Planet Golf
America's 100 Greatest
Golf Courses

World's 100 Greatest Golf Courses

Photo by Stephen Szurlej

Golf Digest's third biennial ranking of the World 100 Greatest Golf Courses is truly global, showcasing brilliant layouts everywhere from Abu Dhabi to Vietnam, but not the United States. This is not a slight against courses born in the USA; Golf Digest will continue to produce biennial rankings of America's 100 Greatest Golf Courses in odd-numbered years. A big part of the reason is that our two rankings are determined differently. America's 100 Greatest is always based on evaluations by North American panelists judging courses in seven criteria. The World 100 Greatest uses a single criterion of overall greatness scored not just by Americans but also by international panelists organized by our affiliate magazines around the world.

Related: The Best Courses In 206 Countries

(Note: Brackets indicate course's previous ranking. The previous ranking indicated on this list is the course's ranking on our previous World 100 list—when U.S. courses were included.)


1 [1] ROYAL COUNTY DOWN G.C. (CHAMPIONSHIP)
Newcastle, 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 half a 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.


2 [5] ROYAL DORNOCH G.C. (CHAMPIONSHIP)
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 1920 Open champion 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.

J.D. Cuban

3 [6] ROYAL MELBOURNE G.C. (WEST)
Black Rock, Australia
6,645 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 taller, chew into fairways and putting surfaces. Most holes are doglegs, so distance means nothing and angle into the pin is everything. For championships, holes 8 and 9 and 13 through 16 are skipped in favor of six from the East Course, which is ranked 28th. That "composite course" was once ranked among the best in the world by several publications.

Getty Images

4 [9] MUIRFIELD
Gullane, Scotland
7,245 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.

Photo by Stephen Szurlej

5 [8] THE OLD COURSE AT 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' enormous greens or consider them a waste of turf. Latest polarizing topic: Martin Hawtree's design changes in advance of the 2015 Open Championship, which many considered blasphemy beforehand. After Zach Johnson's dramatic overtime victory, few mentioned the alterations. For the first time ever, the Old Course will host the Senior Open Championship in 2018.


6 [NEW] TARA ITI G.C.
Mangawhai, New Zealand
6,840 yards, par 71

Built by American designer Tom Doak from what had been a pine-covered Sahara along the eastern coast of New Zealand's North Island, it's far more links-like than the country's other coastal courses, most of which are on rock. Doak and design associate Brian Slawnik spent more than two years gently resculpting the sandy soil into hummocks, punchbowls and sand dunes that look like they were formed by wind and vegetated by nature. There's lots of sand but no bunkers. Golfers may ground the club anywhere. With holes inspired by Cypress Point, Royal Dornoch and Royal St. George's, and views everywhere of the Hauraki Gulf, this may be New Zealand's answer to Pebble Beach's Carmel Bay. The greatest meeting of land and sea is clearly up for debate.

Photo by Ashley Mayo

7 [27] ROYAL PORTRUSH G.C. (DUNLUCE)
Northern Ireland
7,317 yards, par 72

Portrush is still the only Irish course to host The Open. The Old Tom Morris design, reworked by H.S. Colt in the 1930s, was the Open site back in 1951, and will be again in 2019. In preparation, architect Martin Ebert added new sixth and seventh holes, fashioned from land on the club's Valley Course, to replace its weak 17th and 18th. That means the notorious Calamity Hole, an uphill 210-yard par 3, will now be the 16th instead of the 14th, and the old dogleg-right par-4 16th will now be the closing hole, with a new back tee. Ebert retained Colt's greens, considered one of the best set of putting surfaces in the world.

David Cannon/Getty Images

8 [37] SHANQIN BAY G.C.
Hainan Island, China
6,894 yards, par 71

It has wide corridors flanked by jungle gunch, big intricate greens and eye-catching ragged-edge bunkering, yet Shanqin Bay is perhaps the most controversial design the highly regarded firm of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw has ever built. Partly because it was created on a site far more rugged than the duo normally tackle—land that housed a World War II Army barracks, complete with stone tunnels. Coore's routing manages to traverse the mountainous property, but only with the help of some blind shots, two holes around an artificial irrigation pond and a very unusual finish with two drivable par 4s among the last three holes. All its quirks are worth it, for its proximity along the South China Sea is outstanding.

Courtesy of Shanqin Bay G.C.

9 [19] CABOT CLIFFS
Inverness, Nova Scotia, Canada
6,765 yards, par 72

Another sensational Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw design, Cabot Cliffs overflows with variety with its southernmost holes in Lahinch-like sand dunes, its northernmost atop Pebble Beach-type ocean cliffs and bits of pine-lined Scottish highlands in between. The course has six par 5s, including three in the space of four holes, and six par 3s, plus an additional one-shot bye-hole aside the fourth. Sporting the same fescue turf mix as nearby sister course Cabot Links (ranked No. 43), some tee shots seem to roll forever, but so do errant shots that miss greens. The cliff-edged par-3 16th is quickly becoming one of the game's most photographed holes.

Cabot Cliffs Golf Course #16

The 16th Hole at Cabot Cliffs, No. 9 on the World 100, is 176 yards of beauty. (Photograph by Evan Schiller)
John and Jeannine Henebry

10 [22] TRUMP TURNBERRY (AILSA)
Scotland
7,489 yards, par 71

A legendary links ravaged by WWII, architect Philip Mackenzie Ross re-established it to its present quality, tearing away concrete landing strips to create a dramatic back nine and building a set of varied greens, some receptive, other not so much. After Donald Trump purchased the course, Martin Ebert of the firm of Mackenzie & Ebert made notable changes, creating new par 3s at Nos. 6 and 11, converting the old par-4 ninth into an ocean-edge par 3, and turning the fifth, 10th and 14th into par 5s and the 17th into a long par 4. New tees on 18 eliminate its old dogleg tee shot. To complete the new look, Ebert replaced revetted bunkers with ragged-edged ones.

