OC WORLD TOP 100 2020

The OC is using the occasion of the start of its second decade with an interesting new project. About six months ago, we introduced a new feature on our members’ site that allowed members to track the golf courses they have played. They also had the ability to rate the courses using a 1-10 scale.

The results have been tabulated into what is the first Outpost Club World Top 100. The list that people had to vote on consisted of about 500 courses worldwide. We had 30 members who had visited over 200 of these courses and 102 who had played over 100 of them. Pebble Beach was the most rated course with 241 responses and there were over 109 courses with over 75 rankings at the cutoff date of January 18th.  Members were given no instructions about what to consider like “shot values” or maintenance-conditions. They were simply asked to rate the courses.

We are not statisticians here at the OC, so we decided not to dive into standard deviations and try to massage the data. We did decide that a course must have at least 10 ratings to be eligible and that we would discount the ratings of courses with fewer than 40 ratings by varying degrees depending on how many ratings they had. A few courses fell victim to this adjustment — a mix of moderns like Gozzer Ranch and Congaree and also a few classic English courses like Royal West Norfolk and Notts (Hollinwell). Hopefully some more of our members will make it to those courses over the next few years and they can climb into the rankings.

As for the list, there are 62 courses from the US, slightly higher than other world lists but also a realistic reflection of our golf society’s American membership base.  Scotland leads the way with 11 courses and England and Australia are tied with seven apiece.  Twenty-nine courses would be considered modern designs.  Alister MacKenzie leads the way with eight courses followed in quick succession by Coore & Crenshaw with seven and Tom Doak with six.

An interesting note is that many of the courses that are known as “championship” courses did not fare as well in the OC rankings as in others. Who knows why this is but we like to think it is because our members value fun over difficulty. Looking at the results and accompanying photos, it is certain that our members do place a great deal of importance on beauty with the highest ranking courses combining spectacular scenery and strategic, engaging design.

We will be releasing one course a day, starting with #100 tomorrow. We are very thankful to Jon Cavalier (@linksgems) in assisting with this project. He is an incredible photographer and his photos are even more remarkable that he takes almost all of them while he plays the courses. Jon has visited many of the courses on the list so most of the photos will be his. Some of them will come from our travels over the last decade and others will come from other photographer friends from around the world.

Cypress Point Club – Pebble Beach, CA – Alister MacKenzie

Combine one of the most spectacular sites in the world with one of the all-time great architects–one who is known for creating courses as visually stunning as they are strategic–and there’s no wonder Cypress Point tops our list. Traversing from the hills, to the forest, to the sand dunes, and finally to the ocean’s edge, the routing of the course takes full advantage of this unique property and offers stellar holes one after another. Cypress Point, rightly, is best known for its breath-taking stretch of holes along the ocean. And, yes, holes 15-17, are spectacular. In fact, they just might be the best three-hole stretch in all of golf, but what really makes Cypress Point so great is that the rest of the course, even without the benefit of being right on the ocean, is so strong that it doesn’t suffer by comparison. A round here is an exhilarating journey across a gorgeous landscape with one of golf’s premiere architects as your guide. It doesn’t get any better. Photo Credit: @Linksgems

Pine Valley Golf Club – Clementon, NJ – George Crump/Harry Colt

Since the advent of course rankings, Pine Valley has been permanently ensconced at (usually), or near the top of any list (it was just edged out for #1 on this list). It is generally regarded as the “best” course in the world with a collection of eighteen world-class holes with nary a weak one in the bunch. With a USGA maximum slope rating of 155, Pine Valley is certainly not for the faint of heart, but it is surprisingly generous off of the tee. The landing areas are generally wide (assuming you can make the numerous forced carries), but require you to position your ball in the correct spot in order to have the best angle of attack into the green. The greens and their surrounds are where things really get interesting as you can find yourself in all sorts of trouble if your approach is on the less-optimal side of these well-contoured and sloping greens and should you miss the green, recovery from the unkempt, sandy scrub is anything but a certainty. Challenging, mesmerizing, and beautiful, spending a day at Pine Valley is one of the great pleasures in the world of golf. Photo Credit: @Linksgems

National Golf Links of America – Southampton, NY – C.B. Macdonald & Seth Raynor

America’s first great golf course, National Golf Links of America was the vision of C.B. Macdonald who set about to build his ideal course–one inspired by the great courses of England and Scotland. He enlisted a local surveyor, Seth Raynor, a golf neophyte, to assist in the building of the course–marking the formation of one of the most influential partnerships in American golf architectural history. The homage to the great Scottish and English holes includes stand-out versions of the Sahara (2nd) inspired by the old second hole at Royal St. George’s, Alps (3rd) based on the Alps hole at Prestwick, Redan (4th) from North Berwick, Short (6th) from Royal West Norfolk, and Road (7th) and Eden (13th) from the Old Course. Intertwined with these wonderful recreations are original holes such as the Bottle (8th), Cape (14th), as well as the finishing stretch of 16-18, which may be the best finish in all of golf. National is far from simply C.B. Macdonald’s idea of an ideal golf course, it is the ideal golf course. Further, it’s hard to overstate the importance of NGLA to the development of golf in America. It ushered in an era of strategic design not seen before on these shores and gave rise to the Golden Age of golf architecture. Photo Credit: @Linksgems

Augusta National Golf Club – Augusta, GA – Alister MacKenzie & Bobby Jones

Augusta National occupies a unique space in the world of golf. Thanks to the Masters Tournament, it’s so familiar to so many, but remains out-of-reach for the masses who will never have the privilege to walk its fairways, let alone, have the opportunity to actually play the course. For those fortunate few, judging by its high ranking on our list, the experience lives up to its advanced billing. Augusta National was the vision of the legendary Bobby Jones, who after seeing Cypress Point, enlisted architect Alister Mackenzie to help him construct his dream course. What they created was nothing short of magical. The setting is idyllic, the holes are beguiling yet seem “gettable” right up until the point where you find yourself on the wrong side of a green. And, though it’s been said millions of times, we feel obligated to say that the course is much hillier in person. It’s also even more breathtakingly beautiful than it appears on television, which seems hard to fathom, but it’s true. It has been altered over the years to try and combat the runaway distance gains by today’s top professionals, therefore removing some of the strategic width that was so essential to Jones's and MacKenzie's original design. Nevertheless, it remains an icon of the game and the Holy Grail of golfers everywhere. Photo Credit: @Linksgems

Royal County Down Golf Club – County Down, Northern Ireland – Old Tom Morris/George Coombe/Harry Colt/Donald Steel

Legendary golf writer Bernard Darwin once described Royal County Down as “the kind of golf that people play in their most ecstatic dreams.” In the shadow of the beautiful Mountains of Mourne, this rugged links plays out over large dunes covered in heather and long sea grasses to fairways (many completely blind from the tee) that rise and fall like the sea itself. Many consider the front-nine to be the best opening side in all of golf–culminating with the out-of-this world ninth hole which races down the dunes toward the clubhouse and the iconic Slieve Donard hotel framed against the mountains. County Down is a unique experience in the world of golf. It doesn’t “feel” like any other course. It truly is like something from a dream. Photo Credit: @GaryLisbonGolf

Oakmont Country Club – Oakmont, PA – Henry & William Fownes

Set to host a record tenth U.S. Open in 2025, Oakmont is unquestionably a prodigious test–even for the world’s best. And that’s just the way founder and architect Henry Fownes, and his son William, wanted it. The course is heavily protected by deep bunkers, trenches, and thick rough bordered by thicker rough. The heavily contoured greens, many slanting away from the fairway, compound the difficulty and must be approached from the short-grass to have any chance of holding them as they’re usually rolling at speeds that are the stuff of nightmares. It’s not a question of if you will three-putt, it’s when. That being said, it’s a lot of fun to take on such a challenge at a course so steeped in golf history. The tree-removal program has opened up the entire course and provided picturesque views of the rugged landscape throughout the round. So, forget your score and enjoy the challenge and a wonderful walk through golf history. Photo Credit: @Linksgems

Shinnecock Hills Golf Club – Southampton, NY – William Flynn with some elements of Charles Blair Macdonald’s 1916 design work

From the very first time you catch a glimpse of Shinnecock Hills, often from the porch of the iconic Stanford White clubhouse, you can tell that it’s something truly special. From that vantage point, you can see most of the course with fairways draped naturally over rolling dunes, separated by tall fescue grasses that stand ready to punish the poorly played shot, and the greens, often perched on the highest points placing a premium on accuracy and accentuating the ever-present, and ever-shifting, winds. The ingenious routing plays out in a series of loops which promote an almost constant change of direction from hole to hole insuring that the wind will affect your shots from all angles throughout the round. With nary a weak hole on the property, Shinnecock Hills is one of the great walks in golf and a classic championship course in every sense of the word. Photo Credit: @Linksgems

St. Andrews Links (Old) – Fife, Scotland – unknown/Allan Robertson/Old Tom Morris

