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America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses The game’s oldest ranking, established in 1966- By Golf Digest



By: Golf Digest
Photo By Stephen Szurlej
May 2011

The biennial 2011 ranking of America’s 100 Greatest Courses is ready for its close-up. And for the first time in the list’s history, it has something completely different: 101 courses. We had a tie at No. 100, which left us no choice but to make room for an odd number of courses for the first time. Established in 1966, the game’s oldest ranking, this list is considered the leading symbol of golf-course excellence and integrity.


INDEPENDENT CHECK: Golf Digest retained PricewaterhouseCoopers to oversee the tabulation of our rankings of America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses, America’s 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses and Best in State.

Rank* Course Name Yards Par Points
1. (1) AUGUSTA NATIONAL G.C.Augusta, Ga. / Alister Mackenzie & Bobby Jones (1933) 7,435 72 72.87
2. (2) PINE VALLEY G.C.Pine Valley, N.J. / George Crump & H.S. Colt (1918) 7,057 70 72.49
3. (3) SHINNECOCK HILLS G.C.Southampton, N.Y. / William Flynn (1931) 7,041 70 69.36
4. (5) OAKMONT C.C.Oakmont, Pa. / Henry Fownes (1903) 7,255 71 69.01
5. (4) CYPRESS POINT CLUBPebble Beach / Alister Mackenzie & Robert Hunter (1928) 6,525 72 69.00
6. (6) PEBBLE BEACH G. LINKSPebble Beach / Jack Neville & Douglas Grant (1919) 6,828 72 68.56
7. (7) MERION G.C. (East)Ardmore, Pa. / Hugh Wilson (1912) 6,886 70 68.54
8. (8) WINGED FOOT G.C. (West)Mamaroneck, N.Y. / A.W. Tillinghast (1923) 7,258 72 66.81
9. (13) SAND HILLS G.C.Mullen, Neb. / Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw (1994) 7,089 71 66.70
10. (15) NATIONAL G. LINKS OF AMERICASouthampton, N.Y. / C.B. Macdonald (1911) 6,935 72 66.62
11. (9) FISHERS ISLAND CLUBFishers Island, N.Y. Seth Raynor & Charles Banks (1926) 6,566 72 66.50
12. (16) CRYSTAL DOWNS C.C.Frankfort, Mich. / Alister Mackenzie & Perry Maxwell (1931) 6,518 70 66.22
13. (10) SEMINOLE G.C.Juno Beach, Fla. / Donald Ross (1929) 6,836 72 66.17
14. (New) THE ALOTIAN CLUBRoland, Ark. / Tom Fazio (2004) 7,480 72 65.88
15. (14) PACIFIC DUNESBandon, Ore. / Tom Doak (2001) 6,633 71 65.86
16. (18) THE COUNTRY CLUB (Clyde/Squirrel)Brookline, Mass. / Willie Campbell (1895) / Alex Campbell (1902) 7,033 71 65.85
T17. (12) CHICAGO G.C.Wheaton, Ill. / C.B. Macdonald (1894) Seth Raynor (1923) 6,846 70 65.75
T17. (22) WHISTLING STRAITS (Straits)Haven, Wis. / Pete Dye (1998) 7,362 72 65.75
19. (19) MUIRFIELD VILLAGE G.C.Dublin, Ohio / Jack Nicklaus & Desmond Muirhead (1974) 7,366 72 65.65
20. (17) WADE HAMPTON G.C.Cashiers, N.C. / Tom Fazio (1987) 7,218 72 65.51
21. (11) OAK HILL C.C. (East)Rochester, N.Y. / Donald Ross (1925) 7,145 71 65.47
22. (31) RIVIERA C.C.Pacific Palisades, Calif. / George C. Thomas Jr. & W.P. Bell (1926)/td> 7,298 71 65.05
23. (20) MEDINAH C.C. (No. 3)Medinah, Ill. / Tom Bendelow (1928) 7,561 72 65.01
24. (23) OAKLAND HILLS C.C. (South)Bloomfield Hills, Mich. / Donald Ross (1918) 7,445 72 64.98
25. (21) PRAIRIE DUNES C.C.Hutchinson, Kan. / Perry Maxwell (1937), Press Maxwell (1957) 6,759 70 64.96
26. (25) THE OCEAN COURSEKiawah Island, S.C. / Pete Dye (1991) 7,356 72 64.88
