Monday, January 02, 2006

Our View on the Top 100 Played So Far

Click on the course name heading to read the detailed review (if available).

Augusta National (#5)
A dream come true. Perfect conditions, history without compare. Wow!

Aronimink (not ranked)
Donald Ross called this his best work, which we don’t agree with since Pinehurst #2 is clearly his best. However, Aronimink is a great Ross course. It has one of the best opening holes in golf where you drive off a hill near the clubhouse and your second and probably third and fourth shots are uphill, uphill and uphill. So much for an easy opening hole to ease you into a round. A nice vintage course on the blue-blood Philadelphia Main Line.

Baltimore, Five Farms (#91)
The par five 14th hole is one of the best par fives in the world. An under-rated Tillinghast gem with more variety and a better routing than Winged Foot and Baltusrol. Love the dog-legs and use of the great rolling terrain.

Baltimore's 14th hole

It’s all right. Certainly Tillinghast’s designs at Baltimore, Somerset Hills, Bethpage and San Francisco are better.

One of the best links courses in the world. Some of the early holes are weak but as you get out near the water you can understand why this is probably a better course than Pebble Beach. Also, it’s hard to beat the apr├Ęs-golf Guinness in the clubhouse.

The most dramatic views of dunes we have seen anywhere in the world, especially the views from holes 14, 15, 16 and 17. An underrated course by David McLay Kidd. We think better views than Pebble Beach and a better course than its close companion Pacific Dunes.

An isolated Tom Doak gem in Tasmania, Australia. The par four fourth hole is world class. The walk from the 4th green to the 5th tee is the second best in the game after Cypress's walk from 14 to 15.

We like Bel Air. Designed by the same architect as Los Angeles and Riviera (George Thomas). What other course in the world has bridges, tunnels and elevators as part of the round? In the heart of one of the most affluent areas of the world, it is quite hilly. Hollywood golf at its best.

Luckily, we didn’t have to sleep in our car or arrive at 4:30 am to play Bethpage. It might be a municipal course and the clubhouse is certainly no comparison to Maidstone or Shinnecock, but the course is great. We believe the 4th hole at Bethpage Black could be the single best golf hole anywhere in the world. Its dramatic Tillinghast bunkering, the dogleg left, the three tiers; we could stand on that tee box all day. A really good overall golf course. It is worthy of its world ranking despite the high percentage of that unique creature over-running the course: the high-testosterone, type A, Long Island male.

A beguiling Seth Raynor course outside of Cincinnati has one of the best collections of par threes in the world and an artistic routing that will take your breath away. Combine it with a vintage 1920s era understated clubhouse and a secluded area and you have a worthy world top 100 golf. The largest set of greens outside of St. Andrews Old.

Cape Kidnappers
Built on land forms shaped like fingers up on a high headland, an insipring place to play golf. The back-to-back par five 15th and 16th are amazing holes. Difficult undulating greens set in a unique location.

Certainly the best golf course in the Caribbean and the holes along the water are quite good, especially the par threes where you are at sea level hitting across the water to a green out on the water. Yet, like a lot of Pete Dye courses, there are some weak holes mixed in.

Casa de Campo's fifth hole

Carnoustie (#26)One of the best golf courses in the world, period. No doubt, the best finishing holes. If you can play 16, 17 and 18 in even par or better, our hats off to you. Not a pretty course and no great pedigree on the course designer; however, aside from Pine Valley and Cypress Point, the routing is as good as it gets. The course offers multiple changes in direction, good variation and variety. The course rewards a good shot and penalizes a bad shot. The caddie humor is the best and driest we have seen. Go see where the Wee Ice Mon won the Open as soon as you can.

Chantilly (not ranked)
This beautiful Tom Simpson course north of Paris has played host to ten French Opens, has a heathland feel to it and is a great routing. The par three 17th hole located in a 'secret dell' is one of the best in the world. Vive la France!

Cherry Hills (#90)
A course made famous from Arnold Palmer's come from behind victory in the 1960 US Open when he drove the green in the final round. Ike played here often while President when he located his summer White House in Denver.

