Second Hundred Golf Courses of the World 2016
We preview the challengers for the 2018 Top 100 Golf Courses of the World and list this season’s second hundred
Having recently published the latest 2016 edition of our Top 100 Golf Courses of the World, we thought we’d take a look at the layouts that missed inclusion this time round.
We’ve focused this Second Hundred Golf Courses of the World article on forty highlighted challengers, but it’s feasible that any of the hundred courses listed at the end of this article could make the next World Top 100. It’s also viable that numerous other courses could also make the grade. If you think we’ve missed a layout from our current World Top 100 or from our Second Hundred (listed in full at the end of this story), please click the “Respond to this article” link at the top and bottom of the page and share your opinion.
The forty “challengers” are profiled by country below. At the end of this article we list the entire second hundred in alphabetical order.Australia
Moonah is one of the toughest golf courses in Australia and it’s the headliner at the remarkable National Golf Club at Cape Schanck on the Mornington Peninsula. This modern Greg Norman/Bob Harrison links is not only dramatic but also raw and elemental. Two other National courses are also notable (Ocean course and Old course), which is why RTJ2 commented that the National is “one of the great golf complexes anywhere in the world”. No true golfer could disagree.
King Island is situated in the Bass Strait, to the northwest of the main island of Tasmania, and it lies about half way between Tasmania and the mainland state of Victoria. It’s here that respected author Darius Oliver is said to have convinced businessman Duncan Andrews to develop the Cape Wickham site and subsequently American architect Mike DeVries was hired to lay out this dramatic links, which opened in 2015. It’s too early to say whether or not this project will be sustainable due to the remote island location and the vicious Roaring Forties, which batter King Island. It might be a step too far for all but the most intrepid golfers.
The East course at Royal Melbourne is undoubtedly the West’s understudy. According to James Spence, author of the Finest Golf Courses of Asia and Australasia: “While it does not quite offer the grand theatre of the West, it is still a fantastic golfing experience and holds its own versus all other courses in the Melbourne area.”
The Alister MacKenzie-designed Royal Adelaide has featured in our world hundred on numerous occasions but has missed out recently. James Spence commented as follows: “Although the sea hasn’t bordered the course at The Royal Adelaide for some 10,000 years, it remains, like Royal Lytham & St Annes, more of a links course than an inland course. Royal Adelaide is a favourite golf course of many Australian golfers and it’s easy to see why.”
Seven Australian Opens, five Australian PGAs and ten other professional tournaments have been hosted at The Metropolitan Golf Club. The World Golf Championships Match Play Championship was held here in 2001 and this Sandbelt classic is polished to within an inch of its life. Fergal O'Leary, our US Consultant, played here recently and commented: “Attention to detail and conditioning at “Metro” is second to none, I even heard that some of the green-side bunkers have their edges hand-cut with scissors!”Bermuda
The Mid Ocean Club is set on the northeastern tip of Bermuda in weathly Tucker's Town. The “Father of Golf Architecture”, Charles Blair Macdonald, originally laid out the course in 1921 adjacent to the Atlantic and it has been on the cusp of the World Top 100 for each edition. It’s a unique layout that’s routed across glorious undulating ground, but the Atlantic Ocean doesn’t play a major part in the design, merely providing a beautiful backdrop to a number of holes, the majority of which are set back a little further inland amongst the stately pines, the pretty glades and the dramatic valleys.Canada
Hamilton Golf & Country Club, or Ancaster as it is known locally, is located on land which once known as Grange Farm and it is set most beautifully in elegant, heavily wooded seclusion. There are three loops of nine holes here, called South, West and East and the championship layout comprises of the West (front nine) and South (back nine). Although Hamilton’s club history can be traced back to 1894, the West and South were designed as two nine-hole courses by Harry S. Colt and both loops formally opened for play in 1916.
It didn’t take long for Cabot Links to make a startling impact on the Canadian Top 100 rankings, soaring almost to the top of this prestigious national chart within months of its opening. No pressure then on Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw to deliver when their much awaited Cabot Cliffs layout debuted three years later. Situated half a mile away from Cabot Links, the Cliffs course occupies a more diverse landscape than its predecessor, sitting atop the bluffs that overlook the Gulf of St Lawrence, with fairways transitioning seamlessly between woodland, wetland and meadowland areas. Somewhat unusually, the layout is configured with three par threes, three par fours and three par fives on each of the nines.England
The Herbert Fowler-designed East course at Saunton has been on the threshold of a World Top 100 ranking for many years. For one reason or another it has never managed to muscle its way onto the world list. This winter a number of new bunkers are being added by Mackenzie & Ebert and a couple of spectacular green run off areas are being created. The East course is undeniably a serious contender as is the Church course at St Enodoc, which pitches and rolls over glorious Cornish linksland. It even wraps around the church where the Poet Laureate, Sir John Betjeman, is buried. The poem “Seaside Golf” was inspired by a rare three Sir John carded at St Enodoc.