27. (26) THE OLYMPIC CLUB (Lake)San Francisco / Sam Whiting (1924) 7,112 71 64.79
28. (33)BANDON DUNESBandon, Ore. / David McLay Kidd (1999) 6,732 72 64.27
T 29. (28) CASTLE PINES G.C.Castle Rock, Colo. / Jack Nicklaus (1981) 7,696 72 64.18
T29. (38) THE HONORS COURSEOoltewah, Tenn. / Pete Dye (1983) 7,450 72 64.18
31. (41) SHADOW CREEKNorth Las Vegas, Nev. / Tom Fazio (1990) 7,560 72 64.15
32. (30) BALTUSROL G.C. (Lower)Springfield, N.J. / A.W. Tillinghast (1922) 7,400 72 64.07
33. (36) SAN FRANCISCO G.C.San Francisco / A.W. Tillinghast (1918) 6,828 71 63.93
34. (New) FRIAR’S HEAD G.C.Baiting Hollow, N.Y. / Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw (2002) 6,846 71 63.79
35. (24) VICTORIA NATIONAL G.C.Newburgh, Ind. / Tom Fazio (1998) 7,239 72 63.77
36. (29) BETHPAGE STATE PARK (Black)Farmingdale, N.Y. / Joseph H. Burbeck & A.W. Tillinghast (1936) 7,468 71 63.70
37. (32) PINEHURST RESORT (No. 2)Pinehurst, N.C. / Donald Ross (1935) 7,491 72 63.60
38. (34) SOUTHERN HILLS C.C.Tulsa, Okla. / Perry Maxwell (1936) 7,150 71 63.52
39. (42) CANYATA G.C.Marshall, Ill. / Bob Lohmann & Mike Benkusky (2004) 7,258 72 63.45
40. (35) THE GOLF CLUBNew Albany, Ohio / Pete Dye (1967) 7,430 72 63.44
41. (45) TPC SAWGRASS (Players Stadium)Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. / Pete Dye (1980) 7,215 72 63.29
42. (27) THE G.C. AT BLACK ROCKCoeur d’Alene, Idaho / Jim Engh (2003) 7,130 72 63.22
43. (60) PEACHTREE G.C.Atlanta / Robert Trent Jones & Bobby Jones (1947) 7,414 72 63.21
44. (39) SEBONACK G.C.Southampton, N.Y. Jack Nicklaus & Tom Doak (2006) 7,534 >72 63.16
45. (57) PETE DYE G.C.Bridgeport, W.Va. / Pete Dye (1994) 7,308 72 63.04
46. (48) KINLOCH G.C.Manakin-Sabot, Va. Lester George & Vinny Giles (2001) 7,203 72 62.96
47. (47) LOS ANGELES C.C. (North)Los Angeles / George C. Thomas Jr. (1921) 7,236 71 62.85
48. (83) EAGLE POINT G.C.Wilmington, N.C. / Tom Fazio (2000) 7,258 72 62.83
49. (49) ARCADIA BLUFFS G.C.Arcadia, Mich. / Rick Smith & Warren Henderson (2000) 7,300 72 62.77
50. (84) SAHALEE C.C. (South/North)Sammamish, Wash. / Ted Robinson (1969) 7,003 72 62.72
51. (64) INTERLACHEN C.C.Edina, Minn. / Willie Watson (1911) 6,975 72 62.67
52. (51) SPYGLASS HILL G. CSE.Pebble Beach / Robert Trent Jones (1966) 6,953 72 62.63
53. (53) GARDEN CITY G.C.Garden City, N.Y. / Devereux Emmet (1899) 6,911 73 62.52
54. (37) BUTLER NATIONAL G.C.Oak Brook, Ill. / George Fazio & Tom Fazio (1974) 7,523 71 62.49
55. (77) LAUREL VALLEY G.C.Ligonier, Pa. / Dick Wilson (1959) 7,327 72 62.43
56. (40) INVERNESS CLUBToledo, Ohio / Donald Ross (1919) 7,255 71 62.37
57. (52) MILWAUKEE C.C.River Hills, Wis. H.S. Colt & C.H. Alison (1929) 7,094 72 62.31
58. (46) RICH HARVEST LINKSSugar Grove, Ill. Jerry Rich & Greg Martin (1999) 7,687 72 62.26
59. (59) DALLAS NATIONAL G.C.Dallas / Tom Fazio (2002) 7,372 72 62.17
60. (43) OLYMPIA FIELDS C.C. (North)Olympia Fields, Ill. / Willie Park Jr. (1922) 7,205 70 62.16
61. (69) EAST LAKE G.C.Atlanta / Donald Ross (1915) 7,374 72 62.10
62. (82) THE ESTANCIA CLUBScottsdale / Tom Fazio (1995) 7,314 72 62.05
63. (80) BANDON TRAILS Bandon, Ore. / Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw (2005) 6,765 71 62.01
T64. (56) DOUBLE EAGLE CLUBGalena, Ohio / Jay Morrish & Tom Weiskopf (1992) 7,175 72 61.96
