Genesis Invitational

Riviera Country Club



New Ranking

America's Second 100 Greatest Golf Courses

May 02, 2023

There is simply too much great golf in the United States to recognize only 100 venues, so Golf Digest first launched its Second 100 Greatest Golf Courses ranking to accompany its trademark America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses list. The results have been just as competitive for the Second 100—in this year’s edition, two courses, Forest Dunes Golf Club in Roscommon, Mich., and The Bridge in Sag Harbor, N.Y., both came less than a hundredth of a decimal point away from earning a spot in the coveted top 200.

The differences are finite throughout the ranking. No. 101 on this ranking, Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Ind., came two hundredths of a decimal point from topping No. 100 Spring Hill Golf Club in Wayzata, Minn. Yeamans Hall in Charleston, S.C., a Golden Age gem, is widely regarded as one of the best Seth Raynor courses anywhere after renovation work over the past few decades by Tom Doak and Jim Urbina—but even it has fallen out of our 100 Greatest for the first time in 10 years.

These are all great courses—and will likely be contending for a spot on our America’s 100 Greatest ranking for years to come.

Scroll down for the entirety of our America’s Second 100 Greatest courses list—and be sure to click through to each individual course page for bonus photography, reviews from our course panelists—and leave your own ratings on the courses you’ve played … so you can make your case for why a course should be higher or lower on your rankings.

(Parentheses indicate the course's previous ranking.)

101. (106) Crooked Stick Golf Club
Crooked Stick is the course where Pete Dye became Pete Dye. Conceived following an extended tour of British courses, Pete founded Crooked Stick, located the land, raised the funds and designed the course, rejecting conventional golf holes in favor of radical ones, using bulkheads of vertical telephone poles to create abrupt change and long expanses of sand to emulate dunes. What’s more, he built it himself, pressing even his wife, Alice, and young sons Perry and P.B. into construction work. They opened the back nine first, in 1965, with Mackenzie-style boomerang greens; the front nine came two years later, with lines and angles appropriated from Donald Ross. Crooked Stick was the first Dye course to host a major championship, the 1991 PGA Championship.
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102. (128) Eastward Ho!
Private
102. (128) Eastward Ho!
Chatham, MA
Herbert Fowler's most engaging 18-hole design out on Cape Cod. Routed on an isthmus in the Atlantic, with each nine looping out and back along the ocean’s edge, the course’s rugged topography was splendidly used to pose challenges in stance, lie and depth perception. It’s now golf’s equivalent of a spine-tingling, neck-twisting roller coaster ride along a waterfront. If you come upon a flat lie at Eastward Ho!, it’s likely a tee box.
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103. (103) The Preserve
Private
103. (103) The Preserve
Carmel, CA
Located a few miles inland from the glorious fivesome of 100 Greatest courses on California’s Monterey Peninsula (Pebble Beach, Cypress Point, Spyglass Hill and the two courses at Monterey Peninsula C.C.), The Preserve is dramatically different, the only golf course contained within a 20,000-acre parcel of gentle hills and mammoth oaks. Fazio moved almost no earth here, so perfect was the routing established by Poellot and Tatum. The greens are subtle, the bunkering low key, the atmosphere one of absolute tranquility.
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104. (99) Yeamans Hall Club
Private
104. (99) Yeamans Hall Club
Charleston, SC
Though it contained a classic collection of Raynor favorites, including a Road Hole, a Biarritz, a Redan and even a Prize Dogleg (based on an entry from a 1914 magazine design contest), Yeamans Hall suffered from benign neglect for 50 years, with bunkers overgrown and greens both shrunk by mowing habits and mushroomed by topdressing. But in the later 1980s, the course superintendent discovered Raynor’s original plans in the clubhouse attic. Architect Tom Doak and his then-associate Jim Urbina used the plans to faithfully restore Raynor features. Urbina continues to implement restoration touches and Yeamans Hall today is one of the country's most polished and evocative examples of Raynor's architecture on a relatively flat piece of Lowcountry land.
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105. (107) The Olde Farm
Private
105. (107) The Olde Farm
Bristol, VA
The Olde Farm is old school in concept and execution. The terrain of this site was so nearly perfect for golf that designer Bobby Weed staked it out in just two days, driving around the property in his rental car. The routing hugs the flowing contours of old farmland beneath the foothills of the Appalachians, with holes hopping Sinking Creek a few times and edging slopes of the adjacent hills. It’s a lay-of-the-land design featuring some semi-blind shots, but Weed always provides a target somewhere in the distance. Bentgrass fairways are kept dry and firm and most greens are open in front to encourage the old-style game of low, running approach shots.
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106. (102) Baltimore Country Club: East
Private
106. (102) Baltimore Country Club: East
Lutherville Timonium, MD
The East Course at Baltimore Country Club, also known as the Five Farms Course, was one of many outstanding A.W. Tillinghast designs nationally ranked for decades by Golf Digest. Still, even jewels need polishing now and then. The club brought in Keith Foster, perhaps the most modest of modern-day course architect. He chooses to work solely on restorations, no more than two at one time, and declines to self-promote. He won’t even nominate any of his courses for any of Golf Digest’s course awards, preferring to let others handle that. At Baltimore C.C., Foster removed trees (which nearly everyone is doing these days), rebuilt greens to make them manageable with today’s green speeds, re-established Tillinghast’s bunkering, regrassed everything and brought back sparkle to the East Course. Par 3s rank among the best Tillinghast buiilt, as does the stretch run from the par-5 14th to the strong par-3 17th.
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107. (96) Double Eagle Club
Private
107. (96) Double Eagle Club
Galena, OH
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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108. (90) Rich Harvest Farms
Private
108. (90) Rich Harvest Farms
Sugar Grove, IL
Rich Harvest Farms began as a six-hole backyard course for computer billionaire Jerry Rich, was then expanded into a nine-fairway, 11-green layout that could be played multiple ways, and finally evolved into a conventional 18-hole layout strong enough to host the 2009 Solheim Cup and the 2017 NCAA Championship. With its polish and landscaping, some call Rich Harvest Farms the “Augusta of the Midwest,” but even Augusta National doesn’t have Rich Harvest’s flexibility, where every hole can play differently every day, some even from different angles and par.
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109. (111) Jupiter Hills Club: Hills
As an old pro from Pine Valley who lost an Open at Merion, George Fazio blended features of both of those great courses into his design at Jupiter Hills, the high point of his second career as a golf course architect. Built from a distinct sand ridge that runs laterally along the Atlantic seacoast north of West Palm Beach, Jupiter Hills was inexpensive to construct. The terrain was so good, only 87,000 cubic yards of earth were moved. A decade after it opened, George Fazio retired near the property, and couldn’t resist constantly tinkering with it. He ultimately removed many of its most unique, Pine Valley-like aspects. Thirty years later, his nephew Tom Fazio, who had assisted on the original, re-established many of those early characteristics, emphasizing the prominent sand ridge on which George first routed the course.
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110. (121) Kingsley Club
Private
110. (121) Kingsley Club
Kingsley, MI
Expertly routed across glacial domes and over kettle holes, Kingsley Club opens with a split fairway, a high-right avenue separated from a low-left one by a cluster of sod-face bunkers. It’s an attention grabber than is repeated in various fashions throughout the round. For instance, the hilltop green on the short par-3 second seems tiny in comparison to the deep shaggy bunkers surrounding it. The long par-3 fifth plays over a valley with a tongue of fairway ready to repel any shot that comes up short. The par-4 sixth seems to slant in one direction, then cant in the other direction once past a lateral ridge that runs down the fairway. Every hole has its own character. With roughs of tall fescue and occasional white pines and hardwoods, Kingsley is all natural and all absorbing, a thoughtful design by Mike DeVries, who grew up in the area playing No. 14 Crystal Downs.
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111. (113) Mountaintop Golf & Lake Club
Unlike nearby Wade Hampton G.C., the Tom Fazio design that was routed through natural valleys to forego the need for dynamite, Mountaintop was blasted from solid rock. Some holes were forged through slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains, like the par-4 sixth, edged by a 30-foot-high wall of granite on the right. Conservative estimates are that all that rock removal raised the cost of construction of this continuous-18 layout to $1 million per hole. The opening tee shot drops 100 feet, and six holes also play over a deep gorge formed by Hurricane Creek. Mountaintop proves there is no property too rugged for Tom Fazio.
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112. (120) Colorado Golf Club
Private
112. (120) 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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113. (108) The Madison Club
Private
113. (108) The Madison Club
La Quinta, CA
When developer Michael Meldman first showed Tom Fazio the land for the proposed Madison Club, an arid, barren desert outside Palm Springs, he told Fazio, “Let’s do a modern-day Shadow Creek.” By “modern-day,” he meant one that would feature homesites along the holes. So Fazio did what he’d done in Las Vegas at No. 27 Shadow Creek. He had crews dig into the desert and pile up dirt to the sides. But this time, the cuts became channels wide enough for fairways, with pads for home sites perched above holes on surrounding ridgelines. After trucking in and planting mature trees and sodding everything, Fazio was satisfied The Madison Club looked nothing like a typical Palm Springs residential layout. Said Fazio, “If you’re given a free hand in the Coachella Valley, what do you do? You do everything. You move the earth, plant the trees and carve out the streams. You create the entire space. There’s so much here.”
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114. (104) Eagle Point Golf Club
Private
114. (104) Eagle Point Golf Club
Wilmington, NC

