Golf Courses & TravelMay 13, 2013

America's Top 50 Courses For Women

We present the public and resort facilities that offer women the ultimate golf experience

The Gasparilla Inn & Club's Pete Dye course is 4,873 yards from the front tees.

The Gasparilla Inn & Club's Pete Dye course is 4,873 yards from the front tees.

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 STAY

The "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.

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  1. Sea Island Golf Club (Seaside)

__, St. Simons Island, Ga., seaisland.com

The new 5,444-yard silver tees make this luxurious resort even more golden.

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3. The Boulders (South), Carefree, Ariz., theboulders.com

New tees (2,362 yards) and its Fore Ladies program are the perfect intro to desert golf.

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4. Bandon Dunes Golf Resort (Old Macdonald), Bandon, Ore., bandondunes.com

A new par-3 course and events for women add to the allure of this jaw-dropping beauty.

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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.

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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.

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7. LPGA International (Champions), Daytona Beach, lpgainternational.com

Open off the tee, testy around the greens. A good round here will make you feel like a pro.

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8. Rope Rider Golf Course at Suncadia Resort, Cle Elum, Wash., suncadiaresort.com

Forward-thinking design philosophy makes this new course fun for all.

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9. Keystone Resort (River), Keystone, Colo., golfkeystone.com

With added shorter tees at the River and Keystone Ranch courses, this mountain duo is better than ever.

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10. Grand Cypress Golf Club (East/North), Orlando, grandcypress.com

Hone your skills at golf schools led by former LPGA Tour pros Barb Mucha and Mary Bryan.

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11. Kiawah Island Golf Resort (Osprey Point), Kiawah Island, S.C., kiawahresort.com

Golf Digest Best Young Teacher Abby Welch leads instructional programs at this sumptuous resort.

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12. Brasada Canyons, Bend, Ore., brasada.com

A high-desert beauty with expansive mountain vistas. It's playable year-round.

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13. Kingsmill Resort (Plantation), Williamsburg, Va., kingsmill.com

Plan your visit around the LPGA Tour's Kingsmill Championship in May.

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14. Celebration Golf Club, Celebration, Fla., celebrationgolf.com

This favorite among discerning locals offers programs for women and juniors.

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15. Reynolds Plantation (Oconee), Greensboro, Ga., reynoldsplantation.com

A luxury of choices, with a Ritz-Carlton, a spa and five championship courses.

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Photo Courtesy of Rope Rider

16. Southwood Golf Club, Tallahassee, Fla., southwoodgolf.com

Great value, good conditioning, no carries and a hub for women's leagues and collegiate events.

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17. Fossil Trace Golf Club, Golden, Colo., fossiltrace.com

Three sets of combo tees make this hilly track manageable for all. Also known for clubfitting.

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18. The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club Grande Lakes, Orlando, grandelakes.com

Well-placed forward tees. Offers spa-golf packages, caddie concierge and family fairways.

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19. Province Lake, Parsonsfield, Maine, provincelakegolf.com

A new set of tees, at 5,586 yards, makes this a course that is playable for any skill level.

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20. The Coeur D'Alene Resort Golf Course, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, cdaresort.com

Unforgettable: a famous floating green, forecaddies, lake views and plush amenities.

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21. The Golf Club at Newcastle (China Creek), Newcastle, Wash., newcastlegolf.com

From its hilltop perch you get magnificent views of Seattle's skyline and a private-club feel.

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22. Nemacolin Woodlands Resort (Mystic Rock), Farmington, Pa., nemacolin.com

An eclectic mix of French château and vintage Pete Dye golf.

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23. La Quinta Resort & Club (Dunes), La Quinta, Calif., laquintaresort.com

Not nearly as much trouble off the tee and around the greens as the other courses here.

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24. The Greenbrier (Meadows), White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., greenbrier.com

A worthy splurge for traditionalists looking for genteel times and the aura of Sam Snead.

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25. The Lodge at Ventana Canyon (Mountain), Tucson, thelodgeatventanacanyon.com

A parkland course in a lush desert setting with a truly thrilling par 3.

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26. Pinehurst Resort (No. 4), Pinehurst, N.C., pinehurst.com

The U.S. Open and U.S. Women's Open will be played on No. 2 in 2014.

