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Golf Digest's 2013 "100 Greatest" Ranking...

...arrives a little early! I'm not sure why the change, but what normally comes out three months from now is on newstands or on tablet editions for subscribers (or single issue downloaders).

Pictured is No. 15, The Alotian Club where they appear to have replicated the Great Wall only as a cart parth embankment.

That said, here is the top 20 for online readers where Pine Valley moves back ahead of Augusta National in the top spot.

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Reader Comments (56)

Golf! Where only rich or connected men can play (ostensibly) the best course in the country. Yep a welcoming sport that golf
12.28.2012 | Unregistered CommenterElf
This list is a joke
12.28.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBouje
And the hits just keep on coming!

Geoff, I think you mistakenly put up a picture of #2 at Industrial Hills, Eisnhower Course. At least it looks like the cart path there!

12.28.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDr. Strangelove
Is it a dropshot par 3?
12.28.2012 | Unregistered CommenterKevin part deux
Elf, I share your view. Courses like Pine Valley, Augusta and Loch Lomond here in Britain are private clubs, yes. But in view that the PGA's of Europe and America want to spread the game, I feel these courses that don't allow the public to play them, should not be considered in the top 100 lists, etc. Golf is the greatest sport, because we amatuers can, most of the time, play the great courses the best in the world play also,IMO.
12.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterEasingwold
@Easingwold, I think most of the top courses in the UK are open to the public a few days a week. Also, there is a top 100 public courses in the US issued either by Golf Magazine or Golf Digest.
12.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterEric
Interesting that 9 of the top 20 play less than 7000 yards.
Pasatiempo is worse than Sahalee. No doubt the other six signs of the apocalypse will appear shortly.
12.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterMatthewM
No Pinehurst #2 among the top 20 but Whistling Straits? Is this a joke?
12.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterRyan
What is it about Oak Hill and golf digest raters?
12.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterPABoy
Elf - The rankings are opinions about the merits of the architecture, not club policy. And you know what they say about opinions, right? Shot Values, Resistance to Scoring, Design Variety, Memorability, Aesthetics, Conditioning and Ambience. I'm sure Trump would have a different definition of ambience but in this case GD had it as: How well does the overall feel and atmosphere of the COURSE reflect or uphold the traditional values of the game? As in life, golf is what you make of it. If you can't accept that, maybe another tattoo or piercing will make you feel better about the sordid state of the game.
12.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterD. maculata
Eric, yes, that is true. I have played a dozen top courses here, it's just the odd one, like Loch Lomond.
12.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterEasingwold
After seeing this list of top 20 courses, I am glad my club does not enter this silly business. Unfortunately I think this accurately reflects the feelings of Golf Digest and a majority of golfers. I think they add Chicago Golf Club just to make them feel traditional, they don't really think it as good at Whistling Straits.
12.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterLynn S.
Lynn S-

Great points and I completely agree. I'm a GD rater and this list is quite an embarassment. Pinehurst #2 at number 40 and - once again- no Sleepy Hollow? What a joke.
But you know what? The folks at GD know that there is nothing more polarizing than the top 100 list and the discussions have just begun! Once again, mission accomplished.

Speaking of Chicago Golf Club I would be curious to know how many GD raters have actually played there. The place is next to impossible to get on. On the other hand Oak Hill is very "rater friendly" which, in my opinion, helps explain why it is all the way up to #17.
12.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterSun Mountain Man
@D not arguing with their ratings or methodology. Pine Valley may be the best course in the US. All I'm sayin is that when the courses we hokd up as cathedrals of the game in this country are also highly exclusionary, it sends aun unfortunate message about golf to the common folk :p
12.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterElf
Curious timing...the ranking always came out in the fall (Nov. issue of GD) then it moved to May because there was more space to devote to it. I guess anytime it comes out will make "news.''

On GC Atlas the omission of Shoreacres is being widely lamented. The Crenshaw/Coore work on Pinehurst obviously has not wowed too many raters. The full list is out somewhere. Agree PV deserves top spot over ANGC updating.

Does Ron Whitten still oversee the GD ranking or has he stepped aside due to his own design work? No byline. Pete Finch?
12.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterMedia maven
Let's see: Whistling Straits top 20, #2 @ 40, Congressional top 100; no Yale, Quail Hollow, or Shoreacres.

Yep, safe to continue ignoring.
12.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterMark B
I find it interesting, and a lesson to the architects of today, that this list has virtually all courses from classic (read old and gone) designers, and as noted, length is not really a factor, and this is a good thing, IMO.

As to the abilit to ''get on''; IMO this has no bearing on the purpose of the list.

The accessibility of tracks is a separate ''issue'', and is addressed in a separate...err issue.
12.29.2012 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
Golf Digest is a hapless golf rag, but one of the few still in business as the internet continues to take over. I will keep reading it for now because it stubbornly hangs in there, though I have to wade through endless waves of silly advertising to find the nuggets.
12.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBobby D
The rankings bring light to golf course architecture to more than just a fringe audience, which is a good thing. If it leads to good discusson about how the ground on which the game is played, I'm ok with it.

