171. Spring Creek Ranch Golf Club
Jack Nicklaus (2000)
A chance meeting during a hunting trip led Memphis eye surgeon Dr. David Meyer to hire Jack Nicklaus to design a private 18 holes on land 40 miles southeast of downtown Memphis. What particularly intrigued Nicklaus about the project was that Meyer wanted no homesites on or around the course. Meyer even deeded the land surrounding Spring Creek Ranch as conservation easement to insure that no buildings would ever be erected beside any golf hole. The course design, with bent-grass greens and Zoysia fairways and rough, is as challenging as any Nicklaus ever designed, with water in play on 12 of the 18 holes and perhaps the most audacious par 5 Jack has ever dreamed up, the third hole, fully 200-yards wide, with alternate fairways, the direct left-hand route demanding two forced carries over cross bunkers and a greenside pond, with a safer, narrower route being to the right. The absence of homesites made such a vast, inventive hole possible.
Second 100 Greatest history: Ranked on America's Second 100 Greatest, 2015 to current. Highest ranking: No. 164 (previous)
Panelist comments, Spring Creek Ranch Golf Club:
"A course with much better design variety than most Nicklaus courses. The variety of shots needed on this course is apparent, particularly on the "double-fairway" par-5 third hole, which was quite memorable for its varied options off the tee. There is a stretch of very tough holes that are fun to play."
"The Zoysia fairways tee the ball up nicely and were perfectly manicured, perhaps not as firm and fast as other strains of grass but ideal for those looking to shape your shots. The new Champion Bermuda greens were firm, yet receptive to a quality iron shot and putted true. The wispy fescue look around the bunkers were visually intimidating but aesthetically pleasing."
"The rolling nature of the land led to interesting holes which featured uphill and downhill approaches and tee shots. The clubhouse was a beautiful modern designed structure that seemed to fit in seamlessly with the land, which was seemingly an isolated sanctuary for wildlife and vegetation."
"Spring Creek Ranch is a beautiful, fun test of golf, that offers risk/reward options, a great mix of tough/easy par 3s and 4s and interesting par 5s."