Courtesy of Trump Turnberry

11 [33] BARNBOUGLE DUNES
Bridport, Australia
6,724 yards, par 71

A 2004 collaboration of American superstar designer Tom Doak and Australian tour-pro-turned-architect Michael Clayton, Barnbougle Dunes is a tremendous 18 in a fantastic stretch of sand dunes along Bass Strait, the sea that separates Tasmania from Melbourne. What's most fascinating is that the back nine is completely reversed from how Doak originally routed it. So was the site so 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?


12 [23] SUNNINGDALE G.C. (OLD)
England
6,627 yards, par 70

A Willie Park Jr. design that dates from 1901, it's perhaps the most advanced of its day. Chopped from a pine forest but routed like a links, with the ninth at the far end of the 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.

The 10th hole on the Old Course at Sunningdale Golf Club.
Photo by Andrew Redington /Getty Images

13 [18] KINGSTON HEATH G.C.
Heatherton, Australia
7,102 yards, par 72

Considered an Alister MacKenzie design, but in fact Australian golf professional Des Soutar designed the course in 1925. MacKenzie made a brief visit the following year and suggested the bunkering, which was constructed by greenkeeper 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.

David Cannon/Getty Images

14 [20] MORFONTAINE G.C.
France
6,584 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. Thirteen years 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.


15 [35] ROYAL BIRKDALE G.C.
Southport, England
7,156 yards, par 70

Site of Jordan Spieth's remarkable Open victory in 2017, Royal Birkdale has also been the venue for past Women's British Opens, Ryder Cups, Walker and Curtis Cups. 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 Open Championship, the one Spieth tried to throw away on the 13th before quickly rallying, going birdie-eagle on the next two holes to ultimately win by three.

Royal-Birkdale-GC-7-6-Staff.jpg

Photo by Stephen Szurlej

16 [NEW] BALLYBUNION G.C. (OLD)
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. Five years ago, Martin Hawtree added new tees atop dunes on several holes.

An aerial view of the Old Course at Ballybunion Golf Club.
Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images

17 [16] CAPE KIDNAPPERS G. CSE.
Hawke's Bay, New Zealand
7,143 yards, par 71

Not a links, more like a 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 American 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 sets strategies using some of the deepest bunkers he has ever built. Cape Kidnappers was also the International winner of a 2012 Environmental Leaders in Golf Award, co-sponsored by Golf Digest.


18 [30] NEW SOUTH WALES G.C.
Le Perouse, 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 has slowly re-established the integrity of the design, most recently Greg Norman.

Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images

19 [55] ROYAL MELBOURNE G.C. (EAST)
Black Rock, Australia
6,579 yards, par 71

Former Australian Open champion Alex Russell and greenkeeper Mick Morcom built the West Course to plans of 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.

David Cannon/Getty Images

20 [41] ST. GEORGE'S G. AND C.C.
Etobicoke, Ontario, Canada
7,014 yards, par 71

An outstanding Stanley Thompson design, it's routed through forest-covered glacial land, with meandering fairways that diagonally traverse valleys to greens perched on domes. The putting surfaces are tightly bunkered and full of hidden undulations. These are considered some of Thompson's best bunkering, thanks in part to American architect Tom Doak and Canadian architect Ian Andrew, who recently collaborated to restore the bunkering, highlighting their sweeping lines and graceful movements.


21 [26] CARNOUSTIE G. LINKS (CHAMPIONSHIP)
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, with 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 had been converted to a pot bunker.

Stephen Szurlej

22 [45] ROYAL ST. GEORGE'S G.C.
Sandwich, England
7,204 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 a six story building, 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.

Photo by Stephen Szurlej

23 [79] THE CLUB AT NINE BRIDGES
Jeju Island, South Korea
7,196 yards, par 72

Our Korean affiliates call The Club at Nine Bridges the Taj Mahal of Golf. After all, architects Ronald Fream and 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. With lakes connected by cascading weirs and a par-5 18th finishing on an island green, the course hosted the 2017 CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges, the first official American PGA Tour event held in Korea.


24 [24] CAPE WICKHAM LINKS
King Island, Australia
6,725 yards, par 72

American Mike DeVries and Australian golf writer Darius Oliver collaborated on a breathtaking site along Bass Strait, a notorious stretch of Australian seacoast that once shipwrecked many voyages. The routing on this glorious collection of holes is heart-pounding, starting along rocks and crashing surf, moving inland but not out of the wind, returning to ocean edge at the downhill 10th, pitch-shot 11th and drivable par-4 12th. It then wanders into dunes before a crescendo closing hole curving along Victoria Cove beach, which is in play at low tides.


25 [50] NORTH BERWICK G.C.
East Lothian, Scotland
6,458 yards, par 71

North Berwick must be played with 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, although purists say otherwise.

David Cannon/Getty Images

26 [40] BARNBOUGLE LOST FARM
Bridport, 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 and Crenshaw design, schedule conflicts kept Ben Crenshaw from participating. Bill Coore used the usual C&C construction team, though.

Barnbougle-Lost-Farm-4-5-Staff.jpg

Photo by Stephen Szurlej

27 [56] CASA DE CAMPO (TEETH OF THE DOG)
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. Pete Dye has been periodically rebuilt and updated his earliest international masterpiece following repeated hurricane damage. The routing is stunning, a clockwise front nine, counterclockwise back nine, 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.

Tony Arruza/Courtesy of Casa de Campo/The Leading Hotels of the World

28 [NEW] JACK NICKLAUS G.C. KOREA
Incheon City, South Korea
7,470 yards, par 72

Lying in the shadow of skyscrapers in the Songdo International Business District, this is an impressive Nicklaus design, one that transformed a flat, dull site into a surprisingly rolling, pine-dotted layout with water on 11 holes, equitably distributed with six hazards to the left and five to the right. Despite the site being inland, artificial rocks edging most of the lakes leave the impression of a jagged coastline. Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea hosted the 2015 Presidents Cup, won by the U.S. team captained by Jay Haas over the International side headed by Nick Price. It was the first Presidents Cup contested in Asia.


