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Top 100 Golf Courses of the World 2023

22 November, 2022
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Jim McCann

A number of factors – not least of which was the introduction of an all-new website – contributed towards our decision to postpone the release of a revised World Top 100 chart until now, three years after the last edition was published.

We’d like to think you’ll find it’s been worth the wait.

In fairness, there’s not that much movement at the top of the rankings, with most of the excitement coming from the inclusion of twelve new entries – seven that emerge for the first time and five which re-appear after dropping out in the past.

Most of these courses emanate from the United States but they’re headed by a new Tom Doak design from the Republic of Ireland, closely followed by Coore and Crenshaw’s Shanqin Bay layout on Hainan Island which now has an even better 17th hole to replace the one that was lost to government intervention.

And bringing up the rear with the newcomers, there’s a European entry from a remote island inside Norway’s Arctic Circle, where it’s taken architect Jeremy Turner thirty years to find out his ambitious project at Lofoten Links is now something of an overnight sensation.

Before examining some chart highlights, those of you interested in knowing the dozen courses that dropped out from our 2020 standings will find that they are as follows:

Diamante Dunes, Old Sandwich, TPC at Sawgrass (Stadium), Bandon Dunes (Old Macdonald), Muirfield Village, Victoria, Royal Adelaide, West Sussex, Lanhai International (Yangtze Dunes), European Club, Essex County Club and The Golf Club.

Our new entries are:

Rosapenna (St Patrick's), Shanqin Bay, Oak Hill (East), CapRock Ranch, Southern Hills (Championship), Sleepy Hollow (Upper), Myopia Hunt, Eastward Ho!, Inverness, Lofoten Links, Baltusrol (Lower), Rock Creek Cattle Company

Cypress Point

The course at Cypress Point Club in California assumed the mantle of World #1 in 2016 and it remains in that exalted position ahead of the pack, resigning New Jersey’s Pine Valley to the runner-up spot for the fourth consecutive chart revision. Cypress Point was once on the Pebble Beach Pro-Am roster – and it also staged the Walker Cup in 1981 – but these days Alister MacKenzie’s masterpiece adopts a very low tournament profile.

Earlier this year, a reviewer ended his post by writing: “walking off 18 is truly disappointing, not because of the quality of hole just played but because of how close you are to the first tee and knowing that the experience you have long dreamt of is behind you. Cypress Point has to be in the conversation regarding the greatest course in the world; the routing offers a unique challenge, breath taking views and a whole lot of fun.” 

Hirono

C.H. Alison, Harry Colt’s design partner back in the day, was responsible for setting out the course at Hirono Golf Club, near the Japanese city of Kobe, in the early 1930s and it climbs seven places in our new listings to #25. Toyohiko Inui and Osamu Ueda improved the layout after World War II but it’s the recent restoration work of Martin Ebert (using original Alison plans for reference) that has elevated this place to new golfing heights.

In April this year a reviewer wrote: “the course design has been cherished for years and recently reimagined to a polished excellence… following the restoration by Mackenzie & Ebert, the course design has been updated to suit the modern game… the combination of the brilliant layout and physical beauty will remain with you for a long time.”

Tara Iti

The Tom Doak-designed layout on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island at Tara Iti Golf Club also rises seven spots to #29 in our new World Top 100 chart. During construction, the course’s former heavily forested coastal property was largely cleared of pine trees and wattle, leaving a naturally sandy site through which to route the fescue fairways and greens, with an abundance of attractive, sandy waste areas also brought into play.

The last reviewer for this course stated: “the combination of an amazing sand-based course in a beautiful beachside setting, coupled with brilliant hole layouts, means this is truly a special place. It’s easy to walk, with greens flowing into tees, the fairways are wide and it’s hard to lose a ball, meaning that fun is at a premium throughout.”

North Berwick (West)

The West course at North Berwick Golf Club has risen steadily in our global standings since it first appeared at #95 in 2006, reaching the top half of the table (at #49) in 2016. It now advances another nine places to its new position at #32. We wonder what David Strath – who extended the layout to eighteen holes in 1877 – would make of the modern-day admiration for such a unique piece of linksland on the east coast of Scotland?