From Golf Digest Architecture Editor emeritus Ron Whitten: I played Eagle Point Golf Club, a Tom Fazio design, soon after it became ranked on Golf Digest's 100 Greatest but before it hosted the 2017 Wells Fargo Championship as a one-time substitute for Quail Hollow Club, which hosted the PGA Championship that summer. I walked it with caddies, Director of Golf Billy Anderson and one of the club's founders (and later president) Bobby Long (who was also green chairman at Seminole and a member of Augusta National.) Just before we teed off, golf architect Andrew Green came over and introduced himself. We'd never met. He was designing a short-game facility for the club. Though it may seem strange that Fazio's firm wasn’t retained to do that, it helps to know that Andrew’s brother, Sam, was Eagle Point’s course superintendent at the time.

 

Read the complete review, plus comments from our panelists, here

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115. (NEW) Sheep Ranch
Public
115. (NEW) Sheep Ranch
Bandon, OR
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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116. (112) Sand Valley
Public
116. (112) Sand Valley
Nekoosa, WI
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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117. (95) Blackwolf Run: River
Public
117. (95) Blackwolf Run: River
Kohler, WI
Only Pete Dye could have convinced owner Herb Kohler to rip apart an award-winning course (Golf Digest’s Best New Public Course of 1988) and still come out a winner. Dye coupled the front nine of that original 18 (now holes 1-4 and 14-18) with nine newer holes built within a vast bend of the Sheboygan River to produce the River Course. It possesses some of Dye’s most exciting holes, from the triple-option reachable par-4 ninth to the boomerang-shaped par-5 11th to the monster par-4 18th, where Kohler surprised Dye by converting a long waste bunker into a temporary lagoon for tournament events. For major events, like the 2012 U.S. Women’s Open, Dye’s original 18 was used. But for survey purposes, Golf Digest evaluates the River 18, which is available for everyday general play.
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118. (117) French Lick Resort: Pete Dye Course
Pete Dye’s mountaintop design, Golf Digest’s 2009 Best New Public winner, established that at age 80 the designer still had fresh ideas, including rumpled chipping swales, country-lane cart paths and volcano bunkers. Measuring just over 8,100 yards from the tips, Pete Dye at French Lick is not the first course over 8,000 yards to land on our rankings. That would be Runaway Brook in Massachusetts, now called the Pines Course at The International Golf Club. It was 8,040 yards when ranked in 1967. Today it’s 8,325 yards. The world’s longest is Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in China at 8,415 yards. The yardage may be a talking point, but what golfers will remember about Dye's French Lick course are the multi-mile views in all direction, the roominess of the fairways and greens that hang out over the edges of the sweeping land formations.
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119. (97) Quail Hollow Club
Private
119. (97) Quail Hollow Club
Charlotte, NC
Few golf course projects had more national attention in recent years than Quail Hollow, mainly because its front nine was redesigned just a year before it hosted the 2017 PGA Championship, won by Justin Thomas. The par-4 first and par-3 second holes were completely torn up, replaced by a new long dogleg-right par-4 opening hole. Several acres of pines to the left of the fifth tee were removed to make room for a new par-3 fourth. (With its knobby green fronted by three traps, it proved to be the most frustrating hole for pros in the 2017 PGA.) More pines were removed to the left of the par-4 11th, replaced by bunkers, and even more trees chopped down on a hill left of the par-4 18th to make room for money-making hospitality boxes. There’s no question that this latest remodeling, rushed though it was, improved the course. The course was also rerouted for the 2022 Presidents Cup.
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120. (130) Robert Trent Jones Golf Club
Private
120. (130) Robert Trent Jones Golf Club
Gainesville, VA
Designed by Robert Trent Jones and his long-time associate Roger Rulewich just before they tackled the ambitious and enormous Robert Trent Jones Trail string of courses in Alabama, Robert Trent Jones Golf Club was intended to be the veteran architect’s definitive statement on championship golf. Routed on rolling terrain densely covered with pine and hardwoods, the design reflects the philosophy Trent pioneered—heroic architecture—with well over a hundred glistening white sand bunkers and the last 11 holes playing along the shoreline of Lake Manassas, including the par-3 ninth with a peninsula green, the par-3 11th over a lake cove and the par-4 18th over an inlet and up a lakeside bluff. The RTJ G.C. has hosted the Presidents Cup matches on four occasions and was a PGA Tour stop in 2015.
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121. (125) Forest Highlands Golf Club: Canyon
It has three par 5s over 600 yards and a par 4 measuring 478 yards, but the Canyon Course at Forest Highlands still plays shorter than its listed yardage. That’s due in part to its elevation at 7,000 feet and partly because it has six par 3s, a strong collection spaced every other hole from the fourth through 14th. Both nines are routed along mountain ridges, with holes edged by stately ponderosa pines. The ninth is especially scenic, as it drops down an escarpment into a narrow stream valley to a double green it shares with the 18th hole.
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122. (115) Stone Eagle Golf Club
Private
122. (115) Stone Eagle Golf Club
Palm Desert, CA
Stone Eagle is the most remarkable course in the golf-heavy Palm Springs market. It sits atop a rocky plateau, a thousand feet above the Coachella Valley but still thousands of feet below the peaks of the adjacent Santa Rosa Mountains. When Tom Doak first walked the site, he said, “I thought this must be what the surface of Mars looks like: rocky, rugged and red.” Given the luxury of routing an 18 without any homesites, Doak did his lay-of-the-land best to create a faux links high above the desert floor by tucking fairways into creases of the land and positioning shots to play over low ridges into bold greens that mimic the rugged topography. At Stone Eagle, Doak used hillsides of rocks and boulders the way Old Country architects used sand dunes. The only difference: sand is soft, rock is not.
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123. (122) Laurel Valley Golf Club
Private
123. (122) Laurel Valley Golf Club
Ligonier, PA
Considered by some to be Dick Wilson’s consummate design, Laurel Valley Golf Club was founded by a group that included Arnold Palmer, who lived a few miles from the site. In fact, the group tried to persuade Arnie to quit the PGA Tour and become the club’s head professional and manager. Palmer reportedly mulled over the prospect for a time before rejecting it. Imagine how different the tour would have been had Arnie not become the dashing head of Arnie’s Army in the early 1960s. Instead, Palmer won seven majors, 52 titles overall and founded a golf design company that thrice remodeled the lovely Laurel Valley for major events.
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124. (110) The Philadelphia Cricket Club Wissahickon Course
Philadelphia Cricket was Tillinghast’s home club in his early years as a golfer, so when he laid out a new course for the club in the early 1920s, he devoted special attention to it. Over the century, it aged. Greens shrank, bunkers eroded, trees grew (including one right through the roof of a clubhouse veranda). In 2008, Keith Foster was retained to restore the course to its Tillinghast glory, but a poor economy postponed the work until the summer of 2013. The Cricket is now faithful to Tilly once again, with trees removed and original greens and bunkers reclaimed, including the famed “Great Hazard” that must be carried on the par-5 seventh. As per his request, Tillinghast’s ashes were scattered in the Wissahickon Creek that crosses the 18th green.
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125. (132) Chambers Bay Golf Course
Public
125. (132) Chambers Bay Golf Course
University Place, WA
Prodded by his partner, Bruce Charlton, and their then-design associate Jay Blasi, veteran architect Robert Trent Jones Jr. agreed to a radically different, vertical-links style when building Chambers Bay in an abandoned sand quarry near Tacoma. By the time Golf Digest named it as America’s Best New Public Course of 2008, the course had already been awarded the 2010 U.S. Amateur and 2015 U.S. Open. In the Amateur, Chambers Bay proved to be hard, both in the firmness of its dry fescue turf (Jones called his fairways, “hardwood floors”) and its difficulties around and on the windswept greens. For the U.S. Open, the firmness and surrounds were more manageable, but the greens were notoriously bumpy. That’s now been remedied, as the fescue turf on the putting surfaces has been replaced with pure Poa Annua. What's irreplacable are the views of Puget Sound from nearly every hole, multi-level fairways that entice bold driving to gain second-shot advantages and two holes running parallel to a railway that's invokes feelings of early Scottish and Irish links courses.
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126. (137) Newport Country Club
Private
126. (137) Newport Country Club
Newport, RI
History was made here in 1894 when the nine-hole Newport Country Club, one of five founding members of the USGA, became America’s first championship venue, hosting both the inaugural U.S. Amateur and, in the fall of 1895, the inaugural stroke-play U.S. Open Championship. In 1899, Davis added the club's second nine on the property's lower section, stretching it out to the Atlantic shoreline. A.W. Tillinghast remodeled the course in the 1920s, resulting in the most authentic links experience Tilly ever created, or perhaps, more accurately, co-created. Over the past 20 years, consulting architect Ron Forse has faithfully restored many Tillinghast greens and bunkers lost over time. Newport is the rare nationally-ranked course that’s never had a fairway irrigation system. Weather dictates how firm and fast it plays.
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127. (118) Streamsong Resort: Red
Public
127. (118) Streamsong Resort: Red
Bowling Green, FL
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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128. (138) St. Louis Country Club
Private
128. (138) St. Louis Country Club
Saint Louis, MO
