4. Machrihanish Dunes, Machrihanish, Scotland
When this David McLay Kidd design opened in the summer of 2009, our course-ranking panelists howled and not in a good way. The course was simply opened too early in an effort to capitalize on the west coast British Open that year at Turnberry. I feel Kidd did marvelous work on a site hamstrung by environmental restrictions, creating one of the boldest, most natural links ever produced, with stunning sea views among the sandhills. That said, I also feel it's a brutal walk, with too many blind shots and funky bounces that punish marginal shots disproportionately. After playing two rounds in 2010 I liked it overall, but addressing those issues sooner rather than later could lead to love.