From the tips, the world's 97th ranked course is a rugged test, but the aesthetics match the challenge, thanks to holes that twist through amphitheaters of giant dunes and others that edge the Irish Sea.Inverness, Nova Scotia, Canada, Rod Whitman, 2012 Developers Ben Cowan-Dewar and Mike Keiser handed over a rolling plot of coastal Nova Scotia terrain to architect Rod Whitman and the result is Canada's first authentic links.Machrihanish, Scotland, Charles Hunter/Old Tom Morris, 1876/1879 This remote Old Tom Morris design entrances more for its ambience than for its challenge. Colt, one of the giants of early 20th Century architecture, called this 1910 design "the least bad course" he had ever built, proving as Tom Doak memorably puts it, he "was no Muhammed Ali when it came to self-promotion." One of the most lightly played private clubs in Britain, this quiet enclave features wide, wooded fairways, gigantic bursts of rhododendrons in springtime and a back tee yardage under 6,100. Tillinghast, 1923 Neither as long nor as tough as its illustrious West sibling, the East course is no stranger to big-time events. A 2015 restoration by Gil Hanse put back many of the most ingenious green contours that had been lost or changed over time. New Albany, Ohio, Pete Dye, 1967 One of Pete Dye's early masterworks, circa 1967, this men-only domain in suburban Columbus was where Jack Nicklaus got his introduction to design, as an unpaid consultant. Forced to rebuild after a 2011 flood, Ayodhya emerged better than ever, with superior conditioning and a remarkable variety of holes—and no weak links. The 9th and 18th both climb steep hills to reach the greens, the latter being one of the game's toughest closing par-4s. San Francisco, Calif., Sam Whiting, 1924 Laid out on the side of a hill overlooking Lake Merced, its fairways hemmed in by thousands of cypress and eucalyptus trees, its greens and landing areas bracketed by wrist-fracturing rough, Olympic has proved to be an imposing test for five U. Indian Hill, Ohio, Seth Raynor, 1921 This low-key 1926 Seth Raynor creation in suburban Cincinnati dishes out extremely deep bunkers and huge, squared-off greens on a property laced with valleys and ravines.Known for its enchanting opening hole that demands a drive over the beach, Machrihanish provides a gleeful romp through shaggy sandhills on the front nine. Yet, par is only 68 and matching it requires excellent ball-striking, due primarily to a series of meaty par-4s. Colt redesign opens with three stout par-4s along the beach, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Bristol Channel. It witnessed Roberto De Vicenzo claim the very first U. Waterville, Ireland, Eddie Hackett, 1973 Waterville's slithering par-5 11th, hemmed in by dune ridges and its seaside par-3 17th, with a back tee isolated by dense vegetation and backdropped by Mac Gillycuddy's Reeks, are both world-class. With bunkers and water hazards framed by railroad ties and tall native grasses scattered throughout, the distinctive Dye style began to take hold. Tougher still is the creek-guarded 12th, which Ben Hogan once called the greatest par-4 in the U. The usual Macdonald/Raynor template holes are in place, from a Biarritz to a Redan, yet the two strongest par-3s might be the 5th and the 11th, modeled after the two one-shotters at St. Ellerston, Australia, Greg Norman/Bob Harrison, 2001 Greg Norman has never been shy about professing his admiration for Alister Mac Kenzie.Gil Hanse renovated Tokyo in 2010 and stated that one of his greatest pleasures here was to restore some of the elements and soul of the C. Alison design work, especially to the green complexes.Toledo, Ohio, Donald Ross, 1919 A marvelous collection of Donald Ross-designed par-4s set the stage for two of Greg Norman's most crushing defeats, the first when Bob Tway holed a bunker shot to win the 1986 PGA Championship, the second when the Shark lipped out putts on two straight holes, handing the 1993 PGA Championship playoff win to Paul Azinger.
The exposed, gorgeous par-3 4th that juts out to the tip of Sally's Point invites comparisons to Pebble Beach's 7th. Supporters have long praised it as the superior modern test. Cruden Bay, Scotland, Herbert Fowler/Tom Simpson, 1926 This certified cult classic is a personal favorite of both Pete Dye and Tom Doak. Tillinghast, 1922 Rivaling Oakmont as the course that has entertained the most U. Inverness, Scotland, Gil Hanse/Mark Parsinen, 2009 GOLF Magazine's Top New International Course of 2009 has maintained its early lofty results thanks to a brilliant Gil Hanse/Mark Parsinen design that was effusively praised by Phil Mickelson—and that was before he won the 2013 Scottish Open here. Hotchkin, 1905/1912/1926 Harry Vardon left us much more than six Open wins and a grip. Bandon, Ore., David Mc Lay Kidd, 1999 Bandon's original course is a David Mc Lay Kidd design draped atop craggy headlands above the Pacific.
All Kohler told Dye was "I want the course to look like it's in Ireland." Mission accomplished.
Lake Bluff, Ill., Seth Raynor, 1921 Steep ravines affect play throughout the back nine on this short but sweet 1921 Seth Raynor parkland design.
Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., Pete Dye, 1981 Venue for the Players Championship since 1982, Pete Dye's imaginatively-designed and occasionally terror-inducing track has crowned winners such as Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
One of the wildest finishes took place in 2013, when Sergio Garcia, tied with Woods, splashed two tee shots at the infamous island-green 17th.