Ask any golf architect working today (or read the writings of architects from the Golden Age) what course has had the most influence on his or her designs and you will most assuredly receive one overwhelming response: the Old Course at St. Andrews. It’s so influential because it represents the very essence of strategic golf. There’s no one way to play the Old Course. There are ways that are more advantageous depending on the conditions and skill of the player, certainly, but there is no “hit it here or else” aspect to the course. Poorly thought out or poorly executed shots are not lost, but rather will require the player to execute a more difficult recovery shot than they would have had the previous shot been better placed. Players are left to their own devices to divine the best way to plot their way around the course in the fewest number of strokes. Each round at the Old Course provides new questions that must be answered. It reveals itself gradually, over multiple rounds, which is its true genius and what keeps players coming back time and again. We wish our members and for that matter, all serious golfers had more opportunities to play this marvel and be exposed to its subtle charms. Photo Credit: @GaryLisbonGolf

Tara Iti Golf Club – Mangawhai, New Zealand – Tom Doak

Some might be surprised to see Tara Iti so high in our rankings but those that have been there, won’t be surprised at all. Tara Iti, an oasis on the North Island of New Zealand, is just that good. Built through beautiful coastal dunes and with views of sparkling blue waters of Bream Bay and the surrounding islands prevalent throughout the round, Tara Iti will have you reaching for your camera as often as your wedge. The wide fairways (mercifully wide given the ever-present wind) blend seamlessly into the surrounding sand dunes and sandy waste areas. The greens and surrounds are heavily contoured and require proper placement of approach shots lest you find yourself in a spot where getting down in two is harder than piercing the All Blacks goal line. The fairways and greens are fescue, and, coupled with the strong winds, reward the golfer who has a strong ground game and a keen imagination. The land is an idyllic of a spot as there is in the world, luckily for golfers everywhere, Tom Doak and his team built a course to match. Photo Credit: @GaryLisbon

Royal Melbourne Golf Club (West) – Black Rock, Australia – Alister MacKenzie & Alex Russell

While the West Course at Royal Melbourne is not the highest ranked Alister MacKenzie course in our ranking (spoiler alert, we know), many consider it to be the best example of his work. The first thing you’ll notice about the West Course is that it is stunningly beautiful. With native trees and vegetation, sandy scrub, artistic bunkering, and greens that look like they should be framed in a museum, the West Course is a feast for the eyes. But it’s the strategic aspects of the course that really place it among the world’s elite. The wide fairways allow for all manner of player to keep his or her ball in play, but steer too clear of the trouble and you will inevitably leave yourself in a less advantageous position for your subsequent shot. And you’ll want to be in the best position possible to attack the large, brilliantly-countered, and slick greens where it’s more important where your ball is in relation to the hole location than its proximity to it. The sandy site allows for perfect playing conditions and it is best not to take your eye off of your ball until it has come to rest as the “perfect” shot has been known to find all sorts of trouble as it runs out on the firm and fast fairways. The West Course is truly a spectacular experience. Photo Credit: @GaryLisbonGolf

Fishers Island Club – Fishers Island, NY – Seth Raynor

Occupying one of the most unique and stunning parcels of land in golf, Fishers Island is a bold and extraordinary experience from start to finish. There are gorgeous views of the surrounding Long Island Sound on every hole providing the backdrop to some of the best examples of Seth Raynor’s work. Many of the template holes that you would expect are present including shining examples of the Alps/Punchbowl (4th), Biarritz (5th), Eden (11th), and Short (16th). The land movement is extraordinary and the maintenance practices provide the perfect, firm and fast conditioning to bring the ground game fully into play (a must when the wind is blowing). Fishers Island is one of those experiences that you don’t forget and a place that you long to return to as soon as you walk off of the eighteenth green. Photo Credit: @LinksGems

Royal Dornoch Golf Club (Championship) – Dornoch, Scotland – Old Tom Morris/John Sutherland/Donald Ross/George Duncan

Legendary golf writer Herbert Warren Wind once wrote that “no golfer has completed his education until he has played and studied Royal Dornoch.” Not surprisingly, we couldn’t agree more! Located in the beautiful and remote Highlands of Scotland, Royal Dornoch starts off in the high ground bordering the town and gently makes its way out toward Dornoch Firth before heading along the beach and eventually returning to the town on the upper plateau. A gorse-covered ridge, the dominant feature on the outward holes, drives both the strategy and serves as the backdrop to some of the most exciting shots you’ll play anywhere in the world. The greens are brilliantly designed–many elevated and on plateaus–and all with run-offs that punish poorly struck approach shots, or even those that are well-struck, but played from improper locations in the generous fairways. Royal Dornoch checks all of the boxes that any golfer could ever want: beautiful, strategic, and fun. Mr. Wind is right once again. Photo Credit: @GaryLisbonGolf

Sand Hills Golf Club – Mullen, NE – Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw

“The land was just made for golf.” I’m sure you’ve heard it once or twice, but what does it even mean? Well, once you’ve been to Sand Hills, you’ll know, because that land in Mullen, Nebraska was made for golf. All credit to the brilliant design team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw for finding such a perfect routing given all the options they had to choose (a famous map in the dining room shows the final routing along with about one hundred other potential golf holes). On the course, you’re completely secluded–the clubhouse and lodging are located a good distance away–and at one with the natural surroundings. Playing through large sand dunes, avoiding blowout bunkers and the natural prairie grass, and judging the ever-present wind are your only concerns. The greens look like they were painted onto the land rather than built and contain enough contours to really grab your attention as you hit your approach shots. Sand Hills proved that people will travel from far and wide to play a course that is truly special. Destination clubs and resorts like Bandon Dunes, Ballyneal, Sand Valley, etc., might never have been built had Sand Hills not proven so successful. Photo Credit: @LinksGems

The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers (Muirfield) – East Lothian, Scotland – Old Tom Morris/Harry Colt/Tom Simpson

Since 1891, Muirfield has been the home course to the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, the world’s oldest golf club (formed in 1744 at Leith Links). Host of fifteen Open Championships, Muirfield has long been a favorite of professionals due to its challenge and perceived fairness. Unlije many famous links courses, Muirfield is not an out-and-back routing. Instead, it features two concentric, circular nine-hole routings that ensures that the prevailing wind affects shots from all directions throughout the round. With beautiful views of the Firth of Forth throughout the round and strategic bunkering that demands attention on every shot, Muirfield is as pleasant a walk as it is challenging to play. It also provides one of the truly great, day-long experiences in the world of golf: morning fourball, followed by a proper lunch, and concluding with afternoon foursomes. A day all golfers should experience once in their lives. Photo Credit: @GaryLisbonGolf

Chicago Golf Club – Wheaton, IL – C.B. Macdonald/Seth Raynor

Chicago Golf Club, one of the five founding clubs of the U.S.G.A., was originally designed by C.B. Macdonald and was later extensively redesigned by his protégé Seth Raynor. Built on a flat site, Chicago GC derives its strategic interest from the wonderfully designed greens and ingenious bunkering which dictates the preferred line of play based on the day’s hole location. The course gets the absolute most out of its landlocked and relatively flat site. A veritable museum of golf history and to the Macdonald/Raynor style, Chicago Golf Club is a must-see for golf architecture enthusiasts. Photo Credit: @Linksgems

Merion Golf Club (East) – Ardmore, PA – Hugh Wilson

The fact that architect Hugh Wilson was able to build the East Course at Merion, one of the greats of the game, on just over 125-acres is hard to comprehend. While the routing was necessarily tight given the land constraints, at no time does the course feel cramped. Every inch of the property was utilized to its fullest to create eighteen unique and spectacular holes. Split by Ardmore Avenue, holes 1, 13-18 are on the clubhouse side and holes 2-12 are on the opposite side of the road. The defining, natural feature of the holes on the far side of the road is Cobb’s Creek which guards the green at the 4th hole (the second and last par-5 of the round!), protects the entire left side of the 5th hole (which slopes dramatically toward the hazard), returns again to guard the 9th green, and finally to play havoc with the approach shot at the famous 11th (where Bobby Jones won the U.S. Amateur in 1930 to capture the Grand Slam). Once you cross Ardmore Avenue for the final time, strap in, because the finishing stretch is among the best, and most challenging in golf. The famous “Quarry Holes” (16-18) are a challenging thrill-ride asking you to hit all kinds of heroic shots in order to get it to the clubhouse with your score intact. Be sure to look for the Ben Hogan plaque in the 18th fairway (site of the historic one-iron photo taken at the 1950 U.S. Open). Thanks to a recent renovation by Gil Hanse, Jim Wagner, and their team, Merion is looking and playing as well as ever. Photo: @Linksgems

Friar’s Head – Riverhead, NY – Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw

Given a property with a sort of split personality (half of the property contains beautiful, wooded sand dunes and the other half is a largely featureless former potato farm), the team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw were tasked with finding a routing that blended these two contrasting landscapes. What they came up with is a routing that is pure genius. The course seamlessly, transitions from the dunes to the farmland twice during the round before finishing in the dunes for the epic closing stretch of holes 14-18. With the portfolio of courses that Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw have built, the fact that Friar’s Head is in the conversation for their best work should tell you all you need to know about how special this place is. Photo Credit: @LinksGems

