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Matty G's Top 10 Most Affordable Courses In The Country (5-1)

February 05, 2010

Repeating explanation: In almost every trip to report an Away Game, I try to find a round of affordable golf to include in my itinerary. "Affordable" is as relative a term as a list like this is subjective. So for the purpose of this list, here's how I'm defining affordable: A course that charges less than $125 on weekends during peak season for non-residents. I'm ranking them in reverse order, based on the green fee. The least expensive on my list earns the top spot. (Courses 10-6 on my list are in the previous post.)

__No. 4--The Olympic Course at Gold Mountain Golf Club__in Bremerton, Wash. ($76, includes a cart). Washington golf isn't all Chambers Bay. When I was in town to scout the future Open venue, I was told I had to get to Gold Mountain, which is covered in trees. And now I'm passing on the tip. The Olympic course hosted the 2006 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship and it will host the 2011 U.S. Junior Amateur. The cold, wet weather is obviously a factor, but I love the deal they're running until March: Pay $100 and get 30 days of unlimited golf. (Twilight, $27, starts at 3 p.m.)

No. 3--Black Forest at Wilderness Valley in Gaylord, Mich. ($75). Tom Doak has built only two public courses in his home state of Michigan. He told me Black Forest is where he was experimenting with a lot of bunkering techniques that he still uses today, and that if he had to do it all over again, he'd make this course more playable for the masses. It's tough, but far from unfair. The blue tees (6,496 yards) have a slope of 143. The slope from the white tees (6,129 yards) drops to 127. I played a combination of both tees and had all I could handle. One of Doak's favorite holes is the 10th, and it's my favorite as well. It's a long and narrow par 5--tunneling ants have had more room to work. (Twilight, $50, starts at 3 p.m.)

No. 2--Wailua Municipal Golf Course on Kauai, Hawaii ($70). The Bethpage Black of Hawaii, Wailua has hosted three U.S. Amateur Public Links Championships. The first nine was built in the 1930's; the second nine was added in 1961. It's only three miles from the Lihue airport, so it's an easy stop on your way to or from the North Shore. It has several holes running along the water, including my favorite, the "signature" 173-yard 17th. You will not be run over with polish--if there's a dress code, they don't enforce it--but you might be run over by the pace of the locals, so I suggest you keep up with the group in front of you. (Twilight, $30, starts at 3 p.m., and it's first come, first serve.)

No. 1--Coronado Municipal Golf Course in Coronado, Calif. ($35). If Bethpage Black is my favorite course near my favorite city in the country, Coronado (pictured below) is my favorite course near San Diego, my second favorite city. The last time I played there was with my brother and a best friend from high school. Most of my brother's clubs ended up in the neighboring San Diego Bay (I think he kept his driver and his putter). It was quite a scene at a course known for its high quality and a low fee. Advanced tee times (8-14 days) are $60. All other tee times can be obtained through a daily lottery and phone calls. (Twilight, $15, starts at 1 p.m. in the winter.)

If you want a useful link, click here for the list of America's 100 Greatest, re-ranked by price.

--Matty G.