ROYAL County Down in Northern Ireland has jumped to the top of the world’s 100 greatest golf courses in the latest Golf Digest rankings with nine Australian courses also making the grade.
Royal County Down leapfrogged to the top spot from No.4 two years ago in the biennial rankings, overtaking Pine Valley, Augusta National and Cypress Point in the US.
Australia’s highest ranked course was Royal Melbourne West, improving three spots to come in sixth.
Nearby sandbelt course Kingston Heath, just announced as venue for the 2016 World Cup of Golf, was Australia’s next best at 18th while a bolter was the newly opened Cape Wickham on Tasmania’s King Island, coming in at 24th.
Cape Wickham was highlighted by Golf Digest as one of the “the two hottest new layouts on the globe” along with No. 19 Cabot Cliffs in Nova Scotia, Canada.
Golf Digest’s description of Cape Wickham is thus:
24 (NEW) Cape Wickham Links
King Island, Tasmania, Australia / 6,725 yards, Par 72
Less than six months old, this design collaboration by American Mike DeVries and Australian golf writer Darius Oliver may be an even bigger surprise than No. 19 Cabot Cliffs. It’s a glorious collection of holes on a breathtaking site along Bass Strait, a notorious stretch of Australian seacoast that once shipwrecked many voyages. Its routing is heart-pounding, starting along rocks and crashing surf, moving inland but not out of the wind, returning to ocean edge at the downhill 10th, pitch-shot 11th and drivable par-4 12th, then wandering into dunes before a crescendo closing hole curving along Victoria Cove beach, which is in play at low tides.
Australia’s other finalists are the Packer family’s Ellerston Golf Course in NSW, also in the rankings for the first time at No.29, New South Wales Golf Club (No.30), Barnbougle Dunes (No.33 – down from 11), Barnbougle Lost Farm (40), Royal Melbourne East (No.55) and The National Old Course (No. 87) on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula (also a list newbie.)
Looking at their own list, Golf Digest have noted seaside courses dominate the list with 46 of the 100, including the new No.1.
“The trend is clear: seaside venues bring out the best in golf architecture,” they state.
World’s Top 10 Golf Courses
The top ten in the Golf Digest 2016 list are:
- Royal Country Down, Northern Ireland (4)
- Augusta National, GA, USA (2)
- Pine Valley, NJ, USA (1)
- Cypress Point, CA, USA (2)
- Royal Dornoch, Scotland (6)
- Royal Melbourne West, Australia (9)
- Shinnecock Hills, NY, USA (5)
- The Old Course, St Andrews, Scotland (7)
- Muirfield, Scotland (8)
- Merion, PA, USA (14)
The full list is here