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Places to Play is back! (Re)introducing our definitive guide to good golf near you

June 08, 2022

In 1963, Golf Digest first published a definitive guide to good golf known as “Best Places to Play.” With feedback from more than 50,000 readers, we introduced a system of star ratings that filled a book thousands of pages in length.

Now that Golf Digest’s franchise has been revitalized for the digital age. After six years of planning, using invaluable insight from more than 1,900 Golf Digest course-ranking panelists, we are excited to announce the rebirth of the definitive guide to the best golf in every area of the United States.

Unlike Golf Digest’s America’s 100 Greatest rankings, which identifies the best architecture at the best courses in the U.S., Places to Play is about the complete golf experience. Our star ratings are based on the premise: Would you tell a friend it’s worth getting off the highway on a trip to play? That’s what merited a three-star rating. A four-star rating was deemed outstanding and worth planning a vacation around. A five-star rating was the absolute best—worth paying any price to play the course once in your life.

Here's one of our Places to Play guides, published in the mid-2000s.

We know Places to Play still carries a cache in the industry. Even though we haven’t published star ratings in more than a decade, golf courses still advertise that they’re a “four-star golf course, as rated by Golf Digest.” About five years ago, we tasked our panelists with reviewing every golf facility in the same way (using half and quarter stars, too) to generate as much new data as possible.

The goal was to create the Yelp or Zagat’s of golf courses. That’s what we are building toward.

Though the original Places to Play included only public and resort courses, Places to Play contains private clubs as well. Though these courses aren't readily available to the public, these clubs welcome thousands of guests per year—and we hope Places to Play is the destination for those seeking more information about the courses you're about to play (or dream to play one day).

Now, you can find information on every facility in the U.S. (over 18,000 golf courses), thanks to the most recent data from the National Golf Foundation. But the experience we’ve published today is just the start. In a few months, we will again collect reader feedback in which registered users can rate the courses they’ve played based on our same star rating system.

Over the next year, with your help, we will have a community of like-minded, avid golfers sharing reviews and ratings on the courses that deserve more attention. We’ve been inspired by a Facebook group we started about five years ago, where users share photos and feedback on the courses they’ve played and solicit buddies-trip ideas from each other.

After all, some of the most invigorating conversations in our game revolve around telling buddies about the hidden gems you’ve stumbled upon. Our goal is to provide a platform for those discussions to take place—and to continue providing the level of insight only Golf Digest can provide.