New rankingAugust 17, 2015

World's 100 Greatest Golf Courses

Golf Digest has been ranking courses for almost half a century. Here, for the first time, we present the World's 100 Greatest Golf Courses. We compiled a ballot of the world's best layouts, from Aamby Valley to Zimbali

Golf Digest has been ranking courses for almost half a century. Here, for the first time, we present the World's 100 Greatest Golf Courses.

We compiled a ballot of the world's best layouts, from Aamby Valley to Zimbali, and sent it to our U.S. Course Ranking panelists, our 27 international editions and their respective Course Ranking panels, and other selected people we have come to know and trust. In total, 846 knowledgeable, well-traveled golfers completed our survey, rating each course they were familiar with on a 10-point scale. Courses needed a minimum of 20 ballots to qualify for our ranking.

Top of the list, by a clear margin, was Pine Valley, New Jersey's heathland homage to Sunningdale in England. Forty of the top 100 are American courses—a fitting number given that America's 15,619 courses make up 46 percent of the estimated 34,000 global total. Our ranking spans 18 countries.

Expect future rankings to change dramatically. Though many mature markets like the United States are facing course reductions—there are 500 fewer courses in America than in 2005—elsewhere there are pockets of growth, fueled by prosperity, tourism and, in two years, golf once again becoming an Olympic sport. The number of courses in China, for instance, has tripled in less than a decade—despite a technical government ban. The Chinese golf market will inevitably become the largest in the world. —John Barton


Pine Valley, N.J., U.S.A. / 7,057 yards, Par 70

A 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.


Pebble Beach, U.S.A. / 6,524 yards, Par 72

Alister MacKenzie's 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's fancy bunkering.


Augusta, Ga., U.S.A. / 7,435 yards, Par 72

No 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.


Newcastle, County Down, Northern Ireland / 7,186 yards, Par 71

On 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.


Southampton, N.Y., U.S.A. / 7,041 yards, Par 70

Generally 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's so sublime that its architecture hasn't 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.


Dornoch, Sutherland, Scotland / 6,704 yards, Par 70

Herbert Warren Wind called it the most natural course in the world. Tom Watson called it the most fun he'd 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's greens, some by Old Tom Morris, others by John Sutherland or tour pro George Duncan, sit mostly on plateaus and don't really favor bounce-and-run golf. That's the challenge: hitting those greens in a Dornoch wind.


St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland / 7,279 yards, Par 72

The 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's blind shots or detest them, either embrace St. Andrews's enormous greens or consider them a waste of turf. Latest polarizing topic: Martin Hawtree's design changes at the Old Course, in advance of the 2015 British Open. Many consider it blasphemy.


Gullane, East Lothian, Scotland / 7,209 yards, Par 71

Muirfield 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's returning nines. That was the result of H.S. Colt's 1925 redesign.


Melbourne, Victoria, Australia / 6,643 yards, Par 72

Alister MacKenzie's 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 "composite course" was once ranked by several publications.


Oakmont, Pa., U.S.A. / 7,255 yards, Par 71

Once 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's reclamation of the game's nastiest, most notorious bunkers and deep drainage ditches. Oh yes, Oakmont also has the game's swiftest putting surfaces. They actually slow them down for professional tournament play, like the upcoming U.S. Open in 2016.


Bridport, Tasmania, Australia / 6,721 yards, Par 71

A 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 "natural" green sites?


Mullen, Neb., U.S.A. / 7,089 yards, Par 71

The golf course wasn't 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.


Southampton, N.Y., U.S.A. / 6,935 yards, Par 72

As 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's versions are actually superior in strategy to the originals, which is why National's design is still studied by golf architects today.


Ardmore, Pa., U.S.A. / 6,886 yards, Par 70

What 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's generation of big hitters couldn't conquer the little old course. They couldn't stay on its canted fairways edged by creeks, hodge-podge rough and OB stakes and they couldn't consistently hit its canted greens edged by bunkers that stare back. Let's hope it doesn't take another 32 years for the U.S. Open to return to Merion.


Pebble Beach, U.S.A. / 6,828 yards, Par 72

Not 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's sixth through eighth are golf's 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.


Portrush, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland / 7,143 yards, Par 72

An 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's finest design. His most notorious hole is the uphill 210-yard par-3 14th, called Calamity, as there's 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's talk it may finally return, perhaps in 2018.


Fishers Island, N.Y., U.S.A. / 6,566 yards, Par 72

Probably 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's usual suspects, including not one but two Redan greens, one on a par 4.


Hirono, Hyogo, Japan / 6,925 yards, Par 72

Undoubted 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's 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.


Turnberry, Ayrshire, Scotland / 7,211 yards, Par 70

A 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.


Cheltenham, Victoria, Australia / 6,494 meters, Par 72

Considered 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's two courses. The bunkers are long, sinewy, shaggy, gnarly, windswept and, of course, strategically placed. Some say MacKenzie's tee-to-green stretch of bunkers on the par-3 15th set the standard for all Sandbelt layouts.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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, 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.


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, 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.

