Golfweek’s seventh annual America’s Best course rankings are in. Once again, the results are likely to fuel debate and discussion in locker rooms, 19th holes and maintenance yards.
Pine Valley and Sand Hills are still No. 1, respectively, on our Classical and Modern lists. Donald Ross and Tom Fazio remain the leaders of their eras when it comes to ranked courses on the America’s Best list. And for all the development of fine layouts in recent years, the 1920s remain the most-productive decade when it comes to defining an era of great golf course architecture.
Continuities aside, there also are some interesting new trends at work that presage the next decade of course design and development. The benefits of major classical restorations are clear in terms of some dramatic climbs compared with last year’s rankings. A few veteran architects got their first solo listings this year. And the affordable daily-fee category is proving ripe with quality designs.
All of this bodes well for creativity despite an era of reduced course openings. Just because there were 40 percent fewer course openings in 2002 than in 2000 (according to National Golf Foundation data), quality doesn’t have to ...