Five dynamite new golf courses we can’t wait to play in 2020

January 3, 2020

The year 2020 is upon us, bringing new hope, new plans and new golf courses. Here are five ribbon-cuttings we don’t want to miss.

DUMBARNIE LINKS, County Fife, Scotland

“New” is a relative term when it comes to golf in Scotland, where a links known as the New Course has been around since 1895. Dumbarnie is new in the literal sense — a fresh design and build from British-born architect Clive Clark and set along a mile-and-a-half of coastline just a 30-minute drive from St. Andrews. Though not a links by the strictest definition — the site comprises former farm land — it is intended to play like one, firm and fast, on holes that spill through a dramatic dunes-scape, overlooking the Firth of Forth. That’s the kind of fun that never gets old. Opening: May 16, 2020.

PAYNE’S VALLEY, Ridgedale, Mo.

Tiger Wood’s resurgence as a player has coincided with his rising profile in golf course design. With this, his first public-access layout, Woods is adding to the offerings at Big Cedar Lodge, the Ozarks resort that is fast-emerging as a mecca for the game, with 77 holes and five courses, counting Tiger’s. Named for the late Payne Stewart, a Missouri native, Payne’s Valley promises a romp through rollicking terrain defined by bold rock outcrops and mountain ridges, its fairways fringed by giant oaks and spliced by streams. Woods’ design aesthetic leans toward the forgiving, so expect wide landing areas and ample greens, with enough intrigue in the angles to challenge serious sticks. As a punctuation, the course will close with an island green par-3 19th hole, a fine spot to settle bets, or to get you psyched to go around again. Opening: Summer 2020.

A view of Payne's Valley, a Tiger Woods design, at the Ozarks' mega-resort Big Cedar Lodge.
Courtesy Photo

RANCHO SAN LUCAS, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Cabo golf is booming, with the latest starburst coming by way of the Shark. Greg Norman’s design, in a private resort development of the same name, has the makings of a Baja peninsula postcard, on a sea-meets-desert landscape, framed by white sand dunes. This will be the first course in Mexico to use revetted bunkers, a fortifying feature that fights wind-blown erosion while lending an alluring throwback look. The routing will move from high desert terrain with ample ocean vistas to lower links-like stretches with six holes on the water and an island-green par-3 17th. Opening: Feb. 20, 2020.

THE SHEEP RANCH, Bandon, Ore.

Bill Coore. Ben Crenshaw. Bandon Dunes. Put all those B’s together, and you’ve got a blowout: the fifth 18-hole course at what many regard as the finest golf resort in the world. The Sheep Ranch occupies a smaller site than Bandon’s other layouts, but it boasts more coastline than any of them, with nine greens located on the bluffs. As you do elsewhere at Bandon, you’ll want to bring your ground game (the course plays firm and fast and the wind can really blow here). But you won’t need your sand game. There is not a single sand bunker on the course. Opening: June 1, 2020.

Views from the verdant dune include the greens for Nos. 3 and 16. The tee box for No. 4 sits atop it.
Courtesy Bandon Dunes Golf Resort

ROLLING HILLS, Pattaya, Thailand

What, exactly, is a “Wall of Death”? At Rolling Hills, the fourth course at Siam Country Club, it refers to a 19-foot deep bunker complex beside the 16th green. While that striking feature is sure to be an Instagram hit, this Brian Curley design should offer plenty of click-bait, and a fair, compelling challenge for resort golfers, with ample movement in the fairways and greens, and large waste areas formed by creative earth-moving on a sandy site. Opening: January 2020.

Rolling Hills in Pattaya, Thailand, debuts this month.
Courtesy Photo

To receive GOLF’s all-new newsletters, subscribe for free here.