North Berwick Golf Club (West) – East Lothian, Scotland – David Strath/Tom Dunn/Sir Guy Campbell/Ben Sayers/C.K. Hutchison

North Berwick is loaded with wonderful quirk and unique character, and just might be the most fun golf course in the world–it certainly is among the best places to have a match. With shots over beaches, stone walls, burns, and half-par holes, what more could you want? Hugging the coastline of the Firth of Forth and offering majestic sea views throughout the round, the setting alone should be enough to propel North Berwick high on many rankings list. Combine all of that with the holes themselves and you have one of the best courses in the world. North Berwick has one of the most copied holes in golf (the “Redan” 15th) as well as what might be the most unique hole in golf (the “Pit” 13th with a stone wall splitting the fairway from the green and creating all sorts of strategic problems and miracle recovery possibilities). Few places offer such a fun and unique golfing experience as North Berwick. We like to think that this is the reason that Outpost Club members rate North Berwick higher than in any other World Top 100. Photo Credit: @GaryLisbonGolf

Royal Portrush Golf Club (Dunluce) – County Antrim, Northern Ireland – Harry Colt

At the 2019 Open Championship, the world got to see what the itinerant golfer already knew: Portrush is a special place combining otherworldly views with spectacular, strategic golf. With fairways nestled between large dunes and greens that blend perfectly into their surrounds, Portrush is understated in its presentation¬–as if the land had always been a golf course. Make no mistake, understated does not mean easy. Quite the contrary. Portrush is a stern test of golf with its unrelenting ocean winds and heavy rough waiting to consume any ball that strays too far from the playing corridors. The tightly mown green surrounds feature enough rolls and hollows to make greenside recovery far from certain. All-in-all, Portrush manages to walk the fine line of being able to challenge the very best golfers yet still remain playable and fun for those of us without our name sewn on our bag. Photo Credit: @GaryLisbonGolf

Ballybunion Golf Club (Old) – County Kerry, Ireland – Fred Smith/Tom Simpson & Molly Gourlay

Legendary golf writer Herbert Warren Wind described Ballybunion as “nothing less than the finest seaside links I have ever seen.” We’re tempted to leave it there as Mr. Wind sums it up nicely and who wants to write something after Herbert Warren Wind, but we will forge ahead nonetheless. So, what makes Ballybunion so great? The dunes and ocean views are stunning, but there are other courses built on great land. Rather, it’s the variety in which the dunes are incorporated into the routing that, in our opinion, really makes Ballybunion stand out. There are holes along the tops of the dunes as well as holes playing through the valleys, greens perched high on ridges and some at the base of the dunes (all with challenging green surrounds, challenge your short-game). Each hole feels like a new, exciting adventure–certainly a recipe for greatness. Photo Credit: @GaryLisbonGolf

Los Angeles Country Club (North) – Los Angeles, CA – George Thomas & William Bell

Located on the edge of Beverly Hills and bisected by Wilshire Boulevard, LACC occupies, perhaps, the most valuable real estate in the world of golf. As valuable as the land is, it’s what’s on the land, specifically the North Course, that’s the club’s greatest asset. This George Thomas and William Bell masterpiece makes full, strategic use of the land’s many fine features–specifically the rolling terrain and the barranca the cuts diagonally through the property. Coupled with artful bunkering and brilliant greens (a running theme with George Thomas/William Bell Designs), LACC-North is golf architectural Nirvana. And thanks to the wonderful renovation work by Gil Hanse, Jim Wagner, and Geoff Shackelford, the North Course sits once again at the pinnacle of the Thomas/Bell design portfolio. We can’t wait to see the course in prime time during the 2023 U.S. Open. Photo Credit: @Linksgems

Trump Turnberry (Ailsa) – Ayrshire, Scotland – Willie Fernie/Phillip Mackenzie Ross/Martin Ebert

Politics aside (and let’s keep this focused on the golf course), there has never been a whole lot not to like about the Ailsa course at Turnberry. The setting is beautiful with views of the ocean, cliffs, and the Ailsa Craig visible from much of the course. The legendary battle between Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson at the 1977 Open Championship (known as the “Duel in the Sun”) is enough in-and-of-itself to secure Turnberry’s place in golf history. So, why make any changes save for a few cosmetic changes here or there? Well, after architect Martin Ebert’s stunning renovation/redesign, that question has been put to rest. Every hole on the course was upgraded (primarily consisting of renovating greens and bunkers), but the real work was done on holes 9-11 which sat on the most dramatic part of the property, but failed to make full-use of the beautiful setting along the rocky shore of the Atlantic Ocean. The redesigned holes bring the shore, and the water into play and not only improve the holes aesthetically, but strategically as well. Gaining almost universal praise, the work by Martin Ebert and his firm have made the Ailsa course a candidate for best in Scotland–high praise indeed. Photo Credit: @GaryLisbonGolf

Crystal Downs Country Club – Frankfort, MI – Alister MacKenzie & Perry Maxwell

Crystal downs is routed on windswept, hilly property in northern Michigan by Alister MacKenzie and constructed by his associate Perry Maxwell (of Prairie Dunes, Southern Hills, and Old Town fame). Though short by today’s standards (6,500 yards, par 70), it is by no means a pushover. The course’s primary defense are the beautifully, undulating greens–many severely sloped. In his Confidential Guide, Tom Doak recounts a story told by the pro at Crystal Downs of seeing members putt off of every green on the course at one time or another. The MacKenzie bunkering is predictably artistic and dictates strategy as you try and find the proper spots in the fairway from which best to approach the challenging greens. Hard to think of a better place for a summer round of golf than northern Michigan and Crystal Downs Country Club. Photo Credit: @Linksgems

Pebble Beach Golf Links – Pebble Beach, CA – Jack Neville & Douglas Grant

The word “iconic” is thrown around a lot when describing golf courses (I know we’re guilty of it), but iconic really is the most apt descriptor for Pebble Beach. The course was the vision of a 29-year-old former Yale football player named Samuel F. B. Morse who was part of the 1906 national championship team and a member of Skull & Bones. While working for the Pacific Improvement Company he convinced its board to let him build Pebble to increase interest in the area. (Imagine a time when the Monterey Peninsula needed to encourage development?) And only five days after the course opened, Morse formed the Del Monte Properties Company and acquired the Del Monte Unit from the Pacific Improvement Company. While not a links—the true definition of the site is coastal terrace meadow—the course has enthralled the golf world ever since. Within its first decade it was host to the U.S. Amateur in 1929 and again in 1947, but perhaps the breakout moment came in 1972 for its first of five U.S. Opens followed by the even more famous edition in 1982 when Tom Watson chipped in on 17 to overtake Jack Nicklaus. Some will think it is being under-rated in this position when the course is usually listed among the top 3 in the country, but it probably reflects, correctly, that the greatness of the seaside holes are balanced out by the good but not great character of the inland holes 1, 2, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16. Photo Credit: @Linksgems

Pacific Dunes – Bandon, OR – Tom Doak

Pacific Dunes was the second course to open at Bandon Dunes and the one that cemented the resort as a “must visit” for any golfer. Yes, the holes that play along the cliffs above the ocean are great, spectacular even, and adorn the office walls of daydreaming golfers all across the world. Specifically, the eleventh and thirteenth are like works of art. But what really makes Pacific Dunes great is that the holes away from the ocean are just as strong. In fact, the short, par-4 second and sixteenth are among the most intriguing at the resort. One of the true “bucket list” experiences that every golfer must experience at least once in his or her life. Photo Credit: @Linksgems

Peachtree Golf Club – Atlanta, GA – Bobby Jones/Robert Trent Jones

Peachtree Golf Club is the vision of the great Bobby Jones who was looking for a private place to play away from the increasingly overcrowded East Lake. Built on what was an old nursery (sound familiar?) on the outskirts of downtown Atlanta, Bobby Jones enlisted the services of Robert Trent Jones and they went to work building this spectacular layout. It’s no surprise that Peachtree bears more than a passing resemblance to Augusta National given the involvement of Mr. Jones, the similarity of the topography, and the wonderful setting complete with dogwoods and azaleas. Photo Credit: @Linksgems

Ohoopee Match Club – Cobbtown, GA – Gil Hanse

“No one cares what you shot!” It’s a universal truth, and a guiding principle at Ohoopee Match Club. This twenty-two hole oasis in Vidalia onion country is designed for exciting matches, not for someone looking to post a score. OMC is filled with the kind of risk-reward and half-par holes that make for interesting decision-making and thoughtful strategy–which is at the heart of match play. The greens are bold, featuring steep slopes and large undulations that are surrounded by beautifully-crafted bunkering and diabolical run-offs. The sandy soil lends itself to some of the best playing conditions you’ll find in the U.S. Watching the ball run-out , you’d swear you were on a links course or the sand belt of Melbourne. As if all of this wasn’t enough, Ohoopee Match Club is actually two courses in one. There’s the “Championship” routing consisting of holes 1-18 and the “Whiskey” routing which replaces four holes from the Championship routing with four additional holes (A-D) and utilizes different tees for many of the remaining fourteen holes. It provides the perfect afternoon venue (it’s approximately 1,500 yards shorter) for a second round. Gil Hanse, Jim Wagner, and their team really built something special in Georgia. Photo Credit: @Linksgems

