The new World 100 excludes USA courses. By Ron Whitten
GLOBAL RANKING HAS 43 NEW ENTRIES, WITH USA EXCLUDED
GOLF DIGEST’S third biennial ranking of the World 100 Greatest Golf Courses is truly global, showcasing brilliant layouts everywhere from Abu Dhabi to Vietnam. It excludes United States courses for the first time, so there are 43 new entries on the list compared to 2016, including Durban Country Club in South Africa. The World 100 Greatest uses a single criterion of overall greatness scored by international panellists organised by our affiliate magazines around the world. Courses from 23 countries are featured, 37 from the United Kingdom and Ireland, 19 from Asia, 18 from Australia and New Zealand, 17 from North and Central America, six from South Africa and the Middle East, and just three from the entire Continent of Europe.
If you’re in a debating mood, allow us to pose a topic. Even a cursory look at our World 100 Greatest, topped again by Royal County Down in Northern Ireland, reveals that a group of big-name golf-course architects are responsible for many of the courses. Here’s the question: Does it take a prominent name to generate a world-class course, or does a great course turn an architect into a big name?
Among living architects, the two with the most designs on this ranking are Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman, both champion golfers long before they transitioned into golf design. Each has ve original designs among the World 100. Nicklaus has three in Mexico, plus others in South Korea and the Dominican Republic, while Norman is credited with two in his native Australia, two inVietnam, and one in Dubai. Norman has also been involved in renovation at No 18 New South Wales in Australia.
Close behind those two titans is perhaps the most in uential golf architect on the planet, Tom Doak, with two in New Zealand – including the recently opened Tara Iti at No 6 – and two in Australia. Doak is so respected as a design historian that he has been engaged in restoring the No 3 Royal Melbourne (West) and No 19 Royal Melbourne (East), No 85 Royal Adelaide, all in Australia, No. 80 Woodhall Spa (Hotchkin) in England, No 54 Mid Ocean Club in Bermuda and, with the assistance of Canadian architect Ian Andrew, No 20 St. George’s in Ontario.
Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw have three highly placed courses: No 8 Shanqin Bay in China, No 9 Cabot Cli s in Nova Scotia and No 26 Barnbougle Lost Farm in Australia. Gary Player has two of his South African designs, Fancourt Links (No 38) and Leopard Creek (No 65).
Some architects deserve more attention but haven’t achieved it. Consider Martin Hawtree, a third-generation golf architect, now 70, who designed one of Scotland’s most stunning new courses, No 64 Trump International, and has remodelled several courses for recent Open Championships. Hawtree has also done extensive revisions in the UK and Ireland, and his involvement in 12 courses among our World 100 is the most by any architect. His name is often confused with another British architect, Martin Ebert, who with Tom Mackenzie has done several high-pro le remodelling jobs at Open courses, in particular No 7 Royal Portrush (Dunluce), site of the 2019 Open Championship.
If you believe great courses establish an architect’s bona des, then Kyle Phillips deserves mention. Phillips served as an associate for Robert Trent Jones Junior for more than 15 years before establishing his rm in 1997. Since then, he has quietly produced some of the globe’s nest designs. His breakthrough course was No 30 Kingsbarns near St Andrews. He also created No 44Yas Links in Abu Dhabi, long considered the best course in the United Arab Emirates, and No 49 South Cape on rocky cli s of South Korea’s Namhae Island. Some consider it “the Pebble Beach” of Korea. ▶ For more on the World 100 and for the country-by-country rankings, please go to golfdigest.com/go/100greatest.