Par/length: 72/7,435 yards
TEL: 001 706 667 6000
GREEN FEE: Members only
DESIGNER: Alister MacKenzie/Bobby Jones (1933)
DESCRIPTION: When Bobby Jones retired from golf in 1930, he and Clifford Roberts looked to build a golf club. They discovered a 365-acre former fruit nursery in Augusta, where flowering plants and trees were in abundance. Construction began in 1931, and the course opened in 1933. It hosted the Augusta National Invitation Tournament in 1934, which became the Masters in 1939. Now one of the most iconic courses in golf is, sadly, also one of the most private.
Why is a golf course that’s impossible to play No. 1 on our list? It’s simple; no other course in the world has the same combination of shot values, design variety, resistance to scoring well, memorability, aesthetics, conditioning and ambience.
In recent years, Augusta National seemed to be falling out of fashion. The course had been stretched out to cater for technology, and the players, patrons and public didn’t like it.
Former Masters champions Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer berated the club for creating a beast they didn’t recognise. Fans moaned that the cheers were gone from Sunday afternoons. But the risks and rewards of Amen Corner are often cited as benchmarks when judging the shot values of any course. The greens and surrounds are among the most challenging in the game. The aesthetics and memorability are unrivalled, as the statuesque pines, blooming azaleas and dogwoods vie for a golfer’s attention with the history which can be felt with every step.
I had the good fortune to be pulled out of the annual media ballot to play the course on the Monday after the Masters in 2008. The hairs on the back of your neck stand on end as you drive down Magnolia Lane; they don’t rest again until you leave.
The difference between the Masters tees and the members’ tees is great in places – a full 100 yards on the 11th – but that takes nothing away from walking among the shadows of every great golfer ever to play the game.
There haven’t been many times on a golf course when I’ve been overwhelmed, but on walking off the 11th tee and seeing Amen Corner open out in front, I just had to stop for a couple of minutes to take it all in.
There are lots of private courses; there are lots of Major championship courses; there are lots of courses in pristine condition. But there’s only one Augusta National, and that’s why it’s our No.1 course in the world. – Chris Jones
Find the best hotels close to our No.1 course here.