, won by Europe, Valderrama was a favorite design of the late architect Robert Trent Jones. His tight, twisting fairways, pinched at every turn by squat olive trees, led to surprisingly small putting surfaces protected by Trent\u0027s trademark splashy bunkers. Valderrama contains one of the more controversial holes in golf: the par-5 17th guarded by water in front, which European captain Seve Ballesteros toughened for that Ryder Cup. It influenced the outcome.\u000AKINGSBARNS G. LINKS\u000A\u000ASt. Andrews, Fife, Scotland / 7,181 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000AKINGSBARNS G. LINKS\u000A\u000AKingsbarns looks so natural in its links setting, a tribute to owner Mark Parsinen and architect Kyle Phillips, who collaborated on transforming a lifeless farm field into a course that fools even the most discerning eye. The routing is ingenious, crescent-shaped along the Fife coast, with holes on three separate levels (130 feet of elevation change in all) to provide ocean views from every fairway. Six holes play right on the shoreline, and every hole offer genuine alternate angles of attack.\u000AKAWANA HOTEL G. CSE. (FUJI CSE.)\u000A\u000AIto, Shizuoka, Japan / 6,691 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000AKAWANA HOTEL G. CSE. (FUJI CSE.)\u000A\u000AC.H. Alison\u0027s 1936 design for Japan\u0027s first golf resort has long been dubbed the Pebble Beach of Japan, but it\u0027s far more mountainous. That\u0027s evident from the opening hole, which drops down a tumbling fairway framed by twisted pines to a green with Sagami Bay as its backdrop. The sea also backdrops the steep downhill fourth, seventh, 10th, 11th, 14th and 15th holes. Unlike at No. 18 Hirono, Alison\u0027s bunkering here is subdued.\u000ANIRWANA BALI G.C.\u000A\u000ATabanan, Bali, Indonesia / 6,805 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000ANIRWANA BALI G.C.\u000A\u000AIn this paradise east of Java, golf is found beside swaying palms, lily ponds and crashing surf. Designed by Greg Norman and his then-design associate Bob Harrison in 1997, Nirwana Bali winds through homes and rice paddies, both specially built to be incorporated into the layout, and touches the ocean on both nines. Most dramatic is the par-3 seventh, a shot over a ocean cove with Tanah Lot, a famed Balisian temple, to the left, on a rock outcropping just offshore.\u000A53. MUIRFIELD VILLAGE G.C.\u000A\u000ADublin, Ohio, U.S.A. / 7,366 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000A53. MUIRFIELD VILLAGE G.C.\u000A\u000AThis is the course that Jack built, and rebuilt, and rebuilt again and again. Since its opening in 1974, Nicklaus has remodeled every hole at Muirfield Village, some more than once, using play at the PGA Tour\u0027s annual Memorial Tournament for some guidance. In the past three years, he totally changed the par-3 16th and par-4 17th holes. Just before Presidents Cup in October, 2013, he added a new back tee to the par-4 18th, extending it from 444 yards to 484. That\u0027s how a championship course remains competitive.\u000ASWINLEY FOREST G.C.\u000A\u000AAscot, Berkshire, England / 6,045 yards, Par 69\u000A\u000ASWINLEY FOREST G.C.\u000A\u000ADue west of Sunningdale G.C. in London\u0027s heathland is Swinley Forest, which H.S. Colt described as the \u0022least bad course\u0022 he ever designed. Much of its reputation is built around its five par 3s, each with its own personality and challenge. Colt supposedly located them first, then connected them using a mix of short and long par 4s on each nine. The par-3s are indeed outstanding; the 17th looks like it might have been the role model for A.W. Tillinghast\u0027s 10th at Winged Foot West.\u000ADIAMANTE G.C.\u000A\u000ACabo San Lucas, Baja Sur, Mexico / 7,300 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000ADIAMANTE G.C.\u000A\u000AFashioned by Davis Love III and his design team from a fantastic set of white sand dunes along the Pacific Ocean, huge portions of Mexico\u0027s first true links course are without vegetation and seem like enormous snow drifts. Holes hug the flowing terrain with little artificiality. The early part of the back nine does play past homesites and around a long lagoon, but 14 through 17 head right toward the ocean amidst the tallest dunes. How special is it? No other links in the world has cactus.