Architects’ Choice: 90-81

Architects’ Choice: 90-81
Sean Dudley

Over the next two weeks we’ll be 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 90-81 on our list:

90. Wentworth (West)
Surrey, England
Harry Colt, 1926

Although the routing remains the same, the recent renovation of Wentworth’s West course by Ernie Els with architect Greg Letsche has transformed this Harry Colt layout, now characterised by its deep, muscular bunkering.

89. St George’s Hill
Surrey, England
Harry Colt, 1913
Perhaps the first example of an integrated golf and housing development, St George’s Hill set a standard that is unmatched since. Colt designed two courses here, the first of which still exists in full, the second reduced to nine holes (the current ‘Green’ nine) in the 1940s. 

88. Cabo Del Sol (Ocean)
Baja California Sur, Mexico
Jack Nicklaus, 1994

Combining the best of desert and coastal golf, Cabo Del Sol’s Ocean course is one of just two Central American courses in the Top 100 list. In 2010/11 the club made significant changes to the fifth, sixth and seventh holes, taking play closer to the sea. Jim Lipe, who worked with Nicklaus to create the new holes, said: “With water crashing all around you on the sixth green and seventh tee, the connection to the ocean is greatly enhanced”. 

87. The Berkshire (Blue)
Berkshire, England
Herbert Fowler, 1928

Both courses at The Berkshire received votes from architects, but it was perhaps surprisingly the Blue that made it into our Top 100. Famously opening with a tough par three over a deep heather-filled hollow, the course winds its way through the pine that has matured since the golf course was first laid out on open heath.

86. Rye
East Sussex, England
Harry Colt, 1895

Harry Colt was a young solicitor when he was elected captain of Rye and laid it its original course, before going on to become one of the most influential golf architects of all time. Rye was subsequently reworked by Tom Simpson and Sir Guy Campbell and is now a par 68, with five par threes and a single par five. 

85. Chantilly (Vineuil)
Tom Simpson, 1909

Tom Simpson arrived at Chantilly in the 1920s to design a second 18 holes, and at the same time reworked the original Vineuil course. The course was severely damaged during the Second World War, but was subsequently restored and later, in the 1980s, reworked by Donald Steel. The course is characterised by its challenging bunkering and, despite the surrounding forest, spacious feel. 

84. Bandon Trails
Oregon, USA
Bill Coore, Ben Crenshaw, 2005

A journey through dunes, meadow and forest, Bandon Trails was the third eighteen built at the Bandon Dunes resort. “In the profession of golf architecture all one can ask for is to be given an extraordinary site and the freedom to work with it. Mike Keiser has afforded both at Bandon Trails,” says Bill Coore on the club’s website. “We have tried to tread softly on this spectacular landscape, laying out a golf course that required little alteration to the site while providing golf as diverse as the land itself.”  

83. Pasatiempo
California, USA
Alister MacKenzie, 1929

Following their design partnership at Cypress Point, Pasatiempo founder Marion Hollins presumably found the decision to hire Dr Alister MacKenzie to design a new course on the sand hills overlooking the Monterey Bay quite easy. Almost 70 years later, the discovery of a collection of historic slides prompted the club to embark upon a restoration of MacKenzie’s original design, choosing Renaissance Golf Design for this ten-year project. 

82. Saunton (East)
Devon, England
Herbert Fowler, 1919

The East course at Saunton began life in the 1890s, but it was Herbert Fowler’s work in 1919 that has the greatest impact on the course as we see it today. The course is typified by the holes that run through dunes, giving each a sense of happy isolation and providing a stern test that many feel is worthy of an Open Championship. 

81. St George’s
Stanley Thompson, 1929

Throughout its eighty-plus year history, the golf course at St George’s has had a seamless design history, beginning with Stanley Thompson and passing first to his design associate Robbie Robinson, who oversaw significant changes to the course in the 1960s and, before his death in the 1980s, handed the reins over to business partner Doug Carrick. St George’s rolling topography and outstanding routing, combined with the fine bunkering handled largely by then Carrick associate Ian Andrew, make it the highest placed Canadian course on our 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