Alwoodley came very close to knocking Ganton off the Yorkshire top spot when we recently revised our Best In County rankings. Many golfers think that the home course of Dr. Alister MacKenzie (his first architectural design) is one of his best layouts and it continues to progress upwards in our Britain & Ireland Top 100. A recent poster said: “Certainly a course which should be ranked higher and can rival the likes of the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa.”
Royal Cinque Ports is one of England’s unsung links. It doesn’t have the dune drama of its near neighbour at Sandwich, but the greens complexes at Deal are as good as any links course in Britain, while the brutal closing stretch will sort the men from the boys.France
Les Bordes was the brainchild of Baron Marcel Bich (the man behind Bic pens) and his friend Yoshiaki Sakurai. Together they committed to paper (presumably by biro) the wooded masterpiece that is consistently ranked as one of Europe’s greatest courses. Designed by the late Texan, Robert von Hagge, on a day when he was at his most wickedly creative. Les Bordes opened for play in 1986 and it’s a supreme challenge. The likeable Jean Van de Velde holds the current course record of 71 (one under par), so don’t visit Les Bordes expecting to play to handicap. This monster layout stretches to 7,062 yards from the tips and it really is as difficult as its reputation suggests.
According to the old Big Bopper song, “Chantilly Lace had a pretty face and a wiggle in her walk”. Golf de Chantilly is far more than a pretty face; the Vineuil is one of Europe’s most glorious courses that’s set amidst the forest of the Ile de France, approximately 30 miles to the north of Paris. The club was originally founded in 1909 and it has played host to numerous French Opens, including the 1913 French Open, which George Duncan won.Germany
Falkenstein is an attractive course, which is routed in all directions of the compass. The wooded location provides a genteel oasis to play golf, away from the hustle and bustle of Hamburg’s city centre. While tree-lined courses often have dull highway-like holes, here only the 2nd and 11th are relatively straight and that is just the right amount of diversion on a course full of doglegs and interest. Every hole presents a unique challenge, the bunkering is vintage Colt (with some modern alterations) and the green complexes provide great entertainment without going overboard.
In the words of Greg Norman: “When I first saw the site, I was immediately taken by the dramatic location, the fascinating local culture and the rolling hills covered with rice paddies. I was determined to keep all these features while building a golf course that would challenge even the world’s best. I’m proud to have played a part in developing this world-class golf course.” But is Nirwana Bali that good? Let’s find out from Kimi Hoshiyama, our China and Southern Asia Correspondent: “Nirwana Bali Golf Club features wonderful views overlooking the Indian Ocean. There are many rice terraces positioned on roughs and creeks crossing fairways on some holes. The rugged cliffs with three holes running along the Indian Ocean, terraced rice paddies and coastal landscape, have all been preserved to provide spectacular natural hazards. When the prevailing strong sea winds blow, the course becomes more difficult. The par 5 hole 6, the par 3 hole 7, the par 4 hole 13 and the par 3 hole 14 are superb, these holes are not only beautiful but also the ocean comes into play.”
