Think of it as GOLF Magazine's gift to the new millennium: the 500 Best Holes in the World Ã¢â‚¬â€ 125 par 3s, 250 par 4s, and 125 par 5s Ã¢â‚¬â€ with a total par of precisely 2000.
Next month: We pare down to the truly elite and announce the Top 100 Holes.
(U.S., Canada, Caribbean, Mexico, and South America)
Golf may not have been invented in North America, but there's no question the game has flourished there more than anywhere else. It's the stage for the world's most highly competitive professional tour, and also boasts more GOLF Magazine Top 100 golf courses than any other region. The various settings lend themselves to a wealth of great golf holes, with terrain ranging from the Canadian Rockies to the shores of the Caribbean.
3rd at The Country Club
In the early 20th century, British-born architects such as Donald Ross, Alister Mackenzie, and Stanley Thompson came to North America, bringing their knowledge of course design and passing along the secrets of the trade to the next generation of homegrown apprentices. This process has resulted in a thrilling variety of golf designs throughout the continent.
South American golf has historically been concentrated within the borders of Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela, but as our list demonstrates, that is changing: Columbia, Uruguay, and Chile have holes in the top 500.
Great Britain and Ireland
No matter their nationality, anyone who speaks the language of golf knows that, in a sense, the British Isles are their ancestral home. The game's birthplace boasts an endless collection of stunning, windblown links, from the famous to the obscure. Each has its own character and flavor, but all have one thing in common: They represent golf in its purest, most beautiful form.
In addition to the seaside links, gentle heathland courses also abound. Whether carved through the forests of southern England, like Sunningdale, or the rolling terrain of the Perth countryside in Scotland, like Gleneagles, these inland layouts are inspiring counterparts to their coastal brethren.
17th at the Old Course
Europe and Africa
Golf's growth in continental Europe during the past 30 years has been remarkable. It used to be that the British Isles were the only true golf
15th at Valderrama
The European PGA Tour has taken notice of the increased interest in golf: Tour events are now held in 10 European countries, including the Czech Republic. Some of the game's best designers are eager to meet the demand, building high-quality courses to test the pros.
In Africa, the game's presence stretches all the way from northern Morocco to Zimbabwe and South Africa, where the likes of Gary Player, Nick Price, and Ernie Els grew up playing heralded courses in often spectacular settings. Scenic coastlines, lush forests, and a warm climate all contribute to South Africa's wealth of fine layouts.
5th at New South Wales
Elsewhere, countries such as the Philippines, South KoreaÃ¢â‚¬â€even Vietnam and ChinaÃ¢â‚¬â€are catching the golf craze. Though not every Asian golf fan may get to play on world-class courses, their enthusiasm and love for the game is unquestioned.
To the south, Australia and New Zealand are like entering another world. Golf is plentiful, often moderately priced, and played quickly. British traditions ensure that the best courses in each country are at least partially accessible to visitors, with terrain ranging from the sandy soil of Melbourne to the Southern Alps in New Zealand's South Island.
The 500 World's Greatest Golf Holes