Augusta Replaces Pine Valley Atop Golf Digest Top 100

Just a few quick reactions to the latest Golf Digest America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses.

The list and accompanying package of images, sidesbars, etc...appears in the February, 2015 Golf Digest.

- Augusta National switches spots (again) with Pine Valley, though the plunge to second probably won’t be alarming enough for Pine Valley to initiate some much needed restoration work. Nor does a move to No. 1 do anything to inspire much needed restoration work at Augusta National. First world sigh.

- National Golf Links finally lands in the top 10 at No. 8, no doubt helped by hosting the Walker Cup and the magnificence of the design. Top 2 with a restored Pine Valley is where it should ultimately land, in an ideal world.

- Oak Hill actually moved up from 17th to 16th. Is it even the 16th best design in the state of New York? Great club, but architecturally it has no business anywhere near the top 75.

- The Country Club moves from 24th to 19th, a nice nod to the club restoring features under Gil Hanse’s supervision and hosting the U.S. Amateur.

- Friar’s Head moves to 23rd from 28th while Sand Hills drops out of the top 10. With the continued effort to improve Friar’s Head by overseer Ken Bakst, this may ultimately turn out to be Coore and Crenshaw’s most complete design.

- Los Angeles Country Club moves to 26th from 41st, the biggest jump by a classic course that I could detect.

- The Alotian Club begins the descent from the ridiculous 15th to a still-inflated 27th.

- Pinehurst No. 2 vaults to 28th from 40th. Better, but still should never even be mentioned in the same breath as a place like The Alotian Club, much less sitting behind it on a list. That's like putting Caddyshack behind The Greatest Game Ever Played.

- Erin Hills debuts at No. 42. The course had been ineligible for consideration until 2013 due to Architecture Editor Ron Whitten’s involvement. The course hosts the 2017 U.S. Open.

- Seth Raynor and Charles Banks’ Camargo Club joins the list at No. 52, fueled by a Tom Doak restoration.

- Somerset Hills, my favorite A.W. Tillinghast design by about ten lengths, moves from 95th to 73rd. Still not good enough, but I’m sure the late, great Frank Hannigan would be concerned to see the Golf Digest panel gradually coming to its senses.

- The Valley Club of Montecito is back! 112th to 83rd. I’m not sure what happened but one of the most enjoyable courses on the planet should have a spot on such a list, right?

- Streamsong’s Red course cracks the list, as does Shoreacres in the final two spots. The omission of Shoreacres was always on the list of reasons to not take the ranking seriously!

Overall there appears to be a little more recognition of fun and whimsical design, and even more acknowledgement of restored features. There appear to be still too many courses recognized because they are difficult or provide a lavish experience. That said, I see mostly huge positives thanks to the upward trajectory of long overlooked courses and those with genuine architectural interest.