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The best conditioned courses in the U.S., ranked

August 23, 2023

To many golfers, the best conditioned golf courses are the ones that are lush and green with crisp mowing lines, immaculate landscaping and bright white bunkers. Fifteen years ago, we changed the Conditioning definition in our 100 Greatest ranking criteria to put more of an emphasis on firm and fast conditions to reward courses that achieved ideal playing conditions with less water usage, at the urging of some members of the American Society of Golf Course Architects.

The old definition asked panelists, "How would you rate the playing quality of tees, fairways and greens when you last played the course?" The definition now reads, “How firm, fast and rolling were the fairways? How firm yet receptive were the greens? And how true were the rolls of putts?” There’s nothing about the color of turf, or the condition of bunkers and tee boxes.

Not only is our definition more environmentally sustainable, but firm conditions accentuate the architectural nuances of a course. Based on panelist scores from our new America’s 100 Greatest and Second 100 Greatest rankings, we’ve ranked the 25 best conditioned golf courses in the United States. At first glance, the top of this list is not surprising, as the top five courses are the same as on the 100 Greatest list, though in a different order. Further down, though, you’ll find many courses that are ranked much higher in Conditioning than their overall course ranking.

Most notably, The Quarry at La Quinta is ranked No. 91 on our 100 Greatest list but has the 10th-highest Conditioning score of any course. Also having a large disparity between the overall and Conditioning rankings are Double Eagle Club (Overall: No. 107, Conditioning: No. 19), Diamond Creek (Overall: No. 77, Conditioning: No. 21), Congaree Golf Club (Overall: No. 42, Conditioning: No. 16), and The Alotian Club (Overall: No. 38, Conditioning: 14).

Scroll down for the complete list of the best conditioned courses in the country. We urge you to click through to each individual course page for bonus photography, drone footage and reviews from our course panelists. Plus, you can now leave your own ratings on the courses you’ve played … to make your case why your favorite should be ranked higher.

1. Augusta National Golf Club
Dom Furore
Private
1. Augusta National Golf Club
Augusta, GA, United States
5
94 Panelists
No club has tinkered with its golf course as often or as effectively over the decades as has Augusta National Golf Club, mainly to keep it competitive for the annual Masters Tournament, an event it has conducted since 1934, with time off during WWII. All that tinkering has resulted in an amalgamation of design ideas, with a routing by Alister Mackenzie and Bobby Jones, some Perry Maxwell greens, some Trent Jones water hazards, some Jack Nicklaus mounds and swales and, most recently, extensive rebunkering and tree planting by Tom Fazio. The tinkering continues, including the lengthening of the par-4 fifth in the summer of 2018, the lengthening of the 11th and 15th holes in 2022, and the addition of 35 yards to the famed par-5 13th in 2023.
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2. Pine Valley Golf Club
Carlos Amoedo
Private
2. Pine Valley Golf Club
Pine Valley, NJ, United States
5
267 Panelists
A genuine original, its unique character is forged from the sandy pine barrens of southwest Jersey. Founder George Crump had help from now-legendary architects H.S. Colt, A.W. Tillinghast, George C. Thomas Jr. and Walter Travis. Hugh Wilson (of Merion fame) and his brother Alan finished the job, and William Flynn and Perry Maxwell made revisions. Throughout the course, Pine Valley blends all three schools of golf design—penal, heroic and strategic—often times on a single hole. Recent tree removal at selected spots have revealed some gorgeous views of the sandy landscape upon which the course is routed, and bunker reconstruction by Tom Fazio has given the barrens a more intricate and ornate look.
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3. Oakmont Country Club
Stephen Szurlej
Private
3. Oakmont Country Club
Oakmont, PA, United States
4.9
255 Panelists
Once tens of thousands of trees (mostly planted in the 1960s) were removed between the early 90s and 2015, Oakmont’s original penal design was re-established, with the game’s nastiest, most notorious bunkers (founder-architect H.C. Fownes staked out bunkers whenever and where ever he saw a player hit an offline shot), deep drainage ditches and ankle-deep rough. Oakmont also has the game’s swiftest putting surfaces, which were showcased during the U.S. Open in 2016, despite early rains that slowed them down a bit. Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner made bunker modifications and expanded the greens throughout the course in 2023 in preparation for the 2025 U.S. Open. The USGA has already awarded Oakmont three additional Opens between 2033 and 2049, reinforcing its title as it the Host of the Most U.S. Opens ever.
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4. Shinnecock Hills Golf Club
Dom Furore
Private
4. Shinnecock Hills Golf Club
Southampton, NY, United States
4.9
170 Panelists
Generally considered to be the earliest links in America, heavily remodeled by C.B. Macdonald, then replaced (except for three holes) by William S. Flynn in the early 1930s, it’s so sublime that its architecture hasn’t really been altered for nearly 50 years. Most trees that once framed many holes have been removed, and in 2012, the team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw did make a few changes, mostly green expansions and new mowing patterns, to prepare Shinnecock for the 2018 U.S. Open, won by Brooks Koepka. Shinnecock will again host the U.S. Open in 2026.
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5. Cypress Point Club
Carlos Amoedo
Private
5. Cypress Point Club
Pebble Beach, CA, United States
5
231 Panelists

