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Strategies to Make Your Golf Course a Contender for Golf Digest’s Top 100

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Private Club Marketing's editorial and research is conducted in conjunction with its advisory and development team.

Discover Strategies to Elevate Your Golf Course's Status with Golf Digest's Top 100 List. Learn How to Design a Challenging Course, Vary Terrain, Use High-Quality Materials, Maintain Impeccable Conditions, and Add Unique Character. Make Your Golf Course a Top 100 Contender Today!

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Are you a golf course owner or manager with dreams of seeing your course listed among the prestigious Golf Digest Top 100 Courses? Securing a spot on this revered list can significantly elevate your course's reputation and attract golf enthusiasts from around the world. As the definitive ranking in the golf industry, being recognized by Golf Digest's Top 100 Courses is a testament to excellence. In this article, we will provide you with invaluable insights and practical tips on how to position your golf course as a strong contender for the coveted Top 100 list. Read on to learn the strategies that can help you stand out and make your mark in the world of elite golf courses.

Designing a Challenging Golf Course for Golf Digest Top 100

The courses that make Golf Digest's Top 100 list are all challenging. They require players to think strategically and make good shots to score well. When designing your course, keep in mind the different types of shots that players will need to make. There should be a variety of tee boxes to accommodate players of all skill levels, and the fairways should be wide enough to allow for a variety of shot shapes. The greens should be large and undulating, and there should be a variety of hazards, such as bunkers, water hazards, and trees, to challenge players.


  • Pine Valley Golf Club, New Jersey (Ranked #1): Pine Valley is widely considered one of the most challenging courses in the world, known for its narrow fairways, deep bunkers, and undulating greens.
  • Augusta National Golf Club, Georgia (Ranked #2): Augusta National is home to the Masters Tournament, and it is known for its challenging layout and demanding conditions, designed to challenge even the best golfers in the world.

Varying the Terrain for Golf Digest Top 100 Courses

The best courses are not just long and straight; they have a variety of terrain features, such as hills, trees, and water hazards. This adds to the challenge and makes the course more interesting to play. When designing your course, consider the natural features of the land. If you're building a course in a hilly area, use the hills to create elevation changes and interesting views. If you're building a course in a wooded area, use the trees to create natural hazards and define the fairways.


  • Pebble Beach Golf Links, California (Ranked #3): Known for stunning scenery and a variety of terrain, the course features ocean views, rolling hills, and coastal bunkers.
  • Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, New York (Ranked #6): Known for its classic American architecture and challenging layout with narrow fairways and undulating greens.

Utilizing High-Quality Materials for Golf Digest Top 100 Courses

The best courses are built with high-quality materials, such as lush greens, smooth fairways, and deep bunkers. This gives the course a professional look and feel. Consider the climate and type of play you expect when choosing materials. For example, if you're building a course in a hot climate, use materials that can withstand the heat and the wear and tear of a lot of play.


  • The Belfry, England (Ranked #8): Known for lush greens, smooth fairways, and deep bunkers, The Belfry provides a challenging and enjoyable playing experience.
  • The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, South Carolina (Ranked #9): Offers stunning scenery and high-quality conditions for an enjoyable playing experience.

Maintaining Your Course for Golf Digest Top 100 Contention

The best courses are well-maintained, with rolled greens, cut fairways, and raked bunkers. This makes the course enjoyable to play and keeps it in top condition. A well-maintained course is essential for attracting and retaining players. Ensure you have a good maintenance plan in place and are willing to invest in your course's upkeep.


  • Augusta National Golf Club, Georgia (Ranked #2): Known for immaculately maintained conditions, with precisely mowed greens and perfectly raked bunkers.
  • Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, New York (Ranked #6): Known for well-maintained conditions, with precise mowing and bunker maintenance.

Adding Character to Stand Out in Golf Digest Top 100

The best courses have character, a unique personality that sets them apart. When designing your course, think about what makes your property unique. Do you have a beautiful view of the ocean? Are you near a historic landmark? Use these features to create a course with its own unique personality.


  • St. Andrews, Scotland: Known for its historic setting and links-style layout, providing a unique and memorable playing experience.
  • Pebble Beach Golf Links, California: Known for stunning scenery, including ocean views, rolling hills, and coastal bunkers.

Additional Tips for Golf Digest Top 100 Aspirants

  • Seek feedback from experienced golfers to improve your course.
  • Consider hiring a golf course architect for professional guidance.
  • Be patient; building a great golf course takes time and dedication.

In conclusion, making your golf course a contender for Golf Digest's Top 100 list is a challenging but achievable goal. Follow the tips provided in this article to increase your chances of making the list. Build a course that is challenging, well-maintained, and has character. By doing so, you'll be on your way to making your golf course a Top 100 contender in the eyes of Golf Digest and golf enthusiasts worldwide.

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