One gets the impression, playing St. Louis Country Club, that C.B. Macdonald was perplexed about how to route a course on such a tight piece of property. After all, his previous design efforts were spacious. But at St. Louis C.C., Macdonald must have felt squeezed, for he installed back-to-back par 3s at the second and third holes, placed his Redan par 3, the 16th, near the entrance road, then had players walk back to the 16th tee to play the 17th. Those quirks aside, St. Louis C.C. is a sublime, hilly museum of golf. It has so many enormous, unique landforms, it’s like playing golf through a dinosaur graveyard. The short par-4 18th is Macdonald’s version of the 17th at Prestwick, the Alps, and features a blind approach over a ridge into the green. If you miss a 30-incher on this punchbowl green, remember Sam Snead did, too, to lose the ’47 U.S. Open.
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129. (133) The Creek
Private
129. (133) The Creek
Locust Valley, NY
When it was conceived in the early 1920s, The Creek was considered “The Million Dollar Club” because of the wealth of its exclusive membership. The line that writer Royal Cortissoz wrote upon its 1923 opening remains true today: “The distinctive character of this course lies in its range.” It opens with holes framed by trees, mainly lindens that line the entry drive, then moves onto a bluff that overlooks Long Island Sound. At the turn, holes play adjacent to the shore, offering fresh takes on two of C.B. Macdonald’s most exciting template holes. The 10th, a dogleg along the sea, is his version of the Leven (of Lundin Links in Scotland), while the 11th is not just a Biarritz green, but an island Biarritz green. Other Macdonald favorites are also at The Creek, including the Eden, Redan and Short.
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130. (119) Shoal Creek
Private
130. (119) Shoal Creek
Shoal Creek, AL
Asked if a course could be built in a Birmingham forest, Jack Nicklaus scouted the site from lumber haul roads and said of the mountainous terrain, “Well, there are a lot of par 3s out there, that’s for sure.” But then he discovered a gentle valley in which to put par 4s and 5s, so he took the job. It became one of his great early designs. But as it neared 40 years of existence, Shoal Creek needed some reconditioning, so Nicklaus and his former senior designer Jim Lipe (now operating his own firm in Louisiana) literally ripped up every hole and rethought strategies and options. The result was not a restoration but an updating. Gone are huge fairway bunkers, replaced by smaller clusters of traps. Greens have been recontoured, with one, the 12th, actually flowing front to back, unheard of back in the late 1970s when the course was first built. Shoal Creek has twice hosted the PGA Championship and the remodeled layout hosted the 2018 U.S. Women’s Open, won by Ariya Jutanugarn in a four-hole playoff over Hoo-joo Kim.
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131. (NEW) Clear Creek Tahoe
Private
131. (NEW) Clear Creek Tahoe
Carson City, NV
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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132. (116) Flint Hills National Golf Club
Except for its secondary rough of native grasses, Flint Hills National has little in common with the actual Flint Hills in Kansas, a geological formation of tallgrass prairie plateaus amidst rocky buttes. The softly-rolling Tom Fazio design has over 5,500 transplanted trees, including cedars, maples, pin oaks, pines, redbuds, willows and even 60-foot-tall cottonwoods. Not surprisingly, the club has a full-time arborist. Several long lakes dominate play, especially on the opening and closing holes. The slick, heavily contoured greens are tougher even than those at No. 23 Prairie Dunes, which is less than an hour away.
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133. (141) The Concession Golf Club
Private
133. (141) The Concession Golf Club
Bradenton, FL
The Concession was originally established by Sarasota resident Tony Jacklin, who convinced Jack Nicklaus to handle the design while Jacklin would offer design suggestions. The club name honors the famous final-putt concession from Jack to Tony in the 1969 Ryder Cup, which resulted in a tie between the teams and a moral victory for the underdog Europeans. The Concession is a terrific design, a rare Nicklaus one that’s not a residential development. The course flows across a variety of landscapes—meadows, wetlands, oak hammocks and pine forests—with spectacular bunkering and exciting green contours. Jack had been working on this course at the same time he and Tom Doak were doing No. 43 Sebonack, and Jack later admitted the small, heavily-contoured greens at The Concession were inspired by those at Sebonack. In 2021, The Concession hosted the World Golf Championships - Workday Championship, won by Colin Morikawa.
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134. (145) Martis Camp
Private
134. (145) Martis Camp
Truckee, CA
Back in the 1960s, a forest south of Truckee served as a location for the filming of the popular TV western “Bonanza.” Now it’s the locale for three diverse residential courses, Schaffer’s Mill by Johnny Miller and the late John Harbottle, Lahontan by Tom Weiskopf, and Martis Camp by Tom Fazio. Fazio has called this site one of the finest natural pieces of property on which he’s ever created a golf course. It has pines, firs, hemlocks and rocky outcroppings on nearly every hole, particularly the 18th, where the clubhouse sits atop a 70-foot-high wall of granite behind the green. Fairways are broad, though hazarded by squiggly bunkers in certain spots, and some greens have trunks of tall Ponderosa pines uncomfortably close. So gorgeous is Martis Camp Golf Club that one critic called it, “a private-gated national park experience.”
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135. (127) Bel-Air Country Club
Private
135. (127) Bel-Air Country Club
Los Angeles, CA
Completing a George C. Thomas hat trick of designs (the others being No. 16 Los Angeles C.C. (North) and No. 18 Riviera) is Bel-Air C.C., a charming throwback design that winds through mansion-dotted canyons of Los Angeles, the topography so steep that golfers are guided from hole to hole via a tunnel, an elevator and the city’s most famous suspension bridge, which spans a gulch on the par-3 10th and serves as a dramatic backdrop for the 18th green. Bel-Air’s design had been altered over decades by, among others, Dick Wilson, George Fazio, Robert Trent Jones Jr. and Tom Fazio. But in 2018 Tom Doak erased every bit of their work, removing most of the phony water hazards and faithfully recapturing Thomas’s splashy signature bunkering. To complete a round amidst these Hollywood hills, you’ll definitely encounter a Hollywood star. Her name is Bel-Air.
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136. (143) Sycamore Hills Golf Club
Private
136. (143) Sycamore Hills Golf Club
Fort Wayne, IN
Jack Nicklaus has redesigned some aspect of every hole at No. 16 Muirfield Village over the decades, in efforts to make sure that course remains competitive as annual host of the PGA Tour’s Memorial Tournament. But he’s done no major remodeling at Sycamore Hills Golf Club in Fort Wayne, just modest adjustments. Although the course sees its share of amateur competitions, Nicklaus has seen no need to toughen it for everyday member play. After all, it has always had plenty of challenge, like the long freeform bunker left of the fairway on the par-4 third, the 14 bunkers scattered about the par-5 fifth and the serpentine stream that crosses the fairway four times from tee to green at the par-5 15th. Sycamore Hills is Nicklaus at his most imaginative, with strategic golf on some holes, gambling golf on other holes and target golf on still others.
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137. (114) Mayacama Golf Club
Private
137. (114) Mayacama Golf Club
Santa Rosa, CA
As Jack Nicklaus wound down his competitive career, his empathy for average golfers rose, and rather than continue to build back-breaking championship-length courses, he began to tailor some of his designs toward the average golfers who foot the bill. Thus Mayacama is less than 6,800 yards and is routed to be a very comfortable walk, essential since the club has no golf carts. A bold design, it explores every facet of the oak-dotted hillsides above Santa Rosa. Watersheds and gulches figure prominently in the layout, which has some dramatically elevated tees and four stunning, gambling par 5s.
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138. (126) Hazeltine National Golf Club
Hazeltine might be the most controversial championship course of the modern era, designed by Robert Trent Jones for former USGA president Totten Heffelfinger, who used his considerable clout to bring the 1966 U.S. Women’s Open and 1970 U.S. Open to the then-very immature layout. Criticisms were so extreme that Trent Jones spent the next two decades remodeling it, straightening doglegs, relocating holes and rebuilding greens. In the past two decades his younger son, Rees Jones, assumed the reconstruction, with even greater success—and today the layout, like many in the old man's portfolio, is more Rees than Trent. Hazeltine hosted the 2009 PGA and 2016 Ryder Cup, the latter a bright spot for the American team, which perhaps is why the PGA of America has already awarded the 2028 Ryder Cup to this Minnesota site.
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139. (124) Bluejack National
Private
139. (124) Bluejack National
Montgomery, TX
Many who’ve played Bluejack National have commented on its resemblance to Augusta National, particularly at the par-3 12th, which plays over water to a shallow diagonal green backed by a pair of bunkers. While some suspect this is Tiger’s homage to the 12th at No. 2 Augusta National, where he has won five Masters, it could be based on the 12th at No. 16 Muirfield Village, where Tiger has won eight times. Nonetheless, Bluejack is most likely an ode to Augusta. At the course opening, Tiger told reporters, “When I visited the site for the first time, I was blown away. It’s definitely not the kind of site that comes to mind when you think of Houston. The terrain features a number of elevation changes and lots of tall, mature trees, more like something you would find in Georgia.”
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140. (NEW) Manele Golf Course
Manele, previously called The Challenge at Manele, unseated Kapalua’s Plantation course as the highest-ranked public course in Hawaii several years ago. Now the course, located on the southern coast of Lanai, has the votes to make it eligible for the 100 Greatest and Second 100 Greatest ranking as well, buoyed by an Aesthetics score that regularly ranks among the top 30 in the U.S. The Nicklaus design is worthy of high praise. It has three ocean-cove holes, including the par-3 12th and dogleg-right par-4 17th. You might argue Manele has been perpetually underranked, starting with its finish on Golf Digest’s ranking of Best New Resort Courses in 1994, well behind World Woods’ Pine Barrens course (now known as Cabot Barrens at Cabot Citrus Farms), which is currently 90th on our 100 Greatest Public. It’s hard to argue it’s under ranked now.
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141. (105) The Golf Club At Black Rock
Private
141. (105) The Golf Club At Black Rock
Coeur D Alene, ID