29 [NEW] HAESLEY NINE BRIDGES
Yeoju County, South Korea
7,256 yards, par 72

Don't confuse this course with No. 23 Club at Nine Bridges, designed by Ronald Fream and then-partner David Dale. Both have the same owner, but this one Dale alone designed. 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, and a mountainside waterfall on another hole that would make Donald Trump jealous. 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. In 2017, the CJ became a U.S. PGA Tour event and was played at—you guessed it—the other Nine Bridges.


30 [69] KINGSBARNS G. LINKS
St. Andrews, Scotland
7,224 yards, par 72

Just down the coastline from the links at St. Andrews, Kingsbarns looks absolutely natural in its links setting. It's a tribute to owner Mark Parsinen and architect Kyle Phillips (both Californians), 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.


31 [29] ELLERSTON G.C.
Hunter Valley, Australia
7,312 yards, par 72

No other course on the World Top 100 is so brutally honest about its intention to be a ball buster. The late media mogul Kerry Packer commissioned Greg Norman to build him the nation's toughest course, and Norman complied. Routed on slopes and in a valley on Packer's estate, it has water in play on half the holes. A superb aerial game is needed to clear deep bunkers and reach greens perched perilously close to the Pages Creek. After its opening, Norman said, "We had no need to consider forward tees, resort traffic or weaker hitters. We were able to create a course that a golfer of my caliber would love to play everyday."


32 [NEW] ST. GEORGE'S HILL G.C.
Weybridge, England
6,526 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, 93 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. 39 Swinley Forest. St. George's Hill's main 18, now the Blue & Red 9s, opened in 1913 as one of the first residential golf projects in the world.

A view from the clubhouse of the par-4, 390-yard 18th hole at St. George's Hill Golf Club.
Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images

33 [92] SUNNINGDALE G.C. (NEW)
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, well after he'd established his reputation as a grand golf architect. It's considered by most to be tougher than No. 12 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.

The green on the par-4 12th hole on the New Course at the Sunningdale Golf Club.
Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images

34 [65] LAHINCH G.C. (OLD)
Ireland
6,950 yards, par 72

Considered by some to be 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' original holes, like the Klondyke par-5 fourth, 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.

Photo by Stephen Szurlej

35 [74] THE BLUFFS HO TRAM STRIP
Ho Tram, Vietnam
6,855 yards, par 71

This is a 2014 design by Greg Norman, an Australian who now lives in Florida, so it's no surprise that Bluffs Ho Tram is very reminiscent of a Florida golf course, Jupiter Hills. Like Jupiter, it's separated from the ocean by a highway, but plays through dramatic sand dunes covered in tropical vegetation, has joint fairways and even a pair of par 3s playing from a common dunes-top tee box complex to greens in opposite directions. As the name suggests, The Bluffs has some dramatic elevations, with the long par-3 15th green at the highest point, 165 feet above the South China Sea.

2015 Khalid Redza/Asian Tour/Getty Images

36 [66] NATIONAL G.C. OF CANADA
Woodbridge, Ontario, 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 sort of discipline needed to win that championship: tight well-guarded fairways, big, well-bunkered, fast-paced greens and polished conditions. 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 1974 design, rebunkered some holes and created a new par-4 16th.

Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images

37 [49] 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-build 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.


38 [43] FANCOURT (LINKS)
George, 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 hosted the 2003 Presidents Cup as well as the 2005 South African Open and 2012 Volvo on the European Tour.

Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images

39 [61] SWINLEY FOREST G.C.
Ascot, 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 built around them, using an ideal balance 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's West course.

David Alexander/Getty Images

40 [NEW] ROYAL TROON G.C. (OLD)
Scotland
7,202 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. In 2016, Royal Troon was the site of one of the most dramatic duels in Open history, with Henrik Stenson prevailing over Phil Mickelson to win his first major title.

A view from behind the green on the 405-yard, par-4 seventh hole 'Tel-El-Kebir' with the par-3 eighth hole 'Postage Stamp' behind on the Old Course at Royal Troon.
Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images

41 [47] ROYAL PORTHCAWL G.C.
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 either. 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 2017 Senior Open was contested at Royal Porthcawl, with Bernhard Langer winning a record 10th senior major.


42 [71] VALDERRAMA G.C.
Sotogrande, Spain
6,990 yards, par 71

Best known as the site of the 1997 Ryder Cup, won by Europe in a squeaker, 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 then, and was a game changer again in 2017, when Sergio Garcia won his own foundation's tournament, the European Tour's Andalucia Valderrama Classic. His birdie on 17 in the final round was the margin of victory.

Getty Images

43 [93] CABOT LINKS
Inverness, Nova Scotia, Canada
6,854 yards, par 70

The older sister to No. 9 Cabot Cliffs is not a natural links, though it looks and plays like it. Cabot Links was man-made 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 layout, 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, that was going to be the closing hole.

8th hole, Cabot Links courtesy of Cabot

Overlooking the eighth hole at Cabot's Links course. (Courtesy of the resort)
Photography: Evan Schiller, 36 Old Redding Road, Weston, CT 06883, Tel. 203 222-8612

44 [46] YAS LINKS
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
7,414 yards, par 72

Designed by American Kyle Phillips, whose breakthrough course was No. 30 Kingsbarns in Scotland, Yas Links is part of a massive Arabian Gulf entertainment complex that includes a Formula 1 racetrack and a Ferrari World amusement park and a second 18 soon to begin construction. As the name suggestions, Phillips fashioned this as a warm-weather links, using two million cubic yards of sand dredged from an adjacent marina to and give the layout the shape and contour, then covering everything with salt-tolerant Paspalum turf. Eight holes play along a vast intracoastal waterway that leads to the Persian Sea, including holes 14 through 18, a most invigorating stretch.