Do I agree with them as a whole... no, but I've seen worse. You are always going to have a course slip in like Canyata, merely because of exclusivity. I'm afraid Ellerston is going to make Golf Magazine's World list this Fall for similar reasons. It's a nice course and probably Norman's best effort on an extraordinary piece of property, but I'm not sure it's World 100.

GD's list is going to lend itself to tough but fair courses, Magazine's are more gut impression and allows for more bias, Weeks helps with what should be great, but plays toward bias as well.
12.29.2012 | Unregistered Commenterdrr345
Every-time another list comes out we all say over and over what a joke the list is, yet all the magazines just keep pumping out their damned lists. Why? because it gets page views and sells some (more than usual, anyway) magazines.

How about we all just start ignoring their lists. We don't get involved in massive online flame wars over which course should sit atop which list and we don't even bother to complain at how bad the last list was.... Maybe if we ignore them long enough, they'll stop making these pathetic lists.

The best golf course in the world is the one you are teeing it up on this day, and if you are indeed lucky enough to be teeing it up today - good on ya.

Happy New Year to everyone!! All the best in 2013.
12.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterPress Agent
I played 18 today, shot 79, won $14, do you really think I give a hoot about Pine Valley?
12.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBobby D
I agree about the comment that many raters probably have not even played Chicago Golf Club regardless of the voting process. Many of these raters that I have met should probably not be doing it as they take themselves way too seriously. As for the comment on Sleep Hollow, I agree. There are probably at least ten more in Westchester and Long Island that can be added to the list that are better than some of the typical ones that continue to hang on from reputation alone.
12.29.2012 | Unregistered Commenterstick
I play golf with a guy who is a member at Chicago Golf Club. He loves the place, says it has less than 100 members.
12.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBobby D
Many of the "Best" lists include facilities that spend money to promote and sell their course to media members and raters. This is probably not as true with this particular list but more so with best public access courses and best resorts, etc. As a former PR firm owner that specialized in golf courses, we had many facilities wine and dine media to hopefully get favorable opinions which ultimately could be worth a lot of money to our clients. Many times it worked and I still see some courses where I know a PR firm was hired for that one specific reason. The "lists" also always seem to include plenty of golf facilities that coincidentally advertise with the publication. I remember talking to a major magazine editor in the late 70's that was trying to come up with a list of "best teachers". They had no clue how to compile the list so they basically used the guys that taught at their instruction schools and the pros at the courses and resorts that advertised in their magazine. Not always the case obviously but something to consider when looking at many of these "best" lists.
12.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterWilson Beck
@Wilson just summed up Golf Digest to a payola is alive and well!
12.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBobby D
I'm beginning to think Bobby D plays at a course that ''was'' on a list and now ''isn't''. :) Cares a little more than ''normal''..... or maybe just hit the Jack early.....

You have to take these things FWIW... what about the Academy Awards-- The Grammies, etc....can one movie really be ''the best'', when several are all excellent... I can name 5 great songs, none any better than the other 4, all released this year....and all different ''Style''

Yes some golf courses are better than others, but several are as good as one another...and so our host titled the list in parentheses, as it should be.

And thank goodness GD and other pubs sell ads and have luring covers to draw in newbies-- the competition at the newsstand for one's pocket money is fierce, and I am well past some ''tip'' or a list of golf courses- these mags have interesting feature stories on people and yes, places, and for a book reader like me, the diversion of a well written magazine is great- even if they have to advertise.

When enough golfer exist to support consumer's digest running A LIST, oops, the we will have a non biased ranking. But bland as all get out. Chart on the weight of a pound of sand from one course to another-- the density of the water fronting the par 3's.-- you get it.

So bitch, but be glad for here we have pretty pictures, and a friend of mine makes his living doing that, so I am biased too. And a friend of mine writes a golf blog, and other friends of mine read it, and we all agree, and we disagree- and here we all are! Ain't life great!

Happy New Year, too PA!

And congrats on the winnings. Bobby...nice round.
12.29.2012 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
Nothing wrong with these lists, they bring good discussion. Which list is perfect? GCA's?
I doubt GD is influenced by advertisers for this list. Few courses advertise in the mag. Equipment is PERHAPS another story.
I don't understand the Easingwold's rant about exclusivity. The courses could not have been built without well heeled founders and they choose to create private clubs, that is not unusual, illegal or immoral.
Whether exclusive or not, if they are great courses, they deserve to be on the list.
I don't hear new players saying that if they cannot play Pine Valley, they will not take up the game. Most "average" golfers in the US do not even know where Pine Valley GC is. Red herring....
12.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterKG
I am going to start ranking the ranking lists.