Jim Engh’s architecture is all about turning fantasies into realities, and Black Rock delivers on that goal like few others, with some bobsled-run fairways (where one can putt from landing area downhill to the green), rollicking putting surfaces framed by squiggly bunkers and a par-4 11th pinched by towering rock formations that bring to mind a pinball machine. Unusual and controversial (it won Best New Private in 2003 ahead of No. 15 Friar’s Head and No. 83 Dallas National), Black Rock is a thrilling round of golf.

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142. (NEW) The Dye Course at White Oak

The Dye Course at White Oak, our 2022 Best New Private Course winner, is one of the most exclusive golf courses to be built in recent memory. It’s located on the border of Florida and Georgia outside Jacksonville, in almost complete natural isolation. It has no members, no on-site clubhouse (or any other structures on or near the course), and hardly anyone has played it except for personal invitees of owner Mark Walter and several dozen Golf Digest panelists, who visited between October 2021 and September 2022. Walter engaged the late Pete Dye to design the course in 2013, but by the time construction began in 2017, Dye’s health had deteriorated, and he was no longer able to be active in building it. The job of finishing White Oak fell to longtime confidant and veteran course builder Allan MacCurrach, who interpreted Dye’s wishes based on extensive discussions from previous years and his own wealth of experience working with Dye on over 20 projects. Intensely private and almost entirely off the radar until now, this exclusive video tour captured by photographer Brian Oar offers the first public looks at The Dye Course at White Oak
 

Read our full review, including panelist comments, here.

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143. (156) Whisper Rock Golf Club: Upper Course

Whisper Rock’s Upper Course was intended, as the club’s second 18, to specifically test its low-handicap and PGA Tour pro membership, but Tom Fazio couldn’t resist being a crowd-pleaser, so although he designed 18 holes with demanding angles to diagonal fairways from the back tees, his landing areas for average golfers are generous and most greens are cradled with ample chipping areas. All players enjoy the scenic beauty of this patch of Sonoran Desert, with the front nine holes framed by dry washes and a four-hole stretch on the back woven through astonishing towers of balanced granite boulders. “That’s a beautiful, beautiful stretch, going up into those boulders and back down towards Pinnacle Peak,” said Fazio at the grand opening. “But I’m proud of the entire course, as it’s got a whole bag of different looks.” Whisper Rock’s other 18, the older Lower Course, is ranked No. 174.