Sunningdale Golf Club (Old) – Berkshire, England – Willie Park, Jr./Harry Colt

The Old Course at Sunningdale was the first truly great course built in the heathlands around London, in fact, it might be the first truly great inland course built anywhere in the world. The Old Course was originally designed by Willie Park, Jr. and later re-designed by the club’s Secretary and Captain Harry Colt (yes, that one). The course winds through wide fairway corridors lined by beautiful, specimen trees and heather. The firm-and-fast turf presents the perfect ground on which to play the game. The greens are wonderfully contoured and surrounded by artful, Colt bunkering that’s as strategic as it is beautiful. With one of the best halfway huts in all of golf and a clubhouse dining experience to match, the highlights of this majestic club extend well beyond their two magnificent courses. Photo Credit: @Linksgems

Kingsbarns Golf Links – Fife, Scotland – Kyle Phillips and Mark Parsinen

It’s hard to believe that Kingsbarns was once a mostly flat piece of land. It’s hard to believe because Mark Parsinen, Kyle Phillips and team did such a masterful job of shaping the land that you just assume that it’s always been beautiful, natural linksland. Taking advantage of the frontage along the North Sea, the course is a wonderful blend of great, strategic golf holes combined with drop-dead, gorgeous views. While lacking the history of other area courses, the inherently modern Kingsbarns is not to be missed on any trip to Fife. Photo Credit: @GaryLisbonGolf

Kingston Heath Golf Club – Cheltenham, Australia – Dan Soutar/Alister MacKenzie/Graeme Grant

Despite being on a small, relatively flat property (approximately 125 acres), Kingston Heath never feels confining–such is the brilliance of the routing. The bunkers, designed by Alister MacKenzie, are a work of art and fit naturally in the landscape while delivering a sizeable punishment to wayward shots. The mix of short, risk-reward holes with longer, more-demanding holes provides strategic interest and a real test of skills and decision-making. A truly delightful walk, Kingston Heath is definitely one of those courses where you walk off the eighteenth green and want to go directly back to the first tee to have another crack at it. Photo Credit: @Linksgems

Lahinch Golf Club (Old) – County Clare, Ireland – Old Tom Morris/Charles Gibson/Alister MacKenzie/Martin Hawtree

Lahinch is a rugged, enchanting adventure through the towering dunes along Liscannor Bay. With stunning views to match the amazing, natural landscape, Lahinch stirs senses as well as the mind right from the start of the round. It’s home to two of the most unique holes found anywhere in golf. The par five, fourth hole with a blind drive followed by a blind second-shot over the aptly named Klondyke sand dune (complete with someone stationed at the top signaling when the landing area is clear) and the par three, fifth hole, the Dell, played to a completely hidden green between the dunes. Lahinch is as memorable of an experience as there is in golf, just keep an eye on the goats to know if you’ll need your rain gear. Photo Credit: @French_Golfer

Cabot Cliffs – Inverness, Canada – Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw

Sequels can be tricky, especially when trying to follow-up a wildly popular original (Cabot Links), but give the team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw dramatic and diverse ground on which to work and the results are likely to be something special. With Cabot Cliffs, they delivered a course that is indeed special and quite often: breathtaking. The holes on the clifftops above the Gulf of St. Lawrence, rightly, get most of the media attention given their picturesque quality, but the inland holes warrant acclaim as well for their strategic options and thought-provoking challenges. Photo Credit: @evan_schiller_photography

San Francisco Golf Club – San Francisco, CA – A.W. Tillinghast

Situated across Lake Merced from the Olympic Club lies the extremely private San Francisco GC. Unlike their neighbor, who has hosted multiple U.S. Opens and various other USGA events, SFGC shuns the spotlight, preferring to keep play to members and their guests–and with a course this good, it’s hard to blame them. With its dramatic, rolling land, SFGC is a joy and a challenge to play and very memorable for its elegant bunkers that are works of art. The large, jig-saw-like, bunkers are a constant influence on play as you attempt to navigate the fairways ringed by the cypress and pine trees. A restoration project by Tom Doak and his Renaissance Golf Design team addressed probably the only real qualm people had with the design (holes 13-15 which were not original and were built when the club lost part of their property to road construction). The refurbished layout has San Francisco GC looking and playing like the Golden Age gem that it is. Note: Due to club policies, we are prohibited from posting photos of SFGC.

Cape Wickham Golf Links – King Island, Australia – Mike DeVries & Darius Oliver

We as golfers are a hardy bunch when it comes to travel. We have proven that we’ll go to the ends of the earth when the golf is great. Well, the end of the earth feels about the right description for Cape Wickham on King Island (situated in the Bass Strait between mainland Australia and Tasmania). Situated on seaside land that looks like it was made for golf, Cape Wickham winds its way from the bluffs along the shoreline to the rugged sand dunes before finishing up on the shore of Victoria Cove. OC Member Mike DeVries created a compelling course that is playable in the typically brisk breezes that are common on the Island but has plenty of intrigue to hold up to repeated plays. As spectacular a setting as you’ll find anywhere with a golf course built to match, Cape Wickham is well worth the trip to King Island. Photo Credit: @Linksgems

Royal Birkdale Golf Club– Southport, England – George Lowe/J.H. Taylor/Fred Hawtree

#35 – Royal Birkdale Golf Club– Southport, England – George Lowe/J.H. Taylor/Fred Hawtree – The most prominent features at Birkdale are the towering dunes that the line the fairways, the crosswinds which will wreak havoc on all but the most expertly struck tee shots, and the wonderfully beguiling greens with their subtle contours and gentle breaks. Birkdale is widely cited as one of the “fairer” courses on the Open Rota owing to the fact that once your ball hits the fairway, it is rarely directed offline or into a hidden bunker by some hump or bump–a bonus for us amateurs as well. The list of Open Champions at Birkdale (Peter Thomson x2, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Johnny Miller, Tom Watson, Jordan Spieth, etc.), is a credit to its championship pedigree and its place among the elite links courses in the world. Photo Credit: @GaryLisbonGolf

Riviera Country Club – Pacific Palisades, CA – George Thomas & William Bell

Riviera possesses one of the great first tees in golf. It sits mere steps from the iconic clubhouse, high above the fairway down on the canyon floor, and portends the start to a truly special experience. Standout holes like the long, redan-like 4th, the dual-fairway 8th with its central barranca that forces a player to choose a side depending on the day's pin position, the short, strategic 10th, and the wonderful uphill 18th that finishes in a natural amphitheater in the shadow of the clubhouse, will stick with you long after you’ve completed your round. In fact, everything about Riviera tends to stick with you, which is why it is one of those experiences that every golfer should have at least once in their life. Photo Credit: @Linksgems

Ballyneal Golf Club – Holyoke, CO – Tom Doak

Set in the “chop hills” of northeastern Colorado, lies one of the great outposts in golf: Ballyneal Golf Club. Though it’s not an easy journey, the itinerant golfer is rewarded for his/her dedication with what is simply one of the best modern designs in the world. Ballyneal is a rollicking journey through the dunes on turf that is tailor-made to produce the kind of bounces and rolls that make the game so interesting. The greens, with their large contours and brilliant surrounds are the perfect blend of challenge and fun. With multiple tees, but no tee markers, Ballyneal is a “choose-your-own-adventure” story just teaming with endless possibilities. An amazing, strategic design with a “fun-factor” that is off the charts, Ballyneal is truly magnificent. 📷: @Linksgems

Prairie Dunes Country Club – Hutchinson, KS – Perry Maxwell/Press Maxwell

Rolling, natural dunes land is not something you would expect when you think of Kansas. In fact, you’re given no indication that perfect golf terrain is waiting for you until you are seconds from the club’s entrance, but once you catch your first glimpse of the majestic dunes, you know you are in for something truly special. The wind is a constant as you traverse the ancient dunes and rolling fairways. The greens, with their wonderful rolls and contours are perhaps the finest collection in America. Many first-time visitors are surprised that Prairie Dunes actually began its life as a nine-hole course built by Perry Maxwell in 1937. The remaining nine holes were added by his son, Press, twenty years later. The work is so seamlessly blended together, however, that most can’t tell the original holes from the later work. Prairie Dunes is one of the great experiences in American golf and a must-play for any student of golf architecture. 📷: @Linksgems