Chicago Golf (#31)
This historic Macdonald-Raynor gem is very private and a bit of an enigma as a firm and fast "links" course in the middle of the suburbs, but a real treat if you are lucky enough to gain access.

14th green at Chicago Golf
Cabo del Sol (#68)
The desert meets the ocean in this great Mexican course designed by Jack Nicklaus. Nicklaus courses are often criticized as being too difficult, but Jack struck the right balance here. Go during the winter and watch the wales jumping in the water while you play.

Colonial Country Club (#100)
A shotmaker's course in Ft. Worth, where Ben Hogan used to play.

Congressional (#86)
Narrow fairways, nice hilly terrain and very small greens. If you don't approach the green from the fairway, you have no chance of holding it. The miniature U.S. Capitol's as tee markers are the best in the world!

Crail - Old Course (Not Ranked)
The seventh oldest golf course in the world. An old-style links course near St. Andrews. A short course but worth the trip to this historic golfing society.

Isn’t the point of playing golf to have fun? If so, then Cruden Bay is one of the top five courses in the world. From the moment you pull into the car park and look out over the dramatic sand dunes below you, you know you have arrived at a unique and special place. No doubt the place is quirky and unconventional, but the holes are a joy. The blind shots, the punch bowl green, the views, the dunes.

Cruden Bay Dunes

Don’t think a par four should be 258 yards? Play the 8th hole at Cruden Bay and see if you still think so. The first time we went to Cruden Bay, we immediately changed our plans and stayed another day so we could play another round on this hidden gem. Go out of your way to play it.

An Alister Mackenzie/Perry Maxwell dream course in Northern Michigan. One of the most interesting, challenging and pretty front nines in golf. Mackenzie and Maxwell were both fascinated with making greens difficult and they succeed in spades at Crystal Downs. When you emerge from the hike through the forest from the 11th green to the 12th tee you are in for a special treat over the next five holes. It justly deserves its ranking as one of the best golf courses in the world.

Crystal Down's beautiful setting

Cypress Point (#2)
Surreal, it's so ridiculously good. To steal some lines from my readers: The 15th is the sexiest hole in golf. It is an awesome short par three on the headlands clustered among the cypress trees. The course is "playing in heaven: six holes in the trees, six holes in the sand dunes, six holes by the sea".

Par three 15th at Cypress
Durban Country Club (#70)
A special place on the African continent. Monkeys flying out of trees during the round, a unique golf course set among the dunes and valleys outside of Durban, South Africa on the Indian Ocean. Great history of Sewsunker "Papwa" Sewgolum, one of the most unique stories in golf. Worth the long trip.

A Corporate feel to it. A mediocre course, but obviously the association with Bobby Jones makes it a historically important course.

Located in Valencia, Spain, El Saler is a true links course located on the Mediterranean that has a collection of great holes (#3, #8 and #17) and the only course located next to a topless beach. Buenos dias.

Admirable effort and we agree with Pat Ruddy’s philosophy on having the game played in the traditional way, but a little too rough for us and it hasn’t aged well.

Undoubtedly the most dramatic golf course in the world to get to (yes, we have made the trek to Machrihanish). Arriving by boat is really neat. The wasp island is quaint, but the course is not that good. The first hole is boring; the second is a poor rendition of a Redan hole; The Punchbowl hole and Biarritz holes are very good, but two holes do not make greatness. The back nine we found especially boring with the 17th hole being especially mundane. People tout how great the views are from the course, you can see water from every hole, etc. The only problem with this is you’re looking at Long Island Sound and Connecticut, which is not the same thing as looking out over Monterey Bay.

A Coore/Crenshaw beauty located on the north shore of Long Island. The back nine is very good, especially the fourteenth and fifteenth.

Friar's Head fifteenth

Ganton (#62)
Ganton has an old-world feel to it and deserves its place in the top 100 because history and tradition are important to the game. An inland course located in Yorkshire, it is golf as it used to be. A traditional unchanged locker room, no yardage markers and perfect turf for golf. Both the terrain and weather in this part of England are perfectly suited for golf. Ganton hosted the Ryder Cup in 1949 and Harry Vardon was the professional at the club for many years. We especially like the 17th hole, a 253 Par three over a road with massive bunkering. Like Woodhall Spa, the bunkering is severe and a defining characterizing of the course. As the game moves toward golf carts with GPS systems telling you the exact yardage, we should thank the heavens for courses like Ganton.