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, 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Sunningdale, Ascot, Berkshire, England / 6,627 yards, Par 70

A Willie Park Jr. design that dates from 1901, it's 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's 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.


Inverness, Nova Scotia, Canada / 6,854 yards, Par 70

Not 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's Portmarnock, though Ireland has no match for Cabot's postcard par-4 11th, a dogleg-left around a tidal yacht basin. In early routings, it was to be the closing hole.


Juno Beach, Fla., U.S.A. / 6,836 yards, Par 72

A 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't 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's most exclusive clubs, which is why it's exciting that it will host the 2021 Walker Cup.


Porthcawl, Mid Glamorgan, Wales / 7,065 yards, Par 72

Considered a seaside venue but not a true links, Royal Porthcawl, situated on the south coast of Wales, doesn't have returning nines, but it's 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.


Los Angeles, Calif., U.S.A. / 7,236 yards, Par 71

It's 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's team didn't replicate the bunkering style of original architect George C. Thomas, but rather the more visually exciting style of Thomas's associate, William P. Bell. The bunkers will look sensational when LA North hosts the 2017 Walker Cup.


Village of Pinehurst, N.C., U.S.A. / 7,495 yards, Par 72

In 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's and women's U.S. Opens are played on consecutive weeks at No. 2.


Pacific Palisades, Calif., U.S.A. / 7,298 yards, Par 71

A 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's hosted an annual PGA Tour event, but no U.S. Open since 1948. It's the site of the 2017 U.S. Amateur. Will that be a harbinger of a bigger USGA event to come?


Haven, Wis., U.S.A. 2004 & 2010 PGAs / 7,790 yards, Par 72

Pete 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.


Sotogrande, Cádiz, Spain / 6,990 yards, Par 71

Best 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's 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.


St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland / 7,181 yards, Par 72

Kingsbarns 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.


Ito, Shizuoka, Japan / 6,691 yards, Par 72

C.H. Alison's 1936 design for Japan's first golf resort has long been dubbed the Pebble Beach of Japan, but it's far more mountainous. That's 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's bunkering here is subdued.


Tabanan, Bali, Indonesia / 6,805 yards, Par 72

In 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.


Dublin, Ohio, U.S.A. / 7,366 yards, Par 72

This 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's 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's how a championship course remains competitive.


Ascot, Berkshire, England / 6,045 yards, Par 69

Due west of Sunningdale G.C. in London's heathland is Swinley Forest, which H.S. Colt described as the "least bad course" 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's 10th at Winged Foot West.


Cabo San Lucas, Baja Sur, Mexico / 7,300 yards, Par 72

Fashioned by Davis Love III and his design team from a fantastic set of white sand dunes along the Pacific Ocean, huge portions of Mexico's 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.


Balmedie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland / 7,428 yards, Par 72

Just 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's. 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'll someday host a Ryder Cup.


Campbelltown, Strathclyde, Scotland / 6,462 yards, Par 70

To 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's Kintyre Peninsula. It's 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.


Rochester, N.Y., U.S.A. / 7,145 yards, Par 70

Back 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's all ancient history. Now, it's all about Jason Dufner's 2013 PGA win at Oak Hill.


Andeok-myeon, Namjeju-kun, Jeju-do, Jeju Island, South Korea / 7,190 yards, Par 72

Our Korean affiliates call The Club at Nine Bridges the Taj Mahal of Golf. After all, Golfplan's 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.


Kiawah Island, S.C., U.S.A. / 7,356 yards, Par 72

The first course designed for a specific event -- the 1991 Ryder Cup -- this manufactured linksland-meets-lagoons layout might well be Pete Dye's 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's 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.


Woodbridge, Ont., Canada / 7,235 yards, Par 72

George 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.


Bandon, Ore., U.S.A. / 7,212 yards, Par 72

Chicago 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't produced a great first design.


San Francisco, Calif., U.S.A. / 7,095 yards, Par 71

It 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.


Lahinch, County Clare, Ireland / 6,950 yards, Par 72

Considered 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's 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's 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.


North Berwick, East Lothian, Scotland / 6,464 yards, Par 71

North 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.


Sandwich, Kent, England / 7,211 yards, Par 70

Royal St. George's, 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've 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's was the site of Darren Clarke's surprise victory in 2011.


Bloomfield Hills, Mich., U.S.A. / 7,445 yards, Par 70

Donald 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't be nearly as severe when it hosts the U.S. Amateur in 2016.


Holyoke, Colo., U.S.A. / 7,147 yards, Par 71

If No. 12 Sand Hills G.C. stands for the notion that there's nothing more glorious than a round of golf beyond the range of cell phone reception, then Ballyneal (Tom Doak's 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.


Cashiers, N.C., U.S.A. / 7,302 yards, Par 72

Built 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.


Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, Scotland / 6,615 yards, Par 70

Cruden 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 "stumpy dunes." 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.


Chestnut Hill, Mass., U.S.A. / 7,350 yards, Par 70

The Country Club's 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's 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.