Now that Golfweek has Top Casino Courses I can likely do a top 10 of just Golfweek lists.
12.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterTighthead
I'm a Budweiser guy...and I walk.
12.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBobby D
Chicago Golf deserves all the plaudits it gets. I have been fortunate enough to have been invited 3 times and it's just great fun.
12.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterSari
18" of snow and snowing again. The "list" is at the bottom of my list.

Take the list for what it is. You know what they say about opinions. On to "Ten best sports cars over $250,000".
12.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAverage Golfer
I'm a panelist and played Chicago golf. It's very good although I don't have it that high. On the same note, Shoreacres fell off this list which is a shame. The classics still are being pushed off in favor of Fazios and other modern courses. Yale, Pasatiempo, Camargo left off in favor of Grizzley Ranch and Alotian?

The Jones family had a bad day with Rees losing East Lake and Ocean Forest. His loving brother RTJ2 lost the Prince Course and papa Jones had Eugene CC fall off. Rees somewhat redeemed himself when his tinkering at Tillinghasts Baltusrol upper made the list.

Tom Doak's Old MacDonald makes the list. He's trying to catch Fazio and might just make it in 10 years.
12.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterJSS
JSS, at least give CBM some respect by knowing which letter to capitalize in his name.

Can someone explain what is great about Alotian? Inspired by ANGC, I know, but little else. I think someone on GCA once got in trouble by posting something negative about it.
12.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterNDP
I played Grande Oaks, Ft. Lauderdale, formerly Rolling Hills. Caddyshack location. That's the list!
12.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAverage Golfer
Golf is a seaside game. Therefore, Pine Valley or Augusta National can't be at the top of any list. Maybe they are the best Parkland layouts on the planet, but that is a derivative of "golf" - which is played firm and fast along the ground with changing weather as a hazard. You can do that playing golf on the side of a hill (ANGC) or in a srubby pine forest miles from the sea (PV).

(Besides, Sunningdale is the best inland course on the planet - springy heathland terrain comes the closest to what is found on the seaside - and Bobby Jones was very clear about a desire to just lift up Sunningdale and drop it somewhere in the US rather than fussing around with some barely adequate nursery land in Georgia).

Finally, it should be noted that golf was born as a public game as linksland was accessible by all for recreation - whether it was golf or archery or whatever. Fully blocked off private clubs are foreign with respect to the orgins of golf and should be relegated to another list - ie, best "closed" courses in the U.S. or the world or whatever.
12.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAbu Dhabi Golfer
So, where do you sign up to be a panelist?

Regarding the "exclusivity" of so many courses on this list, yes, I'm sure they deserve their exalted rank for all the reasons stated. Kind of like the Barnes Foundation, except we can call ahead and actually see Dr. Barnes' treasures. Limited outside play on the order of most such courses in most of the rest of the world would only exalt these courses more. It's not as if any of us willing to make the arrangements and pay through the nose for a Thursday afternoon at Pine Valley would show up in a backward flat-brim oversize pink Puma cap and cargo shorts with a halter-topped girlfriend in tow and expect to be allowed out of the car. For some reason this reminds me of the lottery for practice round tickets at the Masters. Before the lottery I attended 12 years in a row, more or less, on Tuesday starting in 1986 (Hmm, what happened that year?). For the first two years or so after the lottery I got tickets. Over that transition period I noticed that the committee in charge of such things started doing a much better job routing patrons through the big concession stands down the hill in the woods. There was no noticeable difference in the number of people traipsing about the course post-lottery, however. But one thing I did notice. That guy dressed like a shoeless Haystack Calhoun (RIP) who got up Tuesday morning and decided to see what that there Masters thing over to Augusta was all about? Nowhere to be found after the lottery began. Yes, I really did see him the last time before the lottery, down by the Sarazen Bridge: 300 pounds, straw hat, denim bib overalls, and no shoes; I think he was a put-on. My last time was 1997, another momentous year in Augusta Lore. I still get sh*t for predicting that you-know-who would miss the cut, while relaxing with peeps in the stands behind the 12th tee. Nice symmetry to that, 1986-1997. Guess I'll go ahead and stop signing up...Given my recent run of non-success I think I'm on the "you've got to be kidding" list anyway ;-)
12.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterKLG

PV sits atop a former sea bed and has great rolling topography. Parkland it is not.
12.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterRose
Does anyone here know anyone who would prefer to play Spyglass instead of either Pasa or Old Mac?
12.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterMatthewM
KG, I just think, that golf is for everyone. I understand the private club thing. It is within anyone's rights to run a club the way they see fit. But golf, to me elevates itself above other sports, it's great that amatuers can play the great tracks the pro's play. New players, soon become experienced players and embrace the game. Exclusivity can put some off the game. And the game needs to grow. I don't think it has a place in today's game. Only my opnion. These lists are out every year and change often anyway.
12.30.2012 | Unregistered CommenterEasingwold

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