Later this week I'll be posting my Top 15 buddies trip destinations in the U.S. While working up that list, it inspired another list. My Top 5 states to play golf.
No. 5: South Carolina At first I ruled out this state simply because I can't stand the bugs (I have a horrific reaction to noseeum bites. It's no wonder only the female noseeums suck your blood). North Carolina is probably No. 6 on my list. I considered New York, but it's really the great state of private golf. Alabama is the great state of value golf. Minnesota is the most underrated. Arizona and Florida are for the (snow) birds. Wisconsin was close to being top 5 worthy, but there are too many good courses on The Grand Strand not to reconsider wearing long sleeves and bathing in bug spray before the round. My three favorite public courses in South Carolina: Caledonia Golf & Fish Club, The Dunes Golf & Beach Club and Tidewater. Best value: I don't have an obvious choice for best value in South Carolina. I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts. Best course I haven't played yet: Harbour Town.
__No. 4: Hawaii__ I've sampled courses on five of the eight islands. There's too much good weather, golf and scenery not to put Hawaii on this list. It has seven of the 100 Greatest Public, and even though most of them are overpriced, there are a lot of great courses. My three favorite public tracks in Hawaii: Plantation course at Kapalua (Maui), the Challenge at Manele (Lanai) and the Palmer course at Turtle Bay (Oahu). Best value: Wailua Municipal (Kauai). Best course I haven't played yet: Mauna Kea (Big Island).
No. 3: Michigan The season is short, but I'd almost be willing to endure one of those ridiculous winters just so I could enjoy in-state discounts at one of the eight courses on Golf Digest's list of America's 100 Greatest Public (that's only one less than California and one more than Hawaii). My three favorite public courses in Michigan: Forest Dunes (by far), Arcadia Bluffs and Treetops (Signature). Best value: Black Forest at Wilderness. Best course I haven't played yet: Tullymore.
No. 2: Oregon If golf is my religion, my heaven will include the four courses at Bandon Dunes and all the courses in and around Bend. The Beaver state has five on the list of America's 100 Greatest Public, and that's not counting Old Macdonald, which will almost certainly be on it when it's eligible (May, 2013). My three favorite public courses in Oregon: Pacific Dunes, Bandon Dunes and Tetherow (just to throw one in that's not at Bandon Dunes). Best value: Aspen Lakes. Best course I haven't played yet: Ghost Creek at Pumpkin Ridge.
No. 1: California The Golden State wins this race by almost 900 miles of coastline, which is only one of its finest features. It has a 13-month golf season, U.S. Open venues, nine on the list of America's 100 Greatest Public, a wide variety of value golf, including Coronado, one of my favorite munys in the country. It also benefits from all the courses in Palm Springs and Lake Tahoe. There's just no other state that can come close to competing. My three favorite public courses in California: Spyglass Hill, Pasatiempo, and I'll list Pebble Beach, but that $500 green fee is a crock of craziness. Best value: Coronado. Best course I haven't played yet: It might be both renovated courses at the old Fort Ord--Bayonet and Blackhorse.
Last week I linked to the California section of the new golf trip assistant on our website.