By Jason Lusk , First published in Golfweek
Let’s get this out of the way first: The powers that be don’t take men’s major championships to dirt tracks, although that might be fun to watch every so often. All the courses that have been selected as future sites for the game’s most important events would be a dream to play, once-in-a-lifetime splurges for many players.
That said, some major sites are better than others.
Likewise, the group of four courses chosen – three, really, as Augusta National is static – in some years is stronger than other years. And with the courses selected for all four men’s majors through 2024, the year 2022 stands out as among the best ever.
Based on Golfweek’s Best ratings of courses around the world, utilizing votes from more than 750 volunteer raters on a 1 to 10 basis, we can compare the design, playability, conditioning and memorability of various courses. All the upcoming major sites rank highly, with only one course averaging a rating below a 7.
With the PGA of America’s recent decision to move the 2022 PGA Championship from Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, to Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma, 2022 got even stronger. The host sites for 2022 are Augusta National for the Masters, Southern Hills for the PGA; The Country Club’s Composite Course in Brookline, Massachusetts, for the U.S. Open; and the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland for the British Open.
The average Golfweek’s Best rating – with data based on the past 10 years of ratings with a cutoff date of Jan. 28 for the purpose of this story – for those four 2022 major sites is 8.50, which is incredibly high. The average for the 2021 majors is 8.17, with 2023 checking in at 8.16 and 2024 at 8.22.
These comparisons end at 2024 because that is the last year for which each tournament organizer – the USGA, the PGA of America and the R&A – has announced major sites.
Augusta National leads the ratings for each year. Bobby Jones’ playground rates a 9.57 and is No. 3 on Golfweek’s Best Classic Courses list for all layouts built in the United States before 1960. Pine Valley and Cypress Point are the only two courses rated higher, and they don’t host majors.
Taking Augusta National out of the mix, because it is a static site, reveals the strength of the other three 2022 major sites even better. Ignoring Augusta National, 2022’s major sites have an average rating of 8.14. For 2021, that average rating is 7.71, 2023 is 7.68 and 2024 is 7.76.
Any course that averages above a 7 on Golfweek’s Best averaged ratings is a great track, not a dog track in the bunch. Any layout averaging above an 8 is among the best in world, with only 61 courses achieving that status among the nearly 4,000 courses in the Golfweek database.
As for courses over a 9? There are only eight of them in the world.
WOMEN’S FUTURE MAJORS CHAMPIONSHIP SITES : HOST COURSE RATINGS, WITH ALL EYES ON 2023
And as strong as 2022’s major sites looked before the PGA’s recent decision to move its championship, it looks even better now. Trump National’s Old Course at Bedminster, New Jersey, has an average rating of 6.79, while Southern Hills sports a 7.67. The change lifted the average rating of 2022’s four courses from 8.28 to 8.50, further elevating it beyond the other years. Not counting the static Augusta National, the other courses in 2022 would have averaged 7.85 with the former President’s layout in the mix, while they average 8.14 with Southern Hills as its replacement.
Its worth noting, Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner in 2019 completed a restoration of Perry Maxwell’s original 1936 Southern Hills layout. It’s more than feasible that the average rating of the course will rise as more votes come in, further elevating Southern Hills and the average rating of all four major sites in 2022 even further before that year kicks off.
Check out all the upcoming major sites and their rankings:
2021 MEN’S MAJORS SITES
Augusta National (Masters): 9.57
Kiawah Island Ocean Course (PGA): 7.94
Torrey Pines South (U.S. Open): 6.98
Royal St. George’s (British Open): 8.20
Average rating: 8.17
Average of three without ANGC: 7.71
2022 MEN’S MAJORS SITES
Augusta National: 9.57
Southern Hills (PGA): 7.67
The Country Club Composite Course (U.S. Open): 7.92
Old Course at St. Andrews (British Open): 8.84
Average rating: 8.50
Average of three without ANGC: 8.14
2023 MEN’S MAJORS SITES
Augusta National: 9.57
Oak Hill East (PGA): 7.42
Los Angeles Country Club North (U.S. Open): 8.43
Royal Liverpool (British): 7.20
Average rating: 8.16
Average of three without ANGC: 7.68
2024 MEN’S MAJORS SITES
Augusta National: 9.57
Valhalla (PGA): 7.16
Pinehurst No. 2 (U.S. Open): 8.38
Royal Troon (British): 7.75
Average rating: 8.22
Average of three without ANGC: 7.76