The top 10 courses I ever played: A look at Michael Bamberger’s ever-changing list

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The Old Course ranks as one of Michael Bamberger's top tracks.

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GOLF recently unveiled its Top 100 Courses in the World, which included all the well-known iconic gems like Augusta National, Cypress Point, St. Andrews and, well, you get the picture. But there’s more than one way to make a list, so here’s ours! Now, GOLF staffers will take their turn creating their own ranking, but not of the best courses in the world — the best courses they’ve played. Enjoy, and if you haven’t made the time to create your own list to dissect and look back on, now’s the time to get started.

These are my 10 favorite courses listed in the order in which I fell in love with them as of today. Tomorrow’s list could be different.

My top 10: Michael Bamberger

10. Machrihanish Golf Club, Machrihanish, Scotland

Soul golf.

9. Golf House Club, Elie, Scotland

Winds, plural. A tiny course on a peninsula with winds coming at you in every direction.

8. Cypress Point Club, Carmel, Calif.

Some of the best times in my life I had right there. Thank you, Ken.

The 15th hole at Cypress Point is a beauty.

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7. Fishers Island Club, Fishers Island, NY

The ferry ride there only improves it. You can see the Long Island Sound on every hole. The holes comes out of the earth.

6. Philadelphia Cricket Club, St. Martins course, Philadelphia, Pa.

Sneakout fun. A nine-holer with some of the greatest greens in golf The site of my greatest golf achievement, the 2019 St. Martins Spring Championship. Yes, a net event.

5. Pine Valley Golf Club, Pine Valley, NJ.

Manly. (So sue me.)

Pine Valley is one of the finest courses in the world.

Jon Cavalier

4. Philadelphia Cricket Club, Tillinghast course, Flourtown, Pa.

My home course. As Herb Wind once said, in a sexist time, “You may sooner insult a man’s wife than his golf club.”

3. Old Course, St. Andrews, Scotland.

Muni. As we all know–and I believe this is from a Beck song: “Public golf. It’s where is where it’s at. I got two lob wedges and a microphone.”

2. National Golf Links, Southampton, NY.

Lost world. It’s Scotland on Long Island. The whole place smells good.

As Michael Bamberger puts it, “Scotland on Long Island.”

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1. Bellport Country Club, Bellport, NY.

Home. I learned the game here, broke 100, 90 and 80 here, caddied here, learned how to talk to a grownup here.

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Michael Bamberger

Michael Bamberger writes for GOLF Magazine and contributes to He also participates in podcasts, primarily in tandem with Alan Shipnuck. Earlier in his career, he was a senior writer for Sports Illustrated for 23 years and a reporter on The Philadelphia Inquirer for nine years before that. He has written a half-dozen books about golf and other subjects. His magazine work has been featured in multiple editions of The Best American Sports Writing. He holds a U.S. patent on a utility golf club called the E-Club. In 2016, he was given the Donald Ross Award by the American Society of Golf Course Architects, the organization’s highest honor.