From Golf Digest Architecture Editor emeritus Ron Whitten:
 

Cypress Point, the sublime Monterey Peninsula work of sandbox sculpture, whittled Cypress and chiseled coastline, has become Exhibit A in the argument that classic architecture has been rendered ineffectual by modern technology.
 

I'm not buying that argument. Those who think teeny old Cypress Point is defenseless miss the point of Alister MacKenzie’s marvelous design.
 

MacKenzie relished the idea that Cypress Point would offer all sorts of ways to play every hole. That philosophy still thrives, particularly in the past decade, after the faithful restoration of MacKenzie’s original bunkers by veteran course superintendent Jeff Markow.

Explore our complete review here—including bonus photography and ratings from our expert panelists.

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6. Winged Foot Golf Club: West
Dom Furore
Private
6. Winged Foot Golf Club: West
Mamaroneck, NY, United States
4.8
201 Panelists
Gone are all the Norway Spruce that once squeezed every fairway of Winged Foot West. It’s now gloriously open and playable, at least until one reaches the putting surfaces, perhaps the finest set of green contours the versatile architect A.W. Tillinghast ever did, now restored to original parameters by architect Gil Hanse. The greens look like giant mushrooms, curled and slumped around the edges, proving that as a course architect, Tillinghast was not a fun guy. Winged Foot West was tamed by Bryson DeChambeau in winning the 2020 U.S. Open in September, but he was only competitor to finish under-par in his six-shot victory.
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7. Chicago Golf Club
David Cannon
Private
7. Chicago Golf Club
Wheaton, IL
4.8
163 Panelists
Chicago Golf Club opened the country’s first 18-hole course in 1893, built by C.B. Macdonald, the preeminent golf expert in the U.S. at the time. Two years later Macdonald built the club a different course after the membership moved to a new location in Wheaton, Ill.: “a really first-class 18-hole course of 6,200 yards,” he wrote. Members played that course until 1923 when Seth Raynor, who began his architectural career as Macdonald’s surveyor and engineer, redesigned it using the “ideal hole” concepts his old boss had developed 15 years earlier (he kept Macdonald’s routing, which placed all the O.B. on the left—C.B. sliced the ball). For reasons of history and practicality, no major remodels have occurred since then, allowing the club to merely burnish the architecture by occasionally upgrading worn parts, adjusting grassing lines and, recently, reestablishing a number of lost bunkers that had been filled in over time.
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8. Merion Golf Club: East
Stephen Szurlej
Private
8. Merion Golf Club: East
Ardmore, PA, United States
4.9
272 Panelists
Merion East has long been considered the best course on the tightest acreage in America, and when it hosted the U.S. Open in 2013, its first since 1981, the present generation of big hitters couldn’t conquer this clever little course. They couldn’t consistently hit its twisting fairways, which are edged by creeks, hodge-podge rough and OB stakes and couldn’t consistently hold its canted greens, edged by bunkers that stare back. Justin Rose won with a 72-hole total of one-over-par, two ahead of Jason Day and Phil Mickelson. With Gil Hanse's extensive two-year renovation making even more improvements at Merion's East Course, the design should be even more polished when the Open returns again in 2030.
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9. Seminole Golf Club
Carlos Amoedo
Private
9. Seminole Golf Club
Juno Beach, FL, United States
4.8
211 Panelists
A majestic Donald Ross design with a clever routing on a rectangular site, each hole at Seminole encounters a new wind direction. The greens are no longer Ross, replaced 50 years ago in a regrassing effort that showed little appreciation for the original rolling contours. The bunkers aren’t Ross either. Dick Wilson replaced them in 1947, his own version meant to the imitate crests of waves on the adjacent Atlantic. A few years back, Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw redesigned the bunkers again, along with exposing some sandy expanses in the rough. Seminole has long been one of America’s most exclusive clubs, which is why it was thrilling to see it on TV for a first time during the TaylorMade Driving Relief match, and then again for the 2021 Walker Cup.
