Bob Lohmann & Mike Benkusky (2004)/Mike Benkusky (R. 2012)
Energy-industry CEO Jerry Forsythe grew up in east central Illinois and wanted to convert 300 acres of his childhood memories into a family retreat. After golf architect Bob Lohmann built him an elaborate three-hole golf course on the property, Lohmann's then-associate Mike Benkusky convinced Forsythe to stretch it to nine holes and later into a full 18. Ultimately, two million cubic yards of cornfield were moved to form Canyata's massive fairways and greens, which are edged by waterscaped ponds, artificial creeks and a dazzling array of bunkers. With only a handful of rounds played each year by invited guests, Canyata's manicuring is always nearly flawless.
100 Greatest History: Ranked since 2009. Highest ranking: No. 37, 2013-2014. Previous ranking: 60
“A magnificent layout that is a classic "second-shot" course with superb green complexes. Wide fairways allow you to try to get as close to the green as you can with your driver, but beware of hitting second shots from the rough. Excellent bunkering, and large undulating greens are the true defense.”
“I almost felt guilty hitting golf balls off this perfect turf. The owner hasn't played in the past two years, and so he just lets his friends play, which combines to about 300 rounds per year. Amazing.”
“The course just flows from the opening tee shot to the final approach over a ravine at the 446-yard 18th. Mike Benkusky did an excellent job of routing the course through hardwoods, water and ravines (some original and some man-made). He also does a nice job of balancing really difficult holes and holes that you were able to catch your breath.”
“I was somewhat surprised that even with 350 acres, they have a handful of short par 4s, and three of the par 3s were over 220 yards. Gets dinged on design variety because of that.”
“Imagine having your own top 100 golf course to yourself? There are no members other than Mr. Forsythe. Hard to imagine.”