Every two years the attention of the golf world turns to the editorial staff of Golf.com magazine, awaiting the publication of the new ranking of the 100 best courses in the world. The new ranking for the two-year period '23-'24 was published in recent days, with many confirmations and some news.
Golf courses, Top 100
This ranking, like all the others, is obviously not perfect. Judging a golf course is very subjective and often depends on the general experience you have during the trip and during the day you play.
However, the Golf.com ranking is recognized globally as the best and as the standard to refer to. This is above all because the raters, i.e. those who judge the courses, are 115 golf experts who work in the most varied areas of the golf world and are obliged to visit a minimum number of courses during the two-year period.
In the other rankings most raters are normal people who pay a very high fee for the privilege of playing private courses. Quoting Ran Morriset, editor-in-chief of the rankings and an expert editor of golf course architecture: “For the new ranking of the best 100 courses in the world, each judge was given a list of 504 courses to evaluate.
Obviously, to evaluate the route the rater must demonstrate that he has visited it recently, and the minimum number of routes to evaluate is 150. The vote consists of inserting the course into one of the 11 categories: starting from top 3 in the world, then 4- 10, 11-25, 26-50 and so on until the last option which is to not consider the course among the top 100 in the world.
The final ranking is then drawn up with an average of all the votes. It is a deliberately very simple and direct method. “ This simple voting process, and careful selection of judges, allows Golf.com to consistently produce the most reliable rankings of the best courses in the world.
The top of the list hasn't changed a bit, with Pine Valley firmly in first place and no major changes in the top 50. The new edition, however, sees five new entries, including two existing courses that enter the rankings for the first time, and three that have just been inaugurated.
The newly opened courses are Te Arai (South) in New Zealand and Point Hardy on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, designed by Coore&Crenshaw, and The Lido, the course we talked about in this article, originally designed by C.B.
MacDonald and brought back to life by Tom Doak. The new entries among the existing courses are Royal Cinque Ports, a British links with more than 130 years of history, and Lofoten Links, a wonderful Norwegian course located among the cliffs of the Arctic Circle.
Analyzing the list of the 100 best routes in the world, the quantity of routes in the United States immediately stands out. In the ranking there are in fact 49 courses in the USA, followed by the United Kingdom with 26, Australia with 7, Ireland with 4, New Zealand with 3 and France, Japan and Canada with 2.
The age of the various courses is very uneven and clearly indicates the qualitative differences in the history of golf course architecture: 70 of the best 100 courses in the world were built before the Second World War. Of the remaining 30, 26 were built after 1995, the year Sand Hills opened.
In a list dominated by American camps it is inevitable that many of them are inaccessible to the public. Among the 100 fields in the list, 45 are private. For the last two decades the world of golf course architecture has been dominated by Tom Doak and the Coore&Crenshaw duo.
The two architecture firms are the first choice of anyone who has good land and wants to build a golf course, and this data is reflected in the new ranking. As mentioned before, of the top 100 golf courses in the world, 25 are “modern courses”.
Of these 25, nine bear the signature of Doak, and eight that of Coore & Crenshaw, followed by Gill Hanse with three fields. Continental Europe has never had a large presence in the rankings, and as time passes there are fewer and fewer courses in the Top 100.
This is partly because the majority of our courses were built between the Second World War and the 1990s, a period certainly not famous for the quality of the golf courses being built, and because many coastal lands that could host wonderful courses are protected by the laws of the European Union.
For this reason the addition of Lofoten Links and the fact that Les Bordes is still present in the ranking are two excellent news. Added to these are the famous Morfontaine near Paris and Royal Hague in Holland. A negative note is the exclusion in the last list of Utrecht De Pan, a wonderful Dutch route which in my opinion deserves the Top 50.