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The Breaking Eighty Top 100 Courses in the World (2016)

Over the last two years I’ve been fortunate enough to play a lot of really good golf courses all over the world.

I’ve taken thousands of photos, played thousands of holes, and started to have a much better understanding of what makes a good golf course.

I’ve also been able to form opinions about which courses enjoy the most.

There’s a very distinct (and at times, quite large) difference between what I enjoy and what constitutes a good course.

If you look at many of the “top 100” lists from major publications you’ll in many cases see a big slant towards difficult, championship golf courses with a lot of historic pedigree.

Usually, those courses are worth of being as highly ranked as they are. However, does that mean that some of them were my favorite courses to play?

Not exactly.

The fun thing about this list, is that get to decide what get’s ranked where, and why. This is the Breaking 80 Top 100 Golf Courses list for 2016.

WHAT THIS LIST IS NOT

This is not a list of which courses I think are the best from an architectural stand point. If I were rating them for say GolfWeek or Golf Digest I would rank them very differently based on their architectural merits.

With this list I asked myself one simple question:

Which courses would I enjoy playing the most?

I went through and asked myself over and over and over again “would you rather play course #1 or course #2” – this list is based on those answers.

As much as possible  I tried to throw out exclusivity and pedigree. For instance in all honesty, if you told me I could go play Tobacco Road or Oakland Hills – I’d probably still choose Oakland Hills – yet I have Tobacco Road ranked higher.

This leads to the question “How on earth could you have Tobacco Road ranked higher than Oakland Hills??”

MY PRIMARY RANKING FACTOR

When creating this list, I took into account everything from course difficulty, strategic shot values, scenery and personal affinity – but there’s one ranking factor that will always remain paramount for me.

Fun.

How much fun did I have playing the course? Was there a lot of variety? Was each hole distinct and keep me entertained throughout the round?

I mean after all, that’s what golf is supposed to be about right? Having fun?

This is why in many cases you’ll find very highly ranked courses (by traditional measures) that are far superior from an architectural standpoint, not ranking as high as other courses.

That said, in some cases, much of the fun can be derived from the exclusivity, location, or history of a course.

Now that you understand a bit about my unconventional ranking strategy, let’s get on with it.

finally have enough courses under my belt to do a true top 100 list. Keep in mind, some of the ones towards the bottom are certainly not “best in the world” – but remember, this list is based on courses that I’ve played. 

I’ll be releasing ten new courses in this list over the next ten days, so enjoy, and keep checking back!

Check out our Top 50 list from 2015.

Breaking Eighty Top 100 Golf Courses for 2016

#100: Boat of Garten – Boat of Garten, Scotland

Boat of Garten Golf Hole 2

The second at Boat of Garten

This is one of the most recent courses I played, and chances are, you’ve never heard of it. It was a recommendation from Mr. Tom Doak himself for while I was in Scotland.

What you’ll find is a short (5800 yards) course with lots of elevated tee shots and uphill approaches. There are some strategic holes, fun shots, and you truly feel like you’re in a unique place.

#99: Half Moon Bay (Old) – Half Moon Bay, CA

The finishing hole on the Old Course at Half Moon Bay

The round is worth it just for this.

The hardest part for me with The Old Course at Half Moon Bay is the fact it’s basically routed through a subdivision with houses dotting the entire course.

That said the 18th is one of the very best holes in golf, and the hotel on the property (Ritz Carlton at Half Moon Bay) is one of the best properties I’ve ever had the pleasure of staying at.

I mean, c’mon, a room with your own private fire pit?!

#98: Fossil Trace – Denver, CO

Fossil Trace Golf Club Hole 12

Is it “Mickey Mouse”? Yes. Is it gimmicky? Yes. Is it fun? Hell yes.

This one of only two Jim Engh courses I’ve played (and the other is one of my favorite courses), and it really is a ton of fun. But what keeps it from being ranked higher is that some holes are just a little too ridiculous. While it has one of my favorite closing holes I’ve played, it might have one of the worst opening holes.

#97: Heron Lakes (Great Blue) – Portland, OR

A snowy Mt. Hood from Heron Lakes Golf Course

I’ve traveled the world playing some fantastic golf courses, yet the muni in my backyard still makes this list. It provides a solid challenge, has some great risk/reward holes, and you get it at all at a price that can’t be beat.

Next to Ghost Creek, this is definitely the best public golf option in Portland.

#96: Half Moon Bay (Ocean) – Half Moon Bay, CA

The 16th is the signature hole on the Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay.

