Golfweek's Best 2021: Top 50 Classic International Courses

Welcome to the initial Golfweek’s Best Classic International Courses list with the highest-rated courses outside the United States that were built before 1960. (Pictured atop this story: The Old Course at St. Andrews, with photo by Steve Flynn/USA TODAY Sports)

Each year we publish many lists, with the U.S.-based Top 200 Modern Courses and the accompanying Top 200 Classic Courses lists being the premium offerings. Also extremely popular and significant are the Best Courses You Can Play State by State and Best Private Courses State by State.

This is the first year for this International Classic list, and it is comprised of thousands of individual ratings of courses around the world. We also recently published the Modern Courses version, shining a spotlight on the best international courses built in or after 1960.

The 800-plus members of our ratings panel continually evaluate courses and rate them based on 10 criteria. They also file a single, overall rating on each course. Those overall ratings on each course are averaged to produce a final rating for each course, which is then ranked against other courses to produce the final lists.

Each course is listed with its average rating next to the name, the location, the year it opened and the designers. After the designers are several designations that note what type of facility it is.


r: resort course
d: daily fee
p: private course
t: tour course
m: municipal
re: real estate
* Many international private courses allow limited outside play. Contact the courses indicated for more information on their guest policies.

Nos. 1-10

Royal County Down in Northern Ireland (David Cannon/Getty Images)

1. Royal County Down (Championship) 8.95
Newcastle, Northern Ireland; George L. Baillie, Old Tom Morris, George Combe, Harry S. Colt, Donald Steel (1889); p*

2. St. Andrews Old Course 8.75
St. Andrews, Scotland; Unknown first designer, Old Tom Morris (Unknown); m, t

3. Royal Dornoch (Championship) 8.65
Dornoch, Scotland; Old Tom Morris, John Sutherland, George Duncan (1877); d

T3. Royal Melbourne (West) 8.65
Black Rock, Australia; Alister MacKenzie (1926); p*

5. Muirfield 8.63
Gullane, Scotland; Old Tom Morris (1892); p*

6. Royal Portrush (Dunluce) 8.53
Portrush, Northern Ireland; Harry S. Colt, Martin Ebert (1929); p*, t

7. Sunningdale (Old) 8.35
Sunningdale, England; Willie Park Jr., Harry S. Colt (1901); p*, t

8. Ballybunion (Old) 8.33
Ballybunion, Ireland; Lionel Hewson, Tom Simpson (1893); p*

9. Trump Turnberry Resort (Ailsa) 8.27
Turnberry, Scotland; Willie Fernie, Mackenzie Ross, Martin Ebert, Tom MacKenzie (1901); r, t

10. Hirono 8.23
Hyogo, Japan; Charles H. Alison (1932); p

Nos. 11-20

Royal Birkdale in England (David Cannon/Getty Images)

11. Royal St. George’s 8.17
Sandwich, England; Laidlaw Purves (1887); p*, t

T11. Golf de Morfontaine (Le Grand Parcours) 8.17
Mortefontaine, France; Tom Simpson, Kyle Phillips (1927); p 

13. Kingston Heath 8.05
Melbourne, Australia; Dan Soutar, Alister Mackenzie (1925); p*

14. North Berwick Golf Club (West Links) 8.04
North Berwick, Scotland; David Strath, Ben Sayers (1832); p*

15. Royal Birkdale 7.96
Southport, England; George Lowe, F.G. Hawtree, J.H. Taylor (1897); p*

16. Lahinch (Old) 7.89
Lahinch, Ireland; Old Tom Morris, Charles Gibson, Alister MacKenzie, Martin Hawtree (1894); p*

17. Swinley Forest 7.88
Ascot, England; Harry S. Colt (1909); p*

T17. Fairmont Banff Springs GC 7.88
Banff, Alberta, Canada; Stanley Thompson (1927); r 

19. Carnoustie (Championship) 7.87
Carnoustie, Scotland; Robert Chambers, Allan Robertson, Old Tom Morris, James Braid (1830s); m, t

20. Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge GC 7.86
Jasper, Alberta, Canada; Stanley Thompson (1925); r

