Top 100 Golf Courses of the World 2016

09 November 2015 Respond to this article

Top 100 Golf Courses of the World 2016

Our latest World Top 100 ranking list is unveiled

Fergal on his way to playing the World Top 100Our 2016 Top 100 Golf Courses of the World rankings have been compiled using a different process from previous iterations. Quite a lot has happened since our 2014 world rankings were published. Not least, in August 2015, Fergal O’Leary – one of our most respected contributors – became the youngest man in history to play the World’s Top 100 Golf Courses. Click here to read the story.

Masa Nishijima, our International Consultant, completed the “holy grail” some years ago and continues to play any layouts (new or old) that might conceivably be considered World Top 100 contenders. Masa was one of the four co-authors who contributed to Tom Doak’s latest Confidential Guide series, along with respected writer and course rater Darius Oliver, and the founder of Golf Club Atlas, Ran Morrisett. Masa agreed to share his own personal rankings. Click the link to see Masa's World Top 100.

Another of our contributors is well on the way to completing his goal of playing every course that has ever appeared on a World Top 100 ranking list. Paul Rudovsky is a man on a mission and is famous for his crazy golfing itineraries. His latest adventure has taken him to South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia and China to play fifteen Asian courses in just a couple of weeks. Paul is a keen blogger and you can read all about his exploits at http://rudogolf.blogspot.com.

We incorporated the views of these knowledgeable contributors (along with input from many others) to help shape our latest 2016 World Top 100 table. Their combined feedback has shaken up our rankings and we plan to factor in the thoughts of even more course raters who have played an extensive number of the world’s greatest courses in the future.

Cypress PointSome of our readers will be pleased to see a change at the very top of the rankings. After ten years at No.1, Pine Valley stands aside and is replaced at the pinnacle of the table by Cypress Point. Fergal and Paul both have Cypress at the head of their personal Top 100 charts. Fergal sums CP up as follows: “So much has been written about this legendary course crafted by Mother Nature and completed by Alister MacKenzie, yet the aggregate of all that has been reported doesn’t even come close to describing its unique natural beauty and world-renowned brilliance.”

Shinnecock Hills jumps up two spots to No.3 and many who have been lucky enough to experience this Hampton masterpiece think it could perhaps even go a little higher in the charts. Our International Correspondent, David Davis, has played 75 of the world hundred and after playing the course last year said: “Make no mistake, Shinnecock is a players’ course and an extremely tough test of golf, it’s also one of the few routings that exist where it would be extremely difficult to imagine improving, my only thought is that I would love to see it playing as firm as a UK links.”

Royal Dornoch Golf ClubRoyal Dornoch makes a bold four position upward move from 12th to 8th and following my visit to the Scottish Highlands a few months ago I completely understand why it has risen into the world top ten. A reviewer named Tom posted the following comments last month: “When you arrive there's already a feeling that a grand journey has been completed. An hour north of Inverness, you wind through the mountains with ever-growing anticipation that you are on the way to a special place. The course is simply mind blowing. We played on a sunny windless day in October and I couldn't have wished to be anywhere else.”

Two Australian courses move upwards. Royal Melbourne (West) moves up one to 7th and Kingston Heath rises three places to 17th. The National Golf Links of America is the biggest faller in the Top 20, down four to 11th position. NGLA is a monument we fondly call “Blair’s Best”. Its fall in the rankings is purely the result of levelling as we moved it up a little too strongly last time around.

Morfontaine Golf ClubOn the flip side, Morfontaine leaps nineteen places to 34th due to the universal view that we had this French gem positioned way too low. 34th is the highest place Morfontaine has occupied in our rankings, although it did achieve 37th spot in our 2008 numbers.

Shanqin Bay springs upwards a massive 34 places to 60th position. This recently opened Coore & Crenshaw oddity is now beginning to find its rightful position in our world table, becoming the third highest ranked course in Asia behind Japan’s venerable Hirono and Kawana’s unsung Fuji course.

It’s a mixed bag of good and bad fortune for many of Britain’s courses. Some roughly hold their place while some drop down and others rise. This season’s big winners include the Balgownie course at Royal Aberdeen, up 23 to 56th. To the north of Aberdeen at Balmedie, Trump International Golf Links rockets 28 places to 65th, largely due to this controversial course finally playing like a true links.

