America's Top 50 Courses For Women
We present the public and resort facilities that offer women the ultimate golf experience
MAKE THAT A COMBO
Courses with big yardage gaps between tees don't rank high on our list. That's one reason Silverado Resort and Spa and the Coeur d'Alene Resort caught our eye. About three years ago, Coeur d'Alene created two sets of "combo" tees that have golfers play from, say, the red markers on some holes and the whites on others. The course, whose scorecard lists the combo ratings, was "designed to be fun," says head golf professional Andy Mackimmie, "and a lot of people shoot their best scores here." At Silverado's North Course, a recent renovation reduced its forward tees to 5,187 yards and created a combo set at 5,530 to bridge the gap to the 5,868-yard golds. Says Tim Geesey, director of golf: "The flexibility gives our regular players a fresh perspective, like they're playing a whole different course and offers everyone the ability to find a comfortable distance."
It's great to walk into a golf shop and be greeted by a welcoming staff and a sea of stylish women's apparel and gear. But for a course to be Top-50 material, we need to see great programs for women, flexible playing options (nine-hole loops, or even shorter) and a progressive-design philosophy that treats women golfers as more than an afterthought.
Our panel of 100-plus women who evaluate courses for this ranking pay special attention to tee options and design. Each layout on our Top 50 has at least one set of tees less than 5,300 yards, two sets with Slope and Course Ratings for women, and minimal or no forced carries from the forward tees.
The ideal layout challenges long hitters yet delivers a fun round for average players. Quality course conditions are important, too, and it's a plus to have lots of amenities.
This year we welcome eight newcomers. It's not that we don't love the others, but more and more courses are embracing the "tee it forward" and "time for nine" zeitgeist. As they've added shorter tees (typically about 4,700 yards), the ones with forward tees closer to 5,300 yards aren't as appealing.
ENJOY YOUR STAYThe "we want you here" attitude is a big plus, so it's great to see courses hosting tournaments for women. Bandon Dunes Golf Resort appeals to women with its Ladies Links Championship, a 36-hole event that includes an awards dinner, breakfast and a massage. The inaugural event, played in May, had 40 participants. Alabama's Lakewood Golf Club hosts the two-day Grand Southern Invitational Ladies Golf Tournament every fall, attracting about 120 players. New to Michigan's Treetops Resort is a 27-hole Couples Tournament, and a women's golf festival in August. Virginia's Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club has a women's four-ball event in October and a Mom and Me nine-hole tournament in June. And there's a reason Pine Needles in North Carolina is still at the top of the ranking. The Couples Jamboree, hosted by the legendary Peggy Kirk Bell, marks its 47th year this November.
Read on to learn about all the courses on our list, and swing by as many as you can. They're expecting you.
1. Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club, Southern Pines, N.C., pineneedles-midpines.com
Add a Golfari clinic to your bucket list, or at least a tee time at this historic venue.
More information on this course ⇒
5. Arnold Palmer Signature Course at Running Y Ranch, Klamath Falls, Ore., runningy.com
Plush greens, no carries and one of Palmer's favorite designs. Stay and play for best deals. More information on this course ⇒
6. Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort (Ocean Links), Amelia Island, Fla., omnihotels.com/ameliaisland
Bobby Weed course takes scenic turns through the dunes and five ocean holes. More information on this course ⇒