\u000A56. TRUMP INTERNATIONAL GOLF LINKS\u000A\u000ABalmedie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland / 7,428 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000A56. TRUMP INTERNATIONAL GOLF LINKS\u000A\u000AJust two years old, this Martin Hawtree design is set in as dramatic a set of sand dunes as can be found in golf, better than those at No. 27 Ballybunion, No. 38 Royal Birkdale and No. 66 Royal St. George\u0027s. Some dunes top 100 feet above fairways. All are covered in deep marram grasses. Fairways pitch and tumble, often posing downhill lies to uphill targets. Every bunker is at least knee deep, encircled with stacked-sod faces. Greens are perched and edged by deep hollows. Owner Donald Trump wants an Open; we suspect it\u0027ll someday host a Ryder Cup.\u000AMACHRIHANISH G.C.\u000A\u000ACampbelltown, Strathclyde, Scotland / 6,462 yards, Par 70\u000A\u000AMACHRIHANISH G.C.\u000A\u000ATo reach Machrihanish, Old Tom Morris needed a train, a steamboat and a long carriage ride. Visitors today have to resort to much the same mode, so remote is Machrihanish, on the southern end of Scotland\u0027s Kintyre Peninsula. It\u0027s a journey rewarded, from the opening tee shot, which the bold will carry over a beach and Atlantic tide on the left, to the remainder of the links in some of the most rugged dunes known to golf.\u000A58. OAK HILL C.C. (EAST CSE.)\u000A\u000ARochester, N.Y., U.S.A. / 7,145 yards, Par 70\u000A\u000A58. OAK HILL C.C. (EAST CSE.)\u000A\u000ABack in 1979, George Fazio and nephew Tom were roundly criticized by Donald Ross fans for removing a classic Ross par 4 on Oak Hill East and replacing it with two new holes, including the bowl-shaped par-3 sixth, which would later become the scene of four aces in two hours during the second round of the 1989 U.S. Open. They also built a pond on another par 3 and relocated the green on the par-4 18th -- but that\u0027s all ancient history. Now, it\u0027s all about Jason Dufner\u0027s 2013 PGA win at Oak Hill.\u000ATHE CLUB AT NINE BRIDGES\u000A\u000A__Andeok-myeon, Namjeju-kun, Jeju-do, Jeju Island, South Korea\u000A\u000A7,190 yards, Par 72__\u000A\u000ATHE CLUB AT NINE BRIDGES\u000A\u000AOur Korean affiliates call The Club at Nine Bridges the Taj Mahal of Golf. After all, Golfplan\u0027s architects Ronald Fream and lead designer David Dale spent an estimated $40 million in the early 2000s creating it. (The entire project, including land, clubhouse, condos and spa, cost $100 million.) The site was volcanic rock, capped with 150,000 cubic yards of sand as a base for bent-grass fairways and greens. The site had natural streams edged with massive Japanese Maples and 20-foot-tall Korean Azaleas, but they also transplanted 300 mature evergreens like Kryptomeria and cedars for additional color. To control storm water drainage, several lakes were created, some with cascading weirs, and the par-5 18th finishes on an island green.\u000A60. THE OCEAN CSE.\u000A\u000AKiawah Island, S.C., U.S.A. / 7,356 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000A60. THE OCEAN CSE.\u000A\u000AThe first course designed for a specific event -- the 1991 Ryder Cup -- this manufactured linksland-meets-lagoons layout might well be Pete Dye\u0027s most diabolical creation. Every hole is edged by sawgrass, every green has tricky slopes and every bunker merges into bordering sand dunes. Strung along nearly three miles of ocean coast, Dye took his wife\u0027s advice and perched fairways and greens so golfers can actually view the Atlantic surf. That also exposes shots and putts to ever-present and sometimes fierce coastal winds.\u000A61. NATIONAL G.C. OF CANADA\u000A\u000AWoodbridge, Ont., Canada / 7,235 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000A61. NATIONAL G.C. OF CANADA\u000A\u000AGeorge Fazio once lost a U.S. Open in a playoff to Ben Hogan, and his architecture reflected the discipline needed to win that championship: tight fairways with well-guarded, big, polished, fast-paced greens. National G.C. of Canada reflects that and more, with gambling water hazards and double doglegs. In 2005, Tom Fazio, who helped his uncle with the original design, rebunkered some holes and created a new par-4 16th.