45 [NEW] VICTORIA G.C.
Melbourne, Australia
6,888 yards, par 72

Located kitty-corner across a road from Royal Melbourne, Victoria G.C. is the home course of stars Peter Thomson and Geoff Ogilvy. It 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..


46 [82] ROYAL LYTHAM & ST. ANNES G.C.
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 2018 Ricoh Women's British Open.

Royal-Lytham-and-St-Annes-Golf-Club-10-Staff.jpg


47 [52] DIAMANTE G.C. (DUNES)
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
7,160 yards, par 72

Mexico's first true links, fashioned by Davis Love III and his design team (which included his brother Mark Love and designer Paul Cowley) from a fantastic set of white sand dunes along the Pacific Ocean, huge portions of which are without vegetation and seem like enormous snow drifts. Holes hug the flowing terrain with little artificiality. Two holes on the back nine once played past around a long lagoon, but have been replaced by new 12th and 13th holes on the beach. Now all of the second nine is adjacent to the ocean, amidst the tallest dunes. No other links in the world sports cactus.

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Photo by Angus Murray /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images

48 [NEW] MISSION HILLS HAIKOU (BLACKSTONE)
Hainan, China
7,808 yards, par 73

American designers Lee Schmidt and Brian Curley, along with most of their crew, made China their second home (if not their primary one) during much of the past two decades, creating, among other impressive projects, 10 of the 12 courses at Mission Hill Haikou, which is considered to be the largest golf club in the world. The Blackstone Course was built atop black lava, with many holes carved through dense jungle growth. It has spectacular sprawling bunkers and is tightly mown turf everywhere, to help surface drain everything, which gives Blackstone a particular Old School look and playability. The finishing holes around several lakes edged in stacked lava rock was meant to be a theatrical showcase for tournament play. Blackstone was the site of the 2011 Omega Mission Hills World Cup, won by the American team of Matt Kuchar and Gary Woodland.


49 [NEW] SOUTH CAPE G.C.
Namhae Island, South Korea
7,313 yards, par 72

Open for five years now, this Kyle Phillips design is slowly gaining attention as visitors from around the world compare its stunning design to everything from Kingsbarns (another Phillips design, which also features ocean views from every tee), to Teeth of the Dog (South Cape has even more holes along the coast) to Cabot Cliffs (there will be a debate as to which has the more dramatic ocean-carry 16th hole) to the granddaddy of ocean courses, Pebble Beach. (If anything, South Cape's tiny downhill par-3 14th to a thumb in the ocean is more treacherous than the short seventh at Pebble Beach.) Look for South Cape to move up the World ranking in future years.


50 [50] HIRONO G.C.
Hyogo, Japan
7,169 yards, par 72

This is undoubtedly 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.

David Alexander/Getty Images

51 [NEW] CAPILANO G. & C.C
West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
6,706 yards, par 72

Capilano is definitely Old School. The Stanley Thompson design is now 80 years old yet mostly untouched despite modern technology. It still sports par 5s well under 500 yards and dramatic green cants too steep for fast speeds. The clubhouse sits atop a true cardiac hill, with most of the course several hundred feet below. From the elevated first tee, the city of Vancouver, five miles south, is visible through a haze of smog. In other directions are peaks of the Coastal Range, particularly Hollyburn Mountain. Fairways are lined with towering Douglas fir, hemlock and cedar, all giving the mistaken impression that corridors are narrow. Thompson's bunkering is spectacular and prolific.


52 [95] EMIRATES G.C. (MAJLIS)
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
7,301 yards, par 72

When Emirates G.C. first opened in 1988, it was a literal oasis in the desert, the first all-grass golf course built in the Middle East. Now it sits in the shadows of more than a hundred high rise buildings and thousands of palms and hardwood trees transplanted on the site. Designed by American Karl Litten, who'd previously specialized in residential development courses in Florida, the Majlis Course looks like a Florida transplant, with five lakes coming in play on eight holes. Where he'd normally plot housing lots, Litten maintained as desert. Some of those areas have now become homesites.

David Cannon/Getty Images

53 [NEW] CASTLE STUART G.C.
Inverness, Scotland
7,009 yards, par 72

Once he completed Kingsbarns (No. 30), 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 shore's edge 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 The Open.

Photo by Stephen Szurlej

54 [NEW] MID OCEAN CLUB
Tucker's Town, Bermuda
6,548 yards, par 71

This was C.B. Macdonald's lone international design, done in the early 1920s with his faithful assistant Seth Raynor, who according to ship records, made most of the trips to the site. Spurred by the 18th Amendment, which established alcohol prohibition in America, Macdonald and his partners bought a bunch of onion and potato fields for the course. Macdonald used his pet template holes mainly on the par 3s – Short, Eden, Biarritz and Redan are all represented – but the par-4 fifth is the standout, with its bite-off-what-you-dare tee shot over Mangrove Lake.


55. [NEW] WATERVILLE G. LINKS
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.


56 [NEW] CRUDEN BAY G.C.
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. 64 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 (pictured below).

The par-3 15th hole with the par-3 16th hole behind on the Championship Course at Cruden Bay.
Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images

57 [NEW] METROPOLITAN G.C.
Melbourne, Australia
7,066 yards, par 72

Metropolitan was designed by club members J.B. Mackenzie and C.W. Chapman in 1908 and was revised in 1926 by famed architect Alister MacKenzie, as part of his two-month visit to Australia. But the present design is the work of American architect Dick Wilson, who added eight new holes in the late 1950s. Wilson also revised the remaining holes to reflect his philosophy that golf is meant to be played through the air. Bunkers front nearly every green and pinch nearly every fairway. Metropolitan hosts the PGA Tour's World Cup of Golf in 2018.