Recent review comments include: “score doesn’t matter if golf is fun… to play the course is to experience the full spirit of the game in an 18-hole walk… an extraordinary, captivating journey worthy of every golfer’s bucket list… the history, the views, the infamy of the holes and the enjoyable nature of the course combine to make this experience something truly special.”

Rosapenna (St. Patrick’s)

Our highest new entry crashes into the listings at #41 and it’s another layout from Tom Doak’s Renaissance Golf Design company. The St Patrick’s links at Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort in County Donegal is the architect’s first project in the Republic of Ireland and he thought so much of the spectacular property that he became a part-owner himself.

“I found it strategically challenging and interesting,” wrote a reviewer just a few weeks ago. “The holes are a balance of clever, quirky and brilliant,” was the comment in another earlier post, while another person thought a couple of months ago that the course was “a significant addition to the higher echelons of Irish and World golf.”

Oakland Hills (South)

Host venue for six US Open championships, the South course at Oakland Hills Country Club in Michigan once commanded a very high position in our World Top 100 (#24 in 2006 to be precise) but it gradually dropped down the pecking order. Now, following a recent Gil Hanse restoration to reinstate the layout’s original design intent, it moves nineteen places in the right direction to #54.

Only two months ago a reviewer wrote: “Hanse brought back Ross’s strategy and angles to what had become bowling alley golf… bunkers, greens and hole corridors are all expansive… now width, strategy and the ground game are back in full effect… add in stunning vistas from nearly every hole and a day at Oakland is a special experience indeed.”

Maidstone

A little further down the table, the course at The Maidstone Club on New York’s Long Island progresses ten spots to #61. This 18-hole layout was designed by Willie Park Junior and built by his brother John almost a hundred years ago, when the club acquired additional land to extend its original course in 1924. Coore & Crenshaw were called in a decade ago to upgrade just about everything; removing trees and vegetation, widening playing corridors and refurbishing bunkers.

This summer, a reviewer termed Maidstone “the crème de la crème of the Hamptons,” while a few months earlier our regular contributor M. James Ward commended the move to carry out the renovation work, writing: “the club’s leadership deserves big time credit in understanding what was needed to be done and convincing C&C to put into motion what they do so well.”

Ardfin

The highest chart new entry three years ago was the course at the Ardfin Estate on the inner Hebridean island of Jura in the west of Scotland. It now soars another eleven places to #70 in our latest edition of the rankings. Designed by Bob Harrison for a fellow Antipodean owner, the eighteen holes are set out across a mainly cliff top landscape which extends on either side of the Category C-listed Jura House, overlooking the Sound of Islay.

Comments made during 2022 include: “Ardfin is as tough as they come. There’s plenty of forced carries (and) brutal rough like nothing I’ve ever seen. Accuracy really is at a premium, it’s fairway or dead on most holes… whilst it is tough, for me the experience of Ardfin is right up there with playing the Old Course. Staggeringly beautiful, it is an assault on all your senses.” 

Bandon Dunes (Bandon Trails)

Another new entry in 2020 was the Coore and Crenshaw-designed Bandon Trails course at the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Oregon, which now rockets twenty-four places up the new standings to #75. The third course to open for play at this popular golfing venue in the summer of 2005, Bandon Trails doesn’t have the Pacific coastline to capture your attention so it’s taken a bit more time to be fully appreciated by those who travel here to tee it up at the resort.

“Trails is such a delight. Ideally, this is how all tree-lined courses should look,” wrote a reviewer this past summer. Another person who posted previously wrote: “refreshingly different from the other four courses at Bandon since it’s the only inland course… (an) enjoyable layout which is challenging yet playable.”

CapRock Ranch

Another course that makes the cut this time is the 18-hole layout at CapRock Ranch, near the small town of Valentine in northern Nebraska (new at #81). Designed by architect Gil Hanse and built with his construction partner Jim Wagner, the course features the same Snake River Canyon that appears on the nearby Pines course at The Prairie Club, with almost half the holes routed along the rim of this natural ravine. Expect to hear a lot more about this place before we next re-rank our World Top 100.

To view the complete detailed list of our latest Top 100 Golf Courses of the World click the link.

View list here.

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