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144. (NEW) Blessings Golf Club
Private
144. (NEW) Blessings Golf Club
Fayetteville, AR
George Thomas conceived of the idea of a “course within a course” when designing Los Angeles Country Club in the early 1920s, creating various tees for different holes that changed the angles of play and even the par values on different days. That’s part of the concept of Blessings in northwest Arkansas, where Robert Trent Jones II built a multifaceted routing that can be played in a variety of different lengths and combinations intended to challenge the game’s best collegiate players (Blessings hosts a variety of NCAA tournaments and was the site of the 2019 National Championships), including one setup with a USGA course rating of 80.9 and a 155 slope. Several holes cross over each other in the manner of old links courses, though there’s nothing linksy about the rural, wooded and sloping property bisected by Clear Creek. When you build a course for an individual owner—in this case John Tyson of Tyson Foods—you get to break the rules. In 2018, architect Kyle Phillips remodeled Blessings to make it more walkable, creating a new first hole, relocating several greens, and shifitng and rebuilding bunkers to increase strategic diversity.
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145. (147) Fox Chapel Golf Club
Private
145. (147) Fox Chapel Golf Club
Pittsburgh, PA
When Fox Chapel hosted the 1985 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship (won by Michiko Hattori), some observers were disappointed that its Seth Raynor design seemed so ordinary. Greens had become circular, many bunkers were overgrown and those that still existed bore fancy modern shapes. Most alarming, the Fox’s 17th, originally a Biarritz hole, had the front portion of the green and trench mowed as fairway. In the early 1990s, architect Brian Silva was called in to restore Raynor’s features. He reclaimed green dimensions, including the Biarritz, and recaptured original bunkers, particularly the necklace wrapped around the front of the 11th (“Short”) green. Tom Marzolf, of Tom Fazio Design, has continued to refine and draw forth more Raynor-inspired shaping and bunkering--this latest work debuted in the fall of 2020 with profound enhancements to the Punchbowl second (a par 5), Redan sixth, the Lions Mouth green complex at nine, Bottle 16th and the Redan.
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146. (177) Moraine Country Club
Private
146. (177) Moraine Country Club
Dayton, OH
Nipper Campbell, one of the all-time great names in golf, was a prolific golf architect in Ohio, but is mainly remembered for his design of Moraine, where he also served briefly as head pro (he was also highly involved in the expansion The Country Club in Brookline, site of the 2022 U.S. Open). As the name suggests, it was created on glacial moraine topography, which over the years had become obscured by massive tree planting. Keith Foster, soft spoken but carrying a big chainsaw, wiped out nearly all the trees to reveal all the domed hills that members had previously never noticed during play. Moraine sits right next door to NCR Country Club, which was built by Dick Wilson in the early 1950s. At the time, a Moraine assistant pro would sneak over and watch the construction progress. He finally told Wilson he’d like to get into that golf design business, so Dick hired him away. The assistant pro was Joe Lee.
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147. (140) Aldarra Golf Club
Private
147. (140) Aldarra Golf Club
Sammamish, WA
Although he owned his own turboprop for over a decade, it wasn’t until the late 1990s that Tom Fazio agreed to work in the Pacific Northwest. Previously, it seemed just to far to travel for someone with six children at home. But former Seattle Supersonics basketball star Jack Sitma convinced Fazio to help his group build a golf-only, non-residential 18 on land east of Seattle. Perhaps it helped that the land had been previously owned by aviation pioneer Bill Boeing, land he had called the Aldarra Farm. Fazio’s design, called The Member’s Club at Aldarra until recent years, quickly became known for its last four holes, dubbed “The Gauntlet.” They consist of a long, stout par 3 (with an old stone farm silo near the green), a par 4 along wetlands, a reachable par 4 with stacked sod bunkers before the green, and a long closing par 4 with two forced carries over ravines.
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148. (136) Atlanta Athletic Club: Highlands
No course on our rankings has highlighted the value of new turfgrasses better than the Highlands Course at Atlanta Athletic Club. It sets the standards for quality everyday conditions as well as for major championships at Southern venues. Its tees and fairways are newly-developed Zorro Zoysia, which can withstand Atlanta’s coldest winter days. Greens are state-of-the-art TifEagle Bermuda, smooth and pure. Approaches and surrounds of greens are TifGrand Bermuda, which allows them to be mowed very tight for additional bounce. The rough is Tifway 419 Bermuda, a great old standby. The club also recently upgraded its irrigation system. Because each turf has different water demands, a precise individual-head system was installed, each head controlled by the superintendent with a smart phone app, applying moisture only where needed and thus saving water and money. No longer will an errant shot at AAC land behind an irrigation box. There are none anymore.
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149. (139) Kapalua: Plantation
Public
149. (139) 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.

So it's a big course. But what sets it apart in my mind are the little things. When I played the course years ago with Coore, it took only one hole for me to appreciate one of its subtleties. We were on the tee of the par-3 second, an OK hole but nothing riveting, nothing like the canyon-carry par-3 eighth or the ocean-backdropped par-3 11th. The second sits on a rare flat portion of the property. The green sits at a diagonal, angling left to right, and there's a string of bunkers staggering up the right side of the green. The first bunker appears to be directly in front of the green but is actually 40 yards short of it. When pointed out to me, I called it Gingerbread. Bill disagreed.
 