Yeoju-eop, Yeoju-gun, South Korea / 7,256 yards, Par 72

Don't confuse this course with The C. at Nine Bridges. Both have the same owner, but this one was designed by Golfplan's 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.


Bridge of Don, Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Scotland 6,910 yards, Par 71

One of the least-known of Scotland's great links has been even more overshadowed in recent years by its new neighbor to the north, Trump International Scotland. Royal Aberdeen's 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.


Morgantown, W.Va., U.S.A. / 7,588 yards, Par 72

Fifteen 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.


North Las Vegas, Nev., U.S.A. / 7,560 yards, Par 72

$47 million to build a golf course? Tom Fazio said that budget was necessary at Shadow Creek to perform what he now calls "total site manipulation," 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's 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.


Troon, Ayrshire, Scotland / 7,175 yards, Par 71

Looks 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't built until 1910. The Open returns to Royal Troon in 2016.


Weybridge, Surrey, England / 6,528 yards, Par 70

In his classic 1925 book, The Links, Robert Hunter raved about H.S. Colt's "bold hazards, well designed" at St. George's 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's finest heathland design, more stirring even than No. 54 Swinley Forest. St. George's main 18, now the Blue & Red 9s, opened in 1913 as one of the first residential golf projects in the world.

78. RYE G.C. (OLD CSE)

Rye, Sussex, England / 6,308 yards, Par 68

A great myth is that Rye hasn't 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's rolling links today, you'd never suspect it. Rye has long been considered the toughest par-68 on earth, something this ranking confirms.


Mamaroneck, N.Y., U.S.A. / 6,792 yards, Par 72

Winged Foot's two-course complex is the product of A.W. Tillinghast's 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's bunkering and reclaimed the original sizes and shapes of the greens, bringing "corner-pocket" hole locations back into play.


New Albany, Ohio, U.S.A. / 7,430 yards, Par 72

The Golf Club, built in 1966, may be the most authentic of Pete Dye's transition period, when he first chose to buck convention and start building lay-of-the-land layouts like those he'd 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.


Lytham St. Annes, Lancashire, England / 7,118 yards, Par 70

Perhaps the least dramatic-looking links in The Open rota, mainly because it's 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.


Songjiang, Shanghai, China / 7,143 yards, Par 72

Also 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's HSBC event six times, most recently in 2013, won by Dustin Johnson.


Portmarnock, Co. Dublin, Ireland / 7,365 yards, Par 72

A 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't 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.


Malelane, 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.


La Romana, Dominican Republic / 7,471 yards, Par 72

The 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's 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.


Garden City, N.Y., U.S.A. / 6,911 yards, Par 73

Minimalist 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 "thinking golf," but one player soon dubbed Garden City the home of the "God-fearing approach shot."


Inverness, Invernessshire, Scotland / 7,009 yards, Par 72

Once 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 "infinity greens" seem perched on cliffs directly over the sea. Castle Stuart has hosted several Scottish Opens. Parsinen's dream is to host a British Open.


Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire, England / 7,080 yards, Par 73

Named 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.


Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., U.S.A. / 7,215 yards, Par 72

TPC's 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's best golfers by mixing demands of precision with target golf. Most greens are ringed by random lumps, bumps and hollows, what Dye calls his "grenade attack architecture." 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.


Luss, Dunbartonshire, Scotland / 7,100 yards, Par 71

Jay 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's 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.


Sunningdale, Ascot, Berkshire, England / 6,729 yards, Par 70

H.S. Colt, who was the club's secretary from 1901 to 1913, laid out the New Course in 1923, after he'd established his reputation as a grand golf architect. It's considered by most to be tougher than No. 41 Sunningdale Old, mainly because Colt's greens are smaller, with subtle contours that nudge balls toward bunkers hard along the collars. It's 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.


Kunming, Yunnan Province, China / 7,204 yards, Par 72

This Robert Trent Jones Jr. design on the shoreline of Yang Zong Hai Lake (as gorgeous as Lake Tahoe) opened a year after the club's 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's 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.


Waterville, County Kerry, Ireland / 7,355 yards, Par 72

Waterville 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's 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.


Melbourne, Victoria, Australia / 6,865 yards, Par 72

Located 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.


Ooltewah, Tenn., U.S.A. / 7,450 yards, Par 72

Considered 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's 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.


Tadworth, Surrey, England / 7,462 yards, Par 72

Herbert Fowler's 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.


Springfield, N.J., U.S.A. / 7,400 yards, Par 72

Jack Nicklaus won two U.S. Opens on it, setting a tournament record each time. Phil Mickelson won a PGA on it. But Baltusrol Lower's 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's redesign made it too hard. Trent's younger son Rees has been Baltusrol's consulting architect in recent decades. An avowed A.W. Tillinghast fan, he's lightly retouched the Lower's design for its next major, the 2016 PGA Championship.


Ancaster, Ontario, Canada / 6,928 yards, Par 70

A 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.


Wadebridge, England / 6,547 yards, Par 69

A 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.


Kunming, Yunnan Province, China / 7,453 yards, Par 72

Opened in 1998, a year before Spring City's 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.