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10. The Quarry at La Quinta
Channing Benjamin
Private
10. The Quarry at La Quinta
La Quinta, CA, United States
4.7
163 Panelists
The developers of The Quarry hired Tom Fazio in the early 1990s with instructions that he top his design of Shadow Creek (ranked No. 27 on this year’s list). Fazio was savvy enough to ignore those instructions, because he recognized The Quarry site was a much better piece of topography than what he’d been provided in Las Vegas. Thus The Quarry has more variety, starting and ending in a gravel quarry now lavishly landscaped. In between, holes play on high desert overlooking the Palm Springs Valley and in a valley, with four holes tucked in an isolated notch of the Santa Rosa Mountains. The course regularly receives some of the highest Conditioning scores in the ranking.
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11. National Golf Links of America
Carlos Amoedo
Private
11. National Golf Links of America
Southampton, NY, United States
4.9
255 Panelists
This is where golf architect Seth Raynor got his start. A civil engineer by training, he surveyed holes for architect C.B. Macdonald, who scientifically designed National Golf Links as a fusion of his favorite features from grand old British golf holes. National Golf Links is a true links containing a marvelous collection of holes. As the 2013 Walker Cup reminded us, Macdonald’s versions are actually superior in strategy to the originals, which is why National’s design is still studied by golf architects today, its holes now replicated elsewhere. Hard to fathom that National Golf Links of America was not ranked in the 100 Greatest from 1969 until 1985.
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12. Sand Hills Golf Club
Dom Furore
Private
12. 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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13. Shadow Creek
The Henebrys/Courtesy of Shadow Creek GC
Public
13. Shadow Creek
North Las Vegas, NV, United States
The Match between Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods may have fizzled as a pay-per-view spectacle, but the venue was certainly a showcase during the Black Friday, 2018 broadcast. Shadow Creek has the reputation of being one of the most expensive courses built in America, a reported $47 million at the time. Designer Tom Fazio said that budget was necessary at Shadow Creek to perform what he now calls “total site manipulation,” creating an environment where none existed, by carving rolling hills and canyons from the flat desert floor north of Las Vegas and pumping in plenty of water. Alas, this once-in-a-lifetime dream design has been too successful, triggering many equally expensive, but inferior, imitations.
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14. The Alotian Club
Evan Schiller/Courtesy of the club
Private
14. The Alotian Club
Roland, AR, United States
4.5
83 Panelists
The Alotian Club gives us a hint of what Augusta National would have looked like had Bobby Jones established his dream course on even hillier terrain than Augusta. The first tee shot drops 70 feet to a fairway below with the approach playing back uphill. The tee on the 205-yard par-3 sixth sits 85 feet above the green. The Alotian Club, founded by Warren Stephens, son of former Masters chairman Jackson Stephens, is the first (and still only) course in Arkansas ever to make our list of America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses. The Alotian name comes from the annual golf trips Stephens once took with his buddies. He called it the America’s Lights Out Tour, and participants called themselves The Alotians. In recent years, The Alotian Club has opened its doors to collegiate players—first for the 2019 Palmer Cup and since 2020, annually for the Stephens Cup.
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15. Peachtree Golf Club
Dave Sansom
Private
15. Peachtree Golf Club
Atlanta, GA, United States
4.9
194 Panelists
The design collaboration by amateur star Bobby Jones and golf architect Robert Trent Jones (no relation) was meant to recapture the magic that the Grand Slam winner had experienced when he teamed with Alister Mackenzie in the design of Augusta National. But Trent was an even more forceful personality than the flamboyant Mackenzie, so Peachtree reflects far more of Trent’s notions of golf than Bobby’s, particularly in designing for future equipment advances. When it opened, Peachtree measured in excess of 7,200 yards, extremely long for that era. It boasted the longest set of tees in America (to provide flexibility on holes) and the country’s most enormous greens (to spread out wear and tear). As it turns out, Trent was a visionary, and decades later other designers followed his lead to address advances in club and ball technology.