Garden City (#55)

Going into the clubhouse and locker room at Garden City is like going into a time warp. The place is unchanged since it was built in 1899. It is like a golf museum and is a special experience. The golf course is quite good and its design is subtle but challenging. Highly recommended.

The Golf Club (#48)
A very early Pete Dye designed course outside of Columbus Ohio is a mens only club in an idyllic setting. Watch out for the Hangman's noose on the difficult par three sixteenth hole.

Harbour Town (#67)
Touristy, crowded, hot and humid, but read your history of golf course architecture and you'll appreciate Harbour Town as a Pete Dye masterpiece and his first use of railroad ties. Harbour Town is proof that length alone does not make a golf course challenging. A shotmaker's course.

Highlands Links (#64)
A real beauty in Nova Scotia, as good a routing as any other course over a wide swath of land in a beautiful par of the world. Under-rated relative to other courses on the list.

Hirono (#35)
One of the best golf courses in the world located near Kobe, Japan. Designed by Hugh Alison, it is an ultra-exclusive, high-end private club. It is Japan's Pine Valley. The par threes are as good as any in the world and the routing is intelligent and world-class by any measure.

Hirono's par three fifth hole
Homestead Cascades (#94)
In the hill country of Virginia, this challenging course is where Sam Snead spent a large part of his time.

The Honors Course (#96)
The quest to play the world's great courses passes through Tennessee. A Pete Dye course that is not over-cooked. Challenging, but fun to play and a great variety of holes and routing. If you manage to actually find the course, watch out for the wild Turkeys.

Inverness (#58)
A Donald Ross gem in Toldeo, Ohio, host to six major championships. The smallest greens of all the top 100 courses. Every green is a postage stamp and well guarded by mounds and bunkers. A very nice day's golf.

Jack's Point
Located on the South Island of New Zealand in Queenstown, it is one of the top golf courses in the world, better than many of the courses ranked on the list. The beauty of the Remarkable Mountains and the Lake combine with a great golf course. The 7th equals the hole by the same number at Pebble Beach, and the 15th hole, with the stone wall is one of the best in the world.

Kauri Cliffs
One of the most difficult courses to pay attention on because the views everywhere are so awe inspiring. Without question one of the most beautiful places to play golf in the world. The view off the 15th hole is hard to beat. Truly breathtaking from beginning to end.

The view from Kauri Cliff's 15th hole

Kawana (#80)
Japan's Pebble Beach. This brilliant course, located on the Pacific Ocean two hours from Tokyo uses the dramatic land to great effect. The par five 15th hole along the ocean is one of the un-disputed great holes in the world. Under-rated at #80 in the world.

Kawana's world-class 15th hole

Kiawah Island -Ocean (#79)
A difficult course when the wind is blowing. One of the better Pete Dye designs.

Kingsbarns (#65)

Located in the Scottish Kingdom of Fife, this links course is ideal. Although a new course, it is so good, we feel it is worthy of hosting an Open Championship.

Kingston Heath (#21)
Is sometimes compared to Merion because it is built on such a small piece of land, but I didn't quite get it. A nice place, but 21 in the world for a flat course?

Lahinch (#73)
We can understand why some people think Lahinch is a cow pasture or dog track. Unconventional in almost every sense, but for some reason we still like Lahinch. Please watch out for the criss-crossing holes and flying balls.

Loch Lomond (#56)
What a setting. Best club-house in the world. This 'destination' uber-club is a real treat set along the stunning loch. Beautiful parkland course designed by Weiskopf/Moorish does not disappoint.

Rossdhu House at Loch Lomond
Los Angeles - North (#59)
Los Angeles does not pride itself on the movie stars that have belonged to the club. The land this golf course is on is arguably the most valuable land any course is on. Located off Santa Monica, Sunset and Wilshire Boulevards in the heart of the Century City section of Los Angeles. The arrival scene is formal with the guard gate. When we played there we got to use Ronald Reagan’s locker, he was a one-time member. The Playboy mansion sits off the 13th green, adding to the appeal of the place greatly. The 11th hole, a par three, is one of the most picturesque tee shots in the world. A difficult reverse-Redan hole, with the Los Angeles skyline in the background. Standing on the tee box you feel on top of the world.

