Golf Courses & Travel

Top 50 Most Fun Private Golf Courses

September 2012

Click on underlined names for more info on public courses.

1. Cypress Point C.
Pebble Beach
Seductive as a reunion with an old flame. Begins as a stroll through a forest, evolves into a tryst among coastal dunes, ends with hopes dashed on the rocks.

2. Fishers Island (N.Y.) C.
This Seth Raynor/Charles Banks masterpiece proves it once and for all: Blue bloods are capable of having fun.

3. National G. Links of America
Southampton, N.Y.
Neighbor Shinnecock Hills gets more ink, but this C.B. Macdonald beauty delivers the Hamptons' most diverting 18--plus an all-world lobster lunch.

4. Sand Hills G.C.
Mullen, Neb.
Golf in an isolation chamber of tumbling sand dunes, gusty winds and star-filled evenings. A step back in time. A step in the right direction.

5. Augusta (Ga.) National G.C. Par-3 Cse.
Perfect before or after the sumptuous main course, with all of the beauty but none of the angst, though it does share those swirling winds.

6. The Dunes C.
New Buffalo, Mich.
Mike Keiser's first venture in course ownership, in sand dunes and forest. A pocket-size Pine Valley with alternate tees for a second loop.

7. San Francisco G.C.
So much fun, this A.W. Tillinghast layout is where Mickelson, Toms, Ogilvy and Garcia played practice rounds before the 2012 U.S. Open.

8. Mountain Lake
Lake Wales, Fla.
A winning combination of familiar hole designs and unusual greens. Though hilly (for Florida), this Seth Raynor original begs to be walked.

9. Augusta (Ga.) National G.C.
From the members' tees of 6,365 yards, it's a thrill to pull off shots seen in the Masters.

10. Shoreacres
Lake Bluff, Ill.
Magic on the lakefront, where ravines crisscrossing Seth Raynor's design contain architectural trap doors and secret passageways.

11. Yeamans Hall C.
Hanahan, S.C.
This charming old-school Seth Raynor course mixes long and short holes in a layout that twists and turns blissfully through the lowcountry.

12. Sankaty Head G.C.
Nantucket, Mass.
A wind-swept links on a mountainous corner of Nantucket. If you play, take a caddie. They're plentiful, and stuck on the island.

13. Essex County C.
Manchester, Mass.
The first great Donald Ross design seems to have been lifted from the Old Country. Rustic and rugged, with one green that looks like the deck of a sinking ship.

14. Garden City (N.Y.) G.C.
This might have been how our forefathers played, on near-level ground dotted with pot bunkers and slashed with remnants of old roadbeds.

15. Valley C. of Montecito (Calif.)
What this golden-era Alister Mackenzie layout lacks in length it more than makes up for in design variety, atmosphere and scenery.

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