The Kinloch Club
Nicklaus Design captured four of the top spots in Golf Course Architecture’s annual Architect’s Choice list of the Top 100 Golf Courses in the world. Chosen by more than 240 golf course architects, the list is a peer-to-peer design evaluation. Golf course architects were free to select their favorite courses using whichever criteria they felt was most appropriate—most often cited was location, whether or not the course was a good test of golf, the putting surfaces themselves, age of the course, and fun.
Jack Nicklaus’ Ohio home course of Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, and site of the annual Memorial Tournament on the PGA TOUR, came in at No. 38 on the Top 100 list. Muirfield Village Golf Club opened for play in 1974, and the Golden Bear has since made various renovations or even redesigns to keep pace with changes in the game. The latest update, which debuted at this year’s Memorial Tournament, is a new clubhouse. Following the Memorial, Jack made a decision to lengthen the 18th hole by more than 30 yards to put the driver back in the hands of the best players in the world—beginning with The Presidents Cup the first week in October. Muirfield Village Golf Club will become the first club in the world to host three of golf’s most prestigious international team competitions—The Ryder Cup, Solheim Cup and now The Presidents Cup.
Harbour Town Golf Links, which opened in 1969 and has the distinction of being the first golf course to be designed by Jack Nicklaus, was voted No. 76 in Golf Course Architecture’s Top 100. Located in Hilton Head, SC, the collaboration with Pete Dye is home to the annual RBC Heritage Classic, hosted for the 45th time last April and one of the longest-running events on the Tour. The course is a mainstay in various ranking lists, and it has a unique character, reminiscent of some of the old Scottish courses.
The Ocean Course at Cabo Del Sol in Los Cabos, Mexico, came in at No. 88 in Golf Course Architecture’s annual list. Combining the best of desert and coastal golf, the Jack Nicklaus-designed course opened for play in 1994 and in 2010 and ’11 the club made significant changes to the fifth, sixth and seventh holes, taking play closer to the sea. The Ocean Course is framed by natural desert landscape, with giant cardon cacti towering over perfectly manicured greens and tees. Golfers enjoy breathtaking views of mountains, desert and sea.
Of the four Nicklaus Design courses in Golf Course Architecture’s Top 100, The Kinloch Club in Waikato, New Zealand, is the newest, coming in at No. 94 on the list. Having opened for play in 2007, the course is one of only six built in the last 10 years to make the annual Top 100 list. Designed by the Golden Bear, Kinloch brings a rustic feel to the volcanic hills overlooking Lake Taupo in the North Island of New Zealand.
“What really struck us about Kinloch was how beautiful the site was,” said Chris Cochran, the senior design associate at Nicklaus Design who worked closely with Jack on Kinloch. “It’s a spectacular setting with very rugged terrain. In designing the course we sought to mimic the surroundings, creating natural, distressed-looking bunkers, and greens that blended perfectly into their surroundings.
“In terms of playability, we managed to achieve a lot of variety—uphill and downhill shots, doglegs left and right—and this diversity of challenge for the golfer makes the course a huge amount of fun.”