What are the best golf courses in the world? The Golf World Top 100 panel ranks the finest layouts on the planet… that you can actually play.
Continuing our countdown of the best golf courses in the world, we head into the top 75 and reveal the designs that just missed out on a spot in the top half. And remember, we’ve only considered courses that are open to the public in this inaugural ranking. Head over to our ‘How we did it‘ for a full explanation of why and to see how we carried out this mammoth task!
And, once you’ve enjoyed this ranking, please do take a look at some of our others – from the best courses in England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Europe and the USA, to GB&I’s best links, the most fun courses to play and the finest resorts in Europe and the World has to offer, we’ve got it covered.
Chris Bertram, Golf World Top 100 Editor
Golf World Top 100: Best Courses in the World – 75-51
75. West Sussex
Set apart from the heathland jewels of Surrey and Berkshire, but ‘Pulborough’ is in the same class. After a relatively slow start, the front nine is decorated with fine 3s and strategic two-shotters. Pine, birch, heather and sand add up to notable obstacles – but West Sussex is more pleasure than pain.
Also play: Rye is also in this list and is a seminal links. Royal Ashdown Forest has two fine courses.
Closest cities: Between Brighton and Portsmouth.
74. Royal Hague
The Hague, Netherlands
Harry Colt’s second Dutch entry, although in truth it was his associates John Morrison and principally Charles Alison who did the work here. It sits by the seaside but as it tumbles over land with movement in it, it is different in character to our links. A fine revision by Frank Pont helps it into this list.
Also play: The Kennemer and Noordwijkse are on the same coast – plus Utrecht, inland.
Get there: Amsterdam airport 40 minutes away.
73. Sand Valley (Mammoth Dunes)
Wide fairways mean everyone gets off the tee safely. But cleverly-positioned and intriguingly-shaped hazards and other obstacles mean those seeking to match or better par need to bring their best. David McLay-Kidd has created fun for everyone.
Also play: Sand Valley is its sister course and is also in this list. Plus The Sandbox.
Get there: South Wood County Airport 25 mins.
Part of the sandbelt courses, having moved from Fisherman’s Bend in 1926 to the suburb of Cheltenham. “The course now has a remarkable set of greens with pure surfaces. The international top 100 ranking is absolutely earnt,” says Geoff Ogilvy, who rates Victoria so much he is a member.
Also play: Royal Melbourne West/East, in this 100, plus Kingston Heath and Kingswood Peninsula.
Get there: Melbourne airport 90 minutes away.
71. Jasper Park Lodge
Stanley Thompson is Canada’s great architect and this is one of his finest. It opened in 1925 as a nine-holer, but a second nine was added soon after. Elevated tees make the most of the fabulous Rocky Mountains setting, and watching your ball set off towards the peaks is a common thrill.
Also play: Banff Springs is also in this Top 100, and Black Hawk and Calgary are also worth playing.
Get there: Jasper Airport is 15 minutes away.
70. Streamsong (Black)
Opened in 2017, massive, undulating greens are the most noteworthy characteristic of Gil Hanse’s eye-popping design. They may be fairly easy to find, but getting down in two every time will be a serious challenge. Huge sandy waste areas add to the Black’s very distinctive look.
Also play: The Red and Blue are also in this ranking so there is really no reason to leave.
Get there: Jacksonville or Orlando.
69. Royal Adelaide
The club as we know it was formed in 1892 with a course at North Park Lands, but finally settled at Seaton in 1906, where Alister MacKenzie laid out the current course. Highlights are the sporty par-4 3rd and 11th, where you drive into fairway lined by sandy waste areas, then to a green within a bowl.
Also play: Westward Ho and Mount Osmond are also within striking distance of the city.
Get there: Adelaide airport is 10 minutes away.
68. Sawgrass (Stadium)
Pete and Alice Dye’s most famous creation. The husband and wife team carved TPC Sawgrass out of what previously looked like useless swamp to create one of the world’s great courses. Home of The Players and to one of the most famous holes on the planet. In its own way, a bucket list experience.
