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World's Top 100 Courses (Golf Digest)

Jan 7, 2016

America's Golf Digest magazine has just released its 'World's 100 Greatest Courses 2016-17' and there are some dramatic changes including a new No. 1, Royal County Down in Northern Ireland (up from No. 4 last time) and the "two hottest new layouts on the globe, No. 19 Cabot Cliffs in Nova Scotia and No. 24 Cape Wickham in Australia". See the full article here.

Let ausgolf arrange your visit to King Island to play the new world No. 24

Here's how the Aussies fared:

6 (9) ROYAL MELBOURNE (West)
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia / 6,643 yards, Par 72

Alister MacKenzie's 1926 routing fits snuggly into the contours of the rolling sandbelt land. His greens are miniature versions of the surrounding topography. His crisp bunkering, with vertical edges a foot or more tall, chew into fairways and putting surfaces. Most holes dogleg, so distance means nothing and angle into the pin is everything. For championships, holes 8 & 9 and 13 - 16 are skipped in favor of six from the East Course, which is ranked No. 55. That "composite course" was once ranked by several publications.

18 (21) KINGSTON HEATH G.C.
Cheltenham, Victoria, Australia / 7,102 yards, Par 72

Considered an Alister MacKenzie design, but in fact Australian pro Des Soutar designed the course in 1925. MacKenzie made a brief visit the following year and suggested the present bunkering, which was constructed by Mick Morcom before he built Royal Melbourne's two courses. The bunkers are long, sinewy, shaggy, gnarly, windswept and, of course, strategically placed. Some say MacKenzie's tee-to-green stretch of bunkers on the par-3 15th set the standard for all Sandbelt layouts.

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.  

29 (NEW) Ellerston G.C.
Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia / 7,318 yards, Par 72

No other course on the World Top 100 is so brutally honest about its intention to be a ball buster. The late media mogul Kerry Packer commissioned Greg Norman to build him the nation's toughest course, and Norman complied. Routed on slopes and in a valley on Packer's estate, it has water in play on half the holes. A superb aerial game is needed to clear deep bunkers and reach greens perched perilously close to the Pages Creek. After Ellerston's opening, Norman said, "We had no need to consider forward tees, resort traffic or weaker hitters. We were able to create a course that a golfer of my caliber would love to play everyday."

30 (33) New South Wales G.C.
Le Perouse, New South Wales, Australia / 6,829 yards, Par 72

Sitting along the dramatic rugged seacoast of Botany Bay near Sydney, on the spot where Captain Cook first stepped onto Australia in 1770, La Perouse is renown for its ocean views and high winds. On his brief but productive 1926 trip, Alister MacKenzie prepared a routing for the course, but it was radically altered during a 1936 remodeling by Eric Apperly and by neglect during WWII. A succession of post-war architects have slowly re-established the integrity of the design, most recently Greg Norman.

33 (11) BARNBOUGLE DUNES
Bridport, Tasmania, Australia / 6,721 yards, Par 71

A 2004 collaboration of American superstar designer Tom Doak and Australian tour-pro-turned-architect Michael Clayton, this is a tremendous 18 in a fantastic stretch of sand dunes along Bass Strait, the sea that separates Tasmania from Melbourne. What is fascinating is that the back nine is completely reversed from how Doak originally routed it. So was the site so good that, once construction started, Doak and Clayton were able to find nine new green sites at the opposite ends of holes originally envisioned? Or did they use bulldozers and create those "natural" green sites?

40 (23) Barnbougle LOST FARM
Bridport, Tasmania, Australia / 6,849 yards, Par 72

On a site just across the river from sister Barnbougle Dunes (No. 11), with taller dunes but fewer of them, Lost Farm has not 18, but 20 holes, counting its two short pitch-shot bye holes. The design is dramatic and unusual, particularly the par-4 fifth, a dogleg right along the river, whose blind tee shot brings to mind the 17th at St. Andrews. Instead of old black sheds, a high dune blocks view of the fairway from the tee. Billed as a Coore & Crenshaw design, schedule conflicts kept Ben Crenshaw from participating in this design. Bill Coore used the usual C&C team, though.

It's interesting to see how far the Barnbougle Twins have slipped - possibly as more judges saw the courses and the initial euphoria waned. But the new King Island wonder has been universally acclaimed and we dont feel that a similar fate awaits.

Royal Melbourne East came in at 55 (down from 28) and The National Old made the list for the first time at 87.