Golf News

How we rank courses with a score of 1 to 10


Golfweek’s Best offers plenty of rankings, everything from top public-access courses in each state to the very best layouts around the world. For pretty much any type of golf you want to play, we have a course ranking.

How do we come up with all these lists? After starting nearly three decades ago, Golfweek’s Best has expanded to rank courses with the input of more than 800 raters around the world. These golfers play the courses and rate each layout based on 10 provided criteria, with each offering its own 10-point scale. Raters then offer one overall rating of 1 to 10, which is not cumulative based on the 10 criteria. An average of those overall ratings is calculated to create an annual score for each layout, allowing Golfweek’s Best to rank courses. 

The 10 criteria were created to help raters analyze what they just saw and played. The criteria are hyper-focused on the course itself. 

Worth noting: There are no perfect 10s. Only eight courses around the world with enough qualifying votes to appear on our top lists in 2024 are rated above a 9. An average rating above 8 indicates an incredible golf course. Anything above a 7 is worth traveling great distances to experience. Courses with an average rating of 6 to 7 are probably the best course in most cities and in several examples are the top layout in an entire state. 

Following are the 10 criteria our raters use:


Royal Dornoch Golf Club in Scotland (Coutesy of Royal Dornoch)

1. Routing

How well the holes individually and collectively adhere to the land and to each other. 

2a. Integrity of design (classic courses only) 

The extent to which the existing holes either conform to the original design intent or, for those courses that have been renovated, the extent to which the holes embody a character that is cohesive rather than fragmentary.

2b. Quality of shaping (modern courses only) 

The extent to which course construction creates design elements that fit in well and provide a consistent look or sensibility. 

3. Overall land plan 

Ease of integration of all built-out elements with native land including course, clubhouse, real estate, roads, native topography and landforms. Extent to which land plan facilitates long views of surrounds and/or interior views of property. 

4. Greens and surrounds 

Interest, variety and playability of putting surfaces, collars, chipping areas and greenside bunkers. 

5. Variety and memorability of par 3s 

Differentiation of holes by length, club required,…


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