Also play: It’s in the middle of St Augustine’s strip of courses, and Streamsong is three-hours away.
Closest city: Jacksonville ideally or Orlando.
67. Royal Aberdeen
This Walker Cup and European Tour host oozes class. It is true that the front nine is the star of the show, but that is only relative – it would be the star in pretty much any links in the UK. The back nine is still of a high calibre and some panellists feel No.67 is the least Balgownie deserves. Pure class.
Also play: Cruden Bay and Trump Aberdeen in this list, plus Fraserburgh, Murcar and Newburgh.
Closest city: Aberdeen is 20 minutes away.
66. Paraparaumu Beach
Paraparaumu, New Zealand
“When we all turn to dust, Paraparaumu should still be lying there as it was when the first golfers came by.” These are the words of five-time Open champion Peter Thomson and they sum up the allure of this links of firm greens and sand dunes. Designed in 1948 by Alex Russell, a MacKenzie disciple.
Also play: Cape Kidnappers and Kauri Cliffs, along with Arrowtown.
Get there: Wellington is 100 minutes away.
65. Royal Melbourne (East)
Former pro Alex Russell and greenkeeper Mick Morcom built the East after helping Alister MacKenzie create the West. The East is slightly shorter than the West with smaller greens, but it retains the heathland characteristics of its famed sister. The opening and closing stretches are immense.
Also play: The West, in this 100, plus Victoria, Kingston Heath and Kingswood Peninsula.
Get there: Melbourne Airport is 45 minutes away.
64. Diamante Dunes
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
“You’re either playing toward the ocean, along the ocean or away from the ocean” – that’s how Davis Love describes his design in Mexico. The American has compared Diamante to a British links with the dunes and firm ground. The Pacific and natural desert is certainly a delightful setting.
Also play: El Cardonal by Tiger Woods is also on site and a contender for this list.
Get there: Cabo San Lucas is 25 minutes away.
“Woking is charming, beautiful and one of the handful of courses golfers could play the rest of their days and never tire of,” says Tour player-turned-architect Mike Clayton. We agree. Some of the best green complexes in this list, lots of strategic holes and the delights of purple heather and white sand.
Also play: Sunningdale Old/New, Walton Heath, Swinley Forest and St George’s Hill, all in this list.
Closest city: London is 50 minutes away.
62. Bandon Dunes (Trails)
It may not have the ocean views and sea breezes of its siblings (that said, the view from the 14th tee is overwhelming), but Bandon Trails has a rugged beauty of its own. The classic design and gorgeous, sandy turf is the same as you find elsewhere at Bandon Dunes, however.
Also play: Pacific Dunes, Sheep Ranch, Bandon Dunes and Old Macdonald are all also on site.
Get there: Southwest Oregon or Portland airport.
61. Royal West Norfolk
Founded in 1892, this two-ball course was designed by Holcombe Ingleby on the north Norfolk coast and has remained much the same ever since. Short, funky and memorable, Brancaster is the ultimate antidote to tedious modern golf. Entertaining, eccentric and so very loveable.
Also play: Hunstanton, five minutes away, as well as Sheringham, Royal Cromer and King’s Lynn.
Closest city: Norwich is 70 minutes away.
60. Streamsong (Red)
We rate this the No.1 course in the phenomenal resort of Streamsong. Coore-Crenshaw offer generally wide fairways and strategic bunkering. Constantly engaging with numerous great holes.
Also play: You have two more courses in this list – Black and Blue – plus Florida’s many others.
Get there: Fly to either Tampa or Orlando.
Some would have Machrihanish 20 places higher and it certainly would not look out
of place in that company. The legendary opening tee shot gets things off to a thrilling start and the front nine is packed with memorable, unique holes. The finish is sedate, and in this company, costs it a little.
Also play: Machrihanish Dunes, Dunaverty and The Machrie, plus Ardfin on Jura.