Maidstone (#60)
The 14th, a par three set within the sand dunes is one of the best holes we have ever played. Maidstone is a course where you will undoubtedly have a good time playing golf. Certainly not the most difficult or the longest or sternest test of golf, but super views, good golf holes, the whole scene from the Hamptons and a spectacular club house. A great experience.

Machrihanish (not ranked)
So far, the most difficult course to get to of all the ones we’ve played, but worth the long trip. Set among the dunes with a great opening hole, although not the best in the world as touted, and a quaint wee little town. You expect to walk over a dune and see Old Tom Morris. The course is short and not that hard, but playing it puts you in a small but serious fraternity.

Medinah #3 (#52)
Go to a Cubs game instead!

Merion (#14)
A unique place in golf, clearly one of the best in the world. One of the best first holes in the golf world. You hit your first tee shot right next to an outside dining patio, where Philadelphia’s elite are lunching. This adds more pressure that you would think, with spectators five feet away. Not a lot of land was used to build the course, but it was masterfully done.

The 11th hole is fantastic. It shouldn’t be that hard, is only 334 yards, but your drive is blind and your second shot is hard because of the winding burn. This is the hole that Bobby Jones won the grand slam on. The course exudes history, the white clubhouse is super. The red wicker baskets add to the overall experience. Merion is one of golf’s undisputed treasures.

Mid-Ocean (not ranked)
If you can reach the fairway on the 5th (Cape) hole into a wind you’re a good golfer. If you can then keep your second shot on the green, you’re a great golfer. Macdonald’s brilliance shines again!

Mid Ocean's world-famous Cape hole

Morfontaine (#47)
A course in France ranked in the top fifty in the world? You bet. World class in every way, this Tom Simpson designed course is located in a dense forest north of Paris. Simpson liked to do his own thing and was not constrained by convention. The nine hole Valliere course located right next to the 18 hole championship course is reminiscent of Cruden Bay and is one of the most fun places to play in the world. Add in the grandeur and exclusiveness of the club and you've got a big winner. Magic!

Morfontaine's seductive entrance

Muirfield (#3)
The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers holds an esteemed place in golfing history. The overall experience of playing Muirfield is a good one, especially if you stay at the Greywalls hotel. We played our own ball in the morning, had the full multi-course lunch, drinks, coffee, cigars and then went out and played foursomes (alternate shot) in the afternoon. Foursomes are the preferred format at Muirfield.

The course itself is just ok, no real signature or dramatic holes, no really spectacular views. We like the decorum and rules of the club. They are truly gentleman and having a dress code and honoring the rules of the game and its traditions are very important and we respect that. Although the #3 world ranking seems too high.

Muirfield Village (#38)
Jack Nicklaus's masterpiece in Columbus, Ohio has terrain and a look similar to Augusta. Although the housing development detracts from the ambiance, it has the best collection of par fives in the world, in my view. Jack likes downhill shots and designed Muirfield Village so that virtually every shot is downhill.

Myopia Hunt Club (not ranked)
Fantastic New England classic dripping with character. One of the best finishing holes in the game with a blind tee shot to a narrow fairway and world class bunkers guarding the green. Add in the quaint clubhouse as a back drop with horseback riders in the background and you know you're in a special place.

Myopia Hunt Club's ideal setting

Naruo (#75)
Another world-class course in Japan. Like Hirono and Kawana it was designed by Hugh Alison and is a hidden gem. The par four tenth is one of the hardest holes in the world and the eighth hole is a fantastic double dog-leg. Hilly, narrow and difficult and it has a traction system that wisks your clubs around the course.

Naruo's eighth green

National Golf Links of America (#20)
Charles Blair Macdonald achieved what he set out to do. There are no bad holes on the course. One of the best experiences in golf is to come out of the punchbowl green on the 16th and walk to the 17th tee. The 17th is one of the best holes in the world. It’s risk vs. reward at its best and the dramatic view adds to the grandeur. We think it’s a better course that Shinnecock next door because we like quirky courses and really appreciate the best of Scottish courses that Macdonald replicated here. Throw in the clubhouse and the lunch and there are few better places to spend a day.