\u000A62. BANDON DUNES\u000A\u000ABandon, Ore., U.S.A. / 7,212 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000A62. BANDON DUNES\u000A\u000AChicago recycling mogul Mike Keiser took a gamble when he chose tenderfoot architect David McLay Kidd to design a destination daily-fee on the remote southwestern coastline of Oregon. But the design Kidd produced, faithful to the links-golf tenets of his native Scotland, proved so popular that today Keiser has a multiple-course resort at Bandon Dunes that rivals Pinehurst and the Monterey Peninsula. Exceeds them, perhaps. None of that would have happened if David Kidd hadn\u0027t produced a great first design.\u000A63. OLYMPIC CLUB (LAKE CSE.)\u000A\u000ASan Francisco, Calif., U.S.A. / 7,095 yards, Par 71\u000A\u000A63. OLYMPIC CLUB (LAKE CSE.)\u000A\u000AIt seems fitting that, in a town where every house is a cliffhanger, every U.S. Open played at Olympic has been one, too. For decades, the Lake was a severe test of golf. But while it still has canted fairways hampered by just a single fairway bunker, its once-dense forest has been considerably cleared away, leaving only the occasional bowlegged cypress with knobby knees. Still, the 2012 U.S. Open stuck to the script: ball stuck in tree; slow play warnings; a snap hook by the leader on 16; and a guy name Simpson won.\u000ALAHINCH G.C. (OLD CSE.)\u000A\u000ALahinch, County Clare, Ireland / 6,950 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000ALAHINCH G.C. (OLD CSE.)\u000A\u000AConsidered by some the St. Andrews of Ireland, the splendid links at Lahinch reflects evolution in golf architecture. After Alister MacKenzie remodeled it in the 1920s, only a few of Old Tom Morris\u0027s original holes, like the Klondyke par-5 4th, and Dell par-3 fifth, both with hidden greens, remained. In the 1980s, Donald Steel altered some of MacKenzie\u0027s holes and in the 2000s Martin Hawtree rebuilt everything and added four new holes. One classic MacKenzie par 3, the old 13th, is now a bye hole.\u000ANORTH BERWICK G.C.\u000A\u000ANorth Berwick, East Lothian, Scotland / 6,464 yards, Par 71\u000A\u000ANORTH BERWICK G.C.\u000A\u000ANorth Berwick must be played in good humor. To do otherwise is to not properly appreciate its outrageous topography (some terrain is like an elephant cemetery) and outlandish holes, like the sunken 13th green beyond a stone wall, the renown Redan par-3 15th, blind from the tee, and the long, narrow 16th green with a gulch separating front and back plateaus, surely the model for the infamous Biarritz green.\u000AROYAL ST. GEORGE\u0027S G.C.\u000A\u000ASandwich, Kent, England / 7,211 yards, Par 70\u000A\u000AROYAL ST. GEORGE\u0027S G.C.\u000A\u000ARoyal St. George\u0027s, in dunes along the English Channel, is what writer Adam Lawrence calls the ideal mix of championship golf and gentle quirks. Its quirks include a duo of massive bunkers that howl at tee shots on the par-5 fourth. Once as tall as the Himalayas at No. 99 St. Enodoc, they\u0027ve eroded over the years, and have been stabilized the past 20 years by the addition of 93 railroad ties along their top edges. A longtime member of the Open rota, Royal St. George\u0027s was the site of Darren Clarke\u0027s surprise victory in 2011.\u000A67. OAKLAND HILLS C.C. (SOUTH CSE.)\u000A\u000ABloomfield Hills, Mich., U.S.A. / 7,445 yards, Par 70\u000A\u000A67. OAKLAND HILLS C.C. (SOUTH CSE.)\u000A\u000ADonald Ross felt his 1918 design was out-of-date for the 1951 U.S. Open and was prepared to remodel it. Sadly, he died in 1948, so Robert Trent Jones got the job. His rebunkering was overshadowed by ankle-deep rough, and after Ben Hogan closed with a 67, one of only two rounds under par 70 all week, to win his second consecutive Open, he complained that Jones had created a Frankenstein. Sixty years later, Oakland Hills is even longer, but its bite won\u0027t be nearly as severe when it hosts the U.S. Amateur in 2016.\u000A68. BALLYNEAL G. & HUNT CLUB\u000A\u000AHolyoke, Colo., U.S.A. / 7,147 yards, Par 71\u000A\u000A68. BALLYNEAL G. & HUNT CLUB\u000A\u000AIf No. 12 Sand Hills G.C. stands for the notion that there\u0027s nothing more glorious than a round of golf beyond the range of cell phone reception, then Ballyneal (Tom Doak\u0027s first response to Sand Hills) proves that isolated golf is even better when Spartan in nature. With no carts and tan fescue turf on fairways and greens, Ballyneal is even more austere than Sand Hills. It provides absolutely firm and fast conditions, and with many greens perched on hilltops, the effect of wind on putts must be considered.