58 [25] PORTMARNOCK G.C. (CHAMPIONSHIP)
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.

The par-5 sixth hole at Portmarnock Golf Club.
Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images

59 [NEW] BLACK MOUNTAIN G.C. (EAST & NORTH 9S)
Hua Hin, Prachuabkirikhan, Thailand
7,550 yards, par 72

The first course in Thailand to make Golf Digest's World 100 Greatest, Black Mountain was founded by a group of expatriates from Sweden. Created on land beneath a massive dormant volcano (hence the name), veteran Australian architect Phil Ryan did the original 18, harnessing two streams running through the property to create eight lakes that come into play on 14 holes. Ryan's trademark flowery bunkers in fairways and around greens are so big as to pose testing recovery shots. A third 9, the West, designed by founder Stig Notlov and European tour pro Johan Edfors, opened in 2016.


60 [NEW] HAMILTON G. AND C.C. (WEST/SOUTH)
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, who spent 25 years as consulting architect, rebuilt greens and quietly removed many trees to provide playing room and showcase land contours. More recently, Englishman Martin Ebert was brought in to re-establish Colt's bunkering style. Hamilton has hosted the Canadian Open three times since 2003.


61 [91] MACHRIHANISH G.C.
Campbelltown, 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 links golf.


62 [86] SHESHAN INTERNATIONAL G.C.
Shanghai, China
7,199 yards, par 72

Sheshan International, 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 Champions event since 2005. In 2017, the title was won by Justin Rose.

2009 Getty Images

63 [76] PUNTA ESPADA G.C.
Cap Cana, Dominican Republic
7,396 yards, par 72

Jack Nicklaus got his start in golf design working with Pete Dye, and his 10-year-old Punta Espada is a lively version of Dye's 40-year-old Teeth of the Dog course (No. 27) farther down the Dominican coast, from the to the broad waste areas of brilliant white sand usually associated with Pete's work, as well as the low-profile greens and the eight green complexes right on the Caribbean shore. Punta Espada starts and finishes on the Caribbean and returns to it early in the back nine, with the awesome 249-yard, par-3 13th directly over an ocean cove.

2010 Stan Badz/PGA TOUR

64 [54] TRUMP INTERNATIONAL G. LINKS
Balmedie, Scotland
7,428 yards, par 72

Just six 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. 15 Royal Birkdale and No. 22 Royal St. George's. Some dunes reach 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 Trump Golf Inc. wants an Open; we suspect it'll someday host a Ryder Cup.


65 [88] LEOPARD CREEK C.C.
Malelane, 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 crocodiles in the wild.


66 [NEW] WALTON HEATH G.C. (OLD)
Walton-on-the-Hill, England
6,865 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.


67 [NEW] RYE G.C. (OLD)
Deal, England
6,308 yards, par 68

A great myth is that Rye hasn't changed in a century. In truth, during World War II the Royal Army built pillboxes and buried fuel storage tanks on the existing course. 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. This ranking confirms that.


T-68 [NEW] GANTON G.C.
Yorkshire, England
6,998 yards, par 71

Not everyone has been enamored with Ganton, the great Harry Vardon's home club. Back in 1949, American Ryder Cupper Jimmy Demaret described the course, still recovering from WWII, as "a sort of Pennsylvania Turnpike with trees." It's matured greatly since then. Situated on a pocket of sand in an otherwise inland landscape of clay and rock, Ganton plays firm and fast with holes hemmed in by blooming gorse. Among the course's difficult hazards include more than 110 vertical-edged bunkers, many deep enough to require wooden steps. Bernard Darwin famously said golfers playing Ganton suffer either sandy or prickly disaster.


T-68 [100] OLGIATA G.C. (WEST)
Rome, Italy
7,566 yards, par 71

The lone Italian entry on the World 100 Greatest is a classic inland layout originally designed in 1962 by Englishman C.K. Cotton. Seven years ago, American architect Jim Fazio (brother of Tom) lengthened the course, completely rebunkered it and added water hazards at strategic spots on five holes. Given its new chops, it's a bit surprising that the 2022 Ryder Cup—the first to be played in Italy—wasn't awarded to Olgiata. Instead it's going to Marco Simone Golf Club, another Jim Fazio design.


70 [70] CABO DEL SOL (OCEAN)
Los Cabos, Mexico
7,091 yards, par 72

When Jack Nicklaus first saw this Baja Peninsula site, what can best be described as Scottsdale-meets-the-Sea of Cortez, his thought was: "This is my chance to design a Pebble Beach." He took full advantage of that chance, developing an exciting routing that plays from highlands of desert cacti over dry washes and down to the sea on both nines. When the layout opened in 1994, Nicklaus said it had the three finest finishing holes in golf. That might still be true 24 years later, given that the greens at 16, 17 and 18 are all perched atop rocks above the crashing surf of Whale Bay.

Photo by Stephen Szurlej

71 [NEW] ROYAL ABERDEEN G.C. (BALGOWNIE)
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 Golf Links Scotland. Royal Aberdeen's front nine runs north in dramatic dunesland along the shoreline, with the inward nine backtracking inland along softer terrain to the clubhouse. Though the final stretch might be a bit underwhelming visually, its holes are just as testing. The links saw a few touchups by Martin Hawtree prior to the 2011 Walker Cup, which mostly included the addition of bunkers and a new green on the 15th hole.

The 534-yard, par-5 12th hole 'Plateau' at Royal Aberdeen Golf Club.
Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images

72 [NEW] ROYAL LIVERPOOL G.C.
Hoylake, England
6,907 yards, par 72

Hoylake is a layout of stark contrasts—a series of splendid natural holes within coastal sand dunes (holes attributed to a 1930s H.S. Colt remodeling), with a less scenic start and finish inland on dead flat land. Still, the first hole, a stern dogleg-right around an internal out-of-bounds, is considered one of the most testing opening holes in links golf. A dozen years ago, this writer suggested that Royal Liverpool, which hadn't seen an Open since 1967, was past its prime as a championship venue. It has hosted two Opens since then, won in 2006 by Tiger Woods and in 2014 by Rory McIlroy. Hoylake will definitely remain on the Open rota.