Royal Porthcawl Golf ClubWe were the first publication to rank Royal Porthcawl in a World Top 100 and it now features in most magazine rankings. This engaging old links moves up into 69th position and it remains the only Welsh course on our premier ranking table.

Seven Irish courses have been listed prominently since we first published a World Top 100 in 2006 and they all largely hold firm in our latest table, with the exception of Waterville which takes a grave tumble. The jaw-droppingly scenic Waterville – routed on a promontory surrounded by the sea – divides opinion among raters. I genuinely hope it can hold its own among the stiff competition because it’s a personal Irish favourite.

Cabot LinksCabot Links narrowly missed our 2014 rankings due to the course having only just opened. It will come as no surprise therefore to learn that it’s the highest new entry in our 2016 World Top 100. It may only be a matter of time before Cabot Links displaces St George’s from the Canadian top spot. We’ll also be keeping a watchful eye on Cabot Cliffs which sits atop a bluff overlooking the Gulf of St Lawrence. It’s even possible that Cabot Cliffs could become Nova Scotia’s future No.1.

The USA’s Wade Hampton, Southern Hills and Peachtree re-enter the Top 100 after temporarily dropping out in 2014, while the exclusive “Cal Club” is a new entry at position 94 following its recent highly acclaimed Kyle Phillips restoration. Fergal reckons, “the restoration has been the catalyst for the club’s rising national and world ranking, and I can only anticipate continued future success.”

The Victoria Golf ClubWe feature seven Australian courses in the 2016 rankings. We lose National (Moonah) but gain Victoria and Ellerston (straight in at 93rd and 99th respectively). Eyebrows will be raised at the inclusion of the ultra-private Ellerston, which Greg Norman and Bob Harrison designed for the late Australian media magnate Kerry Packer. We simply couldn’t ignore its existence and the fortunate few who have played Ellerston will say we’ve still not ranked it highly enough.

South Cape Owners Club is a high profile South Korean new entry at position 91. It opened in late 2013 and is fashioned to take your breath away. According to Fergal it should be ranked higher: “What Kyle Philips created at South Cape makes a lot of old classics shiver in their boots. The golf world needs to brace itself, as this whole experience takes you to unimaginable levels of euphoria.”

Koninklijke Haagsche Golf & Country ClubMany will be surprised, even perplexed, to note that there are only two Continental European courses in the table. Agree or not, we’re pleased to welcome a new European addition that joins the classical Morfontaine. Koninklijke Haagsche, or Royal Hague, is a Harry Colt and Charles Alison creation from 1939 and it dispels, in no uncertain terms, any thinking that Holland is flat. “Right out of the starting gate it becomes abundantly clear that a round of golf at De Haagsche is truly like a wild roller coaster ride,” said David Davis who resides in Amsterdam. “Literally, this may well be the most undulated course I’ve ever experienced.”

We don’t claim that our latest World Top 100 is definitive – how could that ever be the case? What we do know is that there is a changing of the guard. We’ll always see many old classics propping up the list, but there are now numerous new kids on the block and we can see more young contenders in the pipeline.

Feedback is always welcome, so please feel free to let us know what you think of our latest 2016 World Top 100. Have we omitted a course that really should be in our rankings, or have we included a course that really doesn’t deserve to be there? Maybe there’s a particular layout that’s riding too high or perhaps there’s one lying too low in the standings? Please click the “Respond to this article” link at the top and bottom of the page if you’d like to share your opinion.

Over the next couple of weeks we plan to publish a World second hundred for the first time. Keep an eye out for this release as it promises a few surprises.

