Cape Wickham. Photo by Larry Lambrecht

The November 2019 release of GOLF Magazine’s World Top 100 course ranking list was much anticipated, following the departure of previous chair Joe Passov and the arrival of new boss Ran Morrissett. Over previous years, the GOLF Magazine list has been manipulated to a degree, and credibility undermined because of a prominent PR representative being included on the panel, and his clients all performing better than might reasonably be expected. Those clients include Oitavos Dunes (55 in 2017), Ayodhya Links (76 in 2017) and Shanqin Bay (39 in 2017), which were left off the 2019 list. Shanqin Bay’s omission was due to the Chinese Government’s closure of its precious 17th hole, but the other two have, presumably, suffered because their representative is no longer a judge, nor able to as effectively control rater access. The same PR company has also represented Diamante Dunes in the past (from 36 to 70) and Club at Nine Bridges (from 41 to 94), which both fell noticeably.

Among the other prominent falls this year were Augusta National (down from 5 to 9) and Pebble Beach (from 9 to 11), which have dropped to their lowest position in the history of the GOLF Top 100 list. Also notable was Trump International Scotland, which tumbled sharply from 46 to 100, and Bandon Dunes, which dropped from 65 to 80. Among those omitted from the Top 100 completely this year were Baltusrol Lower (74 in 2017), Royal Pothcawl (85 in 2017), Ganton (89 in 2017), Yas Links (91 in 2017), Oak Hill (93 in 2017), Valderrama (95 in 2017), European Club (97 in 2017) and Tokyo Golf Club (99 in 2017).

On the positive side were debut Top 100 nods for Sleepy Hollow (76), De Pan (88), Myopia Hunt Club (92) and Ohoopee Match Club (98) and for the first time in more than a decade for Yale (83), Peachtree (91) and Bandon Trails (87). The ongoing absence of Old Macdonald at Bandon Dunes does surprise, given Morrissett’s fondness for all things Doak and all things Macdonald/Raynor. The ranking for each of National Golf Links (7 to 5), Fishers Island (19 to 18), Chicago (21 to 19), Shoreacres (57 to 45), Camargo (63 to 52), Yale (New) and Sleepy Hollow (New) by Macdonald/Raynor improved this year, as did Pacific Dunes (26 to 24), Tara Iti (29 to 27), Barnbougle (38 to 35), Ballyneal (86 to 57) and Rock Creek Cattle Co (NEW entrant) by Doak, whose Cape Kidnappers course remained generously rated at 44 in the World.

After putting the World list to bed, the GOLF Magazine team will be moving onto the new USA Top 100 list for next year and it will be interesting to see how far behind Rock Creek Cattle Co the likes of Old Town Club, Pasatiempo and Yeamans Hall are. Each must have been a strong candidate for this World list.