T64. (58) KITTANSETT CLUB Marion, Mass. / William Flynn & Frederic Hood (1922) 6,811 71 61.96
66. (61) SCIOTO C.C.Columbus, Ohio / Donald Ross (1916) 7,106 71 61.94
67. (54) CHERRY HILLS C.C.Cherry Hills Village, Colo. / William Flynn (1923) 7,348 72 63.22
68. (78) THE PRESERVE G.C.Carmel, Calif. / Tom Fazio, J. Michael Poellot & Sandy Tatum (2000) 7,067 72 61.89
69. (93) SYCAMORE HILLS G.C.Fort Wayne, Ind. / Jack Nicklaus (1989) 7,340 >72 61.85
70. (55) FOREST HIGHLANDS G.C. (Canyon)Flagstaff, Ariz. / Jay Morrish & Tom Weiskopf (1988) 7,007 71 61.82
71. (99) BLACKWOLF RUN (River)Kohler, Wis. / Pete Dye (1990) 7,404 72 61.81
72. (50) SHOAL CREEK Shoal Creek, Ala. / Jack Nicklaus (1977) 7,234 72 61.79
73. (44) THE QUARRY AT LA QUINTA La Quinta, Calif. / Tom Fazio (1994) 7,083 72 61.72
74. (New) MOUNTAINTOP G. & LAKE CLUBCashiers, N.C. / Tom Fazio (2006) 7,127 70 61.69
75. (63) FLINT HILLS NATIONAL G.C.Andover, Kan. / Tom Fazio (1997) 6,946 71 61.62
76. (71) PLAINFIELD C.C.Plainfield, N.J. / Donald Ross (1921) 7,125 72 61.59
77. (66) CONGRESSIONAL C.C. (Blue)Bethesda, Md. / Robert Trent Jones (1962) 7,278 72 61.58
78. (76) ARONIMINK G.C.Newtown Square, Pa. / Donald Ross (1928) 7,190 70 61.57
T79. (92) CALUSA PINES G.C.Naples, Fla. / Michael Hurdzan & Dana Fry (2001) 7,200 72 61.55
T79. (72) MONTEREY PENINSULA C.C. (Shore)Pebble Beach /Mike Strantz (2004) 6,956 72 61.55
81. (87) SAGE VALLEY G.C.Graniteville, S.C. / Tom Fazio (2001) 7,331 72 61.46
82. (79) MAYACAMA G.C.Santa Rosa, Calif. / Jack Nicklaus (2001) 6,785 72 61.44
83. (94) HUDSON NATIONAL G.C.Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y. / Tom Fazio (1996) 7,122 70 61.43
84. (95) VALHALLA G.C.Louisville / Jack Nicklaus (1986) 7,540/td> 72 61.36
85. (62) EUGENE C.C.Eugene, Ore. / Robert Trent Jones (1967) 7,020 72 61.34
86. (91) HAZELTINE NATIONAL G.C.Chaska, Minn. / Robert Trent Jones (1962) 7,674 72 61.30
87. (New) DIAMOND CREEK G.C.Banner Elk, N.C. / Tom Fazio (2003) 7,175 70 61.24
88. (New) KAPALUA (Plantation)Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii / Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw (1991) 7,263 73 61.19
T89. (New) BOSTON G.C.Hingham, Mass. / Gil Hanse (2004) 7,062 71 61.17
T89. (New) OLD SANDWICH G.C.Plymouth, Mass. / Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw (2005) 6,908 71 61.17
91. (70) GALLOWAY NATIONAL G.C.Galloway, N.J. / Tom Fazio (1995) 7,104 71 61.16
92. (74) SHOREACRESLake Bluff, Ill. / Seth Raynor (1921) 6,527 71 61.08
T93. (86) MAIDSTONE CLUBEast Hampton, N.Y. / Willie Park Jr. & Jack Park (1924) 6,423 72 61.07
T93. (88) SOMERSET HILLS C.C.Bernardsville, N.J. / A.W. Tillinghast (1918) 6,659 >71 61.07
95. (New) BALLYNEAL G. & HUNT CLUBHolyoke, Colo. / Tom Doak (2006) 7,147 71 61.06
96. (100) CROOKED STICK G.C.Carmel, Ind. / Pete Dye (1964) 7,516 72 61.00
T97. (67) THE PRINCE COURSEPrinceville, Kauai, Hawaii / Robert Trent Jones Jr. (1990) 7,309 72 60.96
T97. (65) WINGED FOOT G.C. (East)Mamaroneck, N.Y. / A.W. Tillinghast (1923) 6,792 72 60.96
99. (New) FOREST DUNES G.CRoscommon, Mich. / Tom Weiskopf (2002) 7,104 72 60.93
T100. (75) HARBOUR TOWN G. LINKSHilton Head Is. / Pete Dye & Jack Nicklaus (1969) 6,973 71 60.91
T100. (97) OCEAN FOREST G.C.60.91 Sea Island, Ga. / Rees Jones (1995) 7,321 72 60.91

