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The panel resembles little else in the history of art, and as a result it has often evoked ahistorical responses. The panel is carefully organized. A wide street sweeps from the lower left corner of the painting, encompasses the players in the central square, and extends to a distant vanishing point in the upper right.

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The dominant theme of our new ranking of the World's Greatest Golf Courses is proximity to the sea.

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Granted, every one of those 23 courses has been expanded, revised, modified, reshaped and remodeled many times in many ways over many decades, but they were heralded in their youth and remain cherished today in the eyes of our Course Ranking Panel, which includes more than 1, North American golfers and more than international players. The Old Guard dominates the top Andrews Farther down the list are veteran layouts less modified and more reflective of an earlier game of persimmon and even hickory: the delightful North Berwick at No.

The Old Guard are all vintage des that still carry a lot of clout. Thirty ranked courses were built in the 21st century, including two in the top 10 and seven of the top It just might be that Tara Iti, and its young kin, add a few more crowd-pleasing wrinkles.

Both have bunkers snarling with heavy turf moustaches, but those at Tara Iti mostly merge with surrounding raw sand. White rocks and barber poles serve as targets at County Down; at Tara Iti, there are grassy sideboards visible to feed shots into hidden greens. The greens at Tara Iti are big with countless knobs and dips, and have more recovery options for shots blown astray by Pacific winds.

Tara Iti offers a wider variety of angles and bailouts, perhaps making it more playable and thus the top contender among the latest generation of world-class courses. The talent of the respective architects should not be discounted.

Old Tom Morris, whose craft involved the rudimentary staking out of fairways and greens wherever the land suggested, is responsible for the original layouts of seven ranked courses—the most of any architect. He also remodeled two of the top courses, No. Andrews and No. Many of his original routings remain.

Doak, whose career has been based on embracing the Old School idea of letting nature dictate the de, but who also uses modern technology to enhance topography where Mother Nature falls short, has been involved with 11 of the top Besides Tara Iti, he and his dedicated team have deed No. Andrews Beachwhich is tied for No. Doak has also remodeled seven others, including both 18s at Royal Melbourne and No. The de by Kyle Phillips who also has No. It features two par 3s over ocean coves and another that plays out to an intimidatingly narrow green on a peninsula.

A layout by English architect C. Alison, it occupies ocean bluffs much like South Cape and several others on this ranking.

Colt, has 13 courses on the list six originals, seven remodelsmatching Martin Hawtree one original, 12 remodels for the most on the list by a single architect. Only one newcomer was an Old Guard layout: No. It originally opened in The other five newly ranked courses are 20th-century des:.

For those suspecting that our future world rankings will be dominated by Upstarts, there is this fact: Of the 10 courses from that failed to remain on our latest ranking, six were 21st-century des and four were from the 20th century. Not a single 19th-century de dropped off our list. For more on the World and for the country-by-country rankings, please go to golfdigest. Note: Brackets indicate course's ranking. The ranking indicated on this list is the course's ranking on our World list—when U.

On a clear spring day, with Dundrum Bay to the east, the Mountains of Mourne to the south and gorse-covered dunes in golden bloom, there is no lovelier place in golf.

Another level of experience

The de is attributed to Old Tom Morris but was refined by half a dozen architects in the past years, most recently by Donald Steel. Though the greens are surprisingly flat, as if to compensate for the rugged terrain and numerous blind shots, bunkers are a definite highlight, most with arched eyebrows of dense marram grasses and impenetrable clumps of heather. Mangawhai, New Zealand Tom Doak 6, yards, par Built by American deer Tom Doak from what had been a pine-covered Sahara along the eastern coast of New Zealand's North Island, it's far more links-like than the country's other coastal courses, most of which are on rock.

Doak and de associate Brian Slawnik spent more than two years gently resculpting the sandy soil into hummocks, punchbowls and sand dunes that look like they were formed by wind and vegetated by nature. There's lots of sand but no bunkers. Golfers may ground the club anywhere. The greatest meeting of land and sea is clearly up for debate.

ColtMartin Hawtree 7, yards, par Muirfield is universally admired as a low-key, straightforward links with fairways seemingly containing a million traffic bumps. Except for a blind tee shot on the 11th, every shot is visible and well-defined.

Greens are the correct size to fit the expected iron of approach. The routing changes direction on every hole to pose different wind conditions.

The front runs clockwise, the back counterclockwise, but history mistakenly credits Old Tom Morris with Muirfield's returning nines. That was the result of H. Colt's rede. Herbert Warren Wind called it the most natural course in the world. Tom Watson called it the most fun he'd had playing golf. Donald Ross called it his home, having been born in the village and learned the game on the links.

Tucked in an arc of dunes along the North Sea shoreline, Dornoch's greens, some by Old Tom Morris, others by John Sutherland or Open champion George Duncan, sit mostly on plateaus and don't really favor bounce-and-run golf. That's the challenge: hitting those greens in a Dornoch wind. Alister MacKenzie's routing fits snuggly into the contours of the rolling sandbelt land. His greens are miniature versions of the surrounding topography. His crisp bunkering, with vertical edges, a foot or taller, chew into fairways and putting surfaces.

Most holes are doglegs, so distance means nothing and angle into the pin is everything. For championships, holes 8 and 9 and 13 through 16 are skipped in favor of six from the East Course, which is ranked 28th. That "composite course" was once ranked among the best in the world by several publications. The Old Course at St. Andrews is ground zero for all golf architecture. Every course deed since has either been in response to one or more of its features, or in reaction against it.

Architects either favor the Old Course's blind shots or detest them, either embrace St. Andrews' enormous greens or consider them a waste of turf. Latest polarizing topic: Martin Hawtree's de changes in advance of the Open Championship, which many considered blasphemy beforehand.

After Zach Johnson's dramatic overtime victory, few mentioned the alterations.

A global golf experience

France Tom SimpsonKyle Phillips 6, yards, par A timeless de north of Paris by British architect Tom Simpson, Morfontaine looks suspiciously like a heathland course around London, with windswept Scotch pines and clumps of heather atop a base of sand.

But it's tighter than Sunningdale or St. George's Hill, and the forest surrounding holes is far denser. Thirteen years ago, American architect Kyle Phillips updated the layout, adding a new 12th green to extend the par 5 by 60 yards. It fits in perfectly. ColtMartin Ebert 7, yards, par Portrush is still the only Irish course to host The Open.

The Old Tom Morris de, reworked by H. Colt in the s, was the Open site back inand was again in In preparation, architect Martin Ebert added new seventh and eighth holes, fashioned from land on the club's Valley Course, to replace its weak 17th and 18th.

That means the notorious Calamity Hole, an uphill yard par 3, will now be the 16th instead of the 14th, and the old dogleg-right par-4 16th will now be the closing hole, with a new back tee. Ebert retained Colt's greens, considered one of the best set of putting surfaces in the world. Open for five years now, this Kyle Phillips de is slowly gaining attention as visitors from around the world compare its stunning de to everything from Kingsbarns another Phillips de, which also features ocean views from every teeto Teeth of the Dog South Cape has even more holes along the coast to Cabot Cliffs there will be a debate as to which has the more dramatic ocean-carry 16th hole to the granddaddy of ocean courses, Pebble Beach.

If anything, South Cape's tiny downhill par-3 14th to a thumb in the ocean is more treacherous than the short seventh at Pebble Beach. Look for South Cape to move up the World ranking in future years. RossMartin Ebert 7, yards, par A legendary links ravaged by WWII, architect Philip Mackenzie Ross re-established it to its present quality, tearing away concrete landing strips to create a dramatic back nine and building a set of varied greens, some receptive, other not so much.