Our latest ranking of the top 100 courses in the world went live last week, and – dagnabbit! – not a single one of these lovely properties offers reservations on GolfNow. Where is this taking us? It leaves us dreaming of playing courses known to be difficult to obtain. It also allows us to work on a list within a list. Because it’s human nature to want what you can’t have, we’ve brought you this recap of the 10 toughest tee times on our list of the top 100 courses in the world.
AUGUSTA NATIONAL, Augusta, Georgia.
Hello friends. Please enjoy our broadcast with minimal commercial disruption. Marvel at the blushing colors of magnolias and dogwoods while soaking up the soothing trill of birdsong. On Sunday night, you’ll swear you know all the hills and valleys of Alister MacKenzie’s most famous course, which is good, because playing it yourself is probably not in the cards.
CHICAGO GOLF CLUB, Wheaton, Ill.
One of the five founding members of the United States Golf Association, which was formed in 1894, and the site of the country’s first 18-hole golf course, Chicago Golf is certainly its age. If the courses were codgers, this CB Macdonald design would stand on the front steps of his own clubhouse, screaming for the world to leave his field.
CYPRESS POINT GOLF CLUB, Monterey, California
“One year they had a big Cypress membership drive,” Bob Hope once joked about the club he belonged to. “They chased 40 members. What remains today is a list of around 250 lucky souls who have easy access to a coastal route so scenic it could be mistaken for a national park.
When it opened in 2001, this design by Greg Norman-Bob Harrison had one member: Australian media mogul Kerry Packer, who commissioned the course on his private estate in a remote sample of New South Wales, to about four hours by car from Sydney (like someone ever drives here). Packer passed away in 2005, and still under the management of the Packer family, Ellerston has distributed a handful of corporate memberships. Otherwise, access requires an invitation from someone from the owner’s inner circle. Norman was one of Packer’s friends. So if you have the Shark on speed dial, it might be time to call it.
FISHERS ISLAND CLUB, Fishers Island, NY
An island in the literal and metaphorical sense, this design by Seth Raynor sits in the Atlantic just off the eastern tip of Long Island, accessible only by boat or private plane and far beyond the reach of average types. . Have you heard of old money? The paste here is so old that you could carbon date it. But he doesn’t like to draw attention to himself. In 1979, when GOLF included Fishers Island in its inaugural ranking of the world’s greatest courses, a club representative wrote a letter to the editor: Thanks for the congratulations, it reads, now please remove us from your list.
HIRONO, Kobe, Japan
In a nation rich in customs and formalities, Hirono fits in perfectly. As for the integration of non-members, that is another matter. Unaccompanied play is not permitted. In addition, despite its high level ranking, the intensely private club and its design CH Alison have only hosted two landmark events: the Japan Amateur and the Japan Open. That’s a short list of people who can see it, and – following a recent restoration by Martin Ebert – an ever-growing group of people who want to take a look.
MORFONTAINE from France
Many people would like to attach it to this magnificent trail of moors, about 40 miles north of Paris. Only a few never get the chance. Built in 1913 as a private playground for the 12th Duke of Gramont, it remains a secret redoubt for French golf royalty and others in possession of princely fortunes. Unaccompanied play is as rare as steak tartare, so unless you’re close to one of the Duke’s descendants, we’re not optimistic you’ll have access to a club that – speaking of tartare – serves this. that many say is the best lunch in the wide world of golf.
THE OLD COURSE IN ST. ANDREWS from Scotland
Yes, there is a ballot. There is also the day before. But unless you’re a local or an R&A member, you’ll likely need the help of a tour operator to find time on a tee sheet that regularly books several seasons in advance. Life is filled with ironies, and one of them is this: Precisely because anyone can play the Old Course, sometimes it feels like no one can.
PINE VALLEY GOLF CLUB, Pine Valley, NJ
Since everyone is in the data these days, let’s run some numbers. Pine Valley is the highest ranked course in the world, so pretty much everyone wants to play it. Too bad the majority of its members do not live in the neighborhood, and unaccompanied guests are not allowed. Add to that the fact that the club doesn’t host regular fundraisers or company outings (a common way to access other top private lessons) and, well, that’s math to do. elementary school: the odds are tough against you.
SEMINOLE GOLF CLUB, Juno Beach, Florida
To get a feel for life in Seminole, imagine your standard Florida gated golf community, with a ostentatious clubhouse, gaudy members, and geezers riding carts wherever you turn. Now imagine its opposite. “If I were a young man on the professional tour, I would try to make arrangements to get on Seminole,” Ben Hogan once said of this Donald Ross design. Good advice, but not that simple. It is a club which would have refused the adhesion of Jack Nicklaus.