1. Pine Valley Golf Club
George Crump & H.S. Colt (1918)
A genuine original, its unique character forged from the sandy pine barrens of southwest Jersey. Founder George Crump had help from now-legendary architects H.S. Colt, A.W. Tillinghast, George C. Thomas Jr. and Walter Travis. Hugh Wilson (of Merion fame) and his brother Alan finished the job. Throughout the course, Pine Valley blends all three schools of golf design—penal, heroic and strategic—often times on a single hole. New tree removal at selected spots, most recently on the 12th hole, have revealed some gorgeous views of the sandy landscape upon which the course is routed.
100 Greatest History: Ranked since 1966. Highest ranking: No. 1, 1985-2000, 2003-2008, 2013-2014 & 2017 to current. Previous ranking: No. 1
Panelist comments, Pine Valley Golf Club:
I’ve never seen such architectural dominance around an entire course. Every hole could be considered “all-world” as far as I’m concerned. The variety of every aspect of the course at Pine Valley is unparalleled in the world of golf.
The grandness of the place is what first stuck out—the size of the property and the amount of acreage on every hole was simply mind blowing. Add in the absolutely relentless bunkering, the unforgiving misses both off the fairways and on the greensites and the total distance and accuracy required to navigate the course—and you have one demanding golf course that has you thinking on every single shot, regardless of distance.
Pine Valley's reputation as the hardest and best golf course in the world is well-earned. Every single shot is a double bogey waiting to happen. The course is brutal unless you can throw it up in the air and hit it a decent distance.
It's rare in life that something that gets so much hype exceeds expectations. With all the hype, passion and storytelling that revolves around Pine Valley, I wasn't sure if it could possibly live up to the reputation. But it did. The ultimate test incorporated into the perfect setting.
I can't stop thinking about what a magical place it is, with "ahead of it's time" design philosophy, mandate for accuracy, and a mental strength unlike any other golf course I have ever seen. I'm still trying to figure out if the mental requirement outweighs the golf talent requirement. Regardless, this was unforgettable.
Photo by Dom Furore