Swinley Forest Golf Club – Berkshire, England – Harry Colt

Architect Harry Colt famously described Swinley Forest as his “least bad” course. Being that Harry Colt is at least in the conversation for “Greatest Golf Architect of All Time,” the fact that he considers Swinley his finest work should pique your interest. And with due respect to his modest description of Swinley, we would suggest a more accurate descriptor: magical. Because that’s what a round at Swinley Forest feels like from the first tee to the eighteenth green. The routing is intimate and takes you on a beautiful walk through the eponymous forest, over gentle ridges, down rolling fairways skirted with heather, and culminating at beautifully-bunkered greens that look like they were painted on the land. Yes, Swinley Forest is magical and few places offer a more enjoyable day of golf. 📷: @Linksgems

Winged Foot Golf Club (West) – Mamaroneck, NY – A.W. Tillinghast

With slick, contoured greens, deep bunkers, and fairways lined with trees and deep rough, the West Course at Winged Foot is certainly tailor-made for challenging the world’s best. In fact, it’s scheduled to host its sixth U.S. Open later this year to go along with two U.S. Amateurs and a PGA Championship–a championship pedigree equaled by few other clubs. Played under normal, club conditions, the West Course is still a brute, but the greens and bunkering are truly something at which to marvel. The tight routing is a joy to walk so you’ll have a smile on your face as long as you don’t pay too much attention to your scorecard. Gil Hanse, Jim Wagner and team did a marvelous job restoring this historic course and we can’t wait to watch the world’s best tackle this magnificent challenge in September. 📷: @Linksgems

Shoreacres – Lake Bluff, IL – Seth Raynor

While the clubhouse occupies land overlooking Lake Michigan, the course itself is actually routed inland on the tree-studded part of the property that is bisected by several large ravines. It’s these ravines that really give Shoreacres its character as Raynor took full, strategic advantage by routing the course over, through, and along the banks–challenging you to venture as close as you dare to gain an advantage on your next shot. Fans of the Macdonald/Raynor templates will not be disappointed as most are represented here including several stand-out examples like the Road Hole (10th), Short (12th), and Raynor’s Prize Dogleg (15th). Ongoing consulting work by Tom Doak and his Renaissance Golf Design team has only improved this Golden Age gem throughout the years and recent emphasis on firm and fast conditions has this playing more like a links than a parkland course. Shoreacres is considered by many to be among Seth Raynor’s best work, and we are not going to offer a differing opinion. 📷: @Linksgems

Royal St. George’s Golf Club– Sandwich, England – W. Laidlaw Purves/Frank Pennink/Donald Steel

Royal St. George’s Golf Club– Sandwich, England – W. Laidlaw Purves/Frank Pennink/Donald Steel – RSG’s championship links, known as Sandwich due to its locality, has always been one of the tougher courses on the Open Rota. Its blind shots, deep bunkers, ever-rotating direction of holes and fast kittle fairway bounces can be confounding to the best pros...just ask Tiger Woods who lost a ball mere yards from the fairway on his first shot in the 2003 Open. But it’s those very same characteristics that truly stirs the spirit of adventure for all golfers—usually in a singles or foursomes match—as they journey around this great links. However the day and the match goes, members, guests and visitors are guaranteed one of the most exquisite golf lunches in Britain, which is an achievement unto its own. 📷: @Linksgems

Barnbougle Dunes – Tasmania, Australia – Tom Doak & Michael Clayton

Barnbougle Dunes – Tasmania, Australia – Tom Doak & Michael Clayton – On a thin stretch of land bordering the Bass Strait, Tom Doak and Michael Clayton routed a wondrously fun design among the rollicking dunes. Filled with strategic half-par holes that tempt you to be as aggressive as you dare and undulating greens that have to be seen to be believed, Barnbougle Dunes is a course that will never cease to be intriguing. Throw in the beautiful views that are as constant a presence as the coastal wind and you have a truly special experience that is well worth the effort getting to this incredible outpost. 📷: @Linksgems

California Golf Club of San Francisco – South San Francisco, CA – A.V. Macan/Alister MacKenzie/Kyle Phillips

Joining Sleepy Hollow at or near the top of the renovation/restoration list is the Cal Club. Thanks to the wonderful work by Kyle Phillips, assisted by Kyle Franz, George Waters and others, who in addition to undoing most/all of the changes Robert Trent Jones made to the course in the 1960s, created several new holes which vastly improved the routing, and restored the remaining holes to the style of Dr. MacKenzie. The work blends so seamlessly together that you would be hard-pressed to tell the original holes from the new holes if you had no prior knowledge of the course. The design plus the incredible fescue surfaces all comes together to make the Cal Club one of the best courses in the world. 📷: @Linksgems

Sleepy Hollow Country Club – Scarborough, NY – C.B. Macdonald & Seth Raynor/Tom Winton/A.W. Tillinghast

The list of good to great restorations/renovations over the past several decades is a long one (and growing). At, or very near the top of that list has to be Sleepy Hollow. The work that Gil Hanse, Jim Wagner and team did to blend the work of Macdonald/Raynor and Tillinghast is nothing short of phenomenal. In addition to rebuilding the bunkers and greens to reflect one style (Macdonald’s), they extended the playing corridors to befit the grand scale of the property and opened up some of the most spectacular vistas that you will find anywhere in the world of golf. Photo Credit: @Linksgems

Golf de Morfontaine – Morfontaine, France – Tom Simpson

About one-hour northeast of Paris lies the glorious Golf de Morfontaine. Its twenty-seven holes (eighteen make up the Grand Parcours course and nine the Valliere), designed by Golden Age great Tom Simpson, are heaven on earth. The landscape is similar to that found around the London Heathlands with the gentle, rolling topography, ever-present shrubs and trees framing the fairways. The undulating greens are some of the best in the world and are well defended by the gorgeous bunkering. A round on the Grand Parcors, followed by a wonderful lunch accompanied by a fine Bordeaux in the ridiculously charming clubhouse and a leisurely stroll around the Valliere makes for one of the truly great days in golf. If you are lucky enough to receive a coveted invitation to visit Morfontaine, it is an experience you will not soon forget. Photo Credit: @french_golfer

The Country Club (Main/Composite) – Brookline, MA – Willie Campbell/William Flynn

Rare that a course as architecturally compelling as the Country Club, can be overshadowed by the history made on it, but such is often the case at grand dame of Massachusetts golf. Whether it’s amateur Francis Ouimet’s 1913 U.S. Open victory over Harry Vardon and Ted Ray in a playoff or Justin Leonard’s miraculous putt on the seventeenth green to all but seal America’s stunning, come-from-behind victory in the 1999 Ryder Cup, the Country Club has been the sight of two of America’s most iconic, golf moments. So one can be forgiven for focusing on the history rather than the course itself. That being said: the course is brilliant. Accuracy off of the tee is paramount In order to have a chance to play into some of the smallest greens around, The bunkers, severe and well-placed, further complicate your strategic choices. Several blind tee shots over the rocky outcroppings and undulating terrain add a sense of adventure as you trod in the footsteps of history. Also possessing one of the great locker rooms in golf, a round at the Country Club is an experience that is not to be missed by any fan of golf architecture and the history of the game. Photo Credit: @Linksgems

Hirono Golf Club – Kobe, Japan – C.H. Alison

Hirono, widely regarded as Japan’s top course, is one of the tougher tee times to get anywhere in the world. Those that do garner an invite are treated to a beautiful C.H. Alison design routed over rugged terrain with multiple carries across ravines. The par-3s are usually cited as among the best holes here, but really, every hole is something to behold. The firm of Mackenzie & Ebert recently completed an excellent restoration: removing trees to widen the playing corridors, restoring bunkers, and resurfacing the greens. This wonderful course looks better than ever. Photo Credit: Fergal O’Leary

Maidstone Club – East Hampton, NY – Willie Park Jr.

