Architects’ Choice: 50-41

Architects’ Choice: 50-41
Toby Ingleton
By Toby Ingleton

We’re counting down the Golf Course Architecture Architects’ Choice Top 100 Golf Courses in the World, as voted for by over 240 golf course architects from 28 countries across the globe.

Today we reveal which courses feature in positions 50-41 on our list:

50. Tobacco Road
North Carolina, USA
Mike Strantz, 1998

Tobacco Road is a thrilling and unconventional neighbour to Pinehurst on the site of a former sand quarry. Brandon Johnson of Arnold Palmer Design Company says: “This is the most fresh and unique twist or interpretation of golf course design I have experienced. I love how the reinterpreted aesthetic vision balances sound strategic principles with new or daring ways to play the course and holds this truly remarkable vision together. It is also incredibly fun to play. The visual intimidation or ‘play on optics’ burned images in my mind that are still crystal clear almost ten years later. Truly a masterpiece.”

49. Friar’s Head
New York, USA
Bill Coore, Ben Crenshaw, 2003

Friar’s Head is the newest of the cluster of Long Island courses that feature in our Top 100. First viewing the site in 1997, it took Coore and Crenshaw multiple visits and many months to finalise the routing, which transitions between natural rolling sand dunes and former farmland.

48. Metropolitan
Victoria, Australia
JB Mackenzie, 1908

Metropolitan was initially designed by a lesser known Mackenzie, JB, but Dr Alister left his mark after visiting in 1926. Randy Russell says: “I consider it the best relatively flat golf course I have ever played. Its bunkers not only create interesting strategic choices but are some of the most interesting and beautiful I have ever seen.”

47. Whistling Straits (Straits)
Wisconsin, USA
Pete Dye, 1999

Sculpted along two miles of Lake Michigan coastline, the distinctive bunker-riddled Straits course became globally recognised after its starring role in the 2004 PGA Championship, which it hosted just five years after opening.

46. Bethpage (Black)
New York, USA
AW Tillinghast, 1936

The first publicly-owned course to host a US Open, the Black is severely bunkered and extremely long. Tillinghast designed three of the five courses at Bethpage State Park, and Rees Jones’s firm conducted a thorough renovation of the Black in advance of the 2002 US Open.

45. Valderrama

Cadiz, Spain
Robert Trent Jones, 1985

The highest placed course from continental Europe in our Top 100, Valderrama is the legacy of Jaime Ortiz-Patino, the industrialist who in 1985 bought the Las Aves club and worked with Robert Trent Jones to transform it into Valderrama. Its famous cork oak trees frequently dictate playing strategy.

44. Castle Stuart
Highland, Scotland
Gil Hanse, Mark Parsinen, 2009

Known for its wide playing areas which don’t overly punish the higher handicap golfer, but still provide a test capable of challenging the world’s best. Of the courses built in the last ten years, Castle Stuart ranks highest in our Top 100. Architect Gil Hanse has since been awarded the most talked-about contract in golf design, for the 2016 Olympics course in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

43. New South Wales
New South Wales, Australia
Alister MacKenzie, Eric Apperly, 1928

Set among sand hills that slope down to the Pacific Ocean, New South Wales really shows its teeth when the wind blows. MacKenzie created the routing and bunkering plan during his 1926 visit, but Australian amateur golfer-turned-architect Eric Apperly is credited for subsequent changes – including the famous par three sixth hole – that defined the course’s character.

42. Chicago
Illinois, USA
Charles Blair Macdonald, Seth Raynor, 1894

Having attended college in Scotland, Macdonald returned to Chicago with a set of clubs and in 1892 laid out the first 18-hole course in North America. Chicago Golf Club was formed and moved to its current site in Wheaton in 1894. To cope with advancing technology, Macdonald asked his protégée Seth Raynor to reroute and redesign the course in 1923. With classic hole designs and challenging greens on an otherwise relatively flat and featureless setting, Chicago exudes golf purity.

41. Royal Troon
South Ayrshire, Scotland
George Strath, Willie Fernie 1888

This Open Championship venue was formed in 1878 and by 1888 had eighteen holes, with the first two club professionals Strath and Fernie instrumental in their design. Golf architect Stuart Rennie says: “A links course where the wind can play havoc. The natural dune landform and pot bunkers provide strategic challenge, the back nine is a fantastic stretch of golf especially on a windy final day the Open.”

Check the website tomorrow for the courses that made it into positions 40-31 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