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27. Silverado Resort and Spa (North), Napa, Calif., silveradoresort.com

Idyllic wine-country setting amid 300-year-old oaks.

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28. Treetops Resort (Signature), Gaylord, Mich., treetops.com

Its women's golf academy offers nine sessions a summer, plus there's a new couples event.

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29. Turning Stone Resort Casino (Shenendoah), Verona, N.Y., turningstone.com

A huge golf dome makes this upstate resort (72 holes) a year-round golf destination.

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30. Stowe Mountain Club, Stowe, Vt., summer.stowe.com

Recently switched the nines to create a walkable front side and five-hole loops.

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Photo Courtesy of Silverado Resort

31. Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club, Front Royal, Va., blueridgeshadows.com

Holds two women's invitational events annually plus family-friendly golf activities.

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32. Monarch Dunes Golf Club (Old), Nipomo, Calif., monarchdunes.com

Innovative instructional programs, including personal-par golf and power training.

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33. Purgatory Golf Club, Noblesville, Ind., purgatorygolf.com

Two new sets of combo tees help all golfers "tee it forward."

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34. Hammock Beach Resort (Ocean), Palm Coast, Fla., hammockbeach.com

This Jack Nicklaus design is fun and easy on a calm day. Run the ball up on just about every green.

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35. Lakewood Golf Club (Dogwood), Point Clear, Ala., rtjgolf.com

With three tees at less than 5,900 yards, a resort and spa, this RTJ Golf Trail course is tops for women.

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36. Geneva National Golf Club (Player), Lake Geneva, Wis., genevanationalresort.com

A memorable mix of designs, both on the course and in the well-stocked golf shop.

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37. Turnberry Isle Resort & Club (Miller), Aventura, Fla., turnberryislemiami.com

Resort golf at the top of its game, with plush conditions and lots to do après-golf.

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38. Grove Park Inn Golf Club, Asheville, N.C., groveparkinn.com

Updated classic has a Donald Ross course, charming historic inn and deluxe spa.

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39. Panther Run Golf Club, Ave Maria, Fla., pantherrungolfclub.com

Those in the know give a nod to quality conditions and great value at this Troon property.

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40. Wailea Golf Club (Emerald), Wailea, Maui, Hawaii, waileagolf.com

A perennial favorite among women for its forgiving design, panoramas and top amenities.

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41. The Gasparilla Inn & Club, Boca Grande, Fla., gasparillainn.com

Old Florida feel emanates from this Pete Dye design and inn.

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42. Half Moon Bay Golf Links (Ocean), Half Moon Bay, Calif., halfmoonbaygolf.com

A taste of Scotland on California's rugged coast at this upscale daily fee.

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43. Queenstown Harbor (Lakes), Queenstown, Md., mdgolf.com/queenstown

Newly restored historic River House makes an ideal golf getaway for eight to 14 guests.

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44. Williamsburg National Golf Club (Yorktown), Williamsburg, Va., wngc.com

Gorgeous scenery with few frills adds up to an all-America treat.

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45. Barton Creek Resort & Spa (Fazio Foothills), Austin, bartoncreek.com

New golf boot camps take a holistic approach to getting fit, fitted and mentally tough.

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46. Sunriver Resort (Meadows), Sunriver, Ore., sunriver-resort.com

A mecca for foodies, with golf and culinary events like the Ghost Tree Invitational.

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47. Oak Creek Golf Club, Irvine, Calif., oakcreekgolfclub.com

A Cool Clubs fitting center and a fun, walkable Tom Fazio design with big greens.

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48. Whistling Straits (Irish), Haven, Wis., whistlingstraits.com

No forced carries and easier than the Straits course, plus lake views and grazing sheep.

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49. Indian Wells Golf Resort (Players), Indian Wells, Calif., indianwellsgolfresort.com

This desert oasis has two exceptionally pretty courses within walking distance of four hotels.

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50. Desert Willow Golf Resort (Mountain View), Palm Desert, Calif., desertwillow.com

Lovely outdoor patio and top conditions. You'll say: "I can't believe this is a municipal course."

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Photo Courtesy of Oak Creek