USA GOLF Magazine has released its 2023 ranking of the World’s Top 100 golf courses, with a continued emphasis on American courses and American designs.
The magazine ranking with the most professionally, and personally, conflicted panelists in golf is chaired by Ran Morrissett, an initial investor in the Cabot business and a current consultant on one of their projects in Florida. Morrissett has done particularly well for the Cabot brand this year, by managing to sneak the new Point Hardy course at Cabot Saint Lucia onto the Top 100 list, a couple of months before it even opens. The original Cabot Links course continues to over perform as well, being ranked #79 in the World.
Morrissett is also a cheerleader (or promoter) for the designs of Tom Doak, who was a previous chair of this panel and remains a judge. Unsurprisingly, Doak courses continue to perform well with the new Lido course at Sand Valley debuting at #68 and the St Patrick’s course at Rosapenna rising 6 places to #49. More curious is the elevation of Rock Creek in Montana, which is a nice course now ranked #73 on the entire planet.
Aside from the Lido and the as-yet-unopened Point Hardy course at Cabot Saint Lucia, other new courses on the 2023 list are Te Arai (South Course) in New Zealand at #85 and Lofoten Links in Norway at #88. Royal Cinque Ports makes its first World Top 100 list in 100th place, while each of Shanqin Bay (#95), Victoria GC (#96) and Machrihanish (#97) have reentered the ranking after previously falling off.
Without doubt the most dubious omission from the 2023 Top 100 list is Cape Wickham in Tasmania, which was ranked 70th in 2021 but has apparently since become an inferior course to the likes of Garden City, Cape Kidnappers, Camargo, Royal Troon, Rock Creek, Royal Lytham, Cabot Links, Peachtree, Nine Bridges, Castle Stuart, Whistling Straits, Muirfield Village and Yeamans Hall.
The absence of Cape Wickham from a World Top 100 ranking hurts that lists credibility.
As with most American lists like this one, there are several courses included that would struggle to make Victoria’s Top 10 and others that you wouldn’t seek out if they were located in a strong golf market like Scotland, Ireland, Australia or England.
There is also a clear preference toward super elite, private American clubs. Incredibly, 29 of the Top 50 courses in the World are apparently American – and only 3 of those courses are available for public play. Garden City at #48, for example, is a charming club with a really lovely golf course – a course that, at best, might rank somewhere in the 12–20 bracket in Australia.
Fortunately, the influence of the GOLF Magazine Top 100 has continued to wane over the years, with most astute golfers looking at these results with amusement and a healthy degree of skepticism. Local Australian panels continue to rank Cape Wickham among the Top 3 courses in the country.
I note my own personal bias here, as a designer of Cape Wickham.