A unique course near Sydney with stunning views and some world-class dogleg par four holes on the back nine. Pure golf.

How is it that the course that has the most copied hole in the world isn’t ranked in the top 100? The Redan 15th is the original and originates from this golf Mecca. No other place in the world outside St. Andrews and Pinehurst is as golf oriented and central to the town. You will undoubtedly have a very fun day of golf playing North Berwick. Fantastic water views, stone walls, The Marine Hotel. We agree wholeheartedly with Robert Hunter: “Terrain of this sort will yield superlative golf.”

Oak Hill (#42)
Played it a long time ago and don't remember a lot, would like to play again. I do remember the great clubhouse and association with Walter Hagen.

Oakland Hills - South (#25)
An average front nine turns into a frightening "Monster" on the back nine. #10 and #11 are world-class holes that announce that the back is going to have a lot more bite than the front. The course plays long and it provides a true championship test for the world's best. Host of nine majors and a Ryder Cup, great history including Hogan's 1951 Open victory.

Oakmont (#15)
A monster of a course, but one of the greatest overall scenes. The history in the clubhouse is really nice. Ernie Els calls the first hole the hardest opening hole in golf and we agree. The drive isn’t really that hard, but the second shot is impossible. The green slants from right to left and front to back and is lightning fast. The course does not have scenic beauty and you have to cross the Pennsylvania Turnpike after you play the first hole, so the ambiance is not really that good on the course and the holes are hard. But as a test of greatness for the world’s best players, look at the list of those who have won here. It’s hard to argue that the course doesn’t bring out greatness: Bobby Jones, Gene Sarazan, Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Ernie Els.

Oakmont's Church Pews

As you approach the first tee, a sign boldly states that you must have a note from a doctor to ride in a golf cart. God bless!

Ocean Forest (#84)
A Rees Jones design in Sea Island, Georgia routed along a river estuary, marsh, sand dunes and the ocean. Back nine has some good holes: 10, 15, 17 and 18. Like local boy David Love III, it lacks something that makes you a fan.

Olympic - Lake (#39)
You need to be a golf god to play here. Not for the mere mortal. Very narrow, almost all uneven lies and the greens are severe. If you want to prove you are a great golfer, shoot a low score here. We found the overall ambience of the place a little flat and the course isn’t that dramatic.

Paraparaumu Beach (#99)
A true links course in Wellington, New Zealand. The course has minimal bunkering and doesn't need it because the layout (and wind) are so strong. A bit quirky like some courses in the British Isles and worth the long journey.

Pacific Dunes (#19)
Strong and worth the journey but probably over-rated particularly when compared to its neighboring Bandon Dunes.

Peachtree (#87)
A baby Augusta. It seems like every shot plays uphill? Could have the best greens on the list.

Pebble Beach (#7)
We know we’re in a distinct minority on this one, but Pebble’s got a half dozen great holes, a half dozen good holes and a half dozen mediocre holes. The 18th is unquestionably a great hole and we had a lot of fun playing it. The clubhouse and overall experience is first class and the views are good, but we would rank other courses in the world higher.

Pinehurst No. 2 (#9)
One of golf’s Mecca’s. You know from the first hole that hitting the greens and keeping your ball on them is the key to this Ross masterpiece.

Pine Valley (#1)
The only analogies that are appropriate are not golf related. Like going to the Vatican for a Catholic, or to Mecca for a person or Islamic faith or to Jerusalem for a Jew. Many of us would rather accept an invitation to play Pine Valley above an audience with the Pope or a visit to the White House. The fairways are wide and easy to hit; it's the shots into the greens and the greens that make it so difficult.

Piping Rock (not ranked)
We’re biased because we think any course designed by Charles Blair MacDonald is a gem and this one does not disappoint. The old Polo field is now the biggest driving range in the world. The course is sheltered and cloistered on the North Shore of Long Island. If you get invited, play it without hesitation.

Portmarnock (#40)
No further proof necessary that Ireland has great golf. True links.

