Golf Magazine has released their 18th biennial celebration of the Top 100 Courses in the U.S. and the World, calling the list a “global blast—even if it’s not exactly a surprise party.” A mix of the old, the new and the newly rediscovered infuses this Top 100 with diversity—including no fewer than three Nicklaus Design layouts ranked in the U.S.; one ranked worldwide; and eight listed among the best courses you can play for 2017-18.
Golf Magazine’s list of the Top 100 Golf Courses in the U.S. included three layouts involving the acclaimed design work of Jack Nicklaus: No. 28, Muirfield Village Golf Club (also a World 100); No. 45, Harbour Town Golf Links; and No. 59, Sebonack. Nicklaus also helped restore No. 85, Scioto Country Club—the course located in the Golden Bear’s hometown of Columbus, Ohio, and where Nicklaus, beginning at age 10, learned the game from Jack Grout.
Conceived by Jack Nicklaus in 1966 to be his hometown equivalent of his idol Bob Jones’ Augusta National, No. 28 Muirfield Village Golf Club debuted in 1974 as a collaboration with the late Desmond Muirhead. The Central Ohio layout was an instant smash, as much for its strategic design as for its flawless conditioning. Equally impressive was how Nicklaus seamlessly integrated spectator areas into the closing holes, using hillsides and amphitheater-style mounding to provide patrons with clear views of tournament play. The course annually plays host to the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide on the PGA TOUR—a layout highly regarded by players for the challenge and beauty of its design, as well as the hospitality of host and founder Jack Nicklaus and his family. In addition to ranking No. 28 on Golf Magazine’s top-100 list in the U.S., Muirfield Village Golf Club ranked 58th on the magazine’s list of the Top 100 Golf Courses in the World.
Harbour Town Golf Links, a Hilton Head, S.C. layout, ranked No. 45 on the list of the Top 100 Golf Courses in the U.S. It is celebrated as the first of almost 300 designs by Jack Nicklaus, and just like Muirfield Village, Harbour Town has been a favorite of PGA TOUR pros since opening in 1969 as host of the RBC Heritage. Harbour Town boasts an iconic candy cane-striped lighthouse that backs the 18th hole. A place of subtle beauty, this is a shotmaker’s paradise, where power takes a backseat to precision. Mixing live oaks, lagoons, tiny greens, bunkers banked by railroad ties, and a closing stretch along the Calibogue Sound, this collaboration by Jack Nicklaus and Pete Dye delights and challenges players at every turn. And while Harbour Town Golf Links did not make Golf Magazine’s list of the Top 100 Golf Courses in the World, the magazine considers it a “Bubble Course,” ranking it No. 101 on a list of 15 courses that barely missed the cut.
Jack Nicklaus and Tom Doak meshed their design skills to create Sebonack, No. 59 on the top-100 list. The Southampton, N.Y., layout is a seaside gem that overlooks the Great Peconic Bay. Competitors at the 2013 U.S. Women’s Open were greatly tested by undulating greens, and by memorable holes such as the downhill, dogleg left 11th; the short, bunker-strewn par-4 5th; and the superb par-5 18th, which plays parallel to the Bay.
In addition to its lists of the Top 100 Golf Courses in the U.S. and in the World, Golf Magazine announced the Top 100 Courses You Can Play. The list of public and resort courses includes eight Nicklaus Design layouts. Represented are Harbour Town Golf Links (No. 9); Pronghorn Resort (No. 38); Great Waters at Reynolds Lake Oconee (No. 41); Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point (No. 43); Manele Golf Course (No. 44); May River Golf Club at Palmetto Bluff (No. 52); Reynolds Lake Oconee (No. 63); and the Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort (No. 86).
Compiling Golf Magazine’s lists of the Top 100 Courses in the U.S. and the World involves lots of math—and plenty of play. Magazine rankings are determined by a 100-member international panel representing 18 countries. Voters include major championship winners, Ryder Cup players, architects, leading amateurs, administrators, journalists, photographers, and more than a dozen connoisseurs who’ve managed to play all of the world’s Top-100 courses. Although there are no set-in-stone criteria they must follow, Golf Magazine lends confidence in the panel’s sense of what constitutes “greatness” in a course. Each panelist evaluates a ballot of 522 courses, and points are accrued based on how the panelists rank them.
A course earns 100 points if it is ranked between Nos. 1 and 3 on a panelist’s list. Courses ranking Nos. 4 through 10 on a panelist’s list receive 85 points. The lower the ranking through 250, the lower the points a course can accrue, stopping with zero awarded points once a course ranks 251 or below on a panelist’s list.