The 5 Best Golf Course Architects

There are thousands of beautiful golf courses around the world, but who are the architects behind them? The answer may just surprise you, and we’re going to pick out the top five golf course architects and give you a short introduction to each one below.


1. Pete Dye

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Image: Golfdigest

Pete Dye has been a major golf course architect in recent memory, and he is known for using a host of railroad ties while laying out extremely challenging golf courses. Credits include the Stadium Course at PGA West, Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, and Whistling Straights. One course, in particular, received worldwide attention when it hosted the 1991 Ryder Cup’s “War at the Shore.” The course was Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course. The Ocean Course brought seasoned players to their knees once again during the 2012 PGA championship. You’ll play a number of water hazards and bunkers with stunning views on each course.

2. A.W. Tillinghast


With more than 250 golf courses to his credit, A.W. Tillinghast created stunning courses like the Baltimore Country Club, Winged Foot Golf Club, San Francisco Golf Club, and the Baltusrol Golf Club. Arguably the best layout for the public this architect designed Bethpage State Park’s Black Course. This course hosted the U.S. Open in 2002 and again in 2009. It’s extremely challenging, doesn’t permit golf carts, and he designed it to be a tribute to golf’s Golden Age.

3. Tom Fazio


Tom Fazio is the architect behind Shadow Creek, and this is a public access golf course that is immensely popular in Las Vegas. He also designed the Red Sky Golf Club. This golf course sits at an impressive 7,500 feet, and you’ll be able to take in gorgeous mountain views during play. You’ll play through open sage-covered hills, around a lake, and through dense forests. The final hole is a par five that is very doable for most golfers because the golf balls travel a longer distance due to the higher elevation.

4. Tom Doak


Tom Doak designed the iconic Pacific Dunes course on the Oregon Coast. This course has a very unorthodox layout that many veteran golfers find very challenging set to a stunning backdrop. When you play this course, you’ll find back-to-back par threes. On the back nine, there are only two par fours. This designed vaulted Tom Doak into the limelight as a savvy architect. The Pacific Dunes course earned a ranking as the best public-access course in the United States, ahead of Pebble Beach.

5. Dr. Alister MacKenzie


Rounding out our list is Dr. Alister MacKenzie. He gained fame for designing what are arguably three of the greatest golf courses in the world. He was the architect behind Royal Melbourne, Augusta National, and Cypress Point Club. He also designed and lived right off of Pasatiempo on the sixth hole. This course features a par-70 layout and the 6,500-yards put it as a top contender for one of the biggest courses in the world. You’ll play several holes uphill while avoiding finger bunkers and using rolling greens.

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