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  1. AJ

    Dec 30, 2012 at 12:05 am

    SO neat to see a course from my hometown Flagstaff on this list. Love golfing at Forest Highlands and it is an amazing course. Well deserved spot on the list.

  2. Qwerty

    Feb 21, 2012 at 1:01 am

    Don’t get me wrong, Sahalee is a great 27 holes but it is grossly over rated. imo it should not make the top 100. For pure shot value I’d put it 4th in the state of WA.

  3. Stephen Davis

    Feb 20, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    I am curious on how someone becomes a Golf Digest course rater. Any idea?

  4. Gifted Golfer

    Feb 15, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    Thanks for the information. I am going to research some of these golf courses.

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The Long and Winding Road to The Old Course



St. Andrews holds a special and historic place in every golfer’s imagination. Anyone who has the faintest chance to play St. Andrews should do whatever it takes to get there. My journey to The Home of Golf was a circuitous one, filled with random twists and colorful characters along the way. It all started with a wedding. This is my story.

Palm Desert, California 2006. I was living the charmed and unglamorous life of a club professional. My soul was slowly being crushed by too many Couples Twilights and Ladies’ Guest Days. The love I once had for the game was waning and I needed something authentic to rekindle the passion. One day my friend Aaron called from Minneapolis with some exciting news: “Dude, my cousin Paul is getting married in a castle in England next month and we…” I cut him off with a quickness. “Forget the castle. We have to go play St. Andrews.” My response didn’t surprise Aaron one bit. His mind was already heading in the same direction, and he knew what I was going to say before he picked up the phone. We started forging a plan for the trip.

Aaron and I were both fairly seasoned travelers, but we weren’t without our limitations. There were family and work obligations to consider, as well as Aaron’s recently rebuilt knee. He was going to be a game-time decision for every round. I’m not saying Aaron is Brett Favre, but he’s a pretty tough guy so I felt good about our chances.

Our limited itinerary called for a Friday arrival, a Saturday groom’s dinner and a Sunday night wedding — all in the company of the wildly entertaining Reid and McIllrick clans. After that, if we survived, there would be golf: Monday at 7 a.m. on the Old Course, Tuesday at Carnoustie and Wednesday’s game at Loch Lomond before heading home. The difficult feat was going to be leaving from the wedding on the outskirts of Leeds, England around midnight and getting to the first tee at St. Andrews by 7 a.m. the next morning. Make no mistake; this was going to be intricate work.

You should know a little bit about the cousin/groom Paul Reid. A successful aviation executive and a native of Edinburgh, Scotland, he is perhaps best known for being the older brother of former Hibernian Football Club Goalkeeper Chris Reid. As teenagers the Reid brothers would visit their Minnesota cousins, and we all became fast friends. Paul and his bride-to-be Kay didn’t actually invite me to their wedding, but they knew I was coming as a guest; albeit a guest with ulterior motives.