Closest city: Glasgow is two hours away.
Harry Colt features strongly in our World Top 100 and while his use of the dune ridges here is perhaps not his most famous work, we would politely suggest that it is some of his best. Rye oozes charisma and its collection of par 3s is fabulous. The two-shotters are not far behind the short holes.
Also play: West Sussex is also in this list, but you can also hop over the border to Kent’s links.
Closest city: London is two hours away.
A grand old course with the elegant touch of Alister MacKenzie. Opened in 1929 and located in Santa Cruz, California, Pasatiempo is an undulating and challenging course whose green complexes and artistic bunkers illustrate why the Doctor is revered as a master of his art.
Also play: Under an hour’s drive from Spyglass Hill and Pebble Beach, also in this list.
Closest city: San Francisco airport an hour away.
56. Castle Stuart
Gil Hanse’s work in this exquisite setting quickly gained admirers and it has proved to be an enduring success. The Scottish Open host is famously playable off the tee but more exacting closer to the green. Stirring views, especially from its higher fairways, and bags of strategy to chew on.
Also play: Nairn is within 30 minutes and then head northward to Dornoch, Skibo et al.
Closest city: Inverness is 20 minutes away.
55. Royal Cinque Ports
Overshadowed by neighbouring Sandwich and has been under-appreciated as a result, but a course at No.55 in the world clearly has enormous appeal. Fabulous undulating, fast-running terrain and cool green locations combine to produce a wealth of memorable holes at ‘Deal’. Effortlessly excellent.
Also play: Fellow Open hosts Royal St George’s and Prince’s are virtually walkable from Deal.
Closest city: London is two hours away.
Quirky holes, a lovely setting and more history than anywhere else… what more
do you want? Prestwick ought to be revered more than it is, and is an essential visit for all discerning golfers. Fun from the moment you pull a 7-iron out for your opening blow of the round… and, no, the 1st isn’t a par 3.
Also play: Turnberry Ailsa to the south and Troon is also in this list. Western Gailes just outside it.
Get there: Glasgow is around an hour away.
53. Utrecht de Pan
Harry Colt didn’t just weave his magic in Britain and Ireland – he is revered for his work in the Netherlands, too. Here, he laid out a heathland as good as almost anything in Surrey. An exquisite and forgiving experience among the pines and heather. Nice recent revisions by Frank Pont.
Also play: Royal Hague, Kennemer, Noordwijkse, Hilversumsche and Rosendaelsche.
Get there: Amsterdam airport is 90 minutes away.
52. Lahinch (Old)
This double-page spread is blessed with three of the most interesting, atmospheric and eccentric courses in the world. This one is Ireland’s, where the blind par-3 ‘Dell’ and par-5 ‘Klondyke’ are the highlights of a links full of holes that live with you forever. Super views too, but mainly epic holes.
Also play: Doonbeg is half an hour to the south and Ryder Cup host Adare Manor nearby too.
Closest city: Shannon is a 50-minute drive.
51. St Enodoc (Church)
Magnificent first hole sets the tone for the Church, and the tempo is maintained for almost all of the round. There is a quiet corner on the back nine but that just lets you grab your breath, ready for the rollercoaster finish. Some of England’s most memorable holes and a super setting, too.
Also play: Perranporth, Royal North Devon, Saunton East and West are all on that coastline.
Closest city: Plymouth, a 90-minute drive away.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chris Bertram is the Golf World Top 100 Editor.
He was born and brought up in Dumfriesshire and has been a sports journalist since 1996, initially as a junior writer with National Club Golfer magazine.
Chris then spent four years writing about football and rugby union for the Press Association but returned to be Editor and then Publisher of NCG before joining Golf World and Today’s Golfer as Senior Production Editor.
He has been freelance since 2010 and when he is not playing and writing about the world’s finest golf courses, he works for BBC Sport.
A keen all-round sportsman, Chris plays off 11 – which could be a little better if it wasn’t for hilariously poor lag putting which has to be seen to be believed.