Golf Course rankings can be quite divisive things. There are some pretty awful ones out there (c.r. the latest Golf Digest effort) as well as some slightly eccentric ones (Planet Golf has Augusta at number 14 which raises a few eyebrows).
However, in at attempt to come up with a definitive list of the top golf courses in the world (some people would genuinely abhor the idea but what the hell, others will quite like it) I have aggregated the most comprehensive lists I could find into a ‘poll of polls’. Recent updates from Golf Digest and Planet Golf have led to two stunning looking new entries in the top 20 and a few shifts at the top.
Cape Wickham, off the Australian cost, enters in 16th place and Cabot Cliffs in Nova Scotia at number 17. Cape Wickham is the creation of Darius Oliver, while Cabot Cliffs is a Coore and Crenshaw design. These courses have only been rated in 2 of the publications (one of them Oliver's own!) so I have tweaked the methodology a little to accommodate them but everything I read says their high rankings will be justified. What’s also great is that unlike so many of the new top courses these are accessible to all, at very reasonable prices. The only problem is working out how to get there……….
Actually, while for those of us in Europe Cape Wickham may be something of a forlorn hope I am vaguely thinking that Cabot is doable. It is almost as handy for those of us in Europe as it is for those on the West coast of the US in fact. There are flights to Halifax daily from the UK (including from Glasgow). The flight only takes 6 hours there and 5 back and the time difference to the UK is only 4 hours so jetlag shouldn’t be too bad. When you get there it’s another 3 hours by road to Cabot so it makes for a long day, but I suspect the reward when you get there is worth it. There are two courses at Cabot. The Links is ranked at number 92 as well so it would definitely be a trip which guarantees some high class golf! I’m considering it for a weekend trip in 2017 so will let you know how it goes.
Looking to the future, there are some other courses on the horizon which may well get on the list before too long. Coore and Crenshaw are doing their thing again at Sand Valley, Wisconsin, which opens up in 2017. The initial pictures look great and there are some cracking reviews in. The Australian architect behind Ellerston (ranked 70) is building something spectacular at Ardfin in the remote Scottish Island of Jura. Now, it’s not clear at this stage what the model is going to be in terms of being able to play Ardfin but golf course architecture buffs are salivating at the pictures coming out from it.
Elsewhere, there has been a bit of distinction at the top. Shinnecock and Augusta were tied in the last rankings at joint 4th but Shinnecock has pulled ahead just a little. I managed to play it a few weeks ago so will be reporting back on the site before too long.
For every new entry, there has to be a drop out and the European and Mid Ocean Club both fell out of the list this time. That leaves Quaker Ridge and Kauri Cliffs on the bubble in 99th and 100th place; with the quality of new golf courses being knocked out these days expect more changes soon!
If you want to have a look at the full list then you’ll find it here and it will be interesting to see how it evolves in the months and years ahead!