Note: The complete ranking of the Top 50 Cities for golf will be available in the October issue of Golf Digest in print and on the iPad.
Our coverage of golf courses often focuses on destinations — places you might take a family vacation or a buddies trip. This month we turned our attention to the courses in our readers' back yards: Which American cities, we wondered, offer the best all-around golf environments for their residents?
To create this ranking, we had researchers at Longitudes Group collect and analyze data on five criteria for America's 50 most populous cities: climate (average temperature and rainfall, number of playable days, etc.), cost (average green fees in high and low seasons), amount of public courses, quality of public courses (scores in our Best Places to Play reader ratings) and accessibility (number of active golfers versus number of courses). The cities' ranking in each category appear in the table. The lower a city's average rank, the higher it finished in our overall ranking.
Our winner, Dallas/Fort Worth, recorded top-18-or-better numbers in every category but one. Its sole negative is accessibility, where it ranked 44th out of 50 cities. How come? The fact is, Dallas has an unusually high number of active golfers. There are nearly half a million of them, by Longitudes' calculations. Which, when you think about it, stands to reason, given the city's strong showing in all the other categories.