Can you get a tee time at a Top 100 Course in the World? Here’s your guide

Seminole Golf Club

How easy (or difficult?) is it to play the Top 100 Courses in the World? They all require cash, connections or some combination of the two.

Jeff Bertch

GOLF’s latest ranking of the Top 100 Courses in the World is a mix of private and public courses, but not all those private courses are equally private and not all the public courses are equally priced.

That’s another way of saying that ease of access varies, requiring different levels of cash or connections, or some combination of the two. Exclusivity isn’t always what it seems. There are, for instance, tweedy private clubs that allow outside play. In the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, it’s rare to find a club that won’t let you on its grounds with the proper arrangements, though most charge a premium for the privilege, just as there are munis so inviting to the masses that many of those masses have a tough time getting on.

Resorts? They run the gamut. Some make you stay there if you want to play there. Others permit drop-ins but jack up the greens fees. Still others are so busy that the biggest obstacle is simply squeezing you in. In the end, a lot boils down to your schedule and bankroll; if you’ve got the time and money, there’s no course in this subset you can’t get on.

But because no single set of rules applies across the ranking, we came up with a list within a list, arranging courses according to how tough they are to access. Admittedly, some of the groupings are imperfect; some courses likely belong in a category of their own. With that caveat aside, here’s our World Top 100 Gettability Guide.

(Note: Course rankings are listed in parentheses)


Public courses with online booking

Cruden Bay, Scotland (56)

Bethpage Black, N.Y. (60)

Kingsbarns, Scotland (86)

Machrihanish, Scotland (97)

Somewhat easy

High-demand resort courses that allow outside play

Pacific Dunes, Bandon, Ore. (32)

Kiawah Island Ocean, Kiawah Island, S.C. (62)

Cabot Cliffs, Canada (52)

Cabot Links, Canada (79) 

Bandon Trails, Bandon, Ore. (90)

Bandon Dunes, Bandon, Ore. (94)

The par-4 16th hole at Bandon Dunes
Bandon Dunes Getty Images

Kinda, sorta easy

Resort or members courses where you have to stay to play

Pebble Beach Golf Links, Pebble Beach, Calif. (14) (Non-guests can only reserve times 24 hours in advance.)

Pinehurst No. 2, Pinehurst, N.C. (21)

Cape Kidnappers, New Zealand (55)

The Lido, Rome, Wis. (68)

Whistling Straits, Kohler, Wis. (91)

Less easy

Far-flung resort courses that allow outside play

Trump Turnberry, Ailsa, Scotland (18)

Barnbougle Dunes, Tasmania (36)

St. Patrick’s Links, Ireland (49)

Kawana, Japan (53)

Woodhall Spa, England (58)

Ardfin, Scotland (65)

Teeth of the Dog, Dominican Republic (75)

Te Arai, South, New Zealand (85)

Lofoten, Norway (88)

Castle Stuart, Scotland (89)

the 18th at castle stuart
Castle Stuart Stephen Szurlej

Kinda tough

Overseas members courses that allow outside play; call, write a nice letter or email, or contact a tour operator

The Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland (3) (A course so public and so popular that tee times are scarce.)

Royal County Down, Northern Ireland (6)

Royal Melbourne, West, Australia (7)

Royal Dornoch, Scotland (10)

Muirfield, Scotland (12)

Royal Portrush, Northern Ireland (16)

Tara Iti, New Zealand (20)

Kingston Heath, Australia (22)

Ballybunion, Ireland  (24)

Sunningdale, Old, England (25)

North Berwick, Scotland (30)

Royal St. George’s, England (33)

Lahinch, Ireland (37)

Carnoustie, Scotland (40)

Royal Birkdale, England (42)

Royal Birkdale Getty Images

Swinley Forest, England (46)

Sunningdale, England (54)

Portmarnock, Old, England (59)

Prestwick, Scotland (63)

New South Wales, Australia (64)

Royal Troon, Scotland (66)

St. George’s Hill (A&B), Weybridge, England (71)

Rye, England (72)

Royal Lytham & St. Annes, England (74)

Point Hardy Golf Club, St. Lucia (76)

Royal Hague, The Netherlands (78)

Royal Melbourne, East, Scotland (92)

Royal Liverpool, England (93)

Victoria, Australia (96)

Royal Cinque Ports, England (100)


Private courses that allow limited unaccompanied, member-sponsored play

Sand Hills, Mullen, Neb. (11)

Prairie Dunes, Hutchinson, Kansas (26)

Oakland Hills, South, Bloomfield Hill, Mich. (27)

Riviera, Pacific Palisades, Calif. (28)

Somerset Hills, Bernardsville, N.J. (43)

Southern Hills, Tulsa, Okla. (44)

A view of the 9th and 18th holes at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla.
Southern Hills PGA of America via Getty Images

California Golf Club of San Francisco, South San Francisco, Calif. (45)

Ballyneal, Holyoke, Colo. (51)

Inverness, Inverness, Ohio (61) 

Oak Hill, East, Pittsford, N.Y. (69)

Sleepy Hollow, Briarcliff Manor, N.Y. (70)

Rock Creek Cattle Company, Deer Lodge, Mont. (73)

Ohoopee Match Club, Cobbtown, Ga. (81)

Muirfield Village, Dublin, Ohio (98)

Yeamans Hall, Hanahan, S.C. (99)

Extremely tough

Private clubs that allow unaccompanied guests but have tiny memberships, or that prohibit unaccompanied play

Pine Valley, Pine Valley, N.J. (1)

Cypress Point, Pebble Beach, Calif. (2)

Shinnecock Hills, Southampton, N.Y. (4)

National Golf Links of America, Southampton, N.Y. (5)

Oakmont, Oakmont, Pa. (8)

Merion, East, Ardmore, Pa. (13)

Fishers Island, Fishers Island, N.Y. (15)

Chicago GC, Wheaton, Ill. (17)

Los Angeles, North, Los Angeles, Calif. (19)

Friar’s Head,  Baiting Hollow, N.Y. (23)

Winged Foot, West, Mamaroneck, N.Y. (29)

a view of winged foot west
Winged Foot christian hafer

Hirono, Japan (31)

Crystal Downs, Frankfort, Mich. (34)

Seminole, Juno Beach, Fla. (35)

The Country Club, Brookline, Mass. (39)

San Francisco Golf Club, San Francisco, Calif. (38)

Mortfontaine, France (41)

Shoreacres, Lake Bluff, Ill. (47)

Garden City, Garden City, N.Y. (48)

Maidstone, East Hampton, N.Y. (50)

Camargo, Cincinnati, Ohio (57)

Baltusrol, Lower, Springfield, N.J. (67)

Myopia Hunt Club, South Hamilton, Mass. (77)

Winged Foot, East, Mamaroneck, N.Y. (80)

Peachtree, Atlanta, Ga. (82)

Les Bordes, New, France (83)

Old Town Club, Winston-Salem, N.C. (84)

Nine Bridges, South Korea (87)

Why are you trying?

Good luck.

Augusta National, Augusta, Ga. (9)

Shanqin Bay, China (95)

Josh Sens Editor

A golf, food and travel writer, Josh Sens has been a GOLF Magazine contributor since 2004 and now contributes across all of GOLF’s platforms. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting. He is also the co-author, with Sammy Hagar, of Are We Having Any Fun Yet: the Cooking and Partying Handbook.