Prestwick (not ranked)
One of the true and most genuine golf scenes in the world. Teeing off on the first tee, with the members looking out the clubhouse window and the train hard on your right is a world class experience. Prestwick is a throw-back to golf’s early days. St. Andrews has gotten to be touristy, not so at Prestwick. Arrange to have lunch in the member’s dining room and play before and after and you have the makings of one of the finest days in golf. More original, good holes (The Alps, The Cardinal, Himalayas) than almost any course in the world. Some weak holes thrown in, no doubt, but really a good experience. It doesn't make any sense how this course does not make the top 100!

Prairie Dunes (#23)
While the town of Hutchinson, KS is unremarkable, the golf course is not. We particularly liked holes #8 and #12. #8 is an uphill, dogleg right par four with a wavy fairway and #12 has two large cottonwood trees protecting the green. Certainly deserves its world ranking and Maxwell is an under-rated architect.

Prairie Dunes 8th hole
Quaker Ridge (#61)
A below-the-rader A.W. Tillinghast gem located in Westchester County New York, near Winged Foot. The course has a lot of out-of-bounds and is blessed with great hilly terrain. The sixth and seventh holes, back-to-back par dogleg par fours and brilliant.

Riviera (#36)
Winding through Santa Monica canyon, one of the most strategic golf courses in the world. You have to think your way around this course. The 10th hole is one of the world's classic par four holes.

Royal Adelaide (#50)
A hidden gem in a below-the-radar city has come truly world class holes including the short, blind third hole. A train runs through the course!

Best course in England. NOT! Totally over-rated. Popular with the R & A because the routing is good for TV viewing. But it is not a great golf course by any means. And what's up with that clubhouse?

Purple mountains, the Irish Sea, heather, gourse and the dramatic clubhouse perched on a hill make this justifiably one of the best courses in the world. If you love golf, you will love Royal County Down.

Worth the journey. A lesson in understatement. There’s a reason why this is always ranked in the top 25 in the world. An especially dramatic course if you can go when the gorse is in bloom.

Royal Liverpool - Hoylake (#78)
One of the best courses in the world, this should be ranked at least 40 spots higher. Bobby Jones won the Open Championship here on his way to the grand slam. Tiger has won at Hoylake. One of the best, most interesting and varied routings. A clubhouse that is a world-class with memorabilia to match the best.
Royal Liverpool's Dining Room

Royal Lytham & St. Annes (#54)
Middle of the pack, ranked where it belongs. Great bunkering and Dormie House.

Royal Melbourne (#8)
A "big" course ala Pine Valley. Two of the world's great courses built by one of its best architects.

Royal Portrush - Dunluce (#12)
H.S. Colt was an under-rated genius. The Carnoustie of Ireland. Go play it withouthesitation. The R & A should consider hosting the Open at Royal Portrush once again. Great shot variety and a strategic design.

Royal St. Georges - Sandwich - (#33)
Sandwich has it all. A great course with an imaginative routing and one of the best lunches in golf! One of the best golf courses in Britain.

Royal Troon (#38)
Not a big fan of the out-and-back layout. Aside from the Postage Stamp, which truly is a unique and great hole, we think Troon is flat, dull and boring. Also, the club is very uptight. Difficult to get a tee time, they don’t treat visitors very well and are pretentious and formal for no good reason.

San Francisco (#27)
Like the city itself, it is simply great. One of Tillinghast’s best, most varied, most interesting designs. Understated clubhouse, low-key but with all the right trimmings. A bartender older than the course itself. True tradition. The steak sandwich on Sourdough bread is as good as the course. The locker room is a haven. Blows near-by Olympic away. You stand on every tee box and think how lucky you are to be there.

Sand Hills (#11)
Awe insipring. More than just a great golf course, you will be at peace playing Sand Hills. Could be the best golf course I've had the privilege to be on.

Sand Hills
A new "ideal" golf course near Shinnecock and The National. This Nicklaus-Doak design is a more than worthy course to its neighbors. An instant classic with several best-in-class holes, especially the second hole where you tee off between two trees and with a devilish green.

