GOLF released its latest ranking of the Top 100 Courses in the World (2023-24), and while Pine Valley again took the top spot, there were eight newcomers that found their way into the ranking. Here, we’ll introduce you to them.
Newcomer spotlight: Shanqin Bay / Rank: 95th
Location: Hainan, China
Architect: Bill Coore/Ben Crenshaw
Why it made our list, according to a rater:
Shanqin Bay isn’t so much a newcomer to the list as it is a returnee. It used to have a comfortable place in the World Top 100, but fell out of the ranking after it lost its stunning, seaside par-4 17th hole in 2017 (long story short, the hole went away when the Chinese government reclaimed some land). A replacement 17th wasn’t built until late 2021, so Shanqin Bay missed our last round of voting. But enough raters saw it this time around — and rightly chose it for the list again. While the new 17th isn’t as dramatic as the original, it links more naturally in the routing to the 18th hole with a shorter walk from green to tee. And the rest of the course is as riveting as ever: a Coore/Crenshaw design that swoops along the bluffs of balmy Hainan Island, serving up amazing views and the sort of compelling, strategic demands that you’d expect from its architects. — Josh Sens
More about Shanqin Bay
“A tropical island in the South China Sea may be an unlikely location for world-class golf,” panelist Joe Andriole writes, “but Hainan Island features a plethora of dramatic landforms: steep stretches of rolling farmland, a broad canyon, majestic sand dunes and dense vegetation. Shanqin Bay’s routing, bordered by the sea on three sides, embraces all of these geomorphic features, creating a thrilling 18-hole ride. The tumultuous journey takes golfers high on a cliffside and hill, where stunning ocean views prevail, before dipping and turning into valleys and ravines bordered by unyielding native vines and grasses. There’s a pleasant mix of long and short holes that hug the land and are simultaneously natural and strategic. Fairway bunkering is relatively sparse as befits the terrain. Greens are strewn on the property over both high and low land, creating a wonderful, motley array of approach shots. The interior holes may lack the visual drama of those on cliff and beach, but do not cede any shot value or playing interest. At Shanqin Bay, Coore and Crenshaw turned hostile geography into an exalted playground for golf.” — Ran Morrissett