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

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150. (129) East Lake Golf Club
Private
150. (129) East Lake Golf Club
Atlanta, GA
Tom Bendelow actually laid out the original course at East Lake, back when it was known as Atlanta Athletic Club, and that was the layout upon which Stewart Maiden taught the game to the now-legendary Bobby Jones. Donald Ross basically built a new course on the same spot in 1915, which remained untouched until changes were made before the 1963 Ryder Cup. When Atlanta Athletic moved to the suburbs in the late 1960s, the intown East Lake location fell on hard financial times until being rescued in the 1990s by businessman Tom Cousins, who made it a sterling fusion of corporate and inner-city involvement. Rees Jones redesigned most holes beginning in the mid-90s, making the course more reflective of his views of championship golf. After the PGA Tour reversed the nines for the 2016 Tour Championship (flipping the unpopular par-3 finish into the ninth hole), the club made the new routing permanent for regular play. East Lake will undergo another major renovation following the 2023 Tour Championship, this time by Andrew Green, who will highlight the Donald Ross heritage.
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151. (148) Streamsong Resort: Blue
Public
151. (148) Streamsong Resort: Blue
Bowling Green, FL
Although congenial rivals, Tom Doak and Bill Coore actually collaborated on Streamsong’s original 36-hole routing, walking the site and mentally weaving holes around stunning mounds, lagoons, sand spits, savannahs and swamp, all elements left after a strip-mining operation. Coore then gave Doak first choice on which 18 he wanted to build, so Doak’s Blue Course includes a few holes routed by Coore. (Coore and Crenshaw’s Red, ranked No. 127, contains some holes originally envisioned by Doak.) The Blue starts a bit more dramatically, with the back tee on hole one atop a 75-foot sand dune. It has more water carries off the tee, and it’s also a bit more compact, since it sits in the center with the Red Course looping around its outside edges. The Blue definitely has the bolder set of greens, some with massive shelves and dips. The new addition of No. 178 Streamsong (Black) by Gil Hanse only adds to the spirited competition among designers. The theme song at Streamsong seems to be: “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better.”
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152. (134) Ridgewood Country Club: East/West
Ridgewood was always one of A.W. Tillinghast’s favorites. He lived nearby, was a club member and a close friend with the club's longtime pro, George Jacobus, who served as president of the PGA of America for seven years. (It was Jacobus who brought the 1935 Ryder Cup to Ridgewood.) The 27 holes that Tillinghast created were some of his most demanding. Not surprisingly, the course has long been a tournament venue, particularly in recent years, following extensive tree removal and bunker renovation by Gil Hanse. Ridgewood’s tournament 18 consists of holes from all three nines, but our survey ranks the East and West 9s, because the composite 18 isn’t routinely available for panelists. That means the club’s drivable par-4 sixth on its Center nine, the famed “Five and Dime” hole, isn’t evaluated by Golf Digest. Yet Ridgewood continues to be one of the top-ranked clubs in the nation. That tells you just how strong all the holes are at Ridgewood.
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153. (NR) Sage Valley Golf Club
Private
153. (NR) Sage Valley Golf Club
Graniteville, SC
Built just down I-20 from Augusta National, there's no mistaking Sage Valley's resemblance to its neighbor. The pine straw, the perfect conditioning and symmetric mowing paterns, the perfect bunker sand—it's all an ode to Augusta, where Tom Fazio, the architect at Sage Valley, served as the consulting architect for many years. Sage Valley has plenty of room off the tee, similar to its counterpart, but less drastic green complexes, characteristic of Fazio's approach—giving higher-handicappers a chance to run balls up on the ground in some spots—actually similar to how Augusta was originally designed by Dr. Mackenzie. Sage Valley fell off our Second 100 Greatest rankings in 2019 due to a lack of ballots—but it returned in 2023-'24.
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154. (144) Grandfather Golf & Country Club: Championship
Back when Grandfather Golf & Country Club made the 100 Greatest in 2001, we wrote, “This is a Grandfather we haven’t seen often enough ... a reminder of the architectural talent of the late Ellis Maples ... With roughs of rocks and rhododendron amid ever-present hemlocks, and sweeping greens guarded by bold bunkers, Grandfather feels like home. Maybe this time he’ll stay.” He didn’t, dropping off in 2011. But Grandfather made it back on in 2015, only to slip to the Second 100 Greatest in 2017, despite some remodeling by Bobby Weed in 2016. Will it ever climb the summit again? Who knows, but it helps that there is probably no more attractive mountain course anywhere in the rankings. Never count this Grandfather out.
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155. (151) The Highland Course At Primland
Public
155. (151) The Highland Course At Primland
Meadows of Dan, VA
The Highland Course at Primland sits atop a mountain plateau overlooking some of the most unusual scenery in America, a deep river valley dotted with tall spirals of rock called the Pinnacles of the Dan River. The course design by veteran British architect Donald Steel is austere in its green contours and bunkering, as if not to overpower the setting. Aided by his then-associates Tom Mackenzie and Martin Ebert (who have since formed their own very successful partnership, Mackenzie & Ebert), Steel routed holes along ridges, over chasms, down valleys and into sideslopes, always offering a safe alternative to every perilous carry. There’s a stretch of three straight holes - 13 through 15 - with no sand, because dense trees and deep gulleys are hazards enough. Primland is Smoky Mountain majesty.
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156. (170) Shelter Harbor Golf Club
Private
156. (170) Shelter Harbor Golf Club
Charlestown, RI
Though the late club founder and northeastern financier Finn Caspersen was not an avid golfer, he was intrigued by the idea of building a club near his summer home in Rhode Island. But the property he had was challenging and quite severe in places, strewn with wetlands and studded with huge boulders. He ultimately determined that Hurdzan/Fry was the firm that had the environmental chops and creative juice to make the most of it. Though the holes were limited in where they could go, they achieve a desired “old New England” flavor that mixes well with the more historic courses in the neighborhood and possess a dynamic range of strategic lines, carry options and green sizes. The early 1900s bunkering, crafted by Coore & Crenshaw shaper Jeff Bradley, is icing on the cake.
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157. (135) Caves Valley Golf Club
Private
157. (135) Caves Valley Golf Club
Owings Mills, MD
To compare the present Caves Valley against that which was originally built in the early 1990s is to recognize how much Tom Fazio has felt obligated to adjust his courses to today’s club and ball technology. Back in 1991, the opening hole was a dogleg-left with a trap at the turn. Today it has four bunkers framing the landing area. The par-5 third had just two “buffer bunkers” along a lake to the right to stop high-handicap slices from landing in the drink. Those buffers are still there, but so too are three enormous bunkers down the left, stretching over 300 yards from the back tee. And so it is all the way around Caves Valley. There are now target bunkers mainly in play for big hitters and frontal bunkers at several greens to force pin-seekers to throw it in the air. Caves Valley is a players’ club, and one remains a player only by being constantly challenged during a round.
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158. (152) Mammoth Dunes
Public
158. (152) Mammoth Dunes
Nekoosa, WI

David Kidd began building a second 18 at Wisconsin’s Sand Valley Resort just before Coore and Crenshaw had completed their 18, which would be named Golf Digest’s Best New Course of 2017. Kidd was intent on topping their work, so he gave his meandering layout enormous fairways, big accessible greens and visually-unique hillsides of exposed sand, “mammoth dunes” that became the course moniker. “This could be the best course I and my team have yet created,” Kidd wrote in late 2017. “We can’t wait for the critics to decide if they agree.” They were disappointed with results of Golf Digest’s 2018 Best New Course survey, which placed Mammoth Dunes second behind Streamsong (Black). But balloting for Golf Digest’s 100 Greatest continued for an additional month after the close of Best New, and additional evaluations pushed Mammoth Dunes ahead of Streamsong (Black), which is now ranked No. 178.