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16. Congaree Golf Club
Private
16. Congaree Golf Club
Ridgeland, SC, United States
4.8
150 Panelists
Tom Fazio has designed countless compelling golf courses on sites that weren't. But at Congaree, 30 minutes inland from Beaufort, S.C., he at least had great material: sand, in the form of two deep sections of it separated by a lowcountry wetland area. The sand made it easy to scoop and shape long ridgelines, creating significant movement across an otherwise level property—and dozens of stately live oaks, carefully transplanted for effect—further outline the design. Finely edged Melbourne-style bunkers sweep up to the edges of fairways and into greens, catching shots that drift too far and leading to challenging hi-lo recovery situations. Congaree hosted the 2022 CJ Cup after making its debut as a tour venue for the previous year's Palmetto Championship, which replaced that year's Canadian Open.
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17. Oakland Hills Country Club South Course
L.C. Lambrecht/Oakland Hills
Private
17. Oakland Hills Country Club South Course
Bloomfield Hills, MI
4.8
104 Panelists
Donald Ross felt his 1918 design was out-of-date for the 1951 U.S. Open and was prepared to remodel it. Sadly, he died in 1948, so Robert Trent Jones got the job. His rebunkering was overshadowed by ankle-deep rough, and after Ben Hogan closed with a 67, one of only two rounds under par 70 all week, to win his second consecutive Open, he complained that Jones had created a Frankenstein. Sixty-plus years later, Oakland Hills is even longer, but its bite wasn’t severe when it hosted the 2016 U.S. Amateur. In 2019, the South course closed as Gil Hanse and his team significantly renovated the course with the intention of removing the Jones influences and restoring its Ross feel. They did that by expanding greens to recapture what are some of Ross's best contours, removed trees to show off the rolling landscape and shifted bunkers back to where Ross, not RTJ, placed them. The course re-opened in Spring 2021, and though a crippling fire destroyed the club's iconic clubhouse, the USGA delivered some kind news to the club, bringing the 2034 and 2051 U.S. Opens to Oakland Hills—as well as a number of upcoming USGA championships.
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18. Muirfield Village Golf Club
Private
18. Muirfield Village Golf Club
Dublin, OH, United States
4.9
172 Panelists
This is the course that Jack built, and rebuilt, and rebuilt again and again. Since its opening in 1974, Jack Nicklaus has remodeled every hole at Muirfield Village, some more than once, using play at the PGA Tour’s annual Memorial Tournament for some guidance. The most recent renovation in 2020 was one of the most extensive and included the rebuilding of every hole, the shifting of greens and tees, strategic changes to the iconic par 5s and a new, more player-friendly par3 16th. That’s how a championship course remains competitive. But with every change, Nicklaus always made sure the general membership could still play and enjoy the course as well. The latest word is that Nicklaus is still not happy with the 16th hole and has plans for yet another version.
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19. Double Eagle Club
Courtesy of Double Eagle Club
Private
19. Double Eagle Club
Galena, OH, United States
Built by reshaping flat farm fields into gentle hills and valleys, Double Eagle benefits from plenty of elbow room. Some holes have double fairways that pose genuine alternate routes. Greens are benign enough in contours to allow them to be kept extremely fast. A delightfully thoughtful design, it closes with two great water-laden, risk-rewarding holes. The club name does not symbolize a golf term. Original owner John McConnell was a fortune hunter, and the Double Eagle was a rare doubloon discovered in a sunken treasure.
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20. Oak Hill Country Club: East
Private
20. Oak Hill Country Club: East
Rochester, NY, United States
4.9
81 Panelists
