The best golf courses set to open in 2021

There are some fantastic new courses ready for play in 2021, including Tom Doak’s first design in Ireland and new layouts from stellar names Jack Nicklaus and Gil Hanse

It’s been a hugely challenging time for everyone, but fingers crossed we can get back on the course on a regular basis and these new courses in America and Europe look like great additions. Of the many new courses set to open, these have caught our eye.

CapRock Ranch, Nebraska (Gil Hanse)

CapRock Ranch is an 18-hole, private golf course along the Caprock Cliffs of the Snake River Canyon, in the sandhills of northwest Nebraska. Designed by Gil Hanse, creator of Campo Olimpico de Golfe, venue for the golf competition at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Castle Stuart and Streamsong Black among others, this course makes the most of the unique topography of rolling sandhills that fall away from dramatic cliffs to the Snake River Canyon carved out over 6,000 years ago. Known for his minimalist and strategic designs, Hanse compared his design to one of the world’s most dramatic courses. “I’d liken it to Cape Kidnappers in New Zealand,” he said. “With the dramatic sharp drop offs, and the sand underneath with ideal golfing contours.”

Cutalong Golf Course, Virginia (Tom Clark)

The new Cutalong Golf Course at Lake Anna, Virginia, opened for play in late 2020. The layout was designed by Tom Clark in collaboration with golf journalist Ron Whitten and is made up of holes inspired by some of golf’s best known classic holes. Built on an old mining site about an hour from Washington D.C., Cutalong was decades in the making with four different ownership groups and various visions. It evolved into a large community and stay-and-play destination. The design from Clark is reminiscent of National Golf Links, the prestigious links-style golf course in Southampton, New York, and what makes it standout is a variety of unique putting surfaces from punchbowl to Biarritz and Redan-style greens.

The National at Ave Maria, Florida (Gordon Lewis)

The National Golf and Country Club at Ave Maria is due to open in January 2021 and was designed by Gordon Lewis, an award-winning golf course architect based in Florida. The 18-hole championship course is part of a residential community with the course as its centrepiece. It has been designed to provide a unique golf experience for southwest Florida, with one of the area’s longest par 5s and shortest par 3s. The course has wide open fairways if you’re feeling brave off the tee and has slanting and sloping lush greens to keep you honest. But the par 72 course was designed to be enjoyed by all golfers whether you’re a beginner or a low handicapper.

Monte Rei Golf Club (South Course), Algarve (Jack Nicklaus)

The esteemed Jack Nickalus-designed North Course at Monte Rei is rated by us as Portugal‘s best and the 14th best in Europe – and it’s about to get a sibling rival. Visitors to the Algarve will now be able to enjoy another course from the Golden Bear, and Nicklaus himself has said it has the potential to even overtake its forerunner. “It has the potential to be another sensational course,” he said: “The South Course will have many similar features, great trees, wonderful topography and beautiful vistas. Our mission will be to maximise the existing terrain and natural features, so we can create a golf experience that has its own distinct personality, with the same commitment to excellence that golfers expect when they visit Monte Rei.”

Les Bordes Golf Club, France (Gil Hanse)

Due to open this spring, Les Bordes Golf Club – New Course just outside Paris is a boldly bunkered, heathland-style Gil Hanse design that will be the younger sibling to Les Bordes’ Old Course, the highly revered Robert von Hagge design. The first course designed by Hanse to open in continental Europe, the par-72 layout features subtle elevation changes, while its heathland style will stand it apart from the Old Course. “It is very different stylistically to the original 18-hole course,” said Hanse. “We realised there was the potential to create some bold and dramatic features and strategies or options. We could create a course that would be in balance with the low-profile nature of the site, with more dramatic hole features adding drama to the course.”

St. Patrick’s Links, Ireland (Tom Doak)

Due to open this summer, a new links course in Ireland gets the golf world talking, with the country home to some of the most challenging and naturally beautiful golf courses on the planet. The fact it’s designed by esteemed architect Tom Doak, of Cape Kidnappers, Pacific Dunes and Barnbougle Golf Club fame, adds to the excitement. It’s also his first layout on the Emerald Isle. The Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort in County Donegal have partnered with Doak to design and build 18 new holes on a tract of dunesland where the 36-hole dormant St. Patrick’s Golf Links currently rests. The course will remodel old fairways from the 1st, 2nd, 7th, and 8th holes, but otherwise the new St. Patrick’s is a new routing, using the best natural topography of the two original courses to form what could be one of the world’s best links.

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