The 16th is the signature hole on the Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay.

It’s really too bad that they didn’t do more with the Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay. It’s such a fantastic piece of land, with some incredible views, but I found the routing flawed (easy for errant tee shots to hit some greens). That said, there are still quite a few fun holes, and I don’t think you’ll find many people walking off the course saying “that sucked.”

#95: St. Andrews (New Course) – St. Andrews, Scotland

The New Course at St. Andrews

There is so much good golf in Scotland, and for many the New Course would be near the top of their favorites list. For me though, while it was a great course architecturally, it just didn’t have some of the other intangibles to truly make it one of my favorites (fun and scenery being two big ones here)

#94: Pound Ridge Golf Club – Pound Ridge, NY

Pound Ridge Golf Course by Pete Dye

Pound Ridge is an over the top Pete Dye design about an hour outside of New York City and it’s high daily fee (nearly $200) keeps play down.

That said, similar to Fossil Trace, despite it’s over-the-topness it’s still a ton of fun to play and if you’re looking for a good public option in NYC and don’t feel like Bethpage or Ferry Point, it’s definitely one to consider.

#93: The Bear at Grand Traverse – Traverse City, MI

The Bear at Grand Traverse is a Top 100 Publc Golf Course near Traverse City, Michigan

A great par 5 at The Bear.

The Bear is the poster child for the 80s when it comes to golf architecture. Long, hard, golf. Built in 1985 by Jack Nicklaus, it’s consistently ranked as one of the toughest courses in America – and in my experience, it is.

That said, the course has an enjoyable routing, some truly scenic holes, and despite being brutal at times, it is definitely an enjoyable round.

Full Recap: The Bear at Grand Traverse

#92: Royal Troon – Troon, Scotland

The Postage Stamp at Royal Troon

The Postage Stamp at Royal Troon

Man, this course. When asked to name my most overrated courses, Royal Troon is almost always top of mind. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad course. But I found the out and back routing to lack enough variety to make it one of my favorites. I describe it as 6 boring holes, 6 great holes, and 6 more boring holes.

That said, the Postage Stamp 8th is an all-world par 3, and worth playing just for that.

#91: The Bull at Pinehurst Farms – Sheboygan Falls, WI

The Bull Golf in Sheboygan, Wisconsin

Hitting this green was one of my best shots of the trip.

The Bull has a lot of similarities to The Bear. Jack Nicklaus. Top 100 Public. Really hard.

I shot over a hundred while I was there, and aside from a few opening holes with houses, it’s a scenic walk and a fun round. If you’re in Kohler for Blackwolf or Whistling and want something different or a little bit less expensive, it’s absolutely worth a round.

Full Recap: The Bull at Pinehurst Farms

#90: Whistling Straits (Irish Course) – Kohler, Wisconsin

Hole 14 on the Irish Course at Whistling Straits.

I had about two holes without fog during my round. This was one of them.

There’s no denying that Kohler is one of the best golf destinations in the US, if not the world. All four of the resort courses at Kohler are fantastic, as is The Bull listed above at #90.

My round on the Irish Course was the foggiest round I’ve ever played. In Scotland, they would never have allowed us to go out. So because of that, I can’t rank the course any higher. But in typical Pete Dye fashion there were certainly some fun golf holes – I think.

#89: Pine Needles – Southern Pines, NC

Third hole at Pine Needles Golf Course

The course wasn’t necessarily my favorite, but the par 3, 3rd was very good!

During my Pinehurst trip awhile back I had to choose 2 of 3 courses to play on my last day. It came down to Pine Needles, Dormie Club, and Mid Pines.

I went with the first two, and I’ve gotta say I was a little disappointed by Pine Needles. It is certainly not a bad design, but I’ve found many Ross courses I’ve played to lack the variety of some of the more modern tracks I tend to enjoy more.

That said, I wish I’d played Mid Pines as I’ve heard nothing but raving reviews from people whose opinions I trust in this sort of thing.

#88: The Blue Monster at Doral – Miami, Florida

#18 on the Blue Monster at Doral

Man what a beast of a course. Lots of sand, lots of water, and no letting up.

It beats you up from the very first hole, and never relents. It doesn’t hurt that we had 30mph gusts on the day we played.

That said, the company was great, and the course was in impeccable condition (as to be expected at any Trump course).

#87: Astoria Country Club – Astoria, Oregon

Astoria Country Club 3rd hole

There aren’t many true links courses in the United States, but Astoria is one of the few. It’s a rollercoaster of a ride, and I’ve truly never played anything like it.

