The Twenty Ten Course, Newport, Wales (European Golf Design, 2007). The site of the 2010 Ryder Cup was the first layout built exclusively for golf’s biannual international challenge, but after the decisive European victory, it’s now open to all. The course succeeds as a classic because of the fun factor.
Several holes, especially on the back nine, can be played in a variety of ways including the drivable par-4 15th hole where big hitters or those with big ideas can aim for a narrow gap in the trees enroute to the green. The par-5 18th has a large creek in front of a banked green that can sink any good score.
Castle Stuart, Inverness, Scotland (Gil Hanse and Mark Parsinen, 2010). The two-time site of the Scottish Open lies on the Moray Firth just outside the largest city in the Highlands. Its wide fairways and large greens make it less penal than some links, but the sheer beauty of its greens against the calm water and the elevation changes makes it a worthy addition to the Highlands trifecta of older classics, Royal Dornoch, Brora, and Nairn.
Kingsbarns Golf Links, St Andrews, Scotland (Kyle Phillips and Mark Parsinen, 2000). Located in the shadow of golf’s birthplace and the sport’s oldest classic, this wonderful links course from Phillips and Parsinen has become one of the sport’s new classics. The course rolls to the sea which laps at the St Andrews shore. There are some nonlinks aspects including some trees, but it all works wonderfully together. Add this to the list of any St Andrews golf pilgrimage.
Davis, a rising star in the architectural world, expertly crafted several of the holes along the coves of Lake Lewisville and also used multiple teeing areas, along with a drivable back-nine par-4 16th hole, to give golfers plenty of options and plenty of fun.
The European Club, Brittas Bay, Ireland (Pat Ruddy, 1992). How do you make a 21-year-old course look like it’s been there 300 years? That’s the real genius of Irish golf writer and longtime promoter Pat Ruddy, who personally scouted the land and designed the course he now happily runs with his family.
The holes fit so naturally within their surroundings that it looks as though the landscape was always meant to hold a links masterpiece. You’ve truly found the soul of Irish golf if you’re fortunate enough to spend time talking with Ruddy and his children, who are almost always there. They’re happy to share a bowl of Irish stew with you or even invite you to visit Dad’s famous upstairs golf library. It’s a true treat on and off the course.
The Dormie Club, Pinehurst, North Carolina (Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, 2010). Like Kingsbarns, this new classic is in the shadow of one of American golf’s original classics, but it’s proof that the talented Texas architectural duo is up to any challenge. This is a great example of the pair’s minimalistic nature in hugely scenic piney woods surroundings, with the par-5 dogleg 17th a classic unto itself. It’s a course that is meant to be totally private, but is now accepting outside play during the down economic times.
Dye Fore, Dominican Republic (Pete Dye, 2003). This area certainly doesn’t lack for classic courses, including an original one done by Pete nearby, but Dye Fore offers the only views of the Chavon River, the Dominican Mountains, and the Caribbean Sea in the distance. The par-5 18th offers a spectacular uphill view of the natural surroundings with several of the holes overlooking the river and entire valley.
Doonbeg, Doonbeg, Ireland (Greg Norman, 2002). One can say Norman had great natural linksland on which to build any course, which is certainly true. But he took full advantage of the great dunes-strewn land that was formerly farmland. Many of the holes are totally encircled by dunes while others jut out toward the Atlantic Ocean. The par-4 18th finishes along the churning water and toward the majestic Doonbeg Lodge, offering a wonderful conclusion to an equally wonderful links golf experience.