The only problem with our list of Top 100 Courses in the World? It can’t include all the courses we love! That’s the problem with any list, I guess. When an exciting new course makes the list, another beloved beauty falls off. It’s a zero-sum game, and it’s a responsibility our raters do not take lightly.
Knowing the release of the Top 100 Courses in the World was coming, I gave Architecture Editor Ran Morrissett a call. Sure, I wanted to hear more about the courses that had cracked the list. But I wanted to hear about those just on the outside looking in, too. How much “worse” is the course at No. 105 compared to No. 95? Just a whisker. Here are a few of note from the next 25 courses on our panel’s list.
Machrihanish has the dubious honor of first course out. The entrancing Old Tom Morris design in remote Scotland was ranked No. 93 in the most recent previous list, but slipped just far enough to be the No. 1 seed in the Best of the Rest. Machrihanish boasts one of the most dramatic opening tee shots in the world — what’s cooler than driving over a beach?! — and its spot on the Kintyre Peninsula guarantees you’ll play it in the elements. (Whether you go for the haggis nachos is up to you.)
“Firm playing conditions and great interior green contours are two cornerstones for inclusion in the World Top 100,” Morrissett said. “Two links that epitomize those fundamentals are Machrihanish and Royal Cinque Ports [another near-miss].”
Sounds like there’s hope that Machrihanish could work its way back inside that coveted 100 number next time around.
New England’s gem
“Boston has been the scene of a lot of history, some of it even non-golf!” Morrissett added. He’s probably being tongue-in-cheek, but you never know. To Ran, Paul Revere’s ride may have been better spent surveying new potential linksland. Anyway, he wanted to highlight Essex County, an early Donald Ross masterpiece in Manchester-by-the-Sea (yes, the place from the dreary, wonderful Casey Affleck movie) on Massachusetts’ North Shore.
“Essex County in the northern suburbs was home to both the Curtis sisters (a Cup is now played that bears their name) as well as Donald Ross. Some contend its back nine is the best side in New England.”
One more for South Korea?
South Cape Owners Club is an ultra-luxe resort course on the southern tip of the Korean Peninsula that earned the description of “18 holes worth of joyful assaults on the senses” in a recent GOLF Magazine article.
“South Cape enjoys a devoted following, propelled in part by a dazzling set of one-shot holes,” Morrissett said, referring to the breathtaking seaside par-3s. “Should it make it, the course would join Nine Bridges as South Korea’s second course to feature.”
The course, which opened in 2013, was designed by Kyle Phillips and features one of the most breathtaking clubhouses in all of golf. Top 100 Clubhouses — that’s one list that South Cape would headline, no questions asked.
Coore and Crenshaw
They could call ’em More and Crenshaw, amiright? Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, the dynamic duo of modern course architecture, have four courses on the list but were darn close to adding two more. Lost Farms and Old Sandwich are just off the list.
Barnbougle’s Lost Farms course was No. 89 in our last ranking and would surprise nobody with a reappearance on a future list, given its dramatic dunescape.
And Old Sandwich, just off Cape Cod in Massachusetts, brings an old-school feel to a newish course in a seasoned corner of the golfing country.
Victoria Golf Club just missed the top 100, which would be an impressive feat in most golfing neighborhoods. But for better or worse Victoria is just a short drive from Royal Melbourne’s East and West courses as well as Kingston Heath.
“Michael Clayton’s 25 years of work has Victoria knocking on the door to become the fourth course in Melbourne’s famed Sandbelt to make our World Top 100,” Morrissett concluded.
In two years, we’ll see if those knocking on the door have been let in — and which others are oh-so-close.