One of the “Great Triumvirate” of Hamptons clubs along with National Golf Links and Shinnecock, Maidstone occupies some of the most unique land in America. The inland holes are largely dominated by Hook Pond which comes into play in a variety of ways as the fairways and greens are brilliantly angled to tempt you to bite off as much as you can chew. The stretch of holes between eight and fourteen, rightly, get most of the attention as they take you through the dunes and terrain that is as close to links land as you’ll find in America. A restoration by the team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw improved playing conditions and playability and restored some of the natural, sandy terrain. Truly one of the great places to spend a summer’s day. Photo Credit: @Linksgems

Cruden Bay Golf Club (Championship) – Aberdeenshire, Scotland – Old Tom Morris & Archie Simpson/Tom Simpson/Herbert Fowler

Set against the backdrop of the eponymous bay from which the club derived its name and the North Sea visible beyond, nestled among the towering sand dunes lies the rugged links of Cruden Bay Golf Club. Cruden Bay is best described as an adventure. As you scale the massive dunes, hitting tee shots from high above to rumpled fairways or hidden, punchbowl greens, mystery and surprise seems to be around every corner. One of those rare courses that shows you something new each time you play. What more could you ask for in a golf course? Photo Credit: @GaryLisbonGolf

Carnoustie Golf Club (Championship) – Angus, Scotland – James Braid/James Wright

Mention Carnoustie and most people would think: difficult. Its nickname, “Carnasty,” conjures images of deep rough, dastardly bunkers, and the winding Barry Burn ready to swallow all but the most expertly played shot. And it is an exacting layout, the closing three holes might be the toughest in all of championship golf, but it’s also a strategic masterpiece that rewards thoughtful play and challenges you to venture as close as you dare to its many hazards in order to best position yourself for the next shot. Added to the amazing championship history of this storied links, and it’s an experience not to be missed. We would like to propose a rule though to improve the experience: each visitor is only allowed to say “Carnasty” exactly once… Photo Credit: @GaryLisbonGolf

Pinehurst Resort (No. 2) – Pinehurst, NC – Donald Ross

The crown jewel of the “Home of American Golf,” Number Two is a constant test from tee to green as you try to position your ball in an ideal spot to attack, or simply hold, the green. The undulating greens are enough to induce PTSD as chances are, you’ll putt off of at least one during your round. Number Two, perhaps better than any other course, separates the exceptional play from the good play as mediocre shots are frequently dealt a severe consequence. The complete restoration performed by the team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw has been a revelation and has cemented Number Two as one of America’s must-play courses for anyone who enjoys the game and its history. Photo Credit: @Linksgems

Wade Hampton Golf Club – Cashiers, NC –Tom Fazio

Considered at or near the top of Tom Fazio’s impressive collection of designs (it is in this list), Wade Hampton is a wonderful mountain course laid out in the valley beneath Chimney Top Mountain. Unlike many/most mountain courses, Wade Hampton is very walkable given the gentle topography on which the course was routed and the relatively tight-knit routing. Postcard views abound as you traverse the valley, crossing winding streams, with the constant backdrop of the surrounding mountain–a truly delightful experience. Photo Credit: @LinksGems

Myopia Hunt Club – South Hamilton, MA – Herbert Leeds

Host of four U.S. Opens at the turn of the 20th Century (including the 1901 U.S. Open where the winning score of 331 still stands as a record high), Myopia has changed relatively little since. Member Herbert Leeds designed the course with deep bunkers and small, canted greens, and it plays much tougher than you would think if you simply looked at the scorecard. It’s a wonderful mix of long and short holes, blind shots, and jaw-dropping scenery. Myopia is truly one of the great, classic clubs of the world. Photo Credit: @Linksgems

Eastward Ho! – Chatham, MA – Herbert Fowler

Located on a thin stretch of land above Little Pleasant Bay, Eastward Ho! provides stunning visuals throughout the round. It also provides some of the most though provoking and unique holes you’ll ever see. Situated on land that would seem more apropos for an amusement park ride than a golf course, Eastward Ho! is a breathtaking journey that provides thrills from the first tee to the eighteenth green. A masterful restoration by Keith Foster has this beauty looking and playing better than ever. Photo Credit: @Linksgems

Waterville Golf Links – County Kerry, Ireland – Eddie Hackett/Tom Fazio

A difficult links on exceptional land with views of the Atlantic Ocean and Ballinskelligs Bay, Waterville is an Eddie Hackett design with a modern rework by Tom Fazio, an extremely rare foray into the international market. Standout holes are abundant throughout, but the course really takes off when you enter the dunes at the eleventh hole. This stretch includes the famous “Mass Hole” twelfth, where Catholic parishioners gathered for mass–hidden by the dunes–when Catholicism was outlawed by the British monarchy. Waterville is a wonderful test on enchanting ground. Photo Credit: @GaryLisbonGolf

Bethpage State Park (Black) – Farmingdale, NY – A.W. Tillinghast

Commonly referred to as “the People’s Country Club,” Bethpage is in many ways, a model for municipal golf in America. The Black course, one of five courses at the complex, is meant to be a championship test and it certainly delivers on the challenge in spades. This big, burly course has hosted two U.S. Opens, a PGA Championship, and is the future host of the Ryder Cup. Bring your “A-game” if you want to take on this magnificent, Tillinghast gem. Photo Credit: @Linksgems

New South Wales Golf Club – New South Wales, Australia – Alister MacKenzie

If you were reminded of Cypress Point when playing New South Wales Golf Club, you wouldn’t be alone. For one, they are both designed by Dr. Alister MacKenzie and two, they are both on some of the most spectacular, seaside land ever made available for golf. Starting as you crest the hill on the par-5, fifth hole, it’s a series of breathtaking shots as you play toward, along, and over the ocean and the rocky coast line. Photo Credit: @LinksGems

Seminole Golf Club – Juno Beach, FL – Donald Ross

For an architect well-known for his brilliant golf course routings, Seminole is probably Ross’s finest work. He manages to utilize the two dune ridges that bookend the property on 14 of the 18 holes all the while changing the direction of play so that the ever-present wind will affect shots in a variety of ways. While short by today’s standards, the ocean winds, firm and fast conditions, sloped greens, and penalizing bunkers have been challenging the world’s best for years and will, no doubt, help Seminole more than hold its own when the best amateurs from the USA and GB&I compete in the 2021 Walker Cup. A wonderful restoration by the team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw has seen the removal of hundreds of trees, restored bunkers, and a return to the look and feel that Donald Ross originally created. Photo Credit: @LinksGems

Whistling Straits (Straits) – Sheboygan, WI – Pete Dye

Hard to believe that this course was built on what once was a flat, relatively featureless site high above Lake Michigan. The present iteration of the land bears no resemblance to its past. That’s because Pete Dye pushed, excavated, and scraped the site to create huge dunes, hundreds of bunkers (967 according to Golf Digest…966 according to Dustin Johnson), and a topography resembling the most rugged of links courses. For most, the highlight are the par-3s–several appearing to seemingly fall into Lake Michigan. Intended to host the world’s best, this resort course is a burly challenge on a marvelous piece of shoreline. Photo Credit: @LinksGems

Bandon Dunes – Bandon, OR – David McLay Kidd

The “OG” of the Bandon Resort and the beginning of owner/developer Mike Keiser’s foray into what has become the greatest gift to the retail golfer since the advent of the Haskell ball, Bandon Dunes remains the favorite of many long-time visitors to the resort. Stand-out holes abound, especially those that hug the seaside cliffs. The fourth hole gives the golfer their first view of the ocean when they turn the corner of the dogleg and it is a spiritual experience for many. The short/driveable sixteenth is one of the most talked about and photographed at the resort. Thanks to architect David McLay Kidd for designing such a great course. Scary to think what would have happened if he hadn’t done such a fine job. Photo Credit: @LinksGems

Cape Kidnappers – Hawkes Bay, New Zealand – Tom Doak

Those with acrophobia might want to take the conservative line on the holes that sit adjacent to the cliffs high above Hawkes Bay. These vertigo-inducing vistas make Cape Kidnappers unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Letting the land movement dictate much of the strategy, Tom Doak and his crew constructed fewer bunkers than you might expect and instead, allowing the natural contours to be the course’s primary defense–especially around the green sites. Built on some of the most unique landforms in the world, Cape Kidnappers is a truly epic experience. Photo Credit: @GaryLisbonGolf

Somerset Hills Country Club – Bernardsville, NJ – A.W. Tillinghast

Many people, rightly, rave about the wonderful back nine of this well-preserved A.W. Tillinghast gem. It’s on the more interesting piece of property and is quite spectacular. However, the front nine, routed in the flatter, open area of the property, contains some of the most interesting features on the course including the redan green on the second hole, the mounding or “dolemites” on the fourth hole, and the “hell’s half-acre” hazard on the ninth hole. A decade’s worth of restoration work by @bslawgolf of @renaissancegolfdesign has this course looking its very best. A great club with a world-class course, Somerset Hills is one of New Jersey’s finest. Photo Credit: @LinksGems

Monterey Peninsula Country Club (Shore) – Pebble Beach, CA – Mike Strantz

A remodel of an original 1961 design, Mike Strantz transformed what was a run-of-the-mill course on a great piece of property into a work of art. He reshaped the land¬–adding dunes and carving waste bunkers–to create some of the most awe-inspiring views on 17 Mile Drive. The Shore Course might not be in the same neighborhood (on this list) as Cypress Point and Pebble Beach, but their kids attend the same schools. Photo Credit: @LinksGems

Sunningdale Golf Club (New) – Berkshire, England – Harry Colt

Completed in 1922, the New Course at Sunningdale Golf Club is only “new” in comparison to its older sibling. This Golden Age gem doesn’t get the recognition that the Old Course does but is preferred by many visitors upon retrospection. The two-hole stretch of the short, par-3 fifth and the par-5 sixth might be the best two-hole stretch in the London Heathlands. Photo Credit: @LinksGems

The Camargo Club – Cincinnati, OH – Seth Raynor

Camargo is built on some especially rolling terrain just miles from downtown Cincinnati. This Seth Raynor design is on the shorter side by modern standards, but the topography, fast-and-firm conditions, and Raynor’s great use of angles and bunkers negate the power player from overwhelming it completely. The par-threes, among Raynor’s best, are a sight to behold. Restoration work by Tom Doak and his Renaissance team has brought this classic back to upper echelon of Seth Raynor’s work. Photo Credit: @LinksGems

