What trends have you seen in GOLF’s Top 100 Courses in the world rankings?

by | Nov 22, 2021 | Golf Clubs


GOLF’s course evaluation panel

November 22, 2021

Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Gary W waiter

GOLF’s top 100 students are some of the most respected and well-traveled course reviewers in the game. They also like to share their opinion. In this GOLF.com series, we will unlock your unvarnished views on all course-related issues. Check out the latest Top 100 Golf Courses in the US, Top 100 Golf Courses in the World, Top 100 Golf Courses You Can Play, Best Community Golf Courses, and Top 100 Short Courses. Meet all of our top 100 panelists here.

The new GOLF Ranking of the World’s Top 100 Golf Courses is out, and while Pine Valley continues to rank # 1, there has been a lot of movement on the list, with some courses falling, others rising, and seven newbies on the list. If you look at the entire list, what trends or other takeaways do you notice?

Steve Lapper (played 84 of the World Top 100): The list is a continuation of the recognition of architectural brilliance. Whether restoring once great designs or unique modern works, excellence counts. The elevation of an Oakland Hills or Southern Hills and the recognition of a Myopia Hunt Club or Ohoopee Match Club are examples of this. I believe our list does the best job of realizing which trends are worth shining in the spotlight and which ones seem worth phasing out. Artificial mandates (e.g. resistance to scoring) are missing and instead the focus is (rightly) on features that, when combined, arouse interest for every level of play. Dangers made and extreme conditioning do exactly the opposite. Tight, difficult golf is for a small minority of golfers – wider, more fun, more interesting, yet strategic golf is for the rest of us.

John Cornish (played 92 of the World Top 100): This is the third such list I’ve been a part of, and they’ve gotten better every time. As we’ve seen over the past five years, clubs must stay on their toes and commit to constant improvement to maintain their place among the best in the world. Large championship courses like Southern Hills, Oak Hill, and Oakland Hills are being revitalized while established clubs like Cal Club (more than 10 years ago) and Old Town Club invest in their property, and brilliant examples of old architecture with a modern twist.

Gordon Dalgleish (played 73 of the World Top 100): With the exception of a handful of “forever” courses, the need to remain relevant was greater than ever before if a course is to maintain its “position” in the ranking. There was a worldwide succession of outstanding new courses with top 100 certificates that put pressure on the existing list. Renovations can range from tree removal to complete overhauls, but the underlying theme of ranking success is “shiny new toy”. I only see this as a trend in the coming years, as the newcomers (1980 and later) reinvent themselves for their respective memberships.

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