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The best Coore and Crenshaw golf courses

The partnership of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw has been one golf's most respected architectural teams for quite some time. It all started back in the late 1980s, when the pair visited a site for a course that was never built. This came soon after Coore's first course opened at Rockport Country Club in Texas, and Crenshaw—who had just won the 1984 Masters—was so impressed with Coore's work, Crenshaw signed up to partner with the former Pete Dye associate. The talented duo has worked together for more than 30 years, producing some of the game's most revered designs.

In addition to creating some of the most intriguing layouts in the United States, the duo has designed numerous stunning international courses, most recently at Point Hardy Golf Club at Cabot St. Lucia. Since the cliffside course is newly opened, we don’t have enough data from our course-ranking panelists to include it in this ranking.

This list includes the best Coore and Crenshaw original designs in the U.S. and Canada as ranked by our panelists. (Redesigns such as Pinehurst No. 2 and Maidstone aren't included in this list.) We use different scoring criteria for international courses, like the stunning Australian oceanside Barnbougle Lost Farm and China’s Shanqin Bay—two Coore and Crenshaw designs that will look to improve on their strong positions in our biennial World 100 Greatest list later this year.  

Scroll on for the best courses designed by Coore and Crenshaw. Be sure to click through to each individual course page for bonus photography and reviews from our course panelists. We also encourage you to leave your own ratings on the courses you’ve played … so you can help other golfers like you make an informed opinion on where to play!

11. Kapalua: Plantation

Kapalua: Plantation
Courtesy of Dave Sansom
Public
Kapalua: Plantation
Lahaina, HI

From Golf Digest Architecture Editor emeritus Ron Whitten: Most golf fans are familiar with Kapalua Golf Club’s Plantation Course, home of the PGA Tour's opening event each year. Located on the north shore of the Hawaiian island of Maui, the Plantation was built from open, windswept pineapple fields on the pronounced slope of a volcano and is irrigated by sprinklers pressured solely by gravity.

 

As the first design collaboration by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, it unveiled their joint admiration for old-style courses. The blind drive on the fourth, the cut-the-corner drives on the fifth and sixth are all based on tee shots found at National Golf Links. So, too, are its punchbowl green and strings of diagonal bunkers. It's also a massive course, built on a huge scale, Coore says, to accommodate the wind and the slope and the fact that it gets mostly resort play.

 

Check out our architecture editor's complete review, here.

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10. Clear Creek Tahoe

Clear Creek Tahoe
Private
Clear Creek Tahoe
Carson City, NV, United States
One gets the feeling Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw looked long and hard at this mountain property on the east side of Lake Tahoe before agreeing to take the job. On one hand the site is gorgeous, an elevated evergreen forest with views of the surrounding Sierra Nevadas and distant valleys. One the other, it was far more rugged than they prefer and would prove challenging to link up 18 well-connected holes on such vast terrain. Ultimately, beauty won out and they were able to find enough calm ground—especially from holes ten through 15—to make the journey around it seem meditative and not a lurching, adrenaline-filled rush. The boulder-strewn site recalls parts of Rock Creek Cattle Company in western Montana, currently No. 56 in the ranking, and the off-site views and the way fairways and greens blend into the native grasses and conifers brings to mind Gozzer Ranch, ranked No. 37. Pretty good company.
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9. Streamsong Resort: Red

Streamsong Resort: Red
LC Lambrecht
Public
Streamsong Resort: Red
Bowling Green, FL, United States
Coore and Crenshaw’s Red Course is part of a resort triple-header that gives golfers a rare opportunity to compare and contrast the differences in styles and philosophies of arguably the three of top design firms in America, including Streamsong Blue, a Tom Doak design, and Streamsong Black, from Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner. The Red, like the Blue, was built from sand spoils created by a massive phosphate strip mine, with some piles forming dunes reaching 75 feet into the air. But there was only room for 31 holes, so Coore and Crenshaw had to take a section of less desirable, stripped-down land and create five holes that looked like the rest of the site, Red's holes one through five. The course has a wonderful mix of bump-and-run links holes and target-like water holes. Some greens are perched like those at Pinehurst, others are massive with multi-levels like those at St. Andrews. The turf is firm and bouncy, and while the routing is sprawling, it’s easily walkable. The Red has consistently comes out on top in this survey, but the Blue and Black are within just about a point.
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8. Sand Valley

Sand Valley Golf Resort: Sand Valley
Courtesy of Jeffrey R. Bertch
Public
Sand Valley Golf Resort: Sand Valley
Nekoosa, WI, United States
Sand Valley is the fifth course that the firm of Coore and Crenshaw has designed for resort maven Mike Keiser, and the first not located close to an ocean. No matter. It’s still on a thousand acres of rolling sand hills in Central Wisconsin, and Coore and Crenshaw were given carte blanche to route their course. (Rumor has it Coore routed a hole outside the property line and Keiser reluctantly bought that additional parcel.) Given the name, many conclude Sand Valley is a combination of Nebraska’s Sand Hills Golf Club and New Jersey’s Pine Valley. But Sand Valley has its own personality, with some dual fairways, gigantic sand spits, enormous greens and even a hidden putting surface. Sand Valley was Golf Digest’s Best New Course of 2017.
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7. Sheep Ranch