Keith Baxter
Editor-in-Chief
Top 100 Golf Courses

Rank

Course

Move

1

Cypress Point

Up 1

2

Pine Valley

Down 1

3

Shinnecock Hills

Up 2

4

Royal County Down (Championship)

Down 1

5

St Andrews (Old)

Down 1

6

Augusta National

No change

7

Royal Melbourne (West)

Up 1

8

Royal Dornoch (Championship)

Up 4

9

Muirfield

No change

10

Oakmont

Up 1

11

National Golf Links of America

Down 4

12

Sand Hills

Down 2

13

Merion (East)

No change

14

Pebble Beach

No change

15

Royal Portrush (Dunluce)

No change

16

Bandon Dunes (Pacific Dunes)

No change

17

Kingston Heath

Up 3

18

Crystal Downs

Down 1

19

Turnberry (Ailsa)

Down 1

20

Ballybunion (Old)

Up 1

21

Fishers Island

Up 4

22

Chicago

No change

23

Pinehurst (No.2)

Up 3

24

Royal St George's

Down 5

25

Winged Foot (West)

Down 2

26

Carnoustie (Championship)

Up 4

27

Seminole

Up 4

28

Sunningdale (Old)

Down 4

29

Prairie Dunes

Down 2

30

Friar's Head

Up 3

31

Lahinch (Old)

Up 4

32

Royal Birkdale

Down 3

33

San Francisco

Down 1

34

Morfontaine

Up 19

35

Barnbougle Dunes

Down 7

36

Riviera

Up 2

37

Hirono

Down 3

38

New South Wales

Up 5

39

Los Angeles (North)

No change

40

Cape Kidnappers

Down 4

41

Country Club (Clyde & Squirrel)

No change

42

Kingsbarns

Down 2

43

Oakland Hills (South)

Down 1

44

Portmarnock (Old)

No change

45

Sunningdale (New)

Up 3

46

Muirfield Village

Up 8

47

Barnbougle Lost Farm

Down 10

48

Whistling Straits (Straits)

Down 2

49

North Berwick (West)

Up 2

50

Kiawah Island (Ocean)

Down 5

51

Bethpage (Black)

Down 1

52

Diamante Dunes

Up 15

53

Kawana (Fuji)

Up 9

54

Castle Stuart

Up 11

55

Ballyneal

Down 8

56

Royal Aberdeen

Up 23

57

Royal Lytham & St Annes

Down 8

58

St George's

Down 3

59

Camargo

Up 16

60

Shanqin Bay

Up 34

61

Garden City

Up 8

62

Cabot Links

New entry

63

TPC at Sawgrass (Stadium)

Up 3

64

Olympic Club (Lake)

Down 8

65

Trump International Golf Links

Up 28

66

Golf Club

Down 6

67

Casa de Campo (Teeth of the Dog)

Down 15

68

Bandon Dunes (Old Macdonald)

Up 4

69

Royal Porthcawl

Up 17

70

Bandon Dunes (Bandon Dunes)

Down 11

71

Swinley Forest

Up 16

72

Oak Hill (East)

Up 5

73

St George's Hill

Up 23

74

Somerset Hills

Up 7

75

Cruden Bay

Up 16

76

Shoreacres

Down 3

77

Royal Troon (Old)

Down 14

78

Quaker Ridge

Up 2

79

Woodhall Spa (Hotchkin)

Down 21

80

Old Sandwich

Down 12

81

Ganton

Down 7

82

Walton Heath (Old)

Down 11

83

Wade Hampton

New entry

84

Waterville

Down 23

85

Southern Hills

New entry

86

European Club

Down 3

87

Maidstone

Up 1

88

Royal Liverpool

Down 3

89

Baltusrol (Lower)

Down 7

90

Pasatiempo

Down 6

91

South Cape Owners Club

New entry

92

Sebonack

Down 28

93

Victoria

New entry

94

California

New entry

95

Cabo del Sol (Ocean)

Down 19

96

Highlands Links

Down 39

97

Tokyo

Down 2

98

Koninklijke Haagsche

New entry

99

Ellerston

New entry

100

Peachtree

New entry

Click to see the new World Top 100 Golf Courses in detail.

Breakdown of courses by country (previous number in parenthesis):

USA 48 (46), Scotland 12 (13), England 11 (11), Australia 7 (6), Ireland 5 (5), Japan 3 (3), Canada 3 (2), Northern Ireland 2 (2), Mexico 2 (2), New Zealand 1 (2), China 1 (1), France 1 (1), Dominican Republic 1 (1), Netherlands 1 (1), Wales 1 (1), South Korea 1 (0)

The nine courses that made way for the new entries are: Kauri Cliffs, Loch Lomond, Noordwijkse, Shadow Creek (North), PGA Catalunya (Stadium), Valderrama, Valley Club of Montecito, National (Moonah), Leopard Creek.