\u000A69. WADE HAMPTON G.C.\u000A\u000ACashiers, N.C., U.S.A. / 7,302 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000A69. WADE HAMPTON G.C.\u000A\u000ABuilt during the period when Tom Fazio was still working with the existing landscape rather than ignoring it, Wade Hampton is an exercise in restraint. The fairways flow through a natural valley between flanking mountain peaks. Some holes are guarded by gurgling brooks, but Fazio piped several streams underground to make the course more playable and walkable. Wade Hampton hosted the 2013 U.S. Senior Amateur.\u000ACRUDEN BAY G.C.\u000A\u000APeterhead, Aberdeenshire, Scotland / 6,615 yards, Par 70\u000A\u000ACRUDEN BAY G.C.\u000A\u000ACruden Bay is yet another marvelous links, stretched along the base of a high bluff with tall dunes to the immediate east blocking views of the North Sea shoreline. Within the course, holes lie among what have been described as \u0022stumpy dunes.\u0022 They may well be compared to those at No. 56 Trump International, but the routing is excellent, looping north then south, crisscrossing at the eighth and 16th. There are many blind shots, including consecutive ones to hidden punchbowl greens on the par-4 14th and par-3 15th.\u000A71. THE COUNTRY CLUB (CLYDE/SQUIRREL 9S)\u000A\u000AChestnut Hill, Mass., U.S.A. / 7,350 yards, Par 70\u000A\u000A71. THE COUNTRY CLUB (CLYDE/SQUIRREL 9S)\u000A\u000AThe Country Club\u0027s 18 holes that were the scene of the 1963 and 1988 U.S. Opens is not the 18 holes ranked by Golf Digest. Those events were played on a composite course, utilizing a few holes from the club\u0027s third Primrose nine. We rank the Clyde & Squirrel combination, clearly good enough to be one of the top courses in the world. Gil Hanse performed some course restoration prior to the 2013 U.S. Amateur at The Country Club.\u000AHAESLEY NINE BRIDGES\u000A\u000AYeoju-eop, Yeoju-gun, South Korea / 7,256 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000AHAESLEY NINE BRIDGES\u000A\u000ADon\u0027t confuse this course with The C. at Nine Bridges. Both have the same owner, but this one was designed by Golfplan\u0027s David Dale. Nine Bridges is on Jeju Island; Haesley is close to Seoul. Nine Bridges has revetted bunkers; Haesley has big, bold flashed-sand ones. Nine Bridges has an island green on 18; Haesley has a par 4 with an island fairway and an island green. The par 4 10th, with an island fairway and an island green is the hole backdropped by a mountainside waterfall. Haesley Nine Bridges opened in 2009 and has held the CJ Invitational on the Korean Golf Tour in 2011 through 2013, won twice by tournament host K.J. Choi.\u000AROYAL ABERDEEN G.C. (BALGOWNIE LINKS)\u000A\u000A__Bridge of Don, Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Scotland\u000A\u000A6,910 yards, Par 71__\u000A\u000AROYAL ABERDEEN G.C. (BALGOWNIE LINKS)\u000A\u000AOne of the least-known of Scotland\u0027s great links has been even more overshadowed in recent years by its new neighbor to the north, Trump International Scotland. Royal Aberdeen\u0027s front nine runs north in Trump-like dunesland along the shoreline to the ninth hole, then backtracks inland in softer terrain to the clubhouse. While the back nine might be a bit underwhelming visually, its holes are just as testing. The links saw a few touchups by Martin Hawtree prior to 2011 Walker Cup, mostly bunkers added and a new green on the 15th.\u000A74. PIKEWOOD NATIONAL G.C.\u000A\u000AMorgantown, W.Va., U.S.A. / 7,588 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000A74. PIKEWOOD NATIONAL G.C.\u000A\u000AFifteen years ago, mining company officers John Raese and Bob Gwynne started building a golf course on a newly-acquired parcel of forest that their firm will eventually -- a hundred years from now -- mine for high quality limestone. Using company engineers and construction equipment, and guidance by veteran tour pros Johnny Pott and Dow Finsterwald, they spent a decade creating Pikewood National. A natural waterfall became the backdrop for their par-3 fifth hole and the linchpin of their routing, which plays along bluffs, through forest and over rapids.