[오상준 칼럼] 7 golf courses in Korea selected as Asia’s 100 Best Clubs |

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Asia Pacific 1st Royal Melbourne GC West / Gary Lisbon

US Golf Magazine Asia-Pacific 100 Courses published

When visiting a golf course, especially after playing foreign golf courses with its members, officials, or owners, there is a common question.

‘Can our course make it into the top 100 sites in the world in terms of courses? What can I do to improve the course?’

Some courses prepare evaluation item papers in advance and ask the expert panel for answers after the round, but in most cases, questions are asked at a convenient place after the round. In this case, I avoid harsh criticism as much as possible, and first talk about the good things they do well, and then suggest one or two improvements.

The course is like a child. As a child that does not hurt even if you put it in your eyes, I am a member or especially the courses that I create and manage are cherished and u love terribly like a child. This is because I have been associated with it for a long time and have put all my energy into making and handling it. In this situation, no matter how open the listener is and how ready they are to receive criticism, it is natural to feel bad when they hear negative opinions. Don’t hedgehogs say their baby looks the most beautiful in the world?

If you really love your child and want to raise him to the best of your ability, you must first understand the child’s strengths and weaknesses and tendencies. Is it not right to go to Seoul National University unconditionally and push to send Harvard? The same goes for golf courses. Depending on the inherent topographical features ​​​​​​and the environment, there are courses that have the essentials to become first class courses, and there are cases where they cannot be highly evaluated regardless of the size of the they are nurtured and refined.

Not every course can become prestigious and become one of the top 100 courses in the world, nor does it need to. Some courses play their role well as a place where a large number of people can enjoy golf at a reasonable price, while others put profitability first and open late at night. The majority of golf courses serve as business sites, and less than 1% started with the goal of creating world-class, prestigious golf courses.

Arnold Palmer, the emperor of golf, evaluated the Tralee Irish golf club which he designed as follows. ‘I may have designed the first nine holes, but God must have designed the second nine holes.’

World class course designers tend to be picky about the site to build a golf course. Even if the client gives the designer as much money as he wants, he does not pay attention to the ground where good deeds cannot come out. It is no exaggeration to say that the natural environment accounts for more than 90% of the course design. Anyway, if the golf course I want to build has the basics to compete on the world stage, that is, if the topographical/environmental features of the land to build the course on are excellent, I have to look outward.

If you are going to be a child yourself, you need to pay attention and look into what kind of education successful children from other families have had. Only when you understand global standards can you prepare to compete on the world stage.

This week the American golf magazine (, which is recognized worldwide for its credibility, published the ranking of the 100 best courses in Asia for the first time since its establishment. It was only in 2023, 44 years after the first world ranking in 1979, that courses in Asia and Oceania (including Australia and New Zealand) were ranked. (Related links: He revealed! GOLF’s first ever Top 100 ranking of the best golf courses in Asia-Pacific)

If you take a detailed look at the Asia Pacific 100 course rankings, you can see the distribution of courses by country as follows. 38 in Australia, 15 in Japan, 10 in China, 10 in New Zealand, 8 in Vietnam, 7 in Korea, 6 in Thailand, 1 each in Singapore/Indonesia/Malaysia/Sri Lanka/Mianma/Nepal.

In terms of results alone, golf courses in Australia, New Zealand and Japan, who started playing golf earlier than we did, were directly influenced by the British tradition and the design philosophy that gave birth to golf, and they are more suitable for golf in terms of land area and natural environment than Korea It can be said that being better is a very natural phenomenon. However, the surprising point to watch here is that Vietnam’s golf courses, which has less than 100,000 golfers and about 100 golf courses, has surpassed Korea in the number of courses included in the rankings.

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Asia Pacific 33rd Vietnam Hoiana Shores GC, Gary Lisbon

Vietnam has natural resources in the soil and land on which golf courses are built. It is no exaggeration to say that Vietnam, bordered by the coastal sand dunes from north to south, has 1,650 kilometers of golf course sites. The best ground for making a golf course is a sandy beach where grass can grow well, well drained and windy all year round.

In addition, it is easy to make a golf course shape on a sandy beach, and in some cases, the natural form has already taken the shape of a golf course. From the designer’s point of view, it is no different than meeting a playground where you can play with sand like a child and create this and that freely.

World famous courses are distributed on the coast of Scotland where these sandy beaches are very close, the beaches of Long Island in the United States, and the sand strip near Melbourne, Australia. These topographical and soil features are the reasons why Vietnam has become the starting point of a next generation golf course.

However, there is one homework that Vietnam must solve if it wants to raise and maintain its golf courses to world level. Since the tropical region close to the equator occupies most of the country, there are many difficulties in managing the golf course turf, so it is necessary to cultivate local experts who can actively solve this problem.

There are 6 courses in Australia, 2 in New Zealand, and 2 in Japan that are classified in the top 10 of the Asia Pacific Course Ranking 100. Among them, a total of six were built between 1910 and 1937, the so-called golden age golf course architecture, which accounts for the majority. There are three places that opened after 2000, which can be evaluated as a new renaissance in course design, and New South Wales, Australia, which opened in 1947, is in 10th place in Asia and the Pacific.

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Asia Pacific 10th New South Wales GC/

Unfortunately, Korean courses were not in the top 10. The ranking of the seven Korean courses included in the ranking among the Asia Pacific 100 courses is as follows.

12. Nine Bridges Club
14th South Cape Owners Club
37 Whistling Rock (Temple/Cocoon)
50th Pine Beach (Pine/Beach)
74th Jack Nicklaus GC
88 Nine Bridges of Haesley
97 Anyang

Next week, we will do a more detailed analysis of the Asia Pacific 100 course rankings, including Korean courses.

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Oh Sang-joon, CEO of Asia Golf Humanities Research Institute

He was the first Korean to earn a master’s degree in golf course design from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and a master’s degree in architecture from Columbia University, and participated in the construction of the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Songdo.

He was responsible for the operation of the 2015 Presidents Cup and CJ Cup international competitions, and currently works as a member of the selection committee of the 100 best courses in the world for GOLF magazine in the United States and as a member of an advisory committee Asian Golf Industry Federation. in Singapore.

He has published a golf essay, ‘If You Can Design Your Life With Golf’, and spreads various golf cultures through YouTube ‘My Golf Recipe’ and lectures.


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