We landed in Glasgow and drove to York, England (mistake) to meet up with the rest of the wedding party. The first two days was a boisterous blur of pints and greasy fish ‘n’ chips. I don’t remember much, but I do recall a few things; most notably, the groom’s dinner that featured a James Bond soundtrack. Not James Brown: James Bond. I’m a pretty solid dancer, but there’s only so much you can do with “A View to a Kill.” But it’s the groom’s night; if it’s Duran Duran he wants, then it’s Duran Duran he’ll get.

When Paul and Kay’s wedding finally came, it was a beautiful and lavish affair. Truth be told, I couldn’t get out of the place fast enough. When the clock struck midnight, Aaron and I hit the road. We were stone-cold sober and in front of us lay a cold, wet, five-hour drive through the dark Northern night. There was no place else in the universe I would have rather been.

The road less traveled

It didn’t take long for doubt to start creeping in. Keep in mind, back in 2006 the car rental GPS systems were suspect. We were rolling through the rural countryside with MapQuest print-outs on the left side of the road in the driving rain. And don’t forget we were powering through a 3-day hangover fueled solely by adrenaline. This was nothing short of a herculean challenge.

Every good road trip has a soundtrack, right? Somehow, somehow, the only CD we had was by a band called Granddaddy. “Rear View Mirror” was their only jam. Late night/early morning Scottish radio offered little relief as “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley was on every time we sought refuge on the FM dial. There was no Belle and Sebastian, no Big Country, no Simple Minds (thank God) and not even Teenage Fan Club. Just Gnarls Barkley every single time. I’m not making this up.

Three hours into our journey, we were starting to fade hard. Luckily, we came across a roundabout that had a 24-hour gas station/convenience store. Stepping out of the car I realized that what I thought was a light drizzle was actually rain. It wasn’t enough to keep you from playing golf, but it was a legitimate stop-a-Little-League-game type of rain. And it was cold. I bought a few extra-large coffees that tasted about as bad as you would expect rural Scottish gas station coffee to taste at 3 a.m. and headed back to the car.

Then it happened. As I hastily scrambled to get back into the car and away from the freezing rain, I fumbled the coffee. Not in the parking lot, not the side of the car, not even in the floor of the car. I ham-fisted all 32 ounces of java directly into Aaron’s lap. Talk about furious. Aaron was sleep deprived, had a right knee as swollen as Frank Gore’s and was freshly soaked with a gallon of lukewarm coffee. To rub salt on the wound, the only MapQuest sheet that we needed was also ruined. We would have to make the last two hours to the Old Course on feel, and I wasn’t sure our friendship would last that long.

We found our way to town around 5:30 a.m. We had rented a few rooms in a house about 10 minutes from the course and the plan was to change clothes and go play. The schedule was all working out, but the weather wasn’t. It was still raining, windy and maybe 40 degrees. But we changed and headed to the Old Course, hoping at least one of the elements would relent.

It’s not easy getting the 7 a.m. tee time at The Old Course. As the saying goes, “It’s who you know that counts,” and a friend of mine who was a member of an exclusive club that somewhat guarantees members tee times at courses all over the world had set it up for us. I had no confirmation or booking number — just an email from my friend telling me to be at the first tee by 6:45 a.m. If you knew this guy, you’d realize this wasn’t as risky as it sounds. So as we parked the car and started to walk to the historic first tee, only two things were going through my mind:

  1. It is still lightly raining, windy and cold
  2. Considering it’s 6:45 a.m., there are a lot of people here

As we approach the first tee and the Ellis Island-like crowd that surrounded it, the sense of place really started to sink in. Then suddenly, like Moses parting the Red Sea, two men split the crowd and walked toward us.

“The professionals from California, I assume?” said the shorter dark-haired fellow named Robert.

“Yes sir,” I replied.

We stumbled through introductions and Robert went on to say that everything had been handled. There would be no need to pay for anything. Then he asked if we’d take a few singles to play along in our tee time. We happily agreed.

As I went to put my peg in the ground, I could hear whispers from the de facto gallery: “Look! He’s the pro from California!” I wanted to turn and tell them, “No! Look away! I’m just a hack club professional and I haven’t slept in two days! Look away!