Seminole Golf Club (#22)
You often hear about how Seminole has a great locker room, often described as the best in golf, which is hard to argue with. Although not conditioned like a typical American course, Donald Ross routed a fantastic golf course at Seminole. The routing is world-class, the greens are as good as any in the U.S. and if you don't hit in the correct sector of the green, watch your ball roll into the bunker. Also, hope the wind's not blowing hard when you play it or you're in for a big number.

Seminole's Club House

Scioto (#71)
Donald Ross design near Columbus, OH. The site of Bobby Jones first U.S. Open win and the course the Golden Bear learned the game on make this Columbus, Ohio course historic. Small greens and immaculately maintained.

Shadow Creek (#89)
We wanted to dislike Shadow Creek but couldn’t. It stands for everything we dislike in golf. You have to take a cart, it’s manufactured, not original and the greens fee is ridiculously high. But Fazio has done a very good job here. The Pheasant’s running loose are a nice touch. The back nine has some really nice holes and the water was artfully worked into the design. The creek that runs along the fifteenth fairway somehow makes this one of the most serene holes you will ever play. You have to see the place to believe it. We recommend playing it while it still exists. In 100 years, there won’t be a Las Vegas since a major city in the desert is not sustainable long-term.

Shinnecock (#4)
Shinnecock is a lot like St. Andrews. It’s not a particularly beautiful course by several standards. It’s not really near the water and you can’t see the water from most of the course. It looks kind of bland and un-interesting. The real genius of the place, though, like St. Andrews is that it grows on you and you appreciate the greatness more after you’ve seen it and played it more than once. What is unquestionable is that some of the vistas from down on the course looking back up at the clubhouse perched on top of the hill are special. The 7th hole, a Redan style par three is impossible and not just when the greens are fast as the U.S.G.A. tricked it up during the 2004 open. It’s just a tough green to hit.

Shoreacres (#51)
A Seth Raynor treat set along the lake north of Chicago. It has a brilliant polish to it and the routing through the ravines makes it unique. The stretch from 11-14 is all world. Add in the fabulous clubhouse and you've got a course I would love to join.

Somerset Hills (#69)
After having played all of A.W. Tillinghast's courses on the top 100, it is our informed opnion that this New Jersey course built on the site of a former race track is one of his very best. The back nine will stack up against any in the world.

Beautiful 15th hole at Somerset Hills
This lovely Robert Trent Jones, Sr. course located between Pebble Beach and Cypress Point has the best opening hole stretch in golf. The course opens with a dramatic downhill par five toward the bay and offers an intoxicating five hole stretch with views of the bay and brilliantly routed holes.

If swinging the club off the first tee here doesn’t give you chills, you shouldn’t be playing the game. The Road Hole is one of the best and most interesting holes we’ve played. Overall, St. Andrews is not one of the courses we would go out of our way to play, but you have to play it at least once and like the great ones, the more you play it the more you appreciate it.

This Toronto gem designed by Stanley Thompson is a beautiful course on nice rolling terrain.

Southern Hills is a charming course located in Tulsa designed by Perry Maxwell. A very interesting routing and use of the hilly terrain with well thought out holes and difficult greens.

A lovely course. Pine Valley qualities. Holes 6, 7 and 10 are some of the best in the world. Achieves greatness in the British Isles even though it is not near the water. Something about the nature of the land in this part of Surrey makes it unquestionably beautiful. A course to play over and over again without losing interest.

Those Boston brahmins did it right and have preserved it in style for all the world to see. The holes that take advantage of the glacial rock formations like the Himalayas hole are world class. The 17th is one of the most historic in the game, where Ouimet beat Vardon and Ray and the 1999 Ryder Cup team went wild. A world class clubhouse rounds out a great days golf.

TPC at Sawgrass - Stadium (#57)
A joke. The 17th has novelty value and provides great drama on television, but otherwise it is overgrown, over-designed and over-rated. One hole does not a course make; you need 18.

Over the top as you'd expect from the Donald.

Views as good as Pebble Beach. A bit of a touristy feel to the place but still outstanding golf and a Scottish treat.

A Robert Trent Jones, Sr. treat in Southern Spain. Routed among thousands of old cork trees, his 'bunkers in the sky' come into play on many holes, that is, overhanging trees. A great routing maintained perfectly.