Back in 1979, George Fazio and nephew Tom were roundly criticized by Donald Ross fans for removing a classic Ross par 4 on Oak Hill East and replacing it with two new holes, including the bowl-shaped par-3 sixth, which would later become the scene of four aces in two hours during the second round of the 1989 U.S. Open. They also built a pond on another par 3 and relocated the green on the par-4 18th. The club hired golf architect Andrew Green to remodel those holes to bring them more in line with Donald Ross’ original style. In addition to putting the final touches (at least for now) on a significant tree removal program, Green re-established Ross's original par-4 hole, then the fifth and now playing as the sixth (pictured here). Reconstruction occurred after the 2019 Senior PGA Championship on the East Course and was completed in May 2020. Oak Hill's East Course hosted the 2023 PGA Championship won by Brooks Koepka.
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21. Diamond Creek
Courtesy of Diamond Creek GC
Private
21. Diamond Creek
Banner Elk, NC, United States
4.6
122 Panelists
While architecture purists scoff at the notion of waterfalls on golf courses, there is something magnificent about a cascading water feature done right. Few are as effective as the one behind the par-3 17th green at Diamond Creek. Tom Fazio positioned the green nearly at the base of a sheer granite quarry wall, down which a slender stream of water drops more than 100 feet. Amazingly, the club entrance’s drive is also at the base of the quarry wall, hidden from view on the 17th as effectively as Fazio hides his cart paths.
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22. Friar's Head Golf Club
Evan Schiller
Private
22. 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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23. Los Angeles Country Club: North
Private
23. Los Angeles Country Club: North
Los Angeles, CA, United States
4.8
236 Panelists
It’s on the edge of Tinsel Town, but the architecture of the North Course at Los Angeles Country Club has been solid gold ever since its 2010 restoration by architect Gil Hanse, his associate Jim Wagner and their colleague Geoff Shackelford. It matters not that Hanse’s team didn’t replicate the bunkering style of original architect George C. Thomas, but rather the more visually exciting style of Thomas’ associate, William P. Bell. The first nine plays rustically up and down a shallow canyon with holes switching back and forth across a dry barranca, and the second nine loops across a more spacious upland section with one par 3 (the 11th) that can stretch to nearly 300 yards and another (the 15th) that often plays just 90 yards. The hole strategies reinstituted by Hanse provided an intriguing examination when LACC's North course hosted the 2023 U.S. Open.
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24. Nanea Golf Club
Laurence C Lambrecht
Private
24. Nanea Golf Club
Kailua Kona, HI
4.7
62 Panelists
In the early 1960s, Robert Trent Jones built the first course on Hawaii’s Big Island for a very wealthy owner (Laurance Rockefeller), grinding up the site’s volcanic rock to use as “sand” on which to grow grass. 40 years later and just 22 miles away, architect David McLay Kidd also built a course on volcanic rock for very wealthy owners (Charles Schwab and George Roberts), but rather than transform the lava topography, he routed his holes among the black outcroppings and through the site’s meadows of native grasses. Located on a high, exposed plateau beneath Mt. Hualalai, the holes ramble and roll into topsy-turvy greens, each with a sterling view of the Pacific Ocean three and half miles in the distance.
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25. Crystal Downs Country Club
Courtesy of Gary Kellner, Dimpled Rock
Private
25. Crystal Downs Country Club
Frankfort, MI, United States
4.7
138 Panelists
Perry Maxwell, the Midwest associate of architect Alister MacKenzie, lived on site while constructing the course to MacKenzie’s plans, but there’s evidence Maxwell exercised considerable artistic license on some holes. Whomever did it, Crystal Downs has fairways that zigzag and rumble over the glacial landscape and greens that have doglegs in them. One drawback is that the putting surfaces are so old-fashioned that they’re too steep for today’s green speeds. But that’s part of Crystal Downs appeal. It’s short but has considerable bite.
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