A view of the green on the par-3 11th hole at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club.
Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images

73 [NEW] SIAM C.C. (OLD)
Pattaya, Thailand
7,162 yards, par 72

Originally designed by Japanese architect Ichisuke Izumi, Siam Country Club was just the country's second course when it opened in 1970. It was built on what was called the Pattaya desert, and Izumi concocted a special compost to turn sterile sand into soil in order to grow grass. Early on, Siam was known for its dramatically contoured greens and its gentle bunkering. In 2006, Americans Lee Schmidt and Brian Curley remodeled everything, changing parallel holes into curving fairways by adding ponds and relocating greens, while still preserving those legendary Siam undulating putting surfaces.


74 [NEW] LOCH LOMOND G.C.
Luss, 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 the work of 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 the 14th, the latter a favorite of Weiskopf's.


75 [64] KAWANA HOTEL G. CSE. (FUJI)
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 the layout is 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. 50 Hirono, Alison's bunkering here is subdued.

Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images

76 [NEW] JACK'S POINT G. CSE.
Queenstown, New Zealand
6,986 yards, par 72

John Darby, a New Zealand land planner and golf architect, routed Jack's Point from a valley clubhouse up onto a plateau and down again to offer sterling views of Lake Wakatipu and the mile-high Remarkables Mountains. Many have likened Jack's Point opening uphill holes to those of Gullane in Scotland. But Darius Oliver of Golf Digest Australia is less enamored, writing: "Darby decided to attack the hills and get his holes as quickly and as close to the [lake] edge as he possibly could. The result is at times an awkward mix of quite spectacular golf with some difficult uphill and downhill slogs." Our ranking would suggest Oliver's is the minority opinion.


77 [NEW] PARAPARAUMU BEACH G.C.
New Zealand
6,603 yards par 71

A rare authentic sand-based links in New Zealand, James Watt built the course on the Kapiti Coast north of Wellington in two sections, one nine in 1930, the other in 1937. New owners took charge in 1949 and decided to remodel it, hiring Alex Russell, the Australian champion golfer who turned to course design after working with Alister Mackenzie. Russell spent six weeks on the property, reshaping dunes and creating splashy bunkers. Two years later, he returned and altered bunker faces from sand to turf because heavy winds were constantly eroding the steep sand faces. The club has preserved a number of mature trees throughout to act as buffers against wind.


78 [NEW] TPC KUALA LUMPUR (WEST)
Malaysia
6,987 yards, par 72

American architects Robin Nelson, Rodney Wright and Neil Haworth designed 36 holes, the West and East courses, for Kuala Lumpur G. & C.C. in 1991 in a tropical garden motif. Over a decade later, Sime Darby Properties obtained the course and arranged a TPC license with the PGA Tour and renamed the facility TPC Kuala Lumpur. Australian architects Ted Parslow and Jason Winter remodeled the West in 2008. Today, flanking bunkers squeeze nearly every par 4 and par 5, and traps front nearly every green, forcing aerial shots into them. Greens lacking bunkers are guarded by water hazards, like the elaborate faux bubbling brook pouring in front of the 17th green. Half the holes have water hazards. TPC Kuala Lumpur has been the site of CIMB Classic on PGA Tour.

Courtesy of TPC Kuala Lumpur

79 [58] SENTOSA G.C. (SERAPONG)
Singapore
7,420 yards, par 71

It took years to build the Serapong course back in the early 1980s. The site was a mangrove swamp filled with some three million cubic yards of sand dredged from Singapore Harbor. Designer Ron Fream, a globe-trotting American, routed as many holes as he could along the water's edge, resulting in the now-famed "Dragon's Tail," a loop of holes, four through six, with island fairways around a tidal basin. It was recently rebunkered by architect Gene Bates, whose then-associate Andrew Johnston is now the club's director of agronomy. Sentosa has one of the legendary backdrops in the game, the skyline of Singapore.

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80 [NEW] WOODHALL SPA G.C. (HOTCHKIN)
Lincolnshire, England
7,080 yards, par 73

This par-73 layout is 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. Recent work includes restoration by Tom Doak.


81 [NEW] ANYANG C.C.
Kunpo-shi, Kyonggi-Do, South Korea
6,951 yards, par 72

Korea's oldest-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, particularly 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.


82 [97] JUMEIRAH G. ESTATES (EARTH)
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
7,692 yards, par 72

This Greg Norman design is a bit of America transplanted in the Middle East. It's a residential development course with gorgeous white, graceful-though-deep bunkers that look suspiciously like those at Augusta National. A recirculating creek looks like it was appropriated from Muirfield Village. There's even an island green. Site of a World Tour event since 2010, Earth was the first of what was intended to be four full-blown courses at Jumeirah. Only the Norman-designed Fire Course has been completed. The remaining two, Wind and Water, have been shelved for now.

2015 Getty Images

83 [NEW] OLD HEAD OF KINSALE
County Cork, Ireland
7,159 yards, par 72

In the 1980s, the golf potential of this 220-acre swollen thumb of land poking into the Atlantic had many course architects excited. The job went to American Ron Kirby, once a design partner of Gary Player and later a design associate of Jack Nicklaus. He consulted with Irish legends Paddy Merrigan, Eddie Hackett, Joe Carr and Liam Higgins. Kirby lived on the site for two years, determined to find an ideal routing that would maximize the rocky ocean cliffs that encircle the peninsula. It opened in 1996 with nine holes along ledges 300 feet above the surf. Kirby recently added another, relocating the par-3 13th to cling along an ocean slope.


