Golf Digest appears to have been scooped by GolfClubAtlas.com's discussion group where the early posters are howling at Augusta National's ascension to the No. 1 spot in the biennial Top 100 ranking.
Why is this not Golf Digest's finest ranking moment? Well for starters I devoted a solid third of my Keynote slides at the Golf Digest Panelist Summit to the butchery of Augusta National. So you can see how influential I was to the 120 or so panelists who were an otherwise dream audience to address (I'm used to architects, members and superintendents who scowl and yawn...or do both at the same time).
As the GCA readers have pointed out, the rise of ANGC to the top spot is particularly odd considering that Golf Digest has so nobly tried to reorient their panelists toward the reward of leaner and more environmentally friendly course conditioning. Augusta National certainly does not fit their ideal in any way.
Architecturally it's a head scratcher because the course is a bit of a mess. If you put today's mangled 7th hole or 11th holes on any other course, a majority of panelists would write the place off immediately. Throw in the awkward injections to the 15th and the lack of diversity in teeing grounds that discriminates against golfers between the handicaps of 18 and 4 (small audience!), and it really is hard to imagine how anyone can call this the best course in the land. Then again the serious architecture students are still badly outnumbered on the panel, so I'm not sure why I would expect architectural details to matter.
Overall I'm struck by how the list is populated with so many courses I have no desire to play. Fun appears to be an elusive quality of courses on the Digest list.
Anyway, the 2007 list for reference. I'll spare you comments for the entire list...
1 Augusta National G.C. - The Christmas tree planting is so strategic and yet so aesthetically pleasing too.
9 Fishers Island Club - Great place and no irrigation system! Go figure.
11 Oak Hill C.C. (East) - They meant 311th right?
20 Medinah C.C. (No. 3) - Rev up the dozers, about time for the bi-annual redo isn't it?
31 Riviera C.C. - Up 30 spots. Never hurts having a panelist running the joint!
32 Pinehurst Resort & C.C. (No. 2) - Serves them right for sterilizing the scrub off the property.
42 Canyata G.C. - I'm sorry, where is this?
46 Rich Harvest Links - They must have taken the artificial turf tee out finally!
47 Los Angeles C.C. (North) - After Rich Harvest and in front of Kinloch.
53 Garden City G.C. - Wait, this is fun...how can it be ranked so high?
63 Flint Hills National G.C. - I'm sorry, where is this?
68 Stone Canyon Club - Their ads do look great!
74 Shoreacres - Again, way too much fun and full of character for this list.
83 Eagle Point G.C. - I'm not sorry, where is this?
84 Sahalee C.C. (South/North) - They're hosting a Senior major! Lucky guys.
88 Somerset Hills C.C. - Almost off the list finally, you never belonged. Too brilliant!
94 Hudson National G.C. - This still exists?