Tiger Woods may be close to matching Jack Nicklaus’s record of major wins, but he’s a long way behind the Golden Bear as an architect. Nicklaus the designer started early, helping Pete Dye build Harbour Town Golf Links, which opened 40 years ago. (Pictured above at the site of what would become Harbour Town are, from left to right, Charles Fraser, Nicklaus, Pete Dye and Donald O'Quinn.)
Since then, Nicklaus's design firm has built more than 350 courses in 39 states and 34 countries. Many of his best courses, including Muirfield Village, host site of this week's Memorial Tournament, are private. But he has designed a great many public layouts, from the Challenge at Manele in Hawaii to Punta Espada in the Dominican Republic.
Over the years, Nicklaus’s design philosophy has evolved. Early on, he built courses that reflected his game: Many of his courses favored shots like towering 2-iron approaches that few mortals could pull off.
Now, Nicklaus has demonstrated a range of designs that make him not only one of the most prolific architects in the game, but also one of the best. So much so that the Golden Bear’s legacy may hinge as much on the 18-hole masterpieces he has left behind around the world as the 18 major championships he has won.
On the pages that follow, we have ranked his 10 best courses you can play. Start the tour by clicking on the link below.
The top 10 Jack Nicklaus courses you can play