Following on from the recent ‘Top 10 Favourite Courses’ series of articles, I am delighted to say that renowned architect David McLay Kidd has given me his list with a twist - the top 10 courses you might not have heard of! David has established himself as one of the top golf designers in the world, with courses such as Bandon Dunes, Mammoth Dunes and Macrahanish Dunes to his name. This is a man who doesn’t mind a dune! Over to David:
Of all the questions we golf course designers are asked by enthusiastic golfers I’m betting the “What’s your Top 10 courses” is the most frequent. I’m guessing the list every golf architect gives added together wouldn’t span more than 30 courses and every one would include Cypress Point, Pine Valley and Royal County Down.
I thought maybe I could put a twist on the usual list and see if I could find a Top 10 your readers might not have heard of... yet!
Shiskine, Arran, Scotland (click title for link)
12 holes on the Isle of Arran, between Turnberry and Machrihanish to locate it in golf geography. Quirky, beautiful, unexpected, great features for any golf course.
Dunaverty, Argyll, Scotland
18 holes but very short. The imagination of the layout is fantastic, it breaks many of the written rules of golf architecture - blind doglegs, drives over the crest of a hill, square small greens. Once played, never forgotten.
The heathland courses of Surrey, like Sunningdale and Swinley Forest, are not the only heathland courses in the South of England. Aldeburgh Golf Course lies along the Alde River in Suffolk. It is raw, natural, strikingly beautiful and a challenge in the sea breeze.
Rustic Canyon, California
The name says it all. Lying in a tight canyon in Southern Canyon this relatively modern course was created on a low budget but high imagination. Superb strategy on every hole, proving that creativity beats budget almost every time.
Queens Course, Gleneagles, Scotland
The less well-known sibling of the Kings and Centenary Courses at the famed resort in Perthshire. I played most of my golf on this course as a kid when my father was the Golf Course and Estate Manager. This course more than any other taught me that position and distance control are more important than distance alone.
Wine Valley, Walla Walla, Washington.
A modern course, framed by the Wine Region of Eastern Washington, it is a challenge to get to (most of my list is) but it’s worth it. Scene of my first hole-in-one, the fastest greens I think I’ve ever played. I’d say this is the first on my list that’s better suited to a lower handicapper, it plays long and demands precision to score.
Huntsman Springs, Driggs, Idaho
I can’t make a Top 10 list without including one of my own. Not widely known, but critically acclaimed, this course wends its way through over 50 acres of wetlands, creeks and shallows formed by meltwaters coming off the Teton Mountains in Idaho.
Victoria, Melbourne, Australia
Every bit as visually striking as Royal Melbourne and, I thought, a better walking course. Victoria lies within the sand belt outside Melbourne and plays firm and fast. Unlike some other classics nearby, the trees have been kept at bay.
The biggest dunes I’ve seen on a golf course. A single greenkeeper keeps the greens in great condition and mother nature does the rest. If you want wild terrain, wild weather and a wild time, this is the place.
Comporta Dunes, Portugal
My business is fraught with projects that might have been. In 2012 we got this course half finished before the developer went to prison on fraud charges. Set in virgin dunes that go on for miles and miles south of Setubal this course would be a contender if it could ever find someone willing to finish it.