\u000A75. SHADOW CREEK\u000A\u000ANorth Las Vegas, Nev., U.S.A. / 7,560 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000A75. SHADOW CREEK\u000A\u000A$47 million to build a golf course? Tom Fazio said that budget was necessary at Shadow Creek to perform what he now calls \u0022total site manipulation,\u0022 creating an environment where none existed, by carving rolling hills and canyons from the flat desert floor north of Las Vegas and pumping in plenty of water. Original owner Steve Wynn spent that money because that\u0027s what casino hotel owners do, create fantasies like Vermont in Vegas. Alas, this once-in-a-lifetime dream design has been too successful, triggering many expensive, but inferior, imitations.\u000AROYAL TROON G.C. (OLD CSE.)\u000A\u000ATroon, Ayrshire, Scotland / 7,175 yards, Par 71\u000A\u000AROYAL TROON G.C. (OLD CSE.)\u000A\u000ALooks are deceiving at Royal Troon. It looks straightforward, almost docile, until the wind blows. Then, if play out to the ninth hole is downwind, as it usually is, the homeward nine becomes a long march into a stiff breeze, if not an ocean gale. Troon dates from 1878, was given its Royal title 100 years later. Few know its famed 123-yard 8th, the Postage Stamp, the shortest in British Open golf, was originally a blind par 3; the present green wasn\u0027t built until 1910. The Open returns to Royal Troon in 2016.\u000AST. GEORGE\u0027S HILL G.C.\u000A\u000AWeybridge, Surrey, England / 6,528 yards, Par 70\u000A\u000AST. GEORGE\u0027S HILL G.C.\u000A\u000AIn his classic 1925 book, The Links, Robert Hunter raved about H.S. Colt\u0027s \u0022bold hazards, well designed\u0022 at St. George\u0027s Hill, and while, 90 years later, some are now tamer, with less ragged, jagged edges, their placements are still ideal. Towering fir trees and patches of heather add additional challenge and charm to what many consider to be Colt\u0027s finest heathland design, more stirring even than No. 54 Swinley Forest. St. George\u0027s main 18, now the Blue & Red 9s, opened in 1913 as one of the first residential golf projects in the world.\u000ARYE G.C. (OLD CSE)\u000A\u000ARye, Sussex, England / 6,308 yards, Par 68\u000A\u000ARYE G.C. (OLD CSE)\u000A\u000AA great myth is that Rye hasn\u0027t changed in a century. In truth, during WWII the Royal Army built pillboxes and buried fuel storage tanks on it. Architect Guy Campbell reclaimed the course in 1946, using a bulldozer to create new holes. To play such seemingly natural holes as the par-3 seventh on Rye\u0027s rolling links today, you\u0027d never suspect it. Rye has long been considered the toughest par-68 on earth, something this ranking confirms.\u000A79. WINGED FOOT G.C. (EAST CSE.)\u000A\u000AMamaroneck, N.Y., U.S.A. / 6,792 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000A79. WINGED FOOT G.C. (EAST CSE.)\u000A\u000AWinged Foot\u0027s two-course complex is the product of A.W. Tillinghast\u0027s fertile imagination. Every characteristic of the more famous West Course also exists on the Winged Foot East (which, incredibly, was used as a parking lot during recent U.S. Opens). In the past few years, architect Gil Hanse has reestablished Tillinghast\u0027s bunkering and reclaimed the original sizes and shapes of the greens, bringing \u0022corner-pocket\u0022 hole locations back into play.\u000A80. THE GOLF CLUB\u000A\u000ANew Albany, Ohio, U.S.A. / 7,430 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000A80. THE GOLF CLUB\u000A\u000AThe Golf Club, built in 1966, may be the most authentic of Pete Dye\u0027s transition period, when he first chose to buck convention and start building lay-of-the-land layouts like those he\u0027d seen during a 1963 tour of Scotland. In doing so, Dye re-introduced deception and misdirection into American golf architecture. Its construction attracted the attention of local boy Jack Nicklaus, who visited several times and made some astute suggestions. That led to a five-year Dye-Nicklaus design partnership. The Golf Club remained untouched for 45 years, but in 2013 Dye started remodeling parts of it.\u000A81. ROYAL LYTHAM & ST. ANNES G.C.\u000A\u000ALytham St. Annes, Lancashire, England / 7,118 yards, Par 70\u000A\u000A81. ROYAL LYTHAM & ST. ANNES G.C.