PGA Championship

Valhalla Golf Club



New Rankings

These were the 17 courses that fell off our latest America's 100 Greatest and Second 100 Greatest rankings

forest-dunes-tenth-eighteenth

Evan Schiller

The following 17 courses fell off the 2023-2024 ranking

Welcoming new courses onto the Golf Digest ranking of America’s 100 Greatest and Second 100 Greatest courses is cause for celebration. Not only does it expose readers to exemplary designs they might not otherwise be familiar with but it also is reflective of the current state of golf architecture, which, like any art form, is constantly changing and evolving.

On the other hand, the new courses that enter the rankings displace others. Some of the departed have been America’s 100 Greatest and Second 100 Greatest staples. We’d like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the courses that have fallen off the 2023-2024 rankings. Should they reappear in 2025, we will welcome them back with the same enthusiasm as the next batch of newcomers.

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[Note: the numbers indicate the course’s 2021-2022 standing and debut year in the rankings.]

149th in 2021-2022. MAUNA KEA (first ranked: 1969) 

Mauna Kea Beach Hotel Golf Course
The immediate thrill at Mauna Kea is its iconic par-3 third, a daunting tee shot over an ocean cove that’s a great substitute for those unable to gain an invitation to tackle the 16th at Cypress Point. The remaining holes at Mauna Kea are thrilling, too, with constant views of the ocean, awkward lies on sloping fairways and roughs of crunchy lava rock. A decade ago, Rees Jones updated his father’s original work by relocating and redesigning all the bunkers. They now add to Mauna Kea’s beauty.
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155. OZARKS NATIONAL (first ranked: 2021)

Big Cedar Lodge: Ozarks National
Public
Big Cedar Lodge: Ozarks National
Hollister, MO
The Ozarks of southern Missouri are not tall, but their ridge-and-valley topography provide a sense of heightened elevation. Ozarks National at Big Cedar Lodge takes advantage of the illusion with holes that run out along ridgetops and onto elongated fingers of land that fall off into wooded ravines. Formerly the site of a different, much narrower golf course, Coore & Crenshaw found ways to widen out many of the same spaces and added new holes on previously unused parts of the property. Though not as broad as is customary for the designers, the cant of the holes and the engaging fairway bunkering put a premium on shaping shots and hitting the correct line off the tee.
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157. OMNI HOMESTEAD--CASCADES (first ranked: 1969)

The Omni Homestead Resort: Cascades Course
As Wayne Morrison and Tom Paul point out in their massive, comprehensive biography of William Flynn, Seth Raynor was originally consulted about building the Cascades Course but declared the property insufficient. So the then-relative unknown William Flynn got the job and made the most of it. The topography of Cascades is magnificent and its bunkering is superb, particularly the cross-bunkers on the really fine 12th and 13th holes, both strong par 4s. The fourth and eighth are considered two of the great par 3s in the country and Cascades finishes with another par 3, a rarity among top courses. The Virginia gem has hosted eight USGA championships, including a U.S. Women's Open, a U.S. Amateur and two U.S. Women's Amateurs.
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163. FOREST DUNES (first ranked: 2011)

Forest Dunes Golf Club
Public
Forest Dunes Golf Club
Roscommon, MI
4.4
155 Panelists

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. Or maybe not.
 

The two worked together for over a decade before splitting up in 1996, and they shared a common philosophy of course design. Both courses have split personalities, with portions that look like Augusta National—lots of grass, trees, pine needles and gleaming white sand bunkers—and other portions that look like Pine Valley—rugged holes edged by roughs of brownish native sand and scruffy underbrush. Each have one long par 4 (the second at Forest Dunes, the fourth at Pine Dunes) that curves to the left through trees, has no fairway bunkers but has one big bunker at the left front of the green. Both have par-3 16th holes that play over wasteland to an angled green with bunkers right and left. Both courses have very similar drive-and-pitch par 4s. At Forest Dunes, the 375-yard sixth has bunkers scattered all about, with a diagonal carry bunker in the way of any drive aimed directly toward the green. At Pine Dunes, the 344-yard 15th is virtually the same hole, except the carry bunker is farther off the tee and positioned perpendicular to play. And both courses have a double-fairway hole. At Forest Dunes, it's the 10th, named Decision. (On his plan, Weiskopf didn't number the holes; he just gave them names.)


