Our choices for ideal resorts haven't wavered in a year's time, but they've expanded a bit.
Debuting this spring is Sand Valley Resort in the dunes of central Wisconsin, with an energetic 18 by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw in play and an equally ambitious second 18 by David McLay Kidd under construction. Lodging at Sand Valley is limited but will undoubtedly expand as its reputation grows.
Established resorts given our highest honor for the first time include Pine Needles Resort in North Carolina, with two exquisite Donald Ross designs, and The Homestead in Virginia with a fabulous grand hotel and two classic old layouts.
We've also added Loews Ventana Canyon in Tucson; Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain in Marana, Ariz.; and Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in southwest Pennsylvania, where its Mystic Rock Course, a former PGA Tour site, is joined by the new Shepherd's Rock Course, both designed by the legendary Pete Dye and longtime assistant Tim Liddy.
Sea Pines Resort on Hilton Head Island has its totally redesigned Ocean Course, now called Atlantic Dunes, by Davis Love III. Big Cedar Lodge near Branson, Mo., has a 12-hole par-3 designed by Gary Player opening late spring/early summer this year, and a Coore-Crenshaw 18 should be completed by spring 2018. Streamsong Resort in central Florida officially opens its third 18, the Black Course, designed by Gil Hanse, this fall. Hanse is also busy this summer totally remodeling the No. 4 Course at Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina. In resorts, the choices are becoming harder.
• NORTHEAST/NEW ENGLAND
• PACIFIC NORTHWEST
• ROCKIES/GREAT PLAINS
• MEXICO/CENTRAL AMERICA