\u000A\u000APerhaps the least dramatic-looking links in The Open rota, mainly because it\u0027s surrounded by houses and a rail line, with the seacoast being hundreds of yards distant and never in sight. Lytham boasts over 200 bunkers, most built a century ago, when the club was heralded as a pioneer of natural bunkering. Its par-3 first hole is unusual, while its finish, six straight par 4s, is a terrific challenge that was, in 2011, the downfall of Adam Scott and a triumph for Ernie Els. Royal Lytham next hosts the 2015 Walker Cup.\u000ASHESHAN G.C.\u000A\u000ASongjiang, Shanghai, China / 7,143 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000ASHESHAN G.C.\u000A\u000AAlso called Sheshan International, this layout at the base of Sheshan Mountain is considered by some to be the Augusta National of China because of its opulent conditioning. The stylistic design, by Canadian Neil Haworth and his late partner Robin Nelson, incorporates a small forest, a canal, several manmade ponds and a small, deep stone quarry, over which both the drivable par-4 16th and long par-3 17th play. Sheshan hosted the World Golf Championship\u0027s HSBC event six times, most recently in 2013, won by Dustin Johnson.\u000APORTMARNOCK G.C.\u000A\u000APortmarnock, Co. Dublin, Ireland / 7,365 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000APORTMARNOCK G.C.\u000A\u000AA true links in rolling ground with soft rather than dramatic dunes, Portmarnock, on a spit of land in the Irish Sea north of Dublin, is known for its routing, which hasn\u0027t been altered in over a hundred years and was revolutionary at the time for constantly changing wind direction with every shot. The links is also known for its fairness, as nearly every feature is plainly in view from tee to green. Which makes its maze of bunkers and subtle greens all the more testing.\u000ALEOPARD CREEK C.C.\u000A\u000AMalelane, Mpumalanga, South Africa / 7,288 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000ALEOPARD CREEK C.C.\u000A\u000AMalelane, Mpumalanga, South Africa/ 7,288 yards, Par 72 Intended to merge with its Bushvelt environs, what with Kruger National Park and the Crocodile River on the north and west, the Gary Player-designed Leopard Creek is really more akin to a polished, immaculate American layout, with a manmade stream diagonally slashing in front of first and 14th greens, the fifth, 15th 16th and 18th greens guarded by stone-bulkheaded ponds and the par-5 ninth green on an island. But no course in America has views of giraffes, hippos and crocs in the wild.\u000A85. CASA DE CAMPO (TEETH OF THE DOG)\u000A\u000ALa Romana, Dominican Republic / 7,471 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000A85. CASA DE CAMPO (TEETH OF THE DOG)\u000A\u000AThe Dominican Republic is now a major golf destination. Teeth of the Dog started it all back in 1971. The earliest international masterpiece by Pete Dye, it\u0027s been periodically rebuilt and updated by Dye following repeated hurricane damage. The routing is stunning, a clockwise front 9, counterclockwise back 9, with seven holes hunkered down on the ocean, no more than 20 feet above the surf. The sea is on the left on holes five through eight, on the right on holes 15 through 17. Every hole is unique and scenic.\u000A86. GARDEN CITY G.C.\u000A\u000AGarden City, N.Y., U.S.A. / 6,911 yards, Par 73\u000A\u000A86. GARDEN CITY G.C.\u000A\u000AMinimalist in its design (you can still see the faint traces of old roadbeds over which the course was routed) and natural in its upkeep, Garden City G.C. is one of the great early tournament venues in the U.S. Before the 1908 U.S. Amateur, Walter Travis remodeled the course into what it is today, its strategies dictated by many deep pot bunkers. Travis installed them to promote \u0022thinking golf,\u0022 but one player soon dubbed Garden City the home of the \u0022God-fearing approach shot.\u0022\u000ACASTLE STUART G.C.\u000A\u000AInverness, Invernessshire, Scotland / 7,009 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000ACASTLE STUART G.C.\u000A\u000AOnce he completed Kingsbarns (No. 50), owner Mark Parsinen found another ideal venue farther north, on the shores of the Moray Firth. Golf architect Gil Hanse and associate Jim Wagner hand-built Castle Stuart, with Parsinen involved on every hole. Each nine opens with holes framed by the coastline on one side and a high bluff on the other. Then each nine moves to a mezzanine level where the views are spectacular and several \u0022infinity greens\u0022 seem perched on cliffs directly over the sea. Castle Stuart has hosted several Scottish Opens. Parsinen\u0027s dream is to host a British Open.