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IN THE LOOP

The Golden Age

The Definitive Golf List

Too often golf courses are considered great because of exterior trappings such as a stately clubhouse or an esteemed history and not for the most important factor of all. Our design rankings, however, exclude all these factors, in order to examine the most important factor for a golf course: the actual layout of the course. To compile these ratings, we have separated overall playability form mere beauty, daring to divorce ancillaries like location and historic notability to focus solely on what makes one course superior over another. By doing so, we arrive at a list of the Top 100 courses that is in stark contrast to all others. By valuing property over location, playability over prominence, we have arrived at a truly definitive list.

Shocking perhaps, but some of the more touted courses do not make our list. Designs like that of Shadow Creek, once revered as feats of engineering, are now only novelties. Others like Baltusrol’s Lower Course have had their finest features muted over the years, with upgrades and/or restoration efforts actually undermining what once made the course great.

We have included a few newer courses like Kingsbarns because they are modern masterpieces of shaping, yet ignored the vast majority of other courses because they are not—mounds and contours courtesy of bulldozers will never surpass natural splendor. The old courses of Europe are better represented than those of America—The Golden Age of Design has in fact been reincarnated—while more holistic designs found in Australia, Asia, even Africa may be appearing for the first time on any list.

By focusing only on design, our Top 100 List acknowledges something more fundamental and truly tangible; the game and those who play it. Most golfers don’t choose how they are going to play, only where. They make a shot and deal with the result. The truly great designs make us think. As natural as a good swing, a course should be both challenging and welcoming. Each hole should be unique, and each time we play it should feel like visiting an old friend.

The Dunes Club

New Buffalo, MI

Whitinsville

Whitinsville, MA

Royal Worlington

Cambridgeshire, England

Ballyneal

Holyoke, CO

Prairie Dunes

Hutchinson, KS

Sand Hills

Mullen, NE

Wakonda

Des Moines, IA

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Alwoodley

Leeds, England

Augusta National

Augusta, GA

Crystal Downs

Frankfort, MI

Pasatiempo

Santa Cruz, CA

Valley Club of Montecito

Santa Barbara, CA

Ballybunion

Ballybunion, Ireland

County Louth

Baltray, Ireland

Lahinch

Lahinch, Ireland

Portmarnock

Dublin, Ireland

Royal County Down

Newcastle, Ireland

Royal Portrush

Portrush, Ireland

Baltimore (Five Farms)

Baltimore, MD

Baltusrol (Upper)

Springfield, NJ

Brook Hollow

Dallas, TX

Quaker Ridge

Scarsdale, NY

San Francisco

San Francisco, CA

Somerset Hills

Bernardsville, NJ

North Berwick West

East Lothian, Scotland

Prestwick

Ayrshire, Scotland

St. Andrews Old Course

Fife, Scotland

Cabot Links

Nova Scotia, Canada

Cape Breton Highlands

Prince Edward Island, Canada

Fairmont Banff

Alberta, Canada

Hamilton

Ontario, Canada

St. George’s

Ontario, Canada

Camargo

Cincinnati, OH

Fishers Island

Fishers Island, NY

Shoreacres

Lake Bluff, IL

Yeamans Hall

Charleston, SC

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Brora

Sutherland, Scotland

Castle Stuart

Dalcross, Scotland

Gleneagles (Kings)

Perthshire, Scotland

Royal Dornoch

Sutherland, Scotland

Pennard

Swansea, Wales

Royal Porthcawl

Rest Bay, Wales

Casa de Campo

La Romana, DR

Mid Ocean Club

Tuckers Town, Bermuda

Elie

Fife, Scotland

Engineers

Roslyn, NY

Lawsonia Links

Green Lake, WI

Nefyn & District

MorphaNefyn, Wales

Painswick

Gloucestershire, England

Perranporth

Cornwall, England

Tara Iti

Te Arai, New Zealand

Sand Valley

Nekoosa, WI

Friar’s Head

Baitings Hollow, NY

Kingsbarns

Fife, Scotland

Streamsong (Black)

Bowling Green, FL

The Loop at Forest Dunes

Roscommon, MI

Barnbougle Dunes

Tasmania, Australia

Cape Kidnappers

Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand

Durban

Durban, South Africa

Kingston Heath

Victoria, Australia

New South Wales

New South Wales, Australia

Royal Melbourne

Melbourne, Australia

Victoria

Victoria, Australia

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Chicago

Wheaton, IL

Ekwanok

Manchester, VT

Garden City

Garden City, NY

Myopia Hunt

South Hamilton, MA

National Golf Links

Southampton, NY

Oakmont

Oakmont, PA

Kittansett

Marion, MA

Lancaster

Lancaster, PA

Merion (East)

Ardmore, PA

Chantilly

Vineuil-Saiunt-Firmin, France

The Hague

Wassenar, The Netherlands

Morfontaine

Mortefontaine, France

Royal Zoute

Cadiesped, Belgium

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Mid Pines

Southern, Pines, NC

Pinehurst No. 2

Pinehurst, NC

Plainfield

Plainfield, NJ

Salem

Peabody, MA

Seminole

Juno Beach, FL

Wannamoisett

Rumford, RI

Royal Lytham & St. Annes

Lancashire, England

Royal St. George’s

Sandwich, England

Royal West Norfolk

Norfolk, England

Rye

East Sussex, England

Westward Ho!

Bideford, N. Devon, England

Cypress Point

Monterey, CA

MPCC (Shore)

Pebble Beach, CA

Pebble Beach

Pebble Beach, CA

Spyglass Hill

Pebble Beach, CA

The Golf Club

New Albany, OH

Harbour Town

Hilton Head, SC

Pete Dye

Bridgeport, WV

Kiawah Island (Ocean)

Kiawah Island, SC

Oak Tree National

Edmond, OK

Bandon Dunes

Bandon, OR

Maidstone

Easthampton, NY

Newport

Newport, RI

Pacific Dunes

Bandon, OR

Shinnecock Hills

Southampton, NY

Desert Forest

Carefree, AZ

Desert Highlands

Scottsdale, AZ

Stone Eagle

Palm Desert, CA

Bel-Air

Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles (North)

Los Angeles, CA

Riviera

Pacific Palisades, CA

Rustic Canyon

Moorpark, CA

Deepdale

Manhasset, NY

Sleepy Hollow

Briarcliff Manor, NY

Westchester (West)

Rye, NY

Winged Foot (East)

Mamaroneck, NY

Ganton

Yorkshire, England

Royal Ashdown Forest

Forest Row, England

St. George’s Hill

Weybridge, England

Sunningdale Old

Sunningdale, England

Swinley Forest

Ascot, England

Walton Heath (Old)

Walton-on-the-Hill, England

West Sussex

Pulborough, England

Woodhall Spa

Woodhall Spa, England

Holston Hills

Knoxville, TN

The Greenbrier (Old White)

White Sulfur Springs, WV

The Homestead (Cascades)

Hot Springs, VA

Pikewood National

Morgantown, WV

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Carnoustie

Angus, Scotland

Cruden Bay

Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Muirfield

East Lothian, Scotland

Royal Aberdeen

Aberdeen, Scotland

Turnberry

Ayrshire, Scotland

Hirono

Shijimi, Japan

Kawana

Ito, Japan

Tokyo

Tokyo, Japan

Bethpage (Black)

Farmingdale, NY

Erin Hills

Erin, WI

Pine Valley

Clementon, NJ

Streamsong (Red)

Bowling Green, FL

Waterville

Waterville, Ireland

Whistling Straits (Straits)

Kohler, WI

Winged Foot (West)

Mamaroneck, NY

Yale University

New Haven, CT