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Seaside Links and Alister MacKenzie top Golf Digest’s Rankings of the World’s 100 Greatest Courses

Jan 25, 2016

January 25, 2016
Sharp Park - Brad Knipstein
Alister MacKenzie's only Seaside Municipal Course - Sharp Park 
The world’s greatest golf courses are seaside links, and the greatest golf architect is Alister MacKenzie.
Such is the conclusion of Golf Digest Magazine, in their recently published 2016 list of World 100 Greatest Golf Courses. The magazine’s January, 2016 issue identifies 46 seaside links among the Top 100 courses.
Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point
Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point
Three of the World’s top six courses – Augusta National, Cypress Point, and Royal Melbourne – were designed by Alister MacKenzie.  No other architect has such a distinguished list.
Augusta National 
Alister MacKenzie's Augusta National and Royal Melbourne
Golf Digest architecture editor Ron Whitten explains the dominance of seaside links in the exclusive ranking: 
“Much as life on earth, golf first emerged from the sea, taking root on sandy deltas and shorelines, what golfers now call linksland. . . Invariably, where there was sand, there was wind, … an essential element. Without it, golf was simply pub darts.  Grand early courses clung to the coastlines. . .  precious few [seaside settings] are still available in the United States...”
Olympic Club San Francisco Golf Club
Olympic Club and San Francisco Golf Club
Olympic Club (77) and San Francisco Golf Club (81) made the World’s Top 100 list.  Sharp Park – the seaside Alister MacKenzie-designed public links on the Pacifica shore -- did not.  But if you don’t have the plane fare or the connections to get to the starter’s desk at Augusta, Cypress Point, Royal Melbourne, Olympic, or San Francisco Club, and you want a taste of seaside links golf and Alister MacKenzie, and you do have $42 in your wallet for a weekday greens fee ($26 with a San Francisco / Pacifica resident’s card) – Sharp Park is a good bet. 
Sharp Park 17th Green Harding Park
San Francisco Municipal Gems - Sharp Park and Harding Park
By the way, Sharp Park is named, along with Harding Park, to Golfweek Magazine’s list of America’s Top 50 Municipal courses and featured in Golf Advisor's April 6, 2015 article - “Follow in the Footsteps of Augusta National Architect Alister MacKenzie at These Public Courses”:
"MacKenzie is synonymous with the magic and charm of the game," said Bo Links, a Bay Area author and lawyer who has spent countless hours working to save MacKenzie's Sharp Park Golf Course near San Francisco. "His courses, they excite you and exhilarate you. This is the one thought when you are done: 'I want to (play) that again.' There is no architect who had such a complete understanding of the game. His courses are not overly penal, not overly long. They are not easy. They are fun and exciting. It is like a puzzle. You have to figure it out."
Or, as Alister MacKenzie himself put it -  "The municipal courses in San Francisco are far superior to most municipal courses."