In an intriguing exercise, Golf Course Architecture (GCA) magazine canvassed nearly 250 professional course architects to produce the list and the outcome makes for interesting reading. The period 1910 to 1937 are often referred to as the “golden age of golf design” because many of the greatest course architects in the history of the game were at work during this era. The GCA survey confirms this to be the case, with more courses designed in the 1920’s making the top 100 than any other decade.
Harry Colt is the architect’s favourite architect, with 14 courses in the top 100, including 2013 Open Championship venue, Muirfield, Pine Valley and Royal Portrush. Old Tom Morris is next with 10 courses, then Alister MacKenzie on 8. Pete Dye has six on the list, making him the most popular of the modern designers.
68 of the 100 courses were designed before the 1960’s, which leaves a healthy 38 ‘modern’ courses on the list.
Great Britain and Ireland (a combined 42%) narrowly beats the USA (41%) for the number of courses on the list. Nine out of the top 10 in GB & I are links. Other top rated courses include Cypress Point, Pine Valley, Augusta National in the USA and Royal Melbourne, Kingston Heath and New South Wales in Australia.
The results of the voting support the current trend of many course architects paying homage to the style of older courses and the methodology of ‘fitting’ a golf course into rather than imposing it onto the landscape. In the earliest days of design, this was a necessity with manual labour and horse-drawn equipment used to create a course; nowadays it is the architect’s choice to respect the land and to use its natural form whenever possible.
“Architect’s choice: the full report” is available here.