Some of America’s greatest golf courses were designed by first-time novices and non-architects: Merion, Oakmont, Pine Valley and Pebble Beach all fall into this category. Sankaty Head on the eastern edge of Nantucket Island does too. It was built by a local amateur player named Emerson Armstrong but judging by the circuitous routing and attractive bunkering (honed in recent years by Jim Urbina) that recalls some of Donald Ross’s best work, you’d be excused for assuming he’d done this dozens of times. The roomy holes unfurl across open fields of fescue, riding the site’s swales and ridges like an English links. True to the inspiration the greens are open in front to receive running shots played under the exacting Atlantic winds, and the collection of par 3s are about as tough and beautiful as it gets.
Second 100 Greatest: First appearance.
2023-'24 ranking: 196th.
Previous ranking: Not ranked.
Highest ranking: No. 196.
Best in State: Ranked inside the top 5, 1997. Ranked eighth, 2021-'24. Ranked 10th, 2019-'20. Ranked inside the top 10, 1999-2003. Ranked 13th, 2017-'18. Ranked inside the top 15, 2005. Ranked 16th, 2013-'14. Ranked 17th, 2011-'12, 2015-'16. Ranked inside the top 20, 2007.
Current ranking: Eighth.