84 [96] NARUO G.C.
Inagawa, Hyogo, Japan
6,564 yards, par 70

The most mountainous of the Japanese courses ranked on our World 100 Greatest, Naruo reminds many Americans of courses found on the Monterey Peninsula, with hilly fairways slashed by gulleys that run to the sea lined by dense Monterey-like pines. Originally designed in 1920 by brothers Harry, Bert and Joseph Crane, it was rebunkered by C.H. Alison during his 1930s tour of the country. With that dramatic deep bunkering, Naruo looks both lovely and lethal. Only the flattish greens, many on hilltop locations, seem out of place.


85 [NEW] ROYAL ADELAIDE G.C.
Seaton, South Australia, Australia
6,557 yards, par 73

Herbert Rymill, chairman of the club's green committee, is credited with designing a new course for the club in sand dunes near Seaton in 1905. Within a year, Rymill collaborated an improvement plan with other members. It took until 1910 to implement his revisions, which included 90 bunkers, many of which were criticized by Alister MacKenzie when he inspected the course in 1926. Rymill offered to supervise any redesign MacKenzie proposed, but instead MacKenzie had his representative, Alex Russell, rebuild the bunkers into their now-famous MacKenzie style. Russell returned in 1951 and supervised more modifications. More recently, Australian Michael Clayton has remodeled several holes.


86 [NEW] ST. ANDREWS BEACH G. CSE.
Fingal, Victoria, Australia
6,642 yards, par 70

This was the first project Tom Doak landed in Australia and his first collaboration with Mike Clayton as well. (They would also team to also create No. 11 Barnbougle Dunes.) Located just an hour south of Melbourne on the Mornington Peninsula, it's not quite in Australia's famed sandbelt, but close enough. The layout sits on mostly former pasture land, with some holes in sand dunes and others in groves of moonah trees. The course, which opened in 2004, is not as visually entertaining as others in Australia. Its character lies in its subtleties of bunkering and green contours surrounded by tightly mown turf. St. Andrews Beach is perhaps the most minimalist of any Doak design. Only four days were spent moving earth for fairways and greens, Doak says.


87 [NEW] HIGHLANDS LINKS
Ingonish Beach, Nova Scotia, Canada
6,592 yards, par 72

On the opposite Nova Scotia coast from Cabot Cliffs (No. 9) and Cabot Links (No. 43) is the 80-year-old Highlands Links in Cape Breton, a sterling Stanley Thompson design routed to give golfers the full coastal experience, from ocean beach to river's side and deep forest. Thompson even shaped greenside mounds to mimic certain mountain ridges in the distance. A regional park operation, Highlands had long been criticized for spotty maintenance, but after a 2010 flood, serious efforts, directed by Canadian golf architect Ian Andrew, were undertaken to restore its luster and improve its turf quality.


88 [75] SPRING CITY GOLF AND LAKE RESORT (LAKE)
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, a Jack Nicklaus design. Holes on the Lake Course are benched along a tumbling slope leading down to the lake. The opening and closing holes sit at the highest location, and a spectacular trio lead down on the water's edge: the par-3 eighth, plunging 100 feet down to a peninsula green, the par-5 ninth with a lake hard against the right edge, and the par-3 10th, over a lake cove to a clifftop green.


89 [NEW] FAIRMONT JASPER PARK LODGE G.C.
Jasper, Alberta, Canada
6,663 yards, par 71

Jasper Park actually lies farther north than Stanley Thompson's other Alberta masterpiece, No. 99 Banff Springs, and is a perfect complement to it. The routing has holes lined up with every prominent mountain peak in the distance. Thompson's typical sprawling bunkers are everywhere, some staggered diagonally across lines of play, others on the margins of a hole, poking out from beneath tree lines. Built in 1925 by the hand labor of some 200 men, holes are carved through fir, aspen and silver birch trees, and rocks were piled and covered with earth to create greens like the one on the short par-3 15th, a shot so precarious it's like hitting to the back of a slumbering sea lion.

Courtesy of Fairmont Hotels & Resorts

90 [NEW] KASUMIGASEKI C.C. (EAST)
Kashata Kawagoe, Saitama, Japan
7,466 yards, par 71

Kinya Fujita, Japan's pioneer course architect, founded Kasumigaseki in the late 1920s. He'd taken up golf in 1912 while studying at the University of Chicago, became fascinated with course architecture and traveled to Great Britain to learn design techniques from C.H. Alison of the famous firm of Colt and Alison. Fujita died at Kasumigaseki in 1969 at age 80. He was in the midst of planning improvements to the East Course at the time of his death to make it a true championship venue. Nearly 50 years later, Tokyo's bid to host the 2020 Olympics was accepted, with Kasumigaseki assigned as host of the golf events. The club retained Tom Fazio's design company to upgrade the championship East Course.


91 [NEW] FOUR SEASONS PUNTA MITA (PACIFICO)
Puerto Vallara, Jalisco, Mexico
7,014 yards, par 72

The Jack Nicklaus-designed Four Seasons Punta Mita is best known for a single hole, the optional par-3 third hole that plays from a tee on a Pacific Ocean beach to a green that sits on a natural rock outcropping some 180 yards offshore. It's a thrilling shot, like hitting to the Tail of a Whale (which is the hole's name), but the green is only used when the tide is low and the green is accessible by a low walkway. The other par 3 is terrific, too, just 13 yards shorter, with the green positioned above the beach and guarded on the right by a stream that pours into the sea. The 17th and 18th are also on the coast, with the 18th green sitting on a promontory with a literal beach bunker on its flank.

The Pacifico Golf Course at Punta Mita par-3 third hole (The Tail of a Whale).