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159. (164) Secession Golf Club
Private
159. (164) Secession Golf Club
Beaufort, SC
Pete Dye and his son P.B. did the early routing of Secession, but when they left in a dispute with the developer, Bruce Devlin, a PGA Tour veteran who’d previously designed courses with Robert von Hagge, stepped in and finished something much in keeping with the then-prevailing Dye philosophy of low profile architecture. Greens were set at ground grade, protected by low humps and pot bunkers with vertical stacked-sod faces. Still, Devlin invariably left open the fronts of greens for running approach shots. The site itself is a peninsula in marsh, with several holes on individual islands. Secession demands a complete game, both aerial and ground, particularly in steady ocean breezes.
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160. (142) Harbour Town Golf Links
Public
160. (142) Harbour Town Golf Links
Hilton Head Island, SC
In the late 1960s, Jack Nicklaus landed the design contract for Harbour Town, then turned it over to his new partner, Pete Dye, who was determined to distinguish his work from that of rival Robert Trent Jones. Soon after Harbour Town opened in late November 1969 (with a victory by Arnold Palmer in the Heritage Classic), the course debuted on America’s 100 Greatest as one of the Top 10. It was a total departure for golf at the time. No mounds, no elevated tees, no elevated greens—just low-profile and abrupt change. Tiny greens hung atop railroad ties directly over water hazards. Trees blocked direct shots. Harbour Town gave Pete Dye national attention and put Jack Nicklaus, who made more than 100 inspection trips in collaborating with Dye, in the design business. Pete’s wife, Alice, also contributed, instructing workers on the size and shape of the unique 13th green, a sinister one edged by cypress planks.
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161. (191) Southern Highlands Golf Club
Although Southern Highlands was billed as a co-design between Robert Trent Jones Jr. and his famous father, in truth the senior Jones, who would die in 2000, was retired by the time construction on this lavish Las Vegas layout began in 1998. Still, there’s a plaque on the 12th hole proclaiming it to be the last hole Mr. Jones ever designed. Regardless, Southern Highlands reflects his son Bobby’s design tenets and visuals. The Highlands was always intended to be Bobby’s answer to Tom Fazio’s Shadow Creek (ranked No. 27), but with a more financially sensible real estate component. It has the same Carolina-pines motif, the same sprawling, overly elaborate bunkers, the same kinetic water features and, if anything, even more elevation change, with the 11th tee box sitting ten stories above the fairway and providing an unobstructed view of the Las Vegas Strip several miles to the north.
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162. (160) Ocean Forest Golf Club
Private
162. (160) Ocean Forest Golf Club
Sea Island, GA
Twenty-some years ago Rees Jones might have completed America’s last true oceanside links at Ocean Forest. It’s certainly one of the premier linksland settings in the country, far more authentic in its links characteristics than his Haig Point or Atlantic G.C., despite some holes in woodlands. Ocean Forest’s fairways laterally traverse several rumples of dunes, some 18 feet high, through a pine-covered delta formed where the Hampton River flows into the Atlantic. The routing skirts saltwater marsh, the river’s edge and finishes with a one-two punch on the seashore. This may be the most walkable course among all those nationally ranked, despite the fact that the 18th hole finishes a half mile from the clubhouse. Here’s an obscure piece of trivia: The day Ocean Forest opened in 1995, O.J. Simpson was acquitted of all murder charges against him. Architect Beau Welling is now working with the club and is performing a remodel of the course in 2023. Standy by to see how these changes impact Ocean Forest's state and national ranking.
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163. (166) Wannamoisett Country Club
Built on just 89 acres, barely room for 18 holes, no room for even a small practice range, with lots of bunkers and tiny greens, the Donald Ross-designed Wannamoisett has long held the reputation of the Sugar Ray Leonard of golf courses, compact but carrying plenty of punch. The course has received a number of renovations over the decades, that latest by Andrew Green in 2021 that included green and fairway expansions, the rebuilding of the bunkers in a more authentic Ross style (based on the architect's field notes and sketches) and the continuation of an existing tree clearing program. A long-time host to one of amateur golf’s premier events, the Northeast Amateur Invitational, Wannamoisett is considered today the best par 69 layout in the land.
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164. (NEW) Old Elm Club
Private
164. (NEW) Old Elm Club
Highland Park, IL
Old Elm, a male-only club on Chicago’s north side, has one of the country’s most unique design pedigrees. British architect Harry S. Colt laid out the course in 1913 on one of his few visits to the U.S., collaborating on-site with Donald Ross, who to that point had designed courses in the Northeast and at Pinehurst but was not nationally known. After Colt departed, Ross, consulting Colt’s drawings and design notes, oversaw the construction of the holes. Over the last decade architect Drew Rogers has helped reclaim the property’s original spaciousness by removing hundreds of trees that had begun to clog the holes and expand fairways and greens. He also, with the help of designer/shaper Dave Zinkand, recreated the rough and rugged bunker edging that Colt was known for in his best U.K. designs. Their work has reestablished Old Elm as one of the top courses in the greater Chicago market.
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165. (131) Galloway National Golf Club
Galloway National occupies a very fine stretch of South Jersey-pine barrens, a site that before construction had been compared to nearby Pine Valley. But Tom Fazio felt the land more favorably compared with that of Pinehurst, and his dream was to reshape this course the old-fashioned way, using horses and slip-scrapers much as had done a century ago at Pinehurst. But the economics and timetable didn’t allow him such a fanciful luxury. Instead, bulldozers were used to shove the sand around into graceful fairways and low-slung, fall-away greens. Pines and roughs of pine needles frame most holes and the eastern flank of the course runs directly along a tidal marsh that leads to the Atlantic. Galloway National now has enough exposed sand, by the way, that golfers today are reminded of both Pinehurst and Pine Valley.
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166. (150) Kiawah Island Club: Cassique
Private
166. (150) Kiawah Island Club: Cassique
Johns Island, SC
Kiawah Island Club’s Cassique Course (pronounced Kah-seek) was created by Hall-of-Famer Tom Watson and his crew from old farm fields along the tidal marshes of the Kiawah River. As a five-time Champion Golfer of Year, Watson wanted his design to demand the “touch, feel and imagination” of links-style golf, so he framed most holes with choppy faux dunes, rumpled the fairways and installed some of his favorite links features: a burn a la Turnberry, Carnoustie-inspired Spectacles and a Hell Bunker from St. Andrews. With the front nine in open land and the back nine among trees, Cassique poses bump-and-run opportunities everywhere, and even has a couple of blind shots.
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167. (167) The Golf Club of Tennessee
Private
167. (167) The Golf Club of Tennessee
Kingston Springs, TN
In the early 1990s, Tom Fazio, assisted by longtime associate Tom Marzolf, designed a sprawling golf-only layout just west of Nashville. They routed it over 317 acres, incorporating dense forest, rocky ridges and a river valley. Its first two holes play along the flat valley of Brush Creek, while the par-4 third runs uphill through thick trees to a green site on a bluff overlooking the valley. Four, a 200-yard par 3, requires a carry over a chasm that drops to the river. The par-3 eighth plays directly over the river, while the dogleg-right par-4 ninth hugs its rocky edge. After the par-3 10th, in a box-canyon to a green backdropped by tall shale outcropping and cascading springs, much of the back nine is in open meadowland. Sixteen is yet another par 3 over Brush Creek, the short par-5 17th has narrow dual fairways and par-4 18th doglegs left over the river. Fairways are Zoysia grass, greens are Penncross bent grass and roughs are fescue, native grasses and wildflowers.
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168. (182) Glenwild Golf Club & Spa
Private
168. (182) Glenwild Golf Club & Spa
Park City, UT
4.4
93 Panelists
Glenwild Golf Club & Spa sits on a meadow valley north of Park City, offering invigorating vistas of the Wasatch mountain range surrounding the community. Tom Fazio was given first dibs on the land for his 18 holes, with developers agreeing to plot homesites only after he’d completed his routing. So he clustered holes together, positioned some holes along a couple of irrigation lakes and linked the lakes via a network of streams and cascading waterfalls. The far rough framing holes consists of native sagebrush, along with patches of flowering purple flax and transplanted aspen, chokecherry, maple, willow, spruce and Austrian pine. Enough trees were transplanted to define targets, but not so many as to block panoramic views.
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169. (165) Bellerive Country Club
Private
169. (165) Bellerive Country Club
Saint Louis, MO
Once the darling of the USGA, which awarded this Robert Trent Jones design the 1965 U.S. Open, making it the second youngest course to host an Open in the 20th Century (after Northwood in Dallas), Bellerive is now favored by the PGA of America, which successfully concluded the 2018 PGA Championship on it. The polished course that hosted the PGA is a far cry from the immature one of 1965. Hardwoods along holes now have 50 years worth of growth, fairways are now Zoysia and architect Rees Jones has replaced his father’s bunkering with that of his own style, positioned farther off the tees to challenge big hitters. Rees also filled in a pond in front of the 17th green and added chipping areas next to several putting surfaces.
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170. (NEW) Hollywood Golf Club
Walter Travis was a man of many talents. As a player he won three U.S. Amateur titles and one British Amateur, and his 80-percent match win percentage ranks among the sport’s all-time best. He was a writer, editor and publisher of The American Golfer in addition to designing over two dozen golf courses. His greatest skill might have been bunkering courses. His work revamping no. 64 Garden City in the early 1900s—adding, moving and deepening the bunkers as well as rebuilding the greens—transformed that course into what it is today, but his most artistic work is at Hollywood. The elaborate bunker shapes and arrangements are nothing short of dazzling, especially as they’ve been sharpened and polished by Brian Schneider of Renaissance Golf, along with shaper Blake Conant. They lay out like arrangements of gemstones and the spots on a jungle cat, varying from the size of a mansion parlor to little more than a bread box. Anything like it attempted today would be considered garish, but Travis’s Beaux Art bunkering at Hollywood is a study in artistry.
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171. (162) Pinehurst Resort: #4
Public
171. (162) Pinehurst Resort: #4
Pinehurst, NC
Like a football team searching for the right coach, the resort could never settle on the right identity for the No. 4 course despite a series of major alterations by different architects. It found its match when it hired Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner to carry out a full-scale blow-up and rebuild in 2018 that brought back the sweeping sand-and-pine character we identify with Pinehurst, while initiating a style of shaping in the greens and bunkers that’s confident and distinctly its own.
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172. (146) Sahalee Country Club: South/North
Many 100 Greatest courses began as open fields, then had decades of green-committees plant trees to frame fairways; many of those same clubs are now clear-cutting such trees to open up vistas and invite more sunlight and air to greens. Sahalee is not such a club. Its course was carved from a Pacific Northwest forest of cedar, spruce, fir and pine, and its dominant theme has always been narrow fairways framed by towering trees that reach to the heavens. To strip Sahalee of its trees would be to shave Samson of his locks.
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173. (159) The Stanwich Club
Private
173. (159) The Stanwich Club
Greenwich, CT
A mainstay of Connecticut golf since the 1960s, Stanwich has undergone modifications over several years by Tom Fazio and his team, all based on the club's masterplan that addresses the course’s tees, bunkers, greens and mowing lines. The latest project was the rebuilding of five green complexes and the creation of a completely new first hole. “The first hole saw a complete re-imagining,” explained Fazio design associate Tom Marzolf. “The old hole was a quick dogleg-left that had many trees blocking the path around the corner. We looked to improve the options off the tee and allow alternate ways to play the hole. Earthwork to cut the inside corner and open up views to the green have completely changed the feel of the tee shot.” More changes to Stanwich, both big and small, are still to come.
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174. (188) Whisper Rock Golf Club: Lower Course
Phil Mickelson wanted his course design debut to be something different than the typical Scottsdale desert layout, so he had some fairways recessed into the landscape to create elevation change, kept tee boxes flush with the ground and built mostly long, narrow greens edged by chipping hollows. Mickelson calls them “Pinehurst greens.” Bunkers are surprisingly shallow and fairways are uniformly wide, because he dislikes holes that bottleneck down for big hitters. There’s plenty of grass in which to play, and a surprising number of trees on the layout, including palo verde, juniper and mesquite. Phil considers his design to be a second-shot course, “and we don’t have the same second shot two times in a row,” he says. One second shot, on the par-5 third, must contend with a “ha ha wall,” a three-foot-high ledge of stacked rock that edges the putting surface. That’s definitely different than anything in Scottsdale.
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175. (NR) Atlantic Golf Club
Private
175. (NR) Atlantic Golf Club
Water Mill, NY
Real-estate developer Lowell Schulman hired Rees Jones to create his dream golf club on rolling linksland in Bridgehampton, one of the richest zip codes in the country, a few decades after founding Brae Burn Country Club in Westchester County. Jones created a strategic marvel with mounds, moguls and fescue framing the holes that test golfers—along with the seemingly ever-present wind. Jones' creation debuted on Golf Digest's America's 100 Greatest ranking in 1997 at 65th and was ranked on four editions until falling off in 2006. It has now reappeared on our Second 100 Greatest in 2023-'24 for the first time since 2016.
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176. (NEW) The Reserve At Moonlight Basin

