31 Jul 2013

Compiled by the Golf Course Architecture Magazine, the Architect’s Top 100 golf courses in the world ranking was published in July and voted on by more than 240 active golf course designers. These designers were each asked to list their best ten courses in the world, with the collated results (below) naturally making for some intriguing reading.

Obvious curiosities include the Blue Course at The Berkshire appearing in place of the Red, and Stanley Thompson’s very fine Capilano course making a list where his excellent Highlands Links is absent. It was also interesting to see that architects rate the manufactured Kingsbarns course higher than the much more natural Pacific Dunes. Fishers Island at number 92, and only marginally ahead of architectural lightweights like Olympic Club and Torrey Pines, is perhaps the biggest joke. Along with the ranking of Metropolitan in the Top 50, and ahead of both Fishers Island and the much more highly regarded Barnbougle Dunes course.

The Metropolitan ranking gives the best hint as to the problems with this whole process. Despite appearances, the truth is that many golf course architects are poorly traveled. We tried at Australian Golf Digest to run a similar ranking here in Australia and it failed because too many designers had seen too few courses to be able to rate and judge candidates properly. In this exercise several local architects listed Metropolitan within their World Top 10, each without a proper global point of reference within which to compare courses.

These Australian scores are valued the same as those from architects who are well traveled and who have seen dozens of superior courses. It’s somewhat understandable that North American architects might leave Fishers Island out of their Top 10 when the likes of Shinnecock Hills, The National Golf Links, Pine Valley, Merion, Friar’s Head etc are in the neighborhood. These same designers might rate Fishers Island as the 15th best course in the World and Metropolitan as the 200th best course, and it makes no difference to either result. Australian architects are only leaving Fishers Island out because they haven’t seen it, and only including Metropolitan because it’s all they know.

If the Golf Course Architecture magazine intends to publish this ranking again they need to tweak their methodology, because the top end of the list makes interesting reading but there are too many oddities toward the bottom. The idea certainly has great merit, and making significant improvements should not be difficult.

Architects' Choice - World Top 100 Golf Courses (2013)

1. St Andrews (Old)

2. Cypress Point

3. Pine Valley

4. Augusta National

5. National Golf Links of America

6. Royal County Down

7. Shinnecock Hills

8. Pebble Beach

9. Royal Dornoch

10.  Royal Melbourne (West)

11.  Muirfield

12.  Turnberry (Ailsa)

13.  Ballybunion (Old)

14.  Oakmont

15.  Pinehurst (No. 2)

16.  Sand Hills

17.  Royal Portrush (Dunluce)

18.  North Berwick

19.  Kingsbarns

20.  Pacific Dunes

21.  Merion (East)

22.  Sunningdale (Old)

23.  Lahinch

24.  Carnoustie

25.  Kingston Heath

26.  Royal Birkdale

27.  Royal St Georges

28.  San Francisco

29.  Cruden Bay

30.  Seminole

31.  Winged Foot (West)

32.  Crystal Downs

33.  Kiawah Island (Ocean)

34.  Prairie Dunes

35.  TPC Sawgrass

36.  Portmarnock

37.  Gleneagles (Kings)

38.  Muirfield Village

39.  Riviera

40.  Swinley Forest

41.  Royal Troon (Old)

42.  Chicago

43.  New South Wales

44.  Castle Stuart

45.  Valderrama

46.  Bethpage (Black)

47.  Whistling Straits (Straits)

48.  Metropolitan

49.  Friar’s Head

50.  Tobacco Road

51.  Walton Heath (Old)

52.  Royal Aberdeen

53.  Sunningdale (New)

54.  Morfontaine

55.  Utrecht De Pan

56.  St Andrews (New)

57.  Spyglass Hill

58.  Royal Liverpool

59.  Prestwick

60.  Maidstone

61.  Barnbougle Dunes

62.  Woodhall Spa (Hotchkin)

63.  Trump International

64.  Royal Cinque Ports

65.  Casa de Campo (Teeth of the Dog)

66.  Western Gailes

67.  Machrihanish

68.  Noordwijk

69.  Mid Ocean Club

70.  Royal Lytham & St Annes

71.  Cape Kidnappers

72.  Los Angeles (North)

73.  The Country Club (Brookline)

74.  Shoreacres

75.  European Club

76.  Harbour Town

77.  Formby

78.  The Island

79.  Baltusrol (Lower)

80.  Monterey Peninsula (Shore)

81.  St George’s

82.  Saunton (East)

83.  Pasatiempo

84.  Bandon Trails

85.  Chantilly

86.  Rye

87.  The Berkshire (Blue)

88.  Cabo del Sol (Ocean)

89.  St George’s Hill

90.  Wentworth (West)

91.  Capilano

92.  Fishers Island

93.  Loch Lomond

94.  Kinloch

95.  Olympic Club (Lake)

96.  Torrey Pines (South)

97.  Peachtree

98.  Shadow Creek

99.  Honors Course

100. Woking

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