The Golf Club – New Albany, OH – Pete Dye

One of Pete Dye’s early designs (and many say his best), the Golf Club is a great example Dye’s genius. On this rather flat site, he added contouring, mounding, and waste areas to create a strategically interesting and extremely fun course to play. Not as penal as some of Mr. Dye’s later designs, save for the eighteenth hole, it is still far from a pushover. It also has one of the great locker rooms in golf providing the perfect place to enjoy a post-round cocktail while recounting your day at this wonderful club. Photo Credit: @LinksGems

Old Town Club – Winston-Salem, NC – Perry Maxwell

Rolling terrain, beautiful vistas, and those rolling Maxwell greens are just part of what makes Old Town Club so special. The masterful routing brings a creek into play on many of the holes. Shared fairway corridors, a shared green, and even a shared tee all add a unique sense of place to Old Town. A terrific restoration and tree removal by the team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw have restored Old Town to the top tier of Perry Maxwell’s brilliant designs. Photo Credit: @LinksGems

Yale Golf Course - Ray Tompkins Memorial – New Haven, CT – C.B Macdonald & Seth Raynor

Herbert Warren Wind, the greatest American golf writer and Yale alum, once described his alma mater’s course as “a back-breaking job over an untouched plot of rugged land whose hazards and greens have the kind of dimensions that one would have expected of Michelangelo.” Simply building a course in the 1920s on a site as rugged as this was an engineering marvel. Building a course this good took real genius. As you traverse the hilly terrain’s massive scale, marked by exposed rock and deep bunkers, you reach an almost euphoric state as you encounter one dramatic hole after another. With continued maintenance improvements and some restoration work, Yale could one day find itself in the top tier of any golf course ranking. Photo Credit: @LinksGems

Royal Melbourne Golf Club (East) – Black Rock, Australia – Alex Russell

It’s not often that a course as good as the East course at Royal Melbourne gets overlooked, but that is often the case as golfers flock to play the neighboring West course. That mindset is due entirely to the fame and brilliance of its sibling, and not a slight to the East. Working from Alister MacKenzie’s plans for a nine hole course that he drew while designing the West course, Alex Russell extended the plan to a full eighteen holes and built one of the great courses in the golf-rich Australian sand belt. The East course, combined with the West, is on the short-list of best 36-hole clubs in golf. Photo Credit: @LinksGems

Old Sandwich Golf Club – Plymouth, MA – Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw

This rugged, sandy site with gentle ground movement seems like it was made for golf. The course is masterfully routed and contains a wonderful variety of challenges along the way. The par-3s are particularly excellent as is the short, par-4, fifth hole which offers the golfer an all-or-nothing opportunity to drive the green over a natural ravine. A modern marvel and one of the best courses in the golf-rich commonwealth of Massachusetts. Photo Credit: @LinksGems

Pasatiempo Golf Club – Santa Cruz, CA – Alister MacKenzie

One trip around Pasatiempo is all it takes to realize why Dr. MacKenzie decided to make it his home during the last few years of his life. The land is stunning with plenty of elevation change and the ever-present arroyo which cuts through the property. Taking full advantage of this wonderful land, MacKenzie designed a strategic marvel. Brilliantly utilizing the arroyo throughout the course and using the natural slope of the land to create some of the most tilted and contoured greens you’ll ever see. Add in the typical MacKenzie bunkering which are as easy on the eyes as they are tough on the scorecard, and you have one of the great experiences in all of golf. A restoration by Tom Doak and his Renaissance Golf Design team has Pasatiempo looking and playing as close to MacKenzie's vision as possible in today's day and age. Photo Credit: @LinksGems

Southern Hills Country Club – Tulsa, OK – Perry Maxwell

From the opening tee, with a view of downtown Tulsa, to the final putt on the eighteenth hole, Southern Hills is a prime example of beauty, strategy, and fun. While not overly long, the course derives its challenge from the brilliantly designed greens whose slopes make coming in from the correct position in the fairway paramount. Host of three U.S. Opens and four PGA Championships, Southern Hills certainly has a major championship pedigree, but you don’t need to play to that standard to enjoy a day at this wonderful layout. Ongoing renovations by Gil Hanse and his crew have Southern Hills looking and playing better than ever. Photo Credit: @LinksGems

Piping Rock Club – Locust Valley, NY – C.B. Macdonald & Seth Raynor

Our first look at a course by the legendary duo of C.B. Macdonald and Seth Raynor (spoiler alert: not our last). Piping Rock is one of their few designs and remains generally intact with the exception of some lengthening and bunker work performed by Pete Dye in the 1980s. You’ll find all of the expected template holes here with the Redan and Road Hole adaptations garnering the most acclaim. Bruce Hepner has overseen some recent polishing and a return to firm and fast conditions has only brought more accolades to this old school gem. Photo Credit: @LinksGems

Kawana Hotel Golf Course (Fuji) – Honshu, Japan – C.H. Alison

In Volume Five of his Confidential Guide, Tom Doak described the land on which the Fuji course is built as “like Monterey Peninsula, but with steeper sides.” As you would imagine, the Fuji course is beautiful, but a really special course is more than just good views. Fortunately, the club had C.H. Alison who routed a brilliant course that accentuated the natural landforms and delivered a strategic masterpiece. Recent tree clearing has opened up more coastal views and it will be interesting to see if the owners invest in the course like the other top Japanese courses have been doing in recent years. Photo Credit: @LCLambrecht

Essex County Club – Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA – Donald Ross

Pair a wonderful piece of hilly property with the genius of Donald Ross (who worked as the club’s professional for a time) and you get Essex County Club. Interesting holes abound, but it’s the back-nine where things really pick up as you get into the hillier part of the property featuring rock outcroppings, blind and semi-blind shots, and enough quirk to have you running for the first tee as soon as you putt out on eighteen. Play it when the fall colors are starting to pop, and you might just think you’re in golf heaven. Photo Credit: @LinksGems

Machrihanish Golf Club – Argyll, Scotland – Charles Hunter/Old Tom Morris/Sir Guy Campbell

Remote and rugged, two words frequently used to describe this wonderful links, are indeed accurate descriptors of this course at the end of the Long Winding Road on the Mull of Kintyre on Scotland's west coust,. What they don't capture though is that Machrihanish is one of the great, unaltered links in the world. Blessed with one of the most exhilarating opening holes in golf, Machrihanish GC starts strong and keeps you engaged throughout the round as you battle a layout that has changed very little since Old Tom Morris walked these hallowed grounds. Photo Credit: @LCLambrecht

Shadow Creek – North Las Vegas, NV – Tom Fazio

In his Confidential Guide, Tom Doak called Shadow Creek “one of the great man-made wonders of the golfing world,” an apt description as every inch of this desert oasis was manufactured. Beautiful holes abound as does the man-made creek that makes its way through the course. While we tend to favor a more natural, minimalist style, this desert Shangri-La fits in perfectly in Las Vegas and is a whole lot of fun. Photo Credit: @LinksGems

Barnbougle Dunes (Lost Farm) – Tasmania, Australia – Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw

Everything about Lost Farm, the second course built at Barnbougle Dunes, is massive. The fairways, the dunes, and the ocean views — massive. Strangely though the course feels quite intimate when you are playing which is a credit to the routing that Bill Coore came up with for this stunning property. The walk amongst the dunes and along the sea is magical and the strategic questions asked on each hole will keep you engaged and excited to see what’s around the bend. Photo Credit: @LinksGems

Baltimore Country Club (East) – Timonium, MD – A.W. Tillinghast

Not one for a “gentle handshake” opener, A.W. Tillinghast stays true-to-form by hitting you with back-to-back, long par-fours which really get the blood pumping. Once you cross the road to number three, things ease a bit, but not much, this is, after all, an A.W. Tillinghast design. While the entire course is a joy to play, the two par-fives are truly exceptional. The first (the 6th) dog-legs around the maintenance shed tempting the longer player to try and carry the corner (shades of the Road Hole at St. Andrews). The second (the 14th) plays up and over a “hell’s half acre” hazard and down to a well-protected green. A recent restoration by Keith Foster has really made the East Course a “can’t miss." Photo Credit: @LinksGems

Muirfield Village Golf Club – Dublin, OH – Jack Nicklaus & Desmond Muirhead

Mention Muirfield Village and people usually think of three things: 1) Jack Nicklaus 2) the Memorial Tournament 3) the milkshakes in the locker room. If you get the chance to play MVGC, you realize what a special place it is the other fifty-one weeks of the year as well. Jack Nicklaus’s “ode to Augusta National” is a challenging journey over gently rolling terrain with some of the finest conditions around. And don’t skip the milkshakes, they’re spectacular. Photo Credit: @LinksGems