The East and the West are two outstanding golf courses at Kasumigaseki Country Club. East or West, which is best? We’re really not too sure, but the East is the one that the members generally favour, so we think it’s prudent to stick with those in the know and Fergal agrees: “The site for the 2020 Olympics golf course. The East course has had some recent bunker work done by Tom Fazio, but the bigger challenge that the course is facing is to decide whether to consolidate the current “dual green system” into a single set of greens for the Olympics… We played on the old greens which are small and not very deep – certainly a challenge for the best of players. I am not in favour of consolidating the greens and adding numerous water features to the course as it takes away from one of the historic reasons why this club is so special. Having played this course twice now, my desire was not to touch the wonderful Charles Alison design and just let the best players in the world earn their gold medal.”Mexico
At the end of 2014, the Golden Bear completed work on Quivira, his sixth Los Cabos layout, which is located on a truly stunning property at the end of the Baja peninsula, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Focal point of the 1,850-acre luxury resort, this fabulous 18-hole layout is reputed to have taken around eight years to construct at a cost of $40 million. According to Javier Pintos, our Argentinean Correspondent: “WOW! One thousand times WOW!! This is maybe the most spectacular piece of land on which I have played golf in my entire life. It has dunes, level changes, Ocean, carries across cliffs, mountains, desert, sun and views of the new Tiger Woods Course at Diamante (El Cardonal). I was lucky to play here two days after Jack Nicklaus played it in its inaugural event last December 2014.”Netherlands
In the early days, the Kennemer Golf & Country Club played on a rudimentary nine-hole course and when it moved to its present location in 1927, the brilliant Harry Colt was commissioned to lay out the course amongst the towering sand dunes and the result is still really good, despite damage caused by the occupying army during the Second World War. In 1985, Frank Pennink was tasked with adding nine new holes (Pennink’s last design before this death). Each nine has a name and is also referred to as the A, B and C course, so things can get a bit confusing. The A course is also called Van Hengel (named after Steven van Hengel who was a member and an eminent figurehead in Dutch golf), the B course is called Pennink and the C nine is called Colt. The Dutch Open utilises holes from all three nines, so play all 27 and then decide for yourself which two of the three loops combine to make the best course.New Zealand
Kauri Cliffs dropped off our 2016 world hundred list to the amazement of many. Will it be back? Quite possibly – seaside golf doesn’t get much better than this. It’s hard not to be seduced by the magnificent ocean vistas that grab your attention the entire way round. Is the course itself good enough for a world ranking? That’s a tough question but many golfers would reply with a resounding yes.
One of the few true links courses in the Southern Hemisphere and host to a dozen New Zealand Opens, Paraparaumu Beach is a household name and has twice been listed in our World Top 100 (2006 and 2012). Fergal O’Leary was very impressed when he played Paraparam almost twelve months ago: “Everything about the club is humble and unpretentious and fits every element of a golfing gem. If you’re looking for a course which will examine how accurate you are from the tee, then you’ve met your match.”Scotland
According to Colin Montgomerie, “wherever Loch Lomond is ranked, it ought to be higher”, it’s therefore a no-brainer that this beautiful Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish design from 1993 must appear on this second hundred list. “The best golf experience in Europe” is how one reviewer described this unique course set on the bonnie, bonnie banks.
Prestwick has been described as quirky, eccentric, strangely odd and rather confusing. This golfing monument often divides opinion. However, there’s no denying that this time-honoured links genuinely deserves consideration for a world ranking position. After all, this is where the Open Championship began and nobody could ever accuse it of being a bore.
Machrihanish is widely loved by golf course architecture aficionados and frankly what’s not to like at this remote golfing outpost on the tip of the Kintyre peninsula? Perhaps if the round concluded half as strongly as it started, Machrihanish would be a permanent feature in the world hundred.
Gleneagles is one of Europe’s finest destinations with a wonderful hotel and a Ryder Cup course within its portfolio. Let’s not dwell on the PGA Centenary course, which will never be a contender for this stellar ranking list, but concentrate on the regally named courses for a moment. The Queen’s is the favourite of many mid handicap golfers and it’s as pretty as pretty can be, but it’s the King’s course that’s knocking on the door. Often lauded as James Braid’s finest design, the King’s is hard not to like; the setting is glorious and the course big and bold, but perhaps it’s a little too refined for some.South Africa
Durban is part of Africa’s Zulu Kingdom and it’s a bewitching seaside playground in the province known as KwaZulu-Natal. Amidst the hustle and bustle of this cosmopolitan city lies the serenity and calm of Durban Country Club. The Country Club course has not appeared in our world hundred since 2008, despite many rating this 1922 Laurie Waters and George Waterman design as the best in the land. Set on the edge of the Indian Ocean, hidden behind a high ridge of sand dunes, the layout undulates beautifully through lush and intimidating tropical vegetation. Durban could easily reappear in the World Top 100 but many golfers reckon there’s a better course down at Fancourt.
