Architects’ Choice: 10-6

Architects’ Choice: 10-6
Toby Ingleton
By Toby Ingleton

Over the past nine days, we have been counting down which courses have made it into the top 100 of our Architects’ Choice Top 100 Golf Courses in the World, as voted for by over 240 golf course architects from 28 countries across the globe.

But which courses do the architects themselves rank as the best?

Today we enter the top ten, with courses No. 10-6 revealed:

10. Royal Melbourne (West)
Victoria, Australia
Alister MacKenzie, Alex Russell, 1931

“As a proud Australian I feel confident that my assessment of Royal Melbourne’s West course as the world’s best is not simply a jingoistic knee-jerk, but rather a worthy assessment of a brilliant course design by MacKenzie and Alex Russell,” says Neil Crafter.
“A true classic, Royal Melbourne with its enviable pedigree has a refined but commanding air. Exceptional in every regard, it is a privilege to study and play this superb course,” says Lyne Morrison.

9. Royal Dornoch
Inverness-shire, Scotland
Tom Morris, John Sutherland, 1886

Ron Kern of Golf Design Group says: “No question that Royal Dornoch’s Championship course is my choice for the number one golf course in the world. Never would I tire of playing golf across these links on this historic, timeless golf course. Dornoch’s fourteenth, Foxy, is hands down one of the greatest natural golf holes in the world.”
Stuart Rennie says: “Growing up in the Highlands and being a member at Dornoch inspired me to the career path I am now on. Dornoch is my ‘home of golf’.”

8. Pebble Beach
California, USA
Jack Neville, Douglas Grant, 1919

Jack Neville and Douglas Grant were amateur golfers hired by Samuel Morse to design a one-of-a-kind golf course at Pebble Beach. Neville told the San Francisco Chronicle: “Years before it was built, I could see this place as a golf links. Nature had intended it to be nothing else. All we did was cut away a few trees, install a few sprinklers, and sow a little seed.” A long roll-call of designers – including Herbert Fowler, the team of Robert Hunter, Chandler Egan and Alister MacKenzie, then Jack Nicklaus and most recently Arnold Palmer – have since also left their mark.

7. Shinnecock Hills
New York, USA
Willie Davis, William Flynn, 1894

The original 12 hole course laid out by Willie Davis in 1894 was expanded and altered by Willie Dunn, then Charles Blair Macdonald and Seth Raynor. A more substantial redesign, and to some extent relocation, was undertaken by William Flynn in 1934. W. Bruce Matthews says: “Shinnecock Hills is situated on the bluff of Long Island where wind is always part of the game. The three-hole sequence routing, that takes advantage of various wind directions, is the best I have seen. The course is challenging but not overly difficult. It just feels good playing on a cool windy day. For those reasons Shinnecock is number one for me.”

6. Royal County Down

County Down, Northern Ireland
George Baillie, Tom Morris, 1889

Mike Wood says: “Its quirks, including the blind drives, are all the result of the original dune landscape, not from the hand of the architect. The golfing landscape works at every level: in detail – the distinctive bunker style with fringes of dune grasses and heather (the template for mostly inferior imitations throughout the world), on a larger scale – the almost total visual isolation of each hole, each within its own topographic setting, and at the largest scale – some of the most inspiring off-course views imaginable, perhaps uniquely combining coastline with immediately adjacent and impressive mountains.”
Graham Cooke adds: “Royal County Down is a wondrous course, each new hole greatly anticipated by the golfer. At any time the scenery of deep wind-blown vegetation, startling, powerful dunes or the quiet procession of gentle waves reaching the Irish coast are there for the golfer to absorb.”

Check the website tomorrow as we reveal which course appear at No. 5, No. 4 and No. 3 on our Top 100 list.

A full report of the Top 100 – including the observations of golf course architects – will be sent to Golf Course Architecture monthly e-mail newsletter subscribers on July 12th. Sign up for free by entering your email address in the e-mail newsletter box on the home page of this website.

Architects’ Choice: 100-91| 90-81 | 80-71 | 70-61 | 60-51 | 50-41 | 40-31 | 30-21 | 20-11 | 10-6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 1 | the full report