Milwaukee Country Club – Milwaukee, WI – C.H. Alison

On the banks of the Milwaukee River, which comes in to play quite a bit on the back nine, Milwaukee CC is a well-preserved, C.H. Alison standout. Blessed with wonderful ground on which to construct a golf course, Alison delivered a superb routing and a strategic marvel. This understated club is one of the “great days” in golf including what is often described as one of the best men's locker rooms in the game. Ongoing consultation by @renaissancegolf and @placekgolf have further polished this gem. Photo Credit: @LinksGems

Walton Heath Golf Club (Old) – Surrey, England – Herbert Fowler

Both courses at this 36-hole club merit attention, but it is the Old Course that truly stands out. After a rather mundane, par-three starting hole, you cross the road and get your first look at what makes Walton Heath so special. Looking out from the second tee is simply breathtaking — rolling hills, deep bunkers, and the beautiful and punitive heather as far as the eye can see. Host of the Ryder Cup in 1981 and a longtime Open Championship qualifying site, Walton Heath challenges the best in the world, but remains one of the great places to play for the club golfer. Photo Credit: @LinksGems

Kiawah Island Golf Resort (Ocean) – Kiawah Island, SC – Pete Dye

Kiawah Island Golf Resort (Ocean) – Kiawah Island, SC – Pete Dye – Awarded the 1991 Ryder Cup before construction was even finished, the Ocean Course was always intended to challenge the best in the world yet still provide an enjoyable experience for resort guests. Playing off the correct tees, the course is a fun stroll through the dunes and marshes , with plenty of challenging, yet playable holes with all the expected Dye flourishes. Now, if the wind is really blowing, all bets are off. Photo Credits: @LinksGems

Bandon Trails – Bandon, OR – Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw

Though it lacks the ocean frontage of the other courses at Bandon Dunes Resort, Trails does not lack for beauty. Traversing from the sand dunes, to the forest, and back to the sand dunes, Trails takes you on a wonderful walk through such a diverse landscape and delivers the usual strategic brilliance you would expect from the team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. Photo Credit: @LinksGems

Cabot Links – Inverness, Canada – Rod Whitman

Though its remote setting poses a logistic headwind, those who do travel to the shores of the Gulf of St. Lawrence in northwest Nova Scotia are rewarded with something special in Cabot Links. This modern-day, windswept links looks like it was lifted straight out of Scotland. From the way the course meanders out of the town, to the way that it hugs the coastline, to its strategic holes among the rumpled contours, Cabot Links is a throw-back in the best sense of the word.

Philadelphia Cricket Club (Wissahickon) – Flourtown, PA – A.W. Tillinghast

With gently rolling hills and meandering streams, Philly Cricket takes advantage of wonderful terrain for golf. A.W. Tillinghast built a gem that takes advantage of all of these features while challenging the golfer with great greens and strategic bunkering throughout. And with the tree removal during Keith Foster’s superb restoration, the Wissahickon course is a sight to behold. Photo Credit: @LinksGems

Pikewood National Golf Club – Morgantown, WV – John Raese and Bob Gwynne

As you would expect from a course designed by two Oakmont members, Pikewood National is a stern test. It’s a big, bold layout that suits its mountain setting. It also happens to be a lot of fun to play and a wonderful place to walk and enjoy the breathtaking views. Bring your “A game” and your camera. Photo Credit: @LinksGems

Garden City Golf Club – Garden City, NY – Devereux Emmet/Walter Travis

Originally designed by Devereux Emmet with later work performed by club member, architect, and legendary amateur golfer Walter Travis, Garden City is one of the finest examples of a truly great course on a flat site. Short by today’s standards, GCGC still provides a stern challenge with brilliant angles, ferocious bunkering, and the ever-present wind. A true step back in time…and one we’d happily take every day. Photo Credit: @LinksGems

Sand Valley – Nekoosa, WI – Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw

How do you get people to a resort built approximately 170 miles from the nearest major airport? Answer: you hire the team of Coore & Crenshaw to route their design among the biggest, natural sand dunes this side of the Atlantic and you let them work their magic. This sprawling course befits the large nature of the property with wide fairways, huge blow-out bunkers, and exacting greens. Throw in the firm-and-fast conditions allowed by the sand base, and you have a course that gets better with each successive play. Photo Credit: @LinksGems

Yeamans Hall Club – Charleston, SC – Seth Raynor

Largely flying under the radar, which is exactly how the members like it, Yeamans Hall is a wonderful, easily-walkable, Lowcountry Seth Raynor design with all the template holes you would expect. Add a fantastic setting with some gentle undulation (relatively uncommon to the region), a 1998 restoration by Tom Doak and a recent refreshing by Jim Urbana and you have all the makings for a perfect day of golf. Photo Credit: @LinksGems

County Sligo Golf Club – County Sligo, Ireland – Harry Colt, Alister MacKenzie, and C.H. Alison

County Sligo, or Rosses Point as it’s commonly called owing to its locality, is a picturesque links located in northwest Irealand on the shores of Sligo Bay. As one would expect from a links built by Colt, the course combines an artful routing with a sophisticated greens and strategic interest. Throw in the breathtaking panoramic views and Rosses Point shouldn’t be missed on any trip the west of Ireland. Photo Credit: @LCLambrecht

Rock Creek Cattle Company – Deer Lodge, MT – Tom Doak

What do you get when you mix the design talents of Tom Doak and the spectacular Big Sky backdrop? You get an absolute gem in RCCC. On one of the tougher sites that Tom has had to work with due to its rocky terrain and heavy soil, he and his team crafted a modern masterpiece that blends wonderfully into the surrounds that is strewn with strategic options. Photo Credit: @LinksGems

Oakland Hills Country Club (South) – Bloomfield Hills, MI – Donald Ross

The South course at Oakland Hills has one of the greatest resumes in championship golf: six U.S. Opens, two PGA Championships, a men’s and women’s U.S. Amateur, and a Ryder Cup. The course received the original “Open Doctor” treatment by Robert Trent Jones and led to Ben Hogan dubbing the course “the Monster.” Recently, the club has brought in Gil Hanse and his team to restore the course to its original, Donal Ross glory. We can’t wait to see the results. Photo Credit: @LinksGems

Royal Troon Golf Club (Old) – South Ayrshire, Scotland – Willie Fernie/James Braid

As a nine-time host of the Open Championship, Royal Troon is among the most complete tests of any major venues. Ironically, it is Troon’s wee Postage Stamp eighth hole that may be the most recognized, beloved, and feared holes in links golf. Photo Credit: @LCLambrecht

Castle Stuart Golf Links – Inverness, Scotland – Gil Hanse

There’s more than a little bit of pressure if one is going to build a modern links course in Scotland. Luckily for us, Gil Hanse was up to the challenge. The wonderful, seaside land is accentuated by a course that’s teaming with strategic options. While the fairways may be wide–and when the wind is blowing, you’ll need it–there is a distinct advantage to be gained by placing your drive in certain positions by challenging the hazards. A fine addition to the links landscape of Scotland. Photo Credit: @LCLambrecht

Royal Cinque Ports – Kent, England – Henry Hunter/James Braid/Sir Guy Campbell/Henry Cotton

Host of the 1909 and 1920 Open Championships, Royal Cinque Ports, or Deal as it is commonly called after its locality, is a classic, out-and-back links with some of the finest green sites in all of England. Thanks to the fine work by Greenskeeper James Bledge and his staff, Deal has perfect, firm and fast conditions that make links golf so much fun to play. Photo Credit: @LinksGems

Kinloch Golf Club – Manakin Sabot, VA – Lester George and Vinnie Giles

Kinloch is well known for its superb conditioning, split-fairways that offer an abundance of risk-reward, and for their wonderful staff. Recent work done to prepare Kinloch for the U.S. Mid-Amateur in September, should challenge the world’s best mid-ams while still providing a wonderful place for members and guests to enjoy a round…or many.

Bel-Air Country Club - Los Angeles, CA - George Thomas & William Bell

One of three legendary clubs in Los Angeles designed by George Thomas and William Bell (Riviera and LACC-North being the other two), Bel-Air is one of the great examples of a genius routing on a difficult site. Making use of tunnels, bridges, and even an elevator, Thomas and Bell take the golfer through multiple canyons and deliver one amazing ride with their typical bunker flair and diabolical green sites. A recent restoration by Tom Doak and his Renaissance Golf Design team was based on a fidelity to the original plan and has polished this gem to an amazing luster. Photo Credit: @LinksGems

Oak Hill (East) - Rochester, NY - Donald Ross

Oak Hill is one of the great clubs in its region, with 36 holes and an incredible Tudor-style clubhouse. The East course has a very rarefied championship pedigree: U.S. Opens (3), PGA Championships (3), U. S. Amateurs (2) and a Ryder Cup to name a few. While the East underwent some questionable modifications by Robert Trent Jones Sr. and Tom Fazio in the 1960s and 1980s, the course was recently renovated by Andrew Green, who was tasked with bringing the course back to its Ross roots. It will be interesting to see if it’s standing rises following such a return to the original plan. Photo Credit: @LinksGems