1. Sand Hillls – Coore and Crenshaw
This is our generation’s landmark course. If it didn’t announce the latest movement in architecture, then it certainly put the exclamation point on the fact that this was the next great movement in golf architecture. The course is also a great example to architects about the importance of patience in trying to find the best routing. With so many options, and 100’s of excellent holes to choose from, the tough part was finding the best routing – and they did. It’s rare that a course has no dissenters and that is why this course is high on my list.
2. Royal Melbourne – Alister Mackenzie
The course was conceived on a massive scale, it makes perfect use of the topography, the green contouring is some of the finest the game has ever seen, it has one of the smartest short fours in the game, it may be the best bunkered course in the world, and it blends perfectly into the surrounding land. This course is very close to perfect. The main reason I personally want to visit the course is the bunkering technique, they are so beautiful, so well blended and so well detailed – they may be the best example of bunker construction in golf.
3. Prairie Dunes – Perry & Press Maxwell
There may be no course that blends better into its surroundings than this one. The course creates a very blurry line between the edge of the golf course and the beginning of the native grasslands that the course was developed in. No course embraces and respects the natural environment like this one – it is a great example in a more enlightened time of what’s right. To top if off the original nine has some of the best green contouring in golf and may have been the best nine holes course the world has ever seen.
4. Swinley Forrest – Harry Colt
The golf course is short and a par 68, but it may is probably the best course in the London Heathland area. The golf course is all about ambiance and excellence. This has one of the greatest collections of natural par threes in golf, something I have begun to think is one of the great secrets to routing. Colt may have concentrated on the threes, but the golf course offers an almost perfect progression from the opener to the closer without one falter along the way. Colt called it his least bad course – which to my ears may be perfect – despite the unconventional par.
5. Lawsonia Links - Langford and Moreau
There are two things that attract me to this golf course. The first is the similarities to the work of Raynor and MacDonald. The count features big bold greens and massive pushed up features that are so obviously created, yet the course manages to blend out into the surroundings. The second attraction is the massive scale of all the golf holes and the feature work. Working in a large scale is dangerous because it really exaggerates mistakes, but when it is done like Lawsonia it becomes an awesome experience that overwhelms the player. I have always admired San Francisco Golf Club, and this would be another lesson into the most elusive design idea.
The next 5 will come next week – tomorrow’s blog will be on something else