As with the 2013 USA Top 100 list, here again there is little change at the top with most of the top 30 or 40 courses only shifting a few places, if at all. The big winner among the top 40 is Barnbougle Dunes in Australia, which moves from 41st place into 34th in the world. It was an exact swap with the New South Wales GC, which went from 34th out to 41st. The second course at Barnbougle, Lost Farm, also improved (from 82 to 72) while the East Course at Royal Melbourne (94th) reappears after missing out in 2011.
Of the newcomers on the list, most attention will focus on Trump International in Scotland (50), Cabot Links in Canada (82) and Shanqin Bay in China (78), the first course from that country to ever make the list. While Shanqin Bay is certainly worthy of the accolade, it’s virtually impossible for outsiders to play. The same is true of Nine Bridges in Korea (45), a perennial favorite of this panel but one that seems completely outclassed by the other courses around it. The fact the club flies judges to Jeju Island and hosts a lavish, private tournament every couple of years obviously works in its favor.
Oitavos Dunes in Portugal is another course that the GOLF Magazine panel seems overly enamoured by. It’s certainly a good course for Portugal, but a stretch at 65 in the world. The same could be said of Kauri Cliffs, a good course but surely not 74th in the world and directly in front of Ballyneal. Of the older courses, Oakland Hills (35), Olympic Club (57), Southern Hills (64), Maidstone (67), Inverness (83) and Royal Adelaide (99) should all feel fortunate, as should Medinah No. 3 (85), whose presence on top 100 lists continues to hurt panel credibility.