Instead, feeling every ounce of the onlooker’s expectations, I pulled driver because it had the greatest chance of getting airborne. I swung as hard as I could and snap-hooked a line drive about 230 yards (85 yards of carry) into the 18th fairway. I was strangely content with the result. Just as we were about to walk off the tee, Robert approached and we shook hands as if to say thanks and good bye. He suddenly pulled me in closely and whispered, “At the conclusion of your round, there will be a silver Range Rover parked behind the green. Get in that vehicle.” Then he just turned and left. It was weird. The whole thing felt very covert. There was something about Robert and his sidekick that had my radar up. I wondered if the James Bond soundtrack from the groom’s dinner was a premonition of things to come.

We were paired with an Englishman who was a very solid player and another man from Houston, Texas, who was far less capable. The Texan, as we came to know him, probably shot over 150. To call him eccentric would be a gross understatement; he made Bill Murray look like Tom Kite. He sported a big, bushy gray beard and a flannel button-down shirt. The only thing guarding him from the elements was a picnic blanket he wrapped around his husky frame. My guess is he slept on that same blanket the night before, probably on the first tee. Whether The Texan was entirely there mentally was a topic of hot debate. “Nice shot,” I untruthfully said to him once. He looked back at me (through me?) for about 10 seconds before uttering, “They all are.” Curious words for a man who just shot about 150.

People will often tell you how great the caddies are at The Old Course, but they didn’t have my man Stevie. Again and again, I asked Stevie not to read the greens for me because I wanted to figure them out myself. I also asked him not to club me, but rather to just give me yardages. As we approached the 10th green, I was pleading: “Stevie… please, for the last time, please don’t give me a read unless I ask for it, OK? I really want to read the greens myself.” His reply: “You got it, sir. Sorry, sir… You got it.. This one’s right to left, sir. About half a foot.” He hands me a putter, walks away and grabs the pin.

By the time we reached the historic Road Hole, my relationship with Stevie (not his real name) was beyond frayed. A good drive left me in the middle of the fairway. I asked Stevie for a distance and he clubbed me. “Just the raw distance, please, Stevie.” He clubed me again. And then again. I asked one more time and he finally relented. I took 8-iron — one more club than Stevie recommended — and hit it pure leaving a ball mark about five feet past a middle pin. The problem was the ball ended up well over the green on gravel. Triple-bogey seven. Stevie was right. The shot called for a 9-iron hit short and right of the sucker’s line I had played.

As we reached the 18th green, we all shook hands and gave our thanks, good lucks and goodbyes. I embraced Stevie as if asking for his forgiveness. I looked up and there it was, the silver Range Rover. Robert and his accomplice jogged out to meet us, grabbed our bags and loaded them in the back. “Off to the castle for lunch now,” Robert said. It was not a request, but a requirement. Our golf bags were like hostages so we followed orders.

The Mysterious Castle

Again, we didn’t know these guys from Adam and the whole scene was just a little north of uncomfortable. Defenses were slightly up. I knew Robert and his cohort wanted something from us, but I wasn’t sure what. Robert told us we were about five miles away from “the castle” where we could “have lunch and discuss a proposition.” When we got there, it was more clubhouse than castle. There was a garden, a pool and stables. It reminded me of an Oasis video. I was half-expecting Liam Gallagher to be passed out on a billiards table in the parlor.

As it turns out, Robert was just trying to sell us memberships into the club, which would be like joining all of the world’s finest clubs. It would guarantee us tee times “anywhere but Augusta National” as Robert reiterated half a dozen times. Instead of calling him to the carpet on the false promise of global tee times, I explained that I wasn’t in the market to join any club and thanked him for his hospitality. After a nice lunch and few beers, they drove us back to our car.

Aaron and I hadn’t slept in well over 24 hours and we were spent. We had plenty of daylight to play more golf, but we just didn’t have the energy. Kingsbarn, The Jubilee, maybe even a replay of The Old Course; it was all right there in front of us. But instead we went back to our rooms to warm up, dry up and rest; a decision I’ve regretted ever since.

