The best Tom Weiskopf golf courses
As a player, Tom Weiskopf won just one major championship while several of his contemporaries—Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Johnny Miller among others—were racking up multiples. It doesn’t take away from the fact that his 16 PGA Tour wins leave him among the best players of his generation, but, right or wrong, the Ohio native gets left out of most conversations about the all-time greats.
Coincidentally, there are some who characterize Weiskopf’s distinguished career as a golf course designer in a similar fashion. But even more so than as a player, it is unfair to discount his overall body of work. Weiskopf, who died Aug. 20 at age 79 from pancreatic cancer, was a prolific designer and earned numerous “Best Of” awards in Golf Digest’s rankings during his 40 years in the business. He and his design partner Jay Morrish were also the first Americans to design a golf course in Scotland, and Loch Lomond remains one of the best in the world, ranking 56th on our most recent World 100 Greatest list and sitting 10th in our Best of Scotland ranking. Troon Country Club—named our Best New Private course in 1986, and Shadow Glen (more below) earned Best New Private in 1989, edging out one of their own collaborations, Forest Highlands Golf Club.
Maybe Weiskopf’s design résumé doesn’t quite stack up with that of the Pete Dyes or Robert Trent Jones Jrs., or Tom Fazios. Most any architect, however, would gladly sign up for what Weiskopf achieved. He got some of the most beautiful sites in the U.S., working in the mountains of Colorado or Montana, and beautiful desertscapes in Arizona. Weiskopf’s designs were invigorating and fun—often featuring a reachable par 4 to offer up a test that even an average player could sometimes ace.
Given he wasn’t always given the credit he was due, here’s a look at some of the best Weiskopf courses, and you can see for yourself just how talented he was.
From Golf Digest Architecture Editor emeritus Ron Whitten: The Tom Weiskopf-designed Forest Dunes in Michigan is a terrific layout on a terrific piece of property, with sand dunes deposited by the nearby Au Sable River and covered with mature pines. But it's not a unique piece of property. When I first played it, I was struck by how much Forest Dunes resembles a Texas course designed by Weiskopf's former partner, Jay Morrish. That course, Pine Dunes in Frankston, Texas, is built on much the same terrain, sand dunes covered in pines. Though they were working at the same time on their respective projects (Forest Dunes was completed in 2000 but didn't open until 2002; Pine Dunes opened in 2001), I don't think Weiskopf or Morrish had any idea that they were working on such similar courses, and I don't think they stole each other's ideas. But it's uncanny how they created kissing-cousin courses.
Click here for Whitten's complete review.
Coeur D Alene, ID
Big Sky, MT
Big Sky, MT
Castle Rock, CO
From Golf Digest Architecture Editor emeritus Ron Whitten: It was once said, probably first about California's Monterey Peninsula, that great golf courses breed great golf courses. That's certainly true of the foothills of the Rockies a half hour south of Denver, where The Ridge at Castle Pines North sits almost immediately next door to Sanctuary Golf Club and just to the north of The Country Club at Castle Pines, which in turn is bordered on its south by famed Castle Pines Golf Club. The Ridge, the only one of the four courses actually located in the town of Castle Pines (the others are in Castle Rock), is the only one of the four open for public play. (According to the city website, The Ridge is municipally owned, but privately managed by Troon Golf.) I'm not saying The Ridge is as great a golf course as Sanctuary or Castle Pines, both of which have resided on Golf Digest's list of America's 100 Greatest, or even quite as good as the Country Club at Castle Pines, one of Jack Nicklaus' relatively hidden gems.
For Whitten's complete review, click here.