Truth be told, there are 100s of courses I'd love to play. Merion would be amazing. The Machrie is Scotland, Lahinch in Ireland, Pebble Beach out in California. I could go on and on. But I only wanted to list golf courses that I absolutely feel are "MUST PLAYS" for me, my golfing experience, and golf course architecture education.
Sunningdale--There are two courses at Sunningdale and, although I'd be happy to play either one, the Old Course has captured my interested the most. After golf's birth on the Linksland, the heathlands were the first set of courses where golf moved inland. Sunningdale was the first course that adequately captured that greatness of the game away from the links. Great heahtland golf is a must for all golf architecture enthusiasts. Sunningdale was the first great heathlands course.
Royal Melbourne--The Sand Belt of Australia is supposedly on of the truly great places in the world for the game of golf. Royal Melbourne West is another one of Dr. Mackenzie's world-class courses. In fact, many of the well-respected golf architecture students and gurus I talk with think Royal Melbourne is the greatest of all. I simply must go to see this wonderful club/courses.
Royal Dornoch --Dornoch is the home of Donald Ross, one of the greatest golf course architects of all-time. It is rumored his design philosophies were heavily influenced by the links at Dornoch. Additionally, I've heard one of the greatest golf experiences is to play this course at dusk. Hopefully, May of 2014 I'll get to make this golf pilgrimage.
Highlands Links --I've yet to play a Stanley Thompson designed golf course and since it is has been said that Highlands Links is his best work, I figure I should start with this one. I am also very keen on seeing the world's best routed golf courses and the routing at Highlands Links is said to be unique and brilliant. I can't wait to get up that way!
Prestwick-- Once the home course of Old Tom Morris and the home of the first Open Championship; this is Prestwick. Additionally, many of the holes and features present on the links at Preswick have been copied time and time again on other golf course around the world. I'm sure those replica holes are great, but I've got to see the real thing.
Essex--I love Donald Ross golf courses and I've had the good fortune to play many of his gems. However, a few of my golf nut colleagues say that Essex is his best work. With recommendations like this, I gotta check it out!!