Read the complete review, plus bonus photos and comments from our expert panelists, here.

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171. EUGENE C.C. (first ranked: 1979)

Eugene Country Club
Private
Eugene Country Club
Eugene, OR
4.1
117 Panelists
Eugene was the site of one of golf most profound renovations in 1965 when Robert Trent Jones reversed the direction of each hole on the H.C. Egan design, building long tee boxes, all new greens and stylized bunkers that pinch targets and turn doglegs—turning Eugene Country Club into one of the most challenging in the Pacific Northwest. The 2021 renovation wasn’t so radical, but the changes initiated by Tim Jackson and David Kahn have made the course more thought-provoking through the shifting of tees, remodeling of bunkers, the expansion of greens that bring more hole locations into play and a renewed emphasis on using the unique ground contours and swales as more strategically influential factors. The towering Douglas fir trees still frame each hole and influence much of a golfer's strategy from tee to green.
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176. SEA ISLAND--SEASIDE (first ranked: 2013)

Sea Island: Seaside
Private
Sea Island: Seaside
Saint Simons Island, GA
The Sea Island resort continues to credit famed British golf architect H.S. Colt for its Seaside design, but in truth it was never purely Colt's design. It was the work of Colt's partner, Charles Alison, who traveled to the U.S. and beyond in the 1920s and 30s while Colt remainied in England. But the Seaside Course isn't even Alison's anymore--it is purely Tom Fazio, who incorporated Alison's original Seaside nine (today's 10-18) along with a nine (the Marshland Nine) designed in 1974 by Joe Lee, to create a totally new 18- hole course. But in keeping with the resort’s heritage, Fazio styled his new course in the design fashion of Alison, with big clamshell bunkers, smallish putting surfaces and exposed sand dunes off most of the windswept fairways. The Seaside Course has hosted numerous USGA championships and has been a mainstay of the PGA Tour’s early season roster for many years.
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178. THE GREENBRIER--OLD WHITE (originally listed on America's 200 Toughest Courses in 1966, then not ranked again until 2015)

The Greenbrier: Old White
Public
The Greenbrier: Old White
White Sulphur Springs, WV
C.B. Macdonald’s early American design of the Old White at The Greenbrier was always respected, especially after Lester George’s 2007 restoration re-established such things as a Principal’s Nose bunker and Dragon’s Teeth mounds. Golf Digest panelists rediscovered its pleasures and ranked it the Best New Public Remodel of 2007. Soon, owner Jim Justice began sponsoring an annual PGA Tour event. Then came devastated floods in July, 2016, which claimed lives and destroyed several Old White holes. Another architect, Keith Foster, supervised a total rebuild of the famed course in less than 12 months, in time for the following year’s PGA Tour event. As a result, The Old White was named Golf Digest’s Best New Remodel again in 2017.
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185. BLACK DIAMOND RANCH--QUARRY (first ranked: 1991)

Black Diamond Ranch: Quarry
Private
Black Diamond Ranch: Quarry
Lecanto, FL
Black Diamond Ranch is located in out-of-the-way hill country of central Florida, some 30 miles southwest of Ocala. Part of a residential development, this Tom Fazio fantasy-come-alive features a front nine that runs up and down 60-foot-high sand hills and alongside natural sand dunes. But it’s the back-nine stretch through an old rock quarries, holes 13 through 17, that’s the real draw. You start with a par 3 over a pit, then skirt along the rim of a bigger quarry, then descend 85 feet of steep limestone cliffs to the 15th green, positioned astride a bottomless pit of lake, then emerge for more shots along the edge, then shoot down into the smaller pit to the 17th green before finishing on a conventional 18th. Black Diamond has as many twists and turns as a hard-boiled detective novel. Traditionally a private club (there are a total of 45 holes on property), Black Diamond now offers on-site accommodations and stay and play packages.
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189. THE RIDGE AT BACK BROOK (first ranked: 2019)