The Links course at Fancourt opened for play in November 2000 and it represents a unique and very tough South African golfing experience. The course was designed by Gary Player, but only after the Black Knight’s team had studied in great detail the characteristics of classic Scottish links courses. The Links does indeed resemble a traditional seaside links, but so far they have failed to replicate the changeable British weather. Fergal played here recently: “The sheer scale and size of the Links course is a sight to behold by itself. It’s an immensely enjoyable and impressive course to play. Without debate, it’s Gary’s best design in his global portfolio. Don’t be fooled by the name, this is not a Links golf course by definition, however the inherent pot-bunkers, blind drives and swashbuckling fairways immediately give the sense that you are beside the seashore.”South Korea
Author, James Spence, kindly allowed us to reprint his account of Nine Bridges from the Finest Golf Courses of Asia and Australasia: "The course was designed by Golf Plan whose two principles are Ronald Fream and David Dale. As befits a golf design firm led by a horticulturalist, the visual presentation and aesthetics of the course are excellent. The public relations releases talk about how the designers have sought to create a Scottish Highlands course and, for once, this is not mere hyperbole. The manicuring and finishing is of an order of perfection you are not liable to find in Scotland so, in truth, it more resembles an American course in a Scottish atmosphere. And this part of Jeju Island does indeed resemble Perthshire. The two nines have been laid out on a very generous allocation of land that wanders through pine-clad rolling land in the lee of Mount Halla, at 6,000 feet South Korea’s tallest mountain.”Spain
Spain may have lost the fight to host the 2022 Ryder Cup, but the Spanish Ryder Cup bid course at PGA Catalunya is at the pinnacle of Spanish golf. The Stadium course is the culmination of more than ten years of planning and design by the European Tour who wanted to build their own Players Championship course to rival the PGA Tour’s TPC at Sawgrass. It has to be said that it was a decade well spent. The PGA Stadium is so good that within months of opening, it hosted the 1999 Gene Sarazen World Open and the Spanish Open in 2000. The Spanish Open returned to the Stadium course in 2009 (won by Thomas Levet) and in 2014 when veteran Miguel Angel Jiménez extended his own record as the oldest winner in European Tour history, prevailing in a three-man play-off.Sweden
According to many, the Stadium course at Bro Hof Slott is Sweden’s best course and even architect RTJ2 thinks so: “Everything is big at Bro Hof! The holes are longer, the greens are bigger, the course has more water and the bunkers are larger and well placed. Besides which, the wind is always part of the game. On the dogleg holes you not only have to hit the balls a long way, you also have to get them to stop. Mother Earth must have created this area for a golf course. All I had to do was to walk around this beautiful landscape and see where the holes would fit in. There was an enormous amount of land and a large wallet. If, in spite of everything, there wasn’t enough land, we could get more.” Therefore, big really is better – you’ve been told.Thailand
Formed in 2007 by thirty of Thailand’s wealthiest people, Ayodhya Links is one of the most exclusive golf clubs in Asia. Membership to the club is by invitation, so only the great and the good of Thai society mingle in the clubhouse – and unless you’re closely acquainted with one of these invitees, don’t hold your breath on getting a game here anytime soon. The design company of Thomson and Perrett created the course and they've laid out a tough track where water lies in wait at each and every one of the eighteen holes on the scorecard. If you add rolling fairways, lightning fast greens and a variety of deep bunkers into the golfing mix then it’s easy to see why Ayodhya is regarded as a real test of golf.USA
Old Town Club in North Carolina is an obvious World Top 100 contender. It rocketed into our latest 2016 US Top 100 (#49) following the Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw 2011 restoration of this Perry Maxwell classic.
Gozzer Ranch in Idaho is widely regarded as Tom Fazio’s best design, perhaps even better than Shadow Creek (North) and Wade Hampton (which occupies a place in our current world hundred). Pete Dye has two contenders knocking on the door: The Honors Course in Tennessee and Harbour Town in South Carolina (which was a collaboration with Jack Nicklaus).
Bandon Trails (Coore & Crenshaw) must also be a candidate, along with the classics of Yeamans Hall (Seth Raynor), Winged Foot (East) by AW Tillinghast, which has recently been restored by Gil Hanse, Myopia Hunt (Herbert Corey Leeds) described by a reviewer; “Mypoia is to America what Prestwick is to Scotland,” and the Valley Club of Montecito by Alister MacKenzie (with a little help from Robert Hunter and, more recently, Tom Doak).
The nine highlighted USA courses above only scratch the surface, as there are perhaps two-dozen or more American layouts that could conceivably make the World Top 100. The depth and quality in the States is second to no other country. If only more clubs could be accessed by regular golfers.
20 December 2015 Respond to this article