The first hole at Valderrama

The Valley Club of Montecito (#85)
A little known Alister Mackenzie design near Santa Barbara is an experience in old-world charm with great mature trees. A very private place.

Wade Hampton (#88)
Like playing golf inside a Thomas Kinkade painting: Idyllic, with bucolic scenery and an idealized version of the world.

Walton Heath - Old (#82)
I like heathland courses and liked Walton Heath. Royal Lytham starts with a par three but the one here is just as hard. Well done, chaps!

Wentworth (West) #78
Should be renamed The Corporate Golf Club, or alternatively, Heathrow Golf Club. We found Wentworth to be bland and uninspiring.

Whippoorwill Club
An under-rated Charles Banks course in Armonk, New York with magical holes and a great routing.

Whistling Straits (#53)
Very well done and the clubhouse and area are understated. The closest you can get to golfing in Ireland without flying across the Atlantic.

Winged Foot West (#18) and East (#66)
This is what a club house should look like. You turn off of Mamaroneck Road onto a long and winding entrance road. The West course is ok but we found it a bit repetitive, especially on the front nine. The 10th hole, a downhill par 3 is one of Tillinghast’s best. We like the East course better. It has more variety, a more interesting routing, a lot of change in direction and elevation changes. And the 13th hole, a par 3 is one of Tillinghasts’s all time best. His bunkering at Winged Foot is fantastic. Winged Foot is unquestionably one of golf’s overall Meccas.

Woodhall Spa (#46)
Those who need a lesson in why a golf course should not be surrounded by houses should play Woodhall Spa. Located in the north of England it is tucked away and is a peaceful gem. It is difficult for Americans to fully appreciate what a heathland course is. It is a wonderful combination of heather, gorse, pine trees and silver birch among other plants on a bed of sandy soil. Located not far from Sherwood Forest, Woodhall Spa is a quintessential English experience. We played on a mild winter day with the gentle smell of peat fires wafting through the air. Villagers periodically walked quietly through the course walking their dogs or out for a stroll. Any new aspiring golf course architect should visit Woodhall Spa. It has true bunkers. Not like many modern bunkers, where you can more or less get out without too much trouble. At Woodhall Spa, a bunker is a penal exercise. There are only three par threes on the course, but collectively they are as good as any par threes you will see anywhere. Unless you hit a perfect shot the terrain has been shaped to feed balls into the bunkers.

Bunkering at Woodhall Spa

It is difficult to put into words the sense of excitement and discovery you get when you play Woodhall Spa. It is exhilarating. It is stumbling across gems like Woodhall Spa that makes the quest to play the top 100 courses such a rewarding experience. Probably the nicest we have been treated of any of the courses played.

World Woods - Pine Barrens (#83)
Not a bad Fazio course, but still has a muni-course feel to it and no sense of place or tradition. Some holes are very good and there is a lot of elevation change, especially for Florida, which we typically dislike intensely.

Yeamans Hall (#92)
Much more than just a world-class golf course, a true low-country experience with the best entry-drive in golf. Seth Raynor's masterpiece, located in Charleston has a great routing, geometric greens and all the signature holes he is famous for. Would love to join.

Yeamans Hall Entry Drive


Robert Thompson said...

Neat list -- shoot me an email (you can find it on my site) and tell me more about this attempt. I'll see what I can do on my end.


Anonymous said...

Blogrolled! Cool concept. I've played Aronomink a couple of times. It is wonderful. That's probably the only top 100 for me unfortunately.

Anonymous said...

Lahinch is way better tahn most of the courses you have played so far. It has a rich, history,a gorgeous, seaside setting, the hands of great architects (what did mackenzie say about this course--if you don't know, find out), famous holes that hark back to the real days.

There is a reason it is called the St. Andrews of Ireland..and I don't know where you get saying that Portrush is the Carnoustie of Scotland.

fact is Portrush is boring other than holes 4-6. The back-to back par 5's are easy, holes 15-18 are lame. yeah, 14 is great, but that back nine is way overrated

George said...

What a great adventure. I look forward to hearing about the completion of your quest.