T20. Kawana Hotel (Fuji) 7.86
Shizuoka, Japan; Charles H. Alison (1936); r

Nos. 21-30

New South Wales in Australia (David Cannon/Getty Images)

22. St. George’s G&CC (ON) 7.85
Etobicoke, Ontario, Canada; Stanley Thompson (1929); p

23. Woodhall Spa (Hotchkin) 7.78
Woodhall Spa, England; Harry Vardon, J.H.Taylor, Harry S. Colt, Stafford Vere Hotchkin, Tom Doak (1905); p*

24. Royal Porthcawl 7.76
Porthcawl, Wales; Ramsay Hunter, J. Simpson (1895); p*

25. New South Wales GC 7.73
La Perouse, Australia; Alister MacKenzie (1928); p

26. Sunningdale (New) 7.71
Sunningdale, England; Harry S. Colt, John Morrison (1923); p*

27. Ganton 7.69
Scarborough, England; Harry Vardon, Ted Ray, James Braid, J.H. Taylor, Harry S. Colt (1891); p*

28. Royal Lytham & St. Annes 7.67
Lytham St. Annes, England; George Lowe, Harry S. Colt, Herbert Fowler, Tom Simpson, C.K. Cotton (1897); p*, t

29. Rye 7.64
Rye, England; Harry S. Colt, Tom Simpson, Guy Campbell (1894); p*

30. St. George’s Hill 7.63
Weybridge, England; Harry S. Colt (1913); p

T30. Capilano G&CC 7.63
West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; Stanley Thompson (1937); p

Nos. 31-40

The 123 yard par 3, 8th hole named the 'Postage Stamp' at Royal Troon.

Royal Troon in Scotland (David Cannon/Getty Images)

32. Cruden Bay 7.62
Cruden Bay, Scotland; Tom Morris, Archie Simpson, Tom Simpson, Herbert Fowler (1899); p*

33. Royal Troon (Old) 7.58
Troon, Scotland; George Strath, Willie Fernie, James Braid (1878); p*, t

T33. Koninkiljke Haagsche G&CC 7.58
Wassenaar, Netherlands; Charles H. Alison, Harry S. Colt (1938); p*

35. Utrecht GC De Pan 7.51
Bosch en Duin, Netherlands; Harry S. Colt (1929); p*

36. Walton Heath (Old) 7.49
Tadworth, England; Herbert Fowler (1903); p*, t

37. Royal Aberdeen (Balgownie) 7.45
Bridge of Don, Scotland; Archie Simpson, Robert Simpson, James Braid (1888); p*

38. St. Enodoc (Church) 7.44
Wadebridge, England; James Braid (1907); p*

39. Portmarnock (Old) 7.42
Portmarnock, Ireland; Mungo Park, W.C. Pickeman (1894); p*

T39. Victoria GC (Aus) 7.42
Cheltenham, Australia; William Meader, Oscar Damman, Alister MacKenzie (1927); p*

T39. Royal Cinque Ports 7.42
Deal, England; Henry Hunter, James Braid, Guy Campbell (1892); p*

T39. Alwoodley 7.42
Leeds, England; Alister MacKenzie (1907); p*

Nos. 41-50

Machrihanish Golf Club (Golfweek files)

43. Hamilton (West & South nines) 7.41
Ancaster, Ontario, Canada; Harry S. Colt (1915); p

44. Machrihanish 7.39
Machrihanish, Scotland; Old Tom Morris, J.H. Taylor, Guy Campbell (1876); p*

45. Royal Melbourne (East) 7.38
Black Rock, Australia; Alex Russell, Mick Morcom (1931); p*

46. Naruo GC 7.37
Hyogo, Japan; H.C. Crane, Charles H. Alison (1920); p

47. Golf de Morfontaine (Valliere) 7.32
Mortefontaine, France; Tom Simpson (1913); p

48. Westmount 7.28
Kitchener, Ontario, Canada; Stanley Thompson (1931); p

49. Mid Ocean Club 7.25
St. George’s, Bermuda; Charles Blair Macdonald, Seth Raynor (1921); p*

50. Royal Montreal (Blue) 7.22
Ile Bizard, Quebec, Canada; Dick Wilson, Rees Jones (1959); p

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