It’s one of those love or hate it courses, but I enjoyed the rolling dunes, funky holes (I’m looking at you #3), and the knowledge that it is the true definition of a “hidden gem”.

#86: Mountain Ridge – West Caldwell, New Jersey

The approach on the 18th hole at Mountain Ridge in New Jersey

Upon my return from a trip where I played Mountain Ridge, I saw a Jewish friend of mine who was originally from NYC. I told him I played there and he said “Wait, what?! How did you get in? I’m Jewish and even I got yelled at when I took a wrong turn into their parking lot.”

The course has benefitted from a fantastic tree removal effort, and more than one person has said they have the best greens in New Jersey. Yep, they’re that good.

#85: Portland Golf Club – Portland, Oregon

The 9th at Portland Golf Club

Not many people know about the rich history of Portland Golf Club – which boasts a PGA Championship and a Ryder Cup. It’s one of the most historic courses in Oregon, and is always in impeccable shape.

I’m fortunate enough to usually play it 3-4 times a year, and it grows on me more with every round. It definitely feels like a northwest golf course with tree lined fairways and some nice elevation changes.

#84: Tokatee Golf Course – Blue River, OR

Tokatee Hole 11

Is Tokatee the most difficult golf courses out there? Nope.

Does it have the most interesting and varied hole designs? Nah.

Is it a really fun course in a truly unique setting? Absolutely.

I play Tokatee every single Memorial Day weekend, and it never gets old. It sits at the base of the Three Sisters mountains and doesn’t take itself too seriously – which usually leads to very good golf in my experience.

#83: Cog Hill #4 – Chicago, Illinois

Cog Hill Golf Club Dubsdread Hole 8

Cog Hill was one of the very first top 100 public courses I ever played – and it will beat you up!

The facilities themselves definitely left a lot to be desired, but the course was the definition of long, championship golf. It’s primary defense is in it’s bunkering, which basically seems like it is everywhere. 

Full Recap: Cog Hill #4

#82: Bay Harbor (Links/Quarry) – Bay Harbor, MI

Bay Harbor Hole 6

Bay Harbor is a beautiful property in Northern Michigan that features 3 very distinct nines. Each one truly feels like a different course – and frankly, I like that.

The Links is perched high up over Lake Michigan and has stunning water views. While the Quarry plays in, yeah you guessed it, and old quarry – and might have had my favorite holes between the two.

Full Recap: Bay Harbor (Links/Quarry) Review

#81: Columbia Edgewater Country Club – Portland, Oregon

Columbia Edgewater Country Club

Columbia Edgewater is a great Macan design that is similar to Muirfield in that it has an inside out routing (front 9 is inside the property, and back 9 goes around it.

It’s always in great shape, and gets rave reviews from LPGA players who compete in the Portland Classic each year.

It also boasts a nice par 3 course and one of the best practice facilities I’ve ever seen.

#80: Blackwolf Run (Meadow Valleys) – Kohler, Wisconsin

The 14th hole on the Meadow Valleys Course at Blackwolf Run

Of the four courses at Kohler, this is probably the most overlooked, which is too bad, because it has many of the same features as it’s bigger brother, the River Course, and a ton of imaginative holes.

When Blackwolf has hosted the US Women’s Open, they’ve used a composite of the two courses, so many of the holes on this course have seen pretty major tournament use.

#79: Aspen Lakes – Sisters, Oregon

Aspen Lakes hole 12 in Sisters, Oregon

Aspen Lakes is one of the most underrated courses in Oregon. Let’s ignore for a second that the high desert is probably my favorite landscape, and that Central Oregon is one of my favorite places in the world, period.

Aspen Lakes has incredible mountain views, varied and unique hole designs, and its signature red sand bunkers – that look great, but admittedly aren’t always the best to play out of.

Don’t miss this on any Central Oregon trip.

#78: Coeur d’Alene Resort – Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

Coeur D'Alene Golf Resort Par 3

Coeur d’Alene goes down as one of the most fun times I’ve  had on a golf course. I say this despite playing on a day where it was pouring down rain and we were the only ones on the course.

The conditioning is second to none, and it has some of the most favorable local rules I’ve ever seen. You’ll go for the island 14th, but be surprised by how many fun, scenic holes are scattered throughout the round.

Full Recap: Coeur d’Alene Resort

#77: Pumpkin Ridge (Ghost Creek) – North Plains, Oregon

The Ghost Creek course at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in Portland, Oregon is one of the top 100 public golf courses in America.