Bandon Dunes Golf Resort: Sheep Ranch
Dom Furore
Public
Bandon Dunes Golf Resort: Sheep Ranch
Bandon, OR, United States
Sheep Ranch began life as a different Sheep Ranch in the early 2000s, a rag-tag, cross-country, 13-hole course with no irrigation built by Tom Doak on a bluff just north of what would later become Old Macdonald. It was a little-used recreation that only insiders knew about. Mike Keiser tapped Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw to convert it into Bandon Dunes’ fifth regulation 18-hole course and Coore and Crenshaw’s second. Spread across an open, windswept plateau, using many of the same greensites, Coore managed to triangulate the holes in such a way that nine now touch the cliff edge along the Pacific Ocean. Extremely wide fairways and large putting surfaces allow the exposed course to be playable in extreme winds, and with its fast arrival to the top 15 public courses alongside Bandon’s other courses, Sheep Ranch has accomplished the most difficult of feats for resort courses—distinction among equals.
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6. Colorado Golf Club

Colorado Golf Club
Courtesy of Jon Cavalier
Private
Colorado Golf Club
Parker, CO
The par-4 10th at Colorado Golf Club, playing downhill off the tee to a green hanging on a slope, with the Colorado Rockies in the far distance, has not a single bunker. Yet it sets the tone for what may well be Coore and Crenshaw’s finest example of how to massage a great golf course from topography that many would have considered ordinary. These designers made this stretch of Front Range southeast of Denver extraordinary. They ran fairways across sagebrush hills that are dotted with pines. They positioned greens on buttes and the far sides of barrancas. Colorado G.C. is a second-shot course where seemingly generous landing areas can result in awkward hanging lies for approach shots to greens that run left or right or even away from the direction of play. The massive par-5 fiirst is one of the most exciting first holes in a time zone known for exciting opening holes, and it's followed by a short cross-ravine par 3 benched into a hillside like its inspiration, the second at No. 23 Prairie Dunes. In 2019, the course hosted the USGA Mid-Amateur.
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5. Bandon Trails

Bandon Trails
Stephen Szurlej
Public
Bandon Trails
Bandon, OR, United States
The only one of Bandon Dunes' five 18-hole courses that isn't immediately adjacent to the Pacific coastline, Trails scores points other ways, taking players on a fantastic journey through three distinct ecosytems. The course starts in serious sand dunes then turns inward toward meadows and dense Oregon rainforest, climbing toward an upper section at holes nine through 13. Fourteen is a love-it or-hate-it par 4 to a thumb of a green personally fashioned by Crenshaw that can be driven with an unerring drive off a high bluff, dropping the holes back to the meadows and ultimately to the dunes at 17 and 18. Bump-and-run is the name of the game but the structure of each hole requires thoughtful bumps and targeted runs.
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4. Old Sandwich

Old Sandwich Golf Club
The Henebrys/Courtesy of Old Sandwich GC
Private
Old Sandwich Golf Club
Plymouth, MA, United States
4.6
144 Panelists
Old Sandwich Golf Club may be the craftiest Coore-Crenshaw design yet built. Amidst its pines, scrub oaks, gnarly bunkers, chocolate drop mounds, wavy fescue and briar bushes are hints of Baltusrol, National Golf Links, Pine Valley, Pinehurst No 2 and Chicago Golf Club in its cross-bunkering, hazard placement and sandy waste areas. The greens are some of the most rolling of any Coore & Crenshaw design, seeded with a half-dozen bent varieties to give them an old-fashioned mottled appearance. Nobody does old-fashioned better than Coore & Crenshaw.
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3. Cabot Cliffs

Cabot Cliffs Golf Course #16

John and Jeannine Henebry

On Cabot Cliffs, Golf Digest's 2015 Best New honoree, Golf Digest Architecture Editor emeritus Ron Whitten wrote: "This is the second coming of Cypress Point, which in my mind was previously unmatched in its beauty, variety and thrills." For a man not known for hyperbole, that is the highest praise. Cabot Cliffs was No. 10 on our latest World 100 ranking. (Stay tuned for an updated ranking to come later this year.)

2. Friar’s Head

Friar's Head Golf Club
Evan Schiller
Private
Friar's Head Golf Club
Riverhead, NY, United States
4.8
173 Panelists
The challenge for architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw at Friar’s Head was to design some holes in breathtaking sand dunes perched 200 feet above Long Island Sound, and other holes on an ordinary potato field to the south. Said Crenshaw, “Our job was to marry the two distinct elements. We didn’t want one nine up in the dunes and the other down on the flat.” The solution was to move the routing back and forth and to artfully reshape the farm fields into gentle linkslike land. They pulled it off so impressively that Friar’s Head has moved steadily up the rankings each survey period until this year, from No. 34 in its 2011 debut to No. 15 in 2023-2024.
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1. Sand Hills Golf Club

Sand Hills Golf Club
Dom Furore
Private
Sand Hills Golf Club
Mullen, NE, United States
4.9
174 Panelists
The golf course wasn’t so much designed as discovered. Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw trudged back and forth over a thousand acres of rolling sand hills in central Nebraska, flagging out naturally-occurring fairways and greens. By moving just 4,000 cubic yards of earth, and letting the winds shape the bunkers, the duo created what is undoubtedly the most natural golf course in America, a timeless course design. For decades, winter winds had always reshaped the bunkers, but course officials have recently discovered a method to prevent that. At the close of the season, they spray the surface of the sand in bunkers with a product that creates a crust to resist the howling winds.
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