After recharging, we dragged ourselves back into town and drank half a dozen pints as we recounted the day. There were so many surreal quirks that we had to take a mental inventory. Was that the hardest five-hour drive ever? Did we almost crash into a few roundabouts? How horrible does a lap full of coffee feel at 3:30 a.m.? Did that scene at the first tee really happen? Is The Texan is still alive? Was he even real? Was being shuttled away from The Old Course by strangers in a silver Range Rover to a castle for lunch with two kind of strange guys we didn’t know the most James Bond move ever… or the least James Bond move ever? Who knows.

But I know one thing: I’ll be back at St. Andrews someday, hopefully with my daughter if she chooses to play. I’ll show her where my smother-hook on the opening hole ended up. We’ll laugh at stories about The Texan. Maybe I’ll birdie the 18th again. As we’re standing on the green hugging, I’ll pull her close and whisper: “If you see a silver Range Rover behind the green, don’t get in. They’re just trying to sell you something.”

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Cape Wickham Links: The Treasure of King Island



After catching an early morning flight from Auckland, we did a short stop in Melbourne before our flight down to King Island. In Melbourne, we had to store almost half of our luggage in a storage locker so we could fit into a significantly smaller plane taking us further down south to King Island and Cape Wickham Links.

Cape Wickham Links was finished late in 2015 by American golf architect Mike DeVries and Australian golf writer Darius Oliver. It was ranked the 24th greatest golf course in the world by Golf Digest (U.S.) in 2016. As a newcomer, it’s very rare to receive a ranking that high, and the course was one of the real highlights in our golf trip.

12th hole. (C) Jacob Sjöman.

When we later flew in over King Island in that small plane I could almost hear the Indiana Jones theme buzzing in my head as we approached that short airstrip and prepared for landing. The airport at King Island is very small, as you would expect, but everything worked out smoothly and we got our golf clubs from the plane directly. A gold Nissan X-Trail then carried us forward on some bumpy roads before we finally reached the northwest tip of the island and Cape Wickham Links.

Hole No. 1 (C) Jacob Sjöman.

King Island is a fairly small island with roughly 1600 inhabitants. I found it to be very charming and friendly, and I strongly believe King Island soon will be on every golfer’s bucket list. It has two excellent courses, the other being Ocean Dunes.

(C) Jacob Sjöman.

The first thing we saw when we approached Cape Wickham was the majestic lighthouse, which is also the tallest lighthouse on any golf course in the world. This lighthouse from 1861 serves as an icon for Cape Wickham, and it can be spotted from most of the holes throughout the course.

Since I am a big fan of courses positioned on remote locations and always speak highly of the road less traveled, I really wanted to play and experience this golf course. We were fortunate to play it twice. It has so many key features, thrilling challenges and interesting twists. As a golf course photographer, it was also dream to capture through the lens.

Locals can often be spotted out on the course (C) Jacob Sjöman.

Cape Wickham Links delivers some truly fantastic holes on a beautiful location along the Bass Strait, a stretch of the Australian Seacoast that once shipwrecked many voyages. It’s not a secret that the weather can often be quite challenging, but don’t let that fact scare you off. You need to try this world-class course, as it’s one of the best golf experiences you can find anywhere.

Your round of golf starts out with a big bang as you hit your first tee shot from a tee box flirting with the ocean. It’s one of the most scenic opening holes I’ve ever came across. Just look at the view.

(C) Jacob Sjöman.

The routing is also brilliant, starting first along big rocks. It lets you hit your golf ball just next to the roaring coastline where the wind usually plays a big role. Then you are moving more inland at the 6th before returning to the ocean edge at the downhill 10th. After you’ve hit some tough shots among the large dunes, you will ultimately face an incredible finish with Nos. 14, 15, 16, 17 and foremost the 18th curving beautifully along Victoria Cove beach. If this does not entertain you, I don’t know what will.

The 18th hole from above. (C) Jacob Sjöman.

I also had a quick little chat with one of the designers of the course, Darius Oliver.

“The golf course routing takes you to all points of the compass,” Oliver said. “The four par-5s play four different directions, and the grass is wall-to-wall fescue on greens, fairways and tees so it’s easy to maintain the traditional links surfaces. In fact, we only have a Super and five staff down at Wickham, and they do a wonderful job. There are more than 30 hectares of turf to maintain, so twice the average area of a Melbourne Sandbelt course, and the annual maintenance costs are half the Melbourne Sandbelt. We always wanted it to be easy to keep and sustainable, which we think has been achieved.”