92 [NEW] THE EUROPEAN CLUB
Brittas Bay, County Wicklow, Ireland
7,377 yards, par 71

One of the newest courses to be built on genuine Irish linksland, The European Club is the lifetime accomplishment of Pat Ruddy, a golf writer from the 1960s and a golf architect from 1975 onward. He mortgaged his home to buy the land and spent five years designing and building it. It opened in 1992 and is still a family business today. Hard against the Irish Sea's Arklow Bay, European Club rolls across untamed landscape with pot bunkers lined in railroad ties and two extra par-3 holes. It's not always linkslike: The routing has returning nines, a marsh off the seventh tee, a pond in front of the 18th green and not a single blind shot anywhere. Ruddy says he was once offered to sell it for 22 million pounds and passed. That makes the Irish design priceless.


93 [NEW] QUIVIRA G.C.
Cabo San Lucas, Baja Sur, Mexico
7,139 yards, par 72

To see photos of Quivira's cliffhanging fifth and sixth greens, one would expect this to be a mountainous golf course. But a majority of its holes are on Pacific coastline sand dunes close to sea level or along the flank of a high desert plateau dotted with torote and cardon trees. Still, what earns the attention here is the par-4 fifth, its tee at 278 feet above sea level and its green at the far end of a ribbon fairway 107 feet below. Designer Jack Nicklaus calls this location, "one of the great pieces of property in the world," and he can be forgiven for requiring long cart rides between several holes. Such is the price to link together 18 truly sterling golf holes.

The 310-yard fifth at Quivira Golf Club in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
Courtesy of Quivira GC

94 [NEW] BRG DA NANG G.C.
Da Nang, Vietnam
7,160 yards, par 72

Built just down the East China Sea coastline from China Beach, where U.S. combat troops first landed in early 1965, Danang is the first design in Vietnam for Greg Norman and is perhaps one of his most minimalist. It's a tropical links, with a sandy base providing firm and fast turf, some bold dunes framing several holes, greens edged by closely mowed banks, and shallow bunkers with ragged edges. The showcase hole is the par-3 16th, which plays toward the sea, the Cham Islands in the distance behind the green. Between that green and the 17th tee is an old French pillbox of stacked stone, another reminder of Vietnam's now-distant military struggles.


95 [NEW] PRESTWICK G.C.
Ayrshire, Scotland
6,908 yards, par 71

We should rejoice in the fact that the World 100 Greatest has room for at least one museum piece of golf architecture—an authentic relic from a time when golfers played cross-country without benefit of crisply mown turf and inviting targets. The third hole demands a forced carry over notorious Cardinal bunker. There's a blind tee shot over a ridge dubbed the Himalayas into par-3 fifth green, a blind approach shot down an escarpment to the 15th green and another blind approach over dunes known as The Alps to reach green on the par-4 17th. Prestwick hosted 24 Open Championships but none since 1925. That doesn't matter. It's an anachronistic design worth preserving.


96 [NEW] DURBAN C.C.
KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
6,733 yards, par 72

Dating from 1922, Durban Country Club is South Africa's most authentic links layout, despite the fact the many of its dunes, deposited by the nearby Umgeni River, are covered in dense brush and mature trees. Designed by George Waterman and Lawrence Waters, it's always been a formidable tournament site despite its relatively short length, because its undulating fairways offer few flat lies and crosswinds seem constant from the nearby Indian Ocean. In the tradition of the Old Course at St. Andrews, Durban's 18th is a reachable par 4, just 275 yards, with a big knob on left obscuring much view of the green.


97 [98] QUERENCIA C.C.
Los Cabos, Baja Sur, Mexico
7,050 yards, par 72

Located several miles up the road from No. 70 Cabo del Sol, this Tom Fazio design opened in 2000. The routing wanders the rugged high desert plateau on the outward nine, toward the Sea of Cortez, hopscotching a dramatic canyon on the par-3 eighth. After reaching the far point on the par-5 ninth, the course turns for home over similar terrain, via two more outstanding par 3s, the 11th and 14th. Other holes have humpbacked fairway and greens tucked beneath huge rock outcroppings. The one discordant note are royal palms planted in many desert spots near greens. They seem too artificial among native desert plants.


98 [NEW] THE NATIONAL G.C. (MOONAH)
Cape Schanck, Victoria, Australia
7,192 yards, par 72

Nothing on this Greg Norman design looks manufactured or contrived. Fairways emerge from the rolling topography, greens are positioned at grade and the gnarly bunkering is recessed into the earth, never propped above it. Some tees are positioned atop hills posing carries over gulleys, but bounce and roll in the game here. With generous targets surrounded by vast, dry, domed hills, the Moonah Course seems eerily like one in the African Veldt. One would not be surprised to see a giraffe lope by one of the squat, umbrella-like moonah trees that are scattered along hillsides.


99 [NEW] BANFF SPRINGS G. CSE. (STANLEY THOMPSON)
Banff, Alberta, Canada
6,938 yards, par 71

Where No. 83 Old Head in Ireland plays along the top of escarpments, Banff in the Canadian Rockies of Alberta lies beneath escarpments, with near-vertical cliffs of Mount Rundle towering 3,000 feet over almost every fairway. The course, another masterful design by Canadian Stanley Thompson, is tucked into the narrow Y-shaped valley formed by the Bow and Spray Rivers. Bunkering at Banff may be the best of Thompson's career. There are 150 of them, often in circular clusters, with ebbs and flows in their shapes that mirror mountain peaks.

Courtesy: Fairmont Hotels & Resorts

100 [NEW] WESTERN GAILES G.C.
Irvine, Ayrshire, Scotland
7,014 yards, par 71

The last to make the list is perhaps the least-known grand old Scottish links. Western Gailes is located north of Royal Troon, just off the Firth of Clyde, squeezed on the east by active railroad tracks, and thus its north-south routing over and between rolling sand dunes seems far tighter than its neighbors. Holes one through four, all par 4s, head north, then five through 13 march due south along the beach, with fairways mostly aimed southeast or southwest. The closing five play due north and sport some of the most intense bunkering on the 18. The club insists Fred Morris, its first greenkeeper laid out the course, but we say Willie Fernie, who also did Troon, did it.