How the ranking works: Golf Courses

The review panel

Until recently, the Golf World Top 100 Ranking was compiled solely by the magazine’s team of editors. But in 2014, we recruited a panel of well-travelled readers to incorporate a more diverse and comprehensive range of opinions into our assessments. We also wanted to solicit the opinions of ‘real’ golfers so that our reviews were relevant to as many people as possible, not just architecture aficionados. This process also enables us to identify themes that warrant further investigation and helps us avoid individual subjectivity. Our panel incorporates a wide range of golfers with varying abilities and golf course design preferences. It includes golf course architects, Tour professionals, golf journalists, club golfers and selected golf industry experts.


The assessment criteria

We introduced a more transparent methodology for ranking courses in 2016. We believe that ‘showing our working out’ adds credibility to our decisions and helps us better explain our findings to readers. Every golf course is reviewed across six categories individually weighted to reflect their importance to the overall playing experience:

1.   Design
This category highlights a golf course’s overall quality. It asks questions such as: Does the course have a good pace/rhythm? Is there a good variety of holes? Are the holes cleverly and imaginatively designed? Are good shots rewarded? Is the routing astute and intuitive?
Points allocated: 30

2.   Setting
It goes without saying that the location of a golf course can be hugely influential in its overall appeal. We take into account the topography of the course, the quality of the land, the scenery, the views and the overall  ‘atmosphere’.
Points allocated: 20

3.   Presentation
This grade reflects the condition of the golf course and examines the tees, fairways, bunkers, greens and surrounding environment if an integral part of the playing experience. In recent years, we have reduced the ‘weighting’ of this category since a golf course’s condition is variable from year to year and can be adversely affected by factors outside the control of the club.
Points allocated: 15

4.   Playability
We assess a course on its playability across all 18 holes. In general, we look favourably upon golf courses that are designed in such a way that they are fair and enjoyable experiences for all levels of golfer.
Points allocated: 15

5.   Memorability
You could also label this as the ‘wow’ factor. In other words, it asks two questions: 1. How memorable is the golf course; 2. How well do individual holes linger in your memory once you’ve finished playing? Inevitably, this is category reflects a golf course’s setting/location, topography and design ingenuity.
Points allocated: 10

6.   Consistency
We look to acknowledge and reward golf courses that deliver an exceptional playing experience across all 18 holes. In general, a golf course with many strong holes will gain more marks than a golf course that has a few standout holes but several mediocre ones.
Points allocated: 10