Golf News

New for 2024: Golfweek's Best top 200 Classic Courses in the U.S.

Shinnecock Hills Golf Club

There normally isn’t a ton of movement in the rankings of Classic courses, but this year we have big news at the top. So keep scrolling, and we hope you enjoy Golfweek’s Best 2024 list of the Top 200 Classic Courses opened before 1960 in the United States.

While it’s not quite a seismic change in the Golfweek’s Best rankings, this year Cypress Point in California has passed Pine Valley in New Jersey as the No. 1 Classic Course built in the U.S. before 1960. It’s a matter of decimal points as the top courses jostle each other for position on the various lists, and that’s the case with Cypress Point and Pine Valley as well. In 2023, Pine Valley was No. 1 with a 9.62 average rating, and Cypress Point was No. 2 with a 9.60 average rating. When our lists were extracted from the Golfweek’s Best database this year, Cypress Point averaged 9.62, while Pine Valley came in at 9.60.  

How did we come up with that? Each year we publish many lists of course rankings, with this Top 200 Classic list among the premium offerings. The hundreds of members of our course-ratings panel continually evaluate courses, and their overall ratings on a 10-point basis are averaged to produce these rankings. The top handful of courses in the world have an average rating of above 9, while many excellent layouts fall into the high-6 to the 8 range.

Why do we split our rankings between Modern and Classic, with 1960 as a break point? Because they are two very different eras. As written in our rater’s handbook, the Classic style of architecture was basically natural with intimate routings that enabled holes to cling to native landforms. Designers were not afraid to utilize dramatic slopes or to sculpt bunkers into artistic shapes utilizing the given features of land. Earth scraping was minimal, as opposed to Modern courses that utilize heavy machinery. Greens were built from native soil that was pushed up and shaped, giving Classic designers enormous freedom to build oddly shaped putting surfaces with more contour than typically seen in the Modern era, when green speeds became much greater. The greater abundance of buildable land in those days also gave architects tremendous creative freedom. 

Shinnecock Hills in New York (David Cannon/Getty Images)

On to the rankings: To ensure these lists are up-to-date, Golfweek’s Best in recent years has altered how individual ratings are compiled into the rankings. Only ratings from…


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