A list of the world’s best golf courses without Cape Wickham isn’t one to take too seriously. But that’s probably good advice for any of these types of lists.
Golf.com dropped its biennial list of the Top-100 Golf Courses in the World a few weeks ago. Like every “best golf course” list it’s completely subjective and generates an incredible amount of plaudits – and criticism.
The top-10 golf courses in the world according to Golf.com:
- Pine Valley
- Cypress Point
- St.Andrews Old Course
- Shinnecock Hills
- National Golf Links of America
- Royal County Down
- Royal Melbourne West
- Augusta National
- Royal Dornoch
Andrea Gussoni at Tennis World USA wrote a nice piece offering up a few extra stats about the spread of courses on the list.
Analyzing the list of the 100 best routes in the world, the quantity of routes in the United States immediately stands out. In the ranking there are in fact 49 courses in the USA, followed by the United Kingdom with 26, Australia with 7, Ireland with 4, New Zealand with 3 and France, Japan and Canada with 2.
The age of the various courses is very uneven and clearly indicates the qualitative differences in the history of golf course architecture: 70 of the best 100 courses in the world were built before the Second World War. Of the remaining 30, 26 were built after 1995, the year Sand Hills opened.
In a list dominated by American camps it is inevitable that many of them are inaccessible to the public. Among the 100 fields in the list, 45 are private. For the last two decades the world of golf course architecture has been dominated by Tom Doak and the Coore&Crenshaw duo.
A list of the world’s top golf courses without Cape Wickham on it, for example, is a little tough to take seriously. So make of it what you will.
Cape Wickham co-designer Darius Oliver wrote an interesting piece about the conflict of interest (and his own) with the creators of this list. Particularly considering one of the new golf courses on the list has yet to open.
As with most American lists like this one, there are several courses included that would struggle to make Victoria’s Top 10 and others that you wouldn’t seek out if they were located in a strong golf market like Scotland, Ireland, Australia or England.
There is also a clear preference toward super elite, private American clubs. Incredibly, 29 of the Top 50 courses in the World are apparently American – and only 3 of those courses are available for public play. Garden City at #48, for example, is a charming club with a really lovely golf course – a course that, at best, might rank somewhere in the 12–20 bracket in Australia.
And if you want more reading on the matter, The Fried Egg did a good job of summing up the resulting controversy.
The new @GOLF_com World Top 100 list is out.
There’s more turnover than I had expected with 8 courses out, 5 new entries and 3 re-entries.
Working on a little blog piece on it.
What do you like? What do you hate?
And were’s Cape Wickham gone??!! pic.twitter.com/qtlfOaNWHg
— UK Golf Guy (@ukgolfguy) October 23, 2023