\u000AWOODHALL SPA G.C. (HOTCHKIN CSE.)\u000A\u000AWoodhall Spa, Lincolnshire, England / 7,080 yards, Par 73\u000A\u000AWOODHALL SPA G.C. (HOTCHKIN CSE.)\u000A\u000ANamed for obscure architect S.V. Hotchkin, who purchased the club in the early 1920s and remodeled the course, which consisted of a 1905 nine by Harry Vardon and a 1912 nine by H.S. Colt. Hotchkin tinkered with the lovely, ground-hugging heathland layout until his death in 1953, producing what some call the most ferocious bunkers in Great Britain. Some are hidden from view, others are steep and deep and some are ringed with heather.\u000A89. TPC SAWGRASS (PLAYERS STADIUM CSE.)\u000A\u000APonte Vedra Beach, Fla., U.S.A. / 7,215 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000A89. TPC SAWGRASS (PLAYERS STADIUM CSE.)\u000A\u000ATPC\u0027s stadium concept was the idea of then-PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beman. The 1980 design was pure Pete Dye, who set out to test the world\u0027s best golfers by mixing demands of precision with target golf. Most greens are ringed by random lumps, bumps and hollows, what Dye calls his \u0022grenade attack architecture.\u0022 His ultimate target hole is the heart-pounding sink-or-swim island green 17th, which offers no bailout, perhaps unfairly in windy Atlantic coast conditions. The 17th has spawned over a hundred imitation island greens in the past 30 years.\u000ALOCH LOMOND G.C.\u000A\u000ALuss, Dunbartonshire, Scotland / 7,100 yards, Par 71\u000A\u000ALOCH LOMOND G.C.\u000A\u000AJay Morrish and Tom Weiskopf were the first American architects to work in Scotland, not on the coast but west of Glasgow on the shore of Loch Lomond. The design is mostly Weiskopf, who lived on site supervising construction while Morrish recovered from a heart attack at home. Opened in 1992, it\u0027s a graceful layout, the third, sixth, seventh and 18th holes touching the shoreline, others winding through inland hazards of oaks, sculptured bunkers, streams, marsh and a pond. There are a pair of reachable par 4s, the ninth and 14th, a favorite of Weiskopf.\u000ASUNNINGDALE G.C. (NEW CSE.)\u000A\u000ASunningdale, Ascot, Berkshire, England / 6,729 yards, Par 70\u000A\u000ASUNNINGDALE G.C. (NEW CSE.)\u000A\u000AH.S. Colt, who was the club\u0027s secretary from 1901 to 1913, laid out the New Course in 1923, after he\u0027d established his reputation as a grand golf architect. It\u0027s considered by most to be tougher than No. 41 Sunningdale Old, mainly because Colt\u0027s greens are smaller, with subtle contours that nudge balls toward bunkers hard along the collars. It\u0027s a toss-up as to which course is prettier. Both have fields of heather, gorse, Scotch broom and clusters of pine, oak and silver birch.\u000ASPRING CITY GOLF & LAKE RESORT (LAKE CSE.)\u000A\u000AKunming, Yunnan Province, China / 7,204 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000ASPRING CITY GOLF & LAKE RESORT (LAKE CSE.)\u000A\u000AThis Robert Trent Jones Jr. design on the shoreline of Yang Zong Hai Lake (as gorgeous as Lake Tahoe) opened a year after the club\u0027s Mountain Course, ranked No. 100. Holes are benched along a tumbling slope leading down to the lake, the opening and closing holes at the highest location, a spectacular trio down on the water\u0027s edge: the par-3 eighth, plunging 100 feet down to a peninsula green, the par-5 ninth with the lake hard against the right edge and the par-3 10th, over a lake cove to a clifftop green.\u000AWATERVILLE G. LINKS\u000A\u000AWaterville, County Kerry, Ireland / 7,355 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000AWATERVILLE G. LINKS\u000A\u000AWaterville has some superb dunes holes, next to the Ballinskellligs Bay, and several laid out in former potato fields. Original owner John Mulcahy and 1947 Masters champion Claude Harmon (Butch\u0027s dad) collaborated with Irish golf architect Eddie Hackett on the early 1970s design. A decade ago, Tom Fazio added new par-3 sixth & par-4 seventh holes and altered 13 others, adding new tees, greens and much-needed humps and bumps to the flattish front nine.\u000AVICTORIA G.C.\u000A\u000AMelbourne, Victoria, Australia / 6,865 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000AVICTORIA G.C.