Streamsong (Red), No. 52 U.S.
Compared to its sibling Blue course, the Red course at Streamsong is tighter and offers more drama, perhaps giving it the edge among those seeing each course just once. For its collection of superb holes, Streamsong Red earns the distinction of highest-debuting U.S. course.
2 of 14Larry Lambrecht
Streamsong (Blue), No. 62 U.S.
Doak’s design strikes most as the more natural of the two Streamsong courses, with holes that seem to bubble up out of the sandscape. The contouring of the putting surfaces and green surrounds is particularly inspired. Don’t sing the blues for the Blue: It’s ranked only 10 notches below the Red (for now) and is already one of America’s best courses.
3 of 14Larry Lambrecht
Forest Dunes, No. 72 U.S.
With its early financial woes behind it, Forest Dunes has established itself as one of the best offerings in Michigan. Two and a half hours northwest of Detroit, this 1999 Tom Weiskopf design finally opened in 2002, alternating between public and private for years. Now semi-private, this tranquil layout blends open holes that ease past man-made sand dunes with forested tests slashed by wetlands.
4 of 14Kirk H. Owens
Eastward Ho!, No. 78 U.S.
Architect Herbert Fowler left his imprint on “Old” England with designs such as Walton Heath and the Berkshire. His sole foray into New England yielded 1922’s Eastward Ho!, a lay-of-the-land Cape Cod beauty that overlooks the aptly named Pleasant Bay. Fescue-fringed holes tumble up and over small ridges, providing maximum variety and an Old World look.
5 of 14Larry Lambrecht
Aronimink, No. 82 U.S.
Set into a rolling, wooded tract in suburban Philadelphia, Donald Ross’s Aronimink rose to prominence after hosting the 1962 PGA, won by Gary Player. A series of ill-conceived alterations subsequently destroyed much of the Ross character, until a spot-on restoration by Ron Prichard in 2003 righted the ship.
6 of 14John R. Johnson
Fox Chapel, No. 88 U.S.
In and around Pittsburgh, Oakmont dominates the talk of great local courses, but Fox Chapel has entered the discussion. Tom Lehman recently tabbed Fox Chapel as one of the three best courses on the Champions Tour — it hosted the 2012 and 2013 Constellation Senior Players Championship — and our panelists agree.
7 of 14Paul Hundley
Blackwolf Run (River), No. 89 U.S.
Almost an afterthought once its sibling, Whistling Straits, burst onto the scene, Blackwolf Run’s River now flows with renewed intensity. This resurgence can be attributed to a 2010-11 Pete Dye nip and tuck and the buzz created when nine of its holes helped host a major, the 2012 U.S. Women’s Open.
8 of 14Larry Lambrecht
Country Club of Fairfield, No. 95 U.S.
If there’s one course that signifies our panelists’ preference for charm and fun over difficulty (not to mention overboard maintenance), it’s Fairfield, a 1921 Seth Raynor creation that measures a mere 6,358 yards, par 70. Fairfield shows its greatness with its scenery, on low-lying land adjacent to Long Island Sound, and its use of nature’s humps and bumps.
to demand links-like shotmaking.
9 of 14Paul Hundley
Erin Hills, No. 96 U.S.
Hard courses still have their place in the Top 100, provided that they’re rich in character and variety. Erin Hills has plenty of both — and, yes, it’s plenty tough as well. Erin Hills was the controversial choice to host the 2017 U.S. Open before it had fully established itself. Yet it has proved a worthy site for both the 2008 U.S. Women’s Public Links and the 2011 U.S. Amateur.
10 of 14Brian Morgan
Trump International Golf Links Scotland, No. 50 World
Set into shaggy dunes that exceed those at Bandon and Ballybunion for sheer grandeur, Trump Scotland’s individual holes are both daunting and strategically compelling. Some have decided to reserve final judgment until course conditioning matures, but in its first full season, Trump Scotland is a brash, impressive addition to the World’s Top 50.
11 of 14Courtesy of Shanqin Bay
Shanqin Bay, No. 78 World
This year-old Coore/Crenshaw design unfolds atop a sprawling, sloping bluff that overlooks the South China Sea. A departure from China’s usual preference for straight-forward shot requirements, lush conditions and sharp edges, Shanqin Bay offers firm and fast fairways, tattered-edge bunkers and a couple of blind shots.
12 of 14Ben Cowan-Dewar
Cabot Links, No. 82 World
Developers Ben Cowan-Dewar and Mike Keiser — the latter of Bandon Dunes fame — handed over a dramatic, rolling plot of coastal Nova Scotia terrain to architect Rod Whitman. The result is Canada’s first authentic links. Firm, rumpled, fescue fairways, coastal breezes and endless views of the Gulf of St. Lawrence make it abundantly clear why Nova Scotia is the Latin name for “New Scotland.”
13 of 14David Cannon/Getty Images
Royal Melbourne (East), No. 94 World
Following a two-year hiatus from the Top 100, the East returns, thanks in part to improved conditioning, with a more heat-tolerant grass on the fairways and de-thatched, re-turfed greens. Also, in 2011, the club retained Tom Doak to restore Alex Russell’s design in places, tweak it in others and transform one of the problematic boundary road holes, the par-4 15th, into a splendid short, strategic gem.
14 of 14David Cannon/Getty Images
Rye, No. 96 World
Since our panelists’ preferences have shifted toward old-fashioned charmers rife with character, it’s no surprise that the ancient Rye links, which dates to 1894, has gained in stature. Rye won’t scare anyone with its scrawny yardage of 6,308. Still, when the winds blow off the English Channel, it can play a lot more like 7,308 yards.
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