Thursday, March 01, 2012

My Personal Top 50 Courses in the World

Have you ever been asked "If you could play just one course, what would it be?" For Ben Hogan, the one course he said he could play happily for the rest of his life was Seminole. Tom Lehman wrote a letter to Shinnecock Hills in 1995 stating, "If I were given one day to live, and could play any course that I wanted for my last round, I would choose Shinnecock." I actually think this is the wrong question. I'm too greedy to limit the list to just one course.

The right question would be, if you had unlimited time and money, and access to whatever courses you wanted, which courses would you put on your short list to play. Think of it as your own personal global Open Championship rota of courses.

Try sometime to rank the top golf courses you have seen or played. Then take out a blank sheet of paper and try to write it down again. Or think about it a few days and try it again. Try it again and see if you come up with the same list. It's a futile exercise. My own personal experience is that it is easier to bucket courses into categories or group them together. Below is my current list:

RA 7 bunkers.jpg
The bunkering on Royal Adelaide's 7th hole

Top 10
Cypress Point
National Golf Links of America
Sand Hills
Loch Lomond
Sunningdale (Old)
Cruden Bay
Royal Portrush (Dunluce)
Royal Adelaide
12th green
Sunningdale's 12th green
Next 10
Shinnecock Hills
Pine Valley
Yeamans Hall
Royal County Down
Jack's Point
Woodhall Spa
Barnbougle Dunes
San Francisco Golf Club

jack's point 15th
Jack's Point's fifteenth hole in Queenstown, NZ

Next 10
Whippoorwill Club
Los Angeles Country Club
Somerset Hills
Royal Melbourne West
Kauri Cliffs
Bethpage Black
New South Wales

4th green

Whippoorwill's par three 4th hole

Next 10
Pebble Beach
Crystal Downs
Baltimore (Five Farms)
Garden City Mens Club
Myopia Hunt Club
Highlands Links

1st hole
Prestwick's ideal opening hole

Next 10
Bandon Dunes
The Valley Club of Montecito
Kiawah (Ocean Course)
Pinehurst #2
Royal Dornoch
Chicago Golf Club
Royal St. George's
Royal Liverpool
H14 fwy
Hirono's crazy sloping 14th fairway

The smart aleck's among you have probably noticed that I don't know how to count. I did take a little liberty to include eleven courses in each category because it's very difficult to keep it to ten and I've never been particularly good at math. If you don't like that approach, create your own list.


my100golfer said...

love your blog top100golfer, even inspired me to try my own top 100 courses/photograph blog though I still have about 83 to do! surprised to see royal Adelaide up so high as it seems to be criticized quite heavily of late.have not got there yet but is it really that good?? interesting that you place portrush above county down as many seem to have the opposite view on that one

Anonymous said...

Great list! Interesting the Muirfield doesn't appear on your top 50 (or top 56). Not trying to argue, because as you said it's your list, but I was surprised not to see it on there. I was glad to see LACC on there. I played it on Wednesday...WOW!! Endlessly entertaining and unique. Good luck on Augusta!!

Top 100 Golfer said...

Thanks for the comments. Glad you liked LACC, great place. If the rankings were overall experience/a unique day then Muirfield would rank higher. The golf course just isn't that special in my view. Yes, Royal Adelaide is that good. Not sure who is criticizing it, perhaps the unwashed masses who are not as learned as I! I tend to break away from group think and make up my own mind. Adelaide has a great routing, unique holes, risk/reward, the train, etc. A special place. I like both County Down and Portrush a lot but think that based on the golf course itself (excluding the beauty of County Down) Portrush is a better, more interesting routing. I wouldn't decline an invite to either!

Anonymous said...

The main issue at Royal Adelaide has been the 17th, which has been converted from a dogleg right into a straight ahead hole with a large bunker in the middle of the fairway.
The rest of the course has been tinkered with but has been largely stable for a long time.
There is currently a big division within the club about reversing some changes versus leaving it as is

Anonymous said...

Any progress on Augusta?

Benjamin Ehinger said...

Great List! I hope to golf on many of the course you listed as my goal is to golf in all 50 states within my lifetime along with some very high end course.

apathetichousewife said...

Probably the only Top 50 list around that has Carnoustie, Royal Adelaide, and Jack's Point ALL ahead of Royal Melbourne. Not to mention the absence of Kingston Heath.

Top 100 Golfer said...

I liked Kingston Heath, but it didn't seem all that distinctive or unique to me. It would make my top 100 list but not the top 50. My list is indeed unique as I try to think independently about the courses and not be lulled into group think, thus, those courses you say in my personal view are better than Royal Melbourne, although it is clearly one of the world's finest.

Anonymous said...

As of 2011, now Royal Melbourne [West] has been restored to its former glory by the best Superintendent in Oz, it is laughable to believe that Royal Adelaide is a superior course - it has, at best, 6 very fine holes

I agree also that Kingston Heath is overrated and is at least equaled in Oz by Metropolitan - there is no course in better condition which more than makes up for the relatively flat terrain

Anonymous said...

What happened to Ballybunion? I thought that was originally in your top 10?

Anonymous said...

Also, have you ever travelled to northern Michigan? Arcadia Bluffs or Forest Dunes? I highly recommend both!

Pup said...

I just played Jacks Point the other day John, and I can see what you like so much about it! Incredible course!

James said...

If I had 10 rounds left to play in my life, a week at Pine Valley playing 9 times followed by a flight to Scotland and 1 round on the Old Course at St Andrews would be pretty ideal.