Golf Digest editors picks
Pacific Dunes
Bandon, Ore., U.S.A. / 6,633 yards, Par 71
The 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.
Cape Kidnappers G. Cse.

22. CAPE KIDNAPPERS

Hawke's Bay, New Zealand / 7,147 yards, Par 71
Not 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.
Barnbougle Lost Farm

23. BARNBOUGLE LOST FARM

Bridport, Tasmania, Australia / 6,849 yards, Par 72
On 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.
Winged Foot G.C. (West Cse.)
Mamaroneck, N.Y., U.S.A. / 7,258 yards, Par 72
Gone are all the Norway Spruce that once squeezed every fairway of Winged Foot West. It's 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.
Crystal Downs
Frankfort, Mich. / 6,518 yards, Par 70
Perry Maxwell, the Midwest associate of architect Alister MacKenzie, lived on site while constructing the course to MacKenzie's plans, but there's 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're too steep for today's green speeds. The club keeps a running tally on how many putts end up off the putting surface.
Chicago Golf Club
Wheaton, Ill., U.S.A. / 6,846 yards, Par 70
This is not America's 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, "a really first-class 18-hole course of 6,200 yards." It was remodeled into its present configuration, emulating famous holes, in 1923 by Macdonald's longtime assistant Seth Raynor. One thing Raynor retained was Macdonald's routing, with all the out-of-bounds on the left. C.B., you see, was a slicer.
Ballybunion G.C. (Old Cse.)

27. BALLYBUNION G.C. (OLD CSE.)

Ballybunion, County Kerry, Ireland / 6,802 yards, Par 71
Ballybunion has always been great, but it wasn't 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.
Royal Melbourne G.C. (East Cse.)

28. ROYAL MELBOURNE G.C. (EAST)

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia / 6,579 yards, Par 72
Former 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's holes 1-3 and 16-18 are used along with 12 of the West holes.
San Francisco G.C.
San Francisco, Calif., U.S.A. / 6,828 yards, Par 71
San Francisco Golf Club's 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 "Duel Hole" 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.
St. George's G.&C.C.

30. ST. GEORGE'S G. & C.C.

Etobicoke, Ontario, Canada / 7,145 yards, Par 71
An 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's 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.
Carnoustie G. Links (Championship Cse.)

31. CARNOUSTIE G. LINKS (CHAMPIONSHIP)

Carnoustie, Angus, Scotland / 7,421 yards, Par 71
Perhaps 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'd been converted to a pot bunker.
Golf de Morfontaine

32. GOLF DE MORFONTAINE

Senlis, Oise, France / 6,545 yards, Par 70
A 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's tighter than Sunningdale or St. George's 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. 
New South Wales G.C.

33. NEW SOUTH WALES G.C.

Le Perouse, New South Wales, Australia / 6,829 yards, Par 72
On 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.
The Links at Fancourt

34. THE LINKS AT FANCOURT

George, Western Cape, South Africa / 7,578 yards, Par 73
Created 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.  
Bethpage Black
Farmingdale, N.Y., U.S.A. / 7,366 yards, Par 71
Sprawling Bethpage Black, designed in the mid-1930s to be "the public Pine Valley," 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.
Prairie Dunes C.C.
Hutchinson, Kan., U.S.A. / 6,853 yards, Par 70
Prairie 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's great greens. Prairie Dunes reflects all that is Kansas: sand dunes, prairie grasses, yucca plants, cottonwoods and constant wind. 
Friar's Head G.C.
Baiting Hollow, N.Y., U.S.A. / 6,846 yards, Par 71
The challenge for architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw at Friar's 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, "Our job was to marry the two distinct elements. We didn't want one nine up in the dunes and the other down on the flat." 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.  
Royal Birkdale G.C.

38. ROYAL BIRKDALE G.C.

Southport, England / 7,173 yards, Par 70
Three 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's British Open, Ryder Cup, Walker Cup and Curtis Cup.
Kauri Cliffs

39. KAURI CLIFFS

Matauri Bay, New Zealand / 7,151 yards, Par 72
Like 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.
Anyang CC

40. ANYANG C.C.

Bugok-dong, Kunpo-si, Kyonggi-do, South Korea / 6,951 yards, Par 72
Korea's top-ranked course was cut from thick tree cover in 1968 by Japanese golf architect Chohei Miyazawa, but it didn't 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's name was changed to Anyang Benest Country Club in 1996; it reverted to its original name in 2013.

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