The mandate for our 2007 rankings of the Top 100 Courses in the U.S. and World is simple: Our panel has rejected the ABC ("Another Big Course") syndrome. Drama still strikes a chord, but playability, strategic options and charm are what's hot in our 15th edition of the most comprehensive rankings of the world's best golf courses. If your favorite course carves out a new set of back tees every time the Tour comes to town, or splashes more money than character across its inevitably pristine fairways, then you may see a warning light flickering that its engine is about to overheat.
That's not to say easy does it. After all, the king of the bad boys, Pine Valley, retains the World No. 1 ranking, Augusta National stays at No. 4 (500 more yards and at least as many trees notwithstanding), and Oakmont leapfrogs into the Top 10, despite yip-inducing greens that make grown men cry. However, these are three courses that combine tribulation with personality. In particular, panelists rewarded Oakmont for its daring restoration that removed nearly every tree on the course, illuminating the heathland look that creator H.C. Fownes intended. Ireland's Lahinch rose 13 spots to number 54, thanks to a Martin Hawtree redo that brought back much-lauded features from the 1927 Alister MacKenzie layout. Friar's Head, a minimalist design from Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw in the dunes of Long Island, took 2007's biggest jump, catapulting from 74th in the world to 33rd.
Pete Dye once said, "Golfers just love punishment," but we believe you'd like to have some fun, too. Proof is that of the eight newcomers to the World Top 100 list, six check in at less than 7,000 yards and five are under 6,600.