The Ridge At Back Brook
Private
The Ridge At Back Brook
Ringoes, NJ
4.2
92 Panelists
Northeast of Princeton is The Ridge at Back Brook, another of those great pieces of property Tom Fazio is given on which to build a course. With 150 feet of natural elevation change, Fazio had little need to reshape the landscape, although he still had crews re-carve fairways for visibility and flow. With patches of mature forest of hardwoods and cedars, Fazio had little need to import trees, although a few were transplanted to emphasize seclusion on particular holes. The front nine sits in a valley formed by meandering Back Brook, while much of the back nine is on a plateau high above the front nine. Rock outcroppings are a prominent feature, including a massive one that poses a cross-hazard on the par-5 seventh, veins of rock behind the ninth and 18th greens and the namesake vertical cliff that provides a stunning backdrop to the par-3 eighth.
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190. PRONGHORN--NICKLAUS COURSE (first ranked: 2013)

Pronghorn Resort: Nicklaus Course
When it first opened, Pronghorn was strictly private and its Nicklaus Course was ranked by Golf Digest as No. 2 among America’s Best New Private Courses of 2004. A few years back, the club (which also has a Fazio-designed 18), began allowing public play on its Nicklaus track. The Nicklaus back nine, carved from a flow of volcanic rock, may be the most delightful Jack has ever designed, with gambling holes and gorgeous scenery at every turn.
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192. THE BRIDGES AT RANCHO SANTA FE (first ranked: 2021)

The Bridges At Rancho Santa Fe
Private
The Bridges At Rancho Santa Fe
Rancho Santa Fe, CA
4.4
143 Panelists
This upscale residential course wanders a lovely site in the dry, stony foothills in north San Diego County. The design is a contrast of sculpted architecture with smooth-edged, cape-and-bay style bunkering, reflection ponds and flowing fairway lines set against the property’s rugged ridges and canyons, with long views toward the Pacific off the highest points. The first nine circles through the development’s more compact residences while the second nine flares out into open country under the purview of large luxury estates. The club’s namesake bridges connect several holes that leap over valleys and the Escondido Creek ravine.
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194. ATLANTA C.C. (first ranked: 1969)

Atlanta Country Club
Private
Atlanta Country Club
Marietta, GA
4.1
147 Panelists
For over a decade, the most spirited debate in golf was over who really designed the really fine Atlanta Country Club. Both Willard Byrd of Atlanta and Joseph S. Finger of Houston claimed the honor. Both lobbied Golf Digest hard for the architectural credit, but neither provided much supporting documentation. Both architects are deceased now, and from what we can piece together, Byrd landed the original contract in the early 1960s, but was still more land-planner than course architect in those days, so the club brought in Finger to finish the job. We give them both credit for this hilly, strategic design, a solution neither architect would likely have accepted. Atlanta resident and former Jack Nicklaus associate Mike Riley remodeled the course in the early 2000s and his work helped put the course back in the America's 100 Greatest Courses ranking in 2003 after it had fallen off in 1997. Now architect Beau Welling is working with the club, and the results of his renovation will be revealed in late 2023 or early 2024.
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195. TRUMP INTERNATIONAL--CHAMPIONSHIP (first ranked: 2013)

Trump International Golf Club West Palm Beach: Championship
4.3
114 Panelists
Long before he was President of the United States, or even a TV reality show host, Donald Trump built a golf course, on prime real estate in West Palm Beach, which he got from Palm Beach County. In exchange for a 100-year lease, Trump agreed not to sue the county for noise disturbance to Mar-A-Lago resort. He hired Tom Fazio’s older, less-celebrated brother Jim Fazio to design a course that would rival Trump’s casino rival Steve Wynn’s baby, No. 27 Shadow Creek in Vegas. Jim moved 2 million cubic yards of dirt to create 58 feet of elevation change and planted 5,000 mature trees. Lakes linked by recirculating streams were built, as was a monolithic waterfall on the 17th. The result is Shadow Creek Southeast. “Steve Wynn is a friend of mine,” Trump said in a 1999 interview. “I did get certain ideas from Shadow Creek because I think he did a very good job. I made them bigger and better.”
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196. THE VINTAGE CLUB--MOUNTAIN (first ranked: 1987)