The 15th green in front of the lighthouse. (C) Jacob Sjöman.

During our conversation, Oliver also pointed out that it was very important to create a world-class course that people would like to return to since it’s very remote. And looking at at it, I can only say they’ve been successful so far. We have also to keep in mind that this course is still very young and will most certainly evolve over time.

A important thing to remember while you are playing Cape Wickham Links is that in most cases you should not try to go for the pin… and if you do you will probably end up long and off the green. The best thing to do is calculate your bounces landing short in front of the firm greens and use all of your imagination and creativity to master the tricky slopes. Sometimes you will need to aim left or right to let the ball bounce onto the green. That’s why I recommend you to play it at least twice so you can study and learn the course properly.

The 17th green, followed by the 18th hole that wraps around Victoria Cove (C) Jacob Sjöman.

Both my friend Johan and I lost a lot of golf balls during our first round when we were struggling hard in the wind and figuring out how we should play the course correctly. Johan even ended up hitting a ball into the WC at the 9th! Despite our bad golf, we still adored the course. It’s a true masterpiece that clearly brings something new and fresh. We would definitely like to visit again… and again.

Up next: Ocean Dunes on our very last day at King Island. A course that is rumored to look like Barnbougle Dunes on steroids.

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Cape Kidnappers: The Ultimate Bucket List Course



After 7 hours of driving down from Tara Iti, we finally arrived to a big gate that said, “Cape Kidnappers.” A big dream seemed to finally get real for us. It’s a course that has been designed by one of our best golf architects of our time, Tom Doak. I’d seen it in so many glossy golf magazines for more than a decade. Now it was within reach. My heart was beating faster with every passing second.

We gently pressed the button at the front gate and a polite voice answered. We said our names and nervously added “from Sweden” for no reason at all. It was completely quiet for a moment. I remember thinking maybe they wouldn’t let us in after all.

Five seconds later, the gate slowly started to open. We soon found out that we needed to drive for another 15 minutes in order to reach to Cape Kidnappers. It was like a film trailer, building up our expectations even more. Driving through the beautiful landscape on swirling roads that climb up to the top of the cliffs where Cape Kidnappers sits comfortably 500 feet over the sea is something I’ll never forget. The scenery was seriously off the charts and the word dramatic hardly describes it.

Upon our arrival to the club house, we received a warm welcome from the friendly staff. Quickly, we were all set and out on the golf course in a golf buggy. Our tee time was scheduled for the next day, and I guess we should be thankful for that because the winds were now blowing like crazy. While I tried to capture some photos at the famous Pirate’s Plank hole (No. 15), a brutal par-5 on the ridge of a big cliff, I accidentally dropped the scorecard. It probably flew farther than all my drives together during the trip.

The next day the wind was still there; it was quite rough, but not at a storm level like the previous day. It sure felt like we were alone on the course when we teed off, and the first five holes prepared us for bigger battles.

(C) Jacob Sjöman.

We played Cape Kidnappers from the blue tees (6532 meters). The course obviously requires good shots to be successful, but also keep in mind that the fairways are pretty wide. If you are playing strategic golf and hit the ball solid, you can shoot a good score.

So what’s my opinion about Cape Kidnappers then? To me, it was a solid and great golf experience. It sure felt like that bucket-list course in the A category. I particularly enjoyed the last nine, which is maybe a bit more flat compared to the first nine. But still there are breathtaking holes like No. 15, Pirate’s Plank, and the magnificent tee box on No. 16.

“Some of the most tempting green sites at Cape Kidnappers were on the ground below the No. 6 and No. 13 greens,” Tom Doak told. “It would have been super dramatic to hit a shot to them, but there was no reasonable way to get down there to putt out and [get] back to the next tee. If someone ever perfects the jet pack, I have a couple of holes there I will redesign. The other part of it is that people have seen so many photos by air and almost none from ground level. It’s much different to play than expected.”

Was it the best golf course I’ve ever played? No, but it’s probably one of the coolest spots in the world where you can build a golf course. This course needs to be on your bucket list; I simply don’t believe you can’t leave it out.

(C) Jacob Sjöman.

The next stop for us will be Cape Wickham Links in King Island. It’s one of the most interesting courses that has been built in recent years, and I can’t wait to see it.

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19th Hole