\u000A\u000ALocated kitty-corner across a road from Royal Melbourne, Victoria G.C., home course of stars Peter Thomson and Geoff Ogilvy, was designed originally by a couple of club founders. Alister MacKenzie made bunkering suggestions during a 1926 visit, changes later implemented by Alex Russell. Victoria has smaller greens than at other prominent Melbourne courses, and the bunkers hard against the collars make them play even tighter. Once heavily forested, consulting architect Michael Clayton is slowly removing many trees.\u000A95. THE HONORS COURSE\u000A\u000AOoltewah, Tenn., U.S.A. / 7,450 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000A95. THE HONORS COURSE\u000A\u000AConsidered radical in the early 1980s because of its acres of tall, native-grass rough, unusual Zoysiagrass fairways and terrifying greens perched atop bulkheads of rock, today The Honors Course is considered a well-preserved example of Pete Dye\u0027s death-or-glory architecture. Other than reducing the contours in a couple of greens (particularly the 18th) in the late 1990s, Dye has left the course alone. One suspects he might return someday to perform some updates.\u000AWALTON HEATH G.C. (OLD CSE.)\u000A\u000ATadworth, Surrey, England / 7,462 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000AWALTON HEATH G.C. (OLD CSE.)\u000A\u000AHerbert Fowler\u0027s earliest design, done in 1904, is an out-and-back routing with rippling fairways, tight turf, cross bunkers, ground-hugging greens and fields of heather, all borrowed from coastal links. One writer has suggested Walton Heath ranks with Pine Valley as the best neophyte design in golf. It opens with a par-3, closes with five stern holes, including the par-5 16th, which is played as a long 4 for tournaments. Donald Steel altered holes and added length early in this century.\u000A97. BALTUSROL G.C. (LOWER CSE.)\u000A\u000ASpringfield, N.J., U.S.A. / 7,400 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000A97. BALTUSROL G.C. (LOWER CSE.)\u000A\u000AJack Nicklaus won two U.S. Opens on it, setting a tournament record each time. Phil Mickelson won a PGA on it. But Baltusrol Lower\u0027s most historic event was the ace by architect Robert Trent Jones in 1954 on the par-3 fourth, instantly squelching complaints of critical club members who felt Trent\u0027s redesign made it too hard. Trent\u0027s younger son Rees has been Baltusrol\u0027s consulting architect in recent decades. An avowed A.W. Tillinghast fan, he\u0027s lightly retouched the Lower\u0027s design for its next major, the 2016 PGA Championship.\u000AHAMILTON G.& C.C. (WEST/SOUTH 9S)\u000A\u000AAncaster, Ontario, Canada / 6,928 yards, Par 70\u000A\u000AHAMILTON G.& C.C. (WEST/SOUTH 9S)\u000A\u000AA fascinating H.S. Colt layout, with holes routed in clusters of triangles, traversing the hilly landscape both face-on and diagonally, with meandering creeks winding across fairway landing areas. Tom Clark, consulting architect for over 25 years, has rebuilt greens and bunkers and quietly removed many trees to provide playing room and showcase land contours. Hamilton has hosted the Canadian Open three times since 2003. Its tough par-4 18th is a grand amphitheater for such events.\u000AST. ENODOC G.C. (CHURCH CSE.)\u000A\u000AWadebridge, England / 6,547 yards, Par 69\u000A\u000AST. ENODOC G.C. (CHURCH CSE.)\u000A\u000AA rollicking James Braid design on the southwest toe of England, lengthened in the past decade but still short and odd enough to be a cult favorite. It features plenty of blind shots and greens atop dunes, almost no level lies. The par-4 sixth contains the awesome Himalayas Bunker, 80 feet tall, blocking view of fairway and green from the tee. The par-4 10th finishes beside a cemetery and namesake church that dates from the 13th century.\u000ASPRING CITY GOLF & LAKE RESORT (MOUNTAIN CSE.)\u000A\u000AKunming, Yunnan Province, China / 7,453 yards, Par 72\u000A\u000ASPRING CITY GOLF & LAKE RESORT (MOUNTAIN CSE.)\u000A\u000AOpened in 1998, a year before Spring City\u0027s Lake Course (No. 92), the Mountain Course occupies a plateau at 7,000 feet, ringed by mountains. The layout looks like a prototypical Jack Nicklaus design, big and bold, with fairways twisting around fanciful bunkers, forced carries over ponds and canyons and roughs of native brush dotted with pines and rock outcroppings. But it has no homesites. Moderate year-round climate makes for ideal turf conditions.