The Vintage Club: Mountain
Private
The Vintage Club: Mountain
Indian Wells, CA
4.4
92 Panelists
The Vintage Club proved to be the last collaboration between former tour golfer-turned-architect George Fazio and his young nephew, Tom. But while George was heavily involved in promoting this exclusive Palm Springs area club to prospective members, Tom was sweating the details out on the construction site. The opulent course was built for $6 million, considered an outrageous amount at that time, but Tom explained that sum was necessary in order to “create an environment where none existed,” a phrase he would repeat later in the decade when constructing No. 27 Shadow Creek in Las Vegas. Tom spent $1.5-million building just The Vintage’s 16th and 17th holes, including three cascading waterfalls at $175,000 apiece. It was money well spent.
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198. TORREY PINES--SOUTH (first ranked: 1969) 

Torrey Pines Golf Course: South
Public
Torrey Pines Golf Course: South
La Jolla, CA
Torrey Pines sits on one of the prettiest golf course sites in America, atop coastal bluffs north of San Diego with eye-dazzling views of the Pacific. Rees Jones’ remodeling of the South Course in the early 2000s not only made the course competitive for the 2008 U.S. Open (won by Tiger Woods in a playoff over Rocco Mediate), it also brought several coastal canyons into play for everyday play, especially on the par-3 third and par-4 14th. An annual PGA Tour stop, Torrey Pines received another boost by Jones prior to hosting its second U.S. Open in 2021, this one won by Jon Rahm.
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199. THE BROADMOOR--EAST (first ranked: 2013)

The Broadmoor Golf Club East Course
Private
The Broadmoor Golf Club East Course
Colorado Springs, CO
The Broadmoor Golf Club East is another timeless mountain course, built hard against Cheyenne Mountain with famed green contours that pose optical illusions. Many putts that look uphill are actually running downhill. Few golfers recognize that the East Course is a combination of nine Donald Ross holes (one through six and 16 through 18) and nine more added 30 years later by Robert Trent Jones (holes seven to 15), though a road crossing helps delineate these lower and upper holes. The East Course was the site of Jack Nicklaus’ first U.S. Amateur win in 1959 and Annika Sorenstam’s first U.S. Women’s Open win in 1995. It has also hosted 2011 U.S. Women’s Open won by So Yeon Ryu and the 2018 U.S. Senior Open won by David Toms, their first major victories as well (at least the first on the Senior circuit for Toms).
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200. COUNTRY CLUB OF BIRMINGHAM--WEST (first ranked: 1969)

The Country Club of Birmingham: West
Private
The Country Club of Birmingham: West
Birmingham, AL
4.1
120 Panelists
Starting 40 years ago, the Country Club of Birmingham’s West Course, one of two Donald Ross designs at the club, was repeatedly ranked on Golf Digest’s 100 Greatest. Then it fell off in 1984. Pete Dye convinced the club that he could restore the Ross glory to its West Course, but sent his younger son, P.B., to the course. P.B. proceeded to turn the turfgrass black with grass-killing chemicals, then stirred up clouds of red dust gouging his bulldozer into every tee, fairway and green. When he was finished, the West had become a P.B. Dye design, and some members were so unhappy, they didn’t talk to Pete for years. A decade ago, Pete finally talked his way back into the club’s good graces and promised “to fix things.” He brought in a new crew, toned done some of the more outrageous features of P.B., and made it more playable. Today, Birmingham West is still not back to being a Donald Ross design, but it sure is an authentic Pete Dye design.
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