The public side of the 36 hole property, Ghost Creek is one of those courses I could play day in and day out. While there are a few pedestrian holes, the majority stand out – especially #3, 6, 9, 16, and 17. When it comes to public golf in Portland, this is as good as it gets.

Full Recap: The Best Public Golf Course in Portland

#76: Pinehurst (#2) – (Pinehurst, NC)

Pinehurst 2 - Hole 9

You’re probably thinking, “how on earth is this so low?!”. The reality of Pinehurst #2? It’s a long, difficult golf course. It’s worth doing once as a bucket list item, but at $450/round, there are other courses in the area that are immensely more enjoyable. Those Ross greens are pretty spectacular though.

Note: Remember, this is the ranking for my favorites, not my opinion of which are the best!

Full Recap: How I Shot My Best Round Ever on Pinehurst #2

#75: Pinehurst (#8) – Pinehurst, NC

Pinehurst 8 Hole 3 Small

Remember how I said there are more enjoyable courses in the area than #2? Frankly, I found #8 to be more fun and more enjoyable than it’s historic big brother. Fun holes and elevation changes make this a solid, and more affordable option on a trip to NC.

#74: Nirwana Golf Club – Bali, Indonesia

While I was living in Bali in 2011 I had the opportunity to play this course twice, and unfortunately I only remember bits and pieces of the course – as this was before my golf obsession really hit. I’ll make it back there one of these days, and if so, there’s a good chance it’s ranking could climb.

#73: Adios Golf Club – Coconut Creek, FL

Adios Golf Club outside Miami Florida

Adios was one of my top 3 surprises of 2016. I played with my buddy David down there before hitting the PGA show in January, and man, what a fun course. I haven’t played much “Florida Golf” but I found Adios to have more variety than I expected, some fun strategic holes, and a club attitude that you won’t find many other places.

#72: Turning Stone Resort (Kaluhyat Course) – Verona, NY

Kaluhyat Golf Course hole 2

The par 4 second, from up in the trees.

Kaluhyat at Turning Stone Resort was just bared knocked out of my Top 50 last year.  I found it to be the best of the three courses at Turning Stone, and a true golf adventure. It had a little bit of everything, open holes, elevation, forests.

It kept you engaged throughout the entire round and was worth the drive up there from NYC. Not to mention the resort and casino was much more impressive than expected.

Full Recap: Kaluhyat at Turning Stone

#71: Aronimink Golf Club – Newtown Square, PA

The par 3, 8th at Aronimink

Aronimink was the last round we played on our June Philadelphia swing. It was a race against time from flood like weather that didn’t hit until I was pulling out of the gate at the airport that night.

Aronimink is a beautiful club and one of the hardest courses you’ll find. By now you should know long, classic, championship golf is not necessarily my preferred style. But Aronimink had some fun holes, and if you’re playing from the correct tees, it’s a definite treat.

 #70: Salish Cliffs – Shelton, Washington

Salish Cliffs Hole 15 in Shelton Washington

I was totally surprised by Salish Cliffs. From the opening with a reachable par 5, short par 4, and then long downhill par 3 – I knew this was going to be a fun round.

It stayed interesting all the way through, and is definitely worth taking the time to play if you’re heading to Chambers Bay.

Full Recap: Salish Cliffs and Chambers Bay: The Perfect Golf Getaway

#69: Old Oaks Country Club – Purchase, NY

The 3rd hole at Old Oaks

I was supposed to go play Yale, but we pulled an audible the morning and went to Old Oaks instead.

Man what a place. Stately, massive, and…completely unknown?

Most people I’ve talked to have never heard of it. It’s too bad as it’s a really underrated Tillinghast track. This might have been the round when I realized I much prefer Tillie’s courses to Ross’.

#68: Garden City Mens Club – Garden City, NY

Garden City Hole 14

When it comes to exclusivity, it doesn’t get much more so than Garden City. The experience was incredible, and the company great. But the day I played it was early in the season and the course was still coming back from the winter and wasn’t in the best shape.

Would love to experience it again to better appreciate it’s subtleties.

#67: Waverley Country Club – Portland, OR

Waverley Country Club Hole 13

This dropped a fair amount this year. Even though I still really enjoy the course, the last couple plays through I’ve found the front to be not quite as good as I remember, but the back is still one of the best finishers I’ve played.

A club I’d love to be a member at one day.  Next to Bandon it’s probably on the best spot of land for a golf course in Oregon.

Full Recap: Waverley Country Club

#66: Turnberry (Ailsa Course) – Ayrshire, Scotland

The Ailsa Course at