Pine Valley Golf Club, in Pine Valley, N.J, is the world’s greatest golf course, according to Golf Magazine’s biannual list of the Top 100 Courses in the World and the Top 100 Courses in the U.S. It was the 15th straight time Pine Valley received the magazine’s top ranking.
Rounding out the top five courses in the world are Cypress Point in Pebble Beach, Calif., Augusta National in Augusta, Ga., St. Andrews (Old Course) in Scotland, and Shinnecock Hills in Southhampton, N.Y. Of the top five courses, only the Old Course in St. Andrews is accessible to the public. In 1983, the magazine started listing the Top 50 golf courses in the world and in 1985 the list grew to 100. The top seven golf courses in the United States and the top four courses in the world in 2013 did not change from the 2011 list.
“What we do is, we have experts who help us,” said Joe Passov, Golf Magazine’s course rankings editor. “We have 100 people around the world on a panel who are so experienced at traveling the world and playing great golf courses that we let them make up their minds for themselves.”
Nine golf courses made their debut on the U.S. list, led by Florida’s Steamsong Red and Blue courses, which debut at No. 52 and 62, respectively. Oak Hill (East) in Rochester, N.Y., the site of this week’s PGA Championship, is up one spot from the 2011 U.S. list coming in at No. 32. (No. 60, World)
Only five courses made debuts on the world list: Trump International Golf Links in Aberdeen, Scotland, Shanqin Bay on Hainan Island, China (No. 78), Cabot Links in Cabot Links in Inverness, Nova Scotia (No. 82), Royal Melbourne (East) in Australia (No. 94) and Rye in Camber, England (No. 96).
Passov said he has different criteria in what he looks for in the perfect golf course.
“I look for variety, first and foremost, because I think that variety is the key to memorability,” Passov said. “Many courses will test you at just one thing. Maybe great driving or maybe a great golf course that’s just scenery from start to finish. I want it all. I want to be able to be asked to do different tasks, solve different puzzles and also be entertained by the scenery and have fun at the same time.”
When golf pros and amateurs look at golf courses, Passov said that everyone sees different things and that’s why there has been a shift in the rankings over the years.
“For a while, we liked artificiality and mounding to maybe make nature perfect,” Passov said. “Now, we are trending back to more natural. Spend less money on watering so courses aren’t quite so green. A lot of people love the green grass, but brown, firm turf encourages less money being spent and it is kind of more fun watching your ball trundle along the ground and see where it winds up like they do at the British Open.”
The Top 100 Courses In The World
The Top 100 Courses In The U.S.