Bay Hill Club (1997)
As the story goes, Arnold Palmer played an exhibition match at Bay Hill in 1965, shot 66, fell in love with the course and eventually formed a group of investors to purchase the club. Touched up and tinkered with by Palmer and Ed Seay over the years, Bay Hill has evolved into one of the strongest tests of golf in Florida. It also is a reflection of what Palmer admires in a championship course: room to bang the driver, sickle-shaped doglegs that favor a draw, speedy, well-defined greens, and risk-reward holes that invite bold players to gamble. Rated among the five most enjoyed stops on the PGA Tour, Bay Hill presents a solid test that appeals to top players.
Old Course at St. Andrews (1998)
St. Andrews, Scotland
Renowned the world over as the Home of Golf, St Andrews Links has borne witness to six centuries of golfing history. From a simple track through the heather and whins, the Old Course has become the the links course that every golfer, from the top professional to the keenest amateur, dreams of playing. The oldest golf course in the world has many remarkable features which help make it so special to golfers around the world. It is the Home of Golf where golf was first played 600 years ago and yet it remains a real test of golf for today's champions. Despite its reputation and status, it is a public course and is one of six public courses on St Andrews Links. The course is known for its particular physical features including 112 bunkers, some of which are especially famous e.g. 'Hell' on the long 14th, 'Strath' on the short 11th and the Road Bunker at what is probably the most famous golf hole in the world, the 17th or Road Hole (so called because a road - which is in play - runs hard against the back edge of the green).
The Honors Course (1999)
The Honors Course, which was designed by Pete Dye and opened in 1983, was created the "honor" amateur golf. Its unique philosophy epitomizes what the late Richard S. Tufts of Pinehurst, North Carolina, meant when he wrote The Amateur's Creed. Some of the prestigious events played at The Honors Course include the 1991 U.S. Amateur Championship, the 1994 Curtis Cup and the 1996 NCAA Championships.
Royal Liverpool Golf Club (2000)
Royal Liverpool Golf Club has staged many important events and produced many great champions but Hoylake prides itself in playing host to all who come to enjoy its links and tread in the footsteps of the greats of golf. Hoylake can best be summed up by arguably the best golf writer of all time, Bernard Darwin:
"I know no better course anywhere in the world, nor one where a warmer welcome waits. There is not a hole there that has not pleasant memories."
Baltusrol Golf Club Lower Course (2001)
The Lower Course at Baltusrol is reminiscent of its Scottish ancestors, with stretches of flat, open land, greens surrounded by mounds and bunkers that have a rugged quality to them. Ranked by Golf Digest as one of the top 100 golf courses in the United States, Baltusrol has played host to 15 USGA championships, including a record seven U.S. Opens in 1903, 1915, 1936, 1954, 1967, 1980 and 1993.
Doonbeg Golf Club (2002)
County Clare, Ireland
Doonbeg Golf Club is the highly anticipated new links course by Greg Norman. Most likely the last true links ever to be built in either Ireland or Great Britain, Doonbeg is set amidst centuries-old dunes along the crescent beach of Doughmore Bay, just north of Ballybunion. Already receiving critical acclaim, the course is set to open on July 1, right before the Palmer Cup.
Kiawah Island, South Carolina
Cassique is the newest course of the private Kiawah Island Club. Just named by Golf Digest as one of "America's Best New Private Courses," the course was designed by Tom Watson, his first solo course design in North America. Cassique's links-inspired layout runs through live oaks and pines along the Kiawah River where it meets the Atlantic. Doonbeg Golf Club and The Kiawah Island Club are both creations of Kiawah Development Partners of Charleston, S.C.
Ballybunion Golf Club (2004)
County Kerry, Ireland
The 2004 site, Ballybunion's Old Course, is consistently ranked as one of the top 10 courses in the world. Watson described the glorious links at Ballybunion as the "best in the world" - high praise indeed for this magnificent test of golf, which winds precariously through massive dunes beside the Atlantic. Founded in 1893, it stretches 6,593 yards and plays to a par 71.
William H. Davis describes Ballybunion in his book, The World's Best Golf, quite eloquently - "Tom Watson says of the Old Course, 'Ballybunion is a course on which golf architects should live and play before they build golf courses.' The renowned British architect Tom Simpson was brought in to recommend alterations to the Old Course prior to its hosting the Irish Amateur in 1937. Given carte blanche, he moved only three greens and inserted one fairway bunker. The Old Course starts out ominously past a graveyard on the first hole. Holes one through five are unlike the rest of Ballybunion, but when you approach the sixth hole you feel like Alice in Wonderland as the ocean comes into view. There isn't a sand bunker around the greens on this par 4, but the approach shot has to be deadly accurate to hold the green. Holes seven through 18 are the real Ballybunion with sweeping contours, momentous sand dunes, and the sea always in view. The 455-yard ninth is a genuine par 4 1/2. The 14th and 15th are extraordinary par 3's, the former an uphill shot and the latter probably the most formidable par 3 in the world, particularly into the wind. The 18th is a dogleg to the left over what the members call the 'Sahara', and the final shot is blind. Says Christy O'Connor, 'Anyone who breaks 70 here is playing better than he is able to play.'"