The Reserve at Moonlight Basin is just the third course from Montana to appear in the national rankings, joining Tom Doak’s Rock Creek Cattle Company (No. 56) and Robert Trent Jones’ Yellowstone C.C., which surfaced in the 1960s on the list of America’s “Toughest” courses. Located near Big Sky at an elevation of 7,500 feet above sea level, the Jack Nicklaus design is the highest (in altitude) in the rankings. Big sky is apt—the course was built on the site of an old ski mountain with 360-degree panoramas of the surrounding Rockies, and the impressively large holes race, slalom and dive across circuits of terrain that twist different directions through the wilderness. With numerous downhill shots through the thin air, the championship yardage of 8,000 yards doesn’t seem egregious, and scoring well actually requires a high degree control in judging where the ball will carry and settle. The epic vistas of holes like the par 4 first and par 5 17th (at over 700 yards) are sights to behold, for golfers and non-golfers alike.

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177. (158) Bayonne Golf Club
Private
177. (158) Bayonne Golf Club
Bayonne, NJ

Both Bayonne Golf Club and its neighbor, No. 194 Liberty National G.C., were built at the same time, part of a massive transformation of the Jersey shoreline along the Hudson River and New York Harbor. Bayonne was built on an old sanitary landfill covered with 7 million cubic yards of fill, much of it dredged from the harbor to efforts to make the harbor deep enough for supertankers. The deposits were piled up to 10 stories high, which developer-designer Eric Bergstol then shaped into towering faux sand dunes. The course is an ode to Irish links, with no trees, cart paths or level lies. Fairways flow down narrow valleys, edged by steep slopes laden with tall, wavy fescues. Bunkers are deep and often fearsome. A few greens sit right above the harbor and all putting surfaces have confounding humps, bumps and rolls. Tucked away down a bumpy, unpaved road past a strip mall in blue-collar Bayonne, N.J. is this private, walking-only enclave.

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178. (169) Streamsong Resort: Black
Public
178. (169) Streamsong Resort: Black
Bowling Green, FL
Gil Hanse’s Black Course at Streamsong, Golf Digest’s Best New Public Course of 2018, sits a mile south of the resort’s Red and Blue Courses, with its own clubhouse and its own personality. Reshaped from a decades-old phosphate strip mine that lacking tall spoil mounds, Hanse provided strategic character by building a hidden punchbowl green at nine, dual putting surfaces at 13, incorporating a meandering creek on the par-5 fourth and a lagoon cove to guard the 18th green. Both the putting surfaces and the chipping areas surrounding them were grassed in MiniVerde, and today both are mowed at a single height, resulting in the biggest, most complex greens found on our national ranking. One Streamsong insider calls the Black greens “polarizing;” we call them tremendous fun.
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179. (179) McArthur Golf Club
Private
179. (179) McArthur Golf Club
Hobe Sound, FL

If there’s such a thing as an undiscovered Tom Fazio design, it’s McArthur Golf Club, a players-only layout he did in conjunction with PGA Tour star Nick Price. It’s little-known because of its neighbors, No. 109 Jupiter Hills, a few miles south, Hobe Sound G.C., one of Joe Lee’s finest, just a few miles closer, and Greg Norman’s Medalist right next door. McArthur sits astride the same sand ridge upon which Jupiter Hills and Medalist were built, and while Fazio had to deal with wetlands and easements in his routing, he framed each hole with acres of exposed white sand in the form of dunes, slopes and hollows to provide McArthur with a singularly stunning look that’s unlike any of its rivals. With those wide expanses of sand, McArthur started a trend that continues today.

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180. (NEW) The Bear's Club
Private
180. (NEW) The Bear's Club
Jupiter, FL


From Golf Digest Architecture Editor emeritus Ron Whitten:


The Bear’s Club marked a transition point in Jack Nicklaus’ design outlook when it opened in 1999. His architecture had typically been analytical and, while still lovely, oriented toward factoring how players might break down the features tactically. That strategic backbone is present in The Bear’s Club, but the team approached the design more holistically than they had previously, factoring in aesthetics to an unprecedented degree. Instead of building holes on a golf site, Jack and his associates created a golf environment, expanding and enhancing a dune ridge running through the low pine and palmetto scrub and anchoring large, sensuous bunkers into the native vegetation.
 

The course is part of an upscale residential development near the Intracoastal Waterway, but it blends so well you wouldn’t know it. The change in perspective that Nicklaus Design developed at The Bear’s Club pushed the firm toward similar successes in the 2000s like Sebonack (with Tom Doak), The Concession and Mayacama.
 

Explore more about Bear's Club with our complete review here—including bonus photography and ratings from our expert panelists.

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181. (NEW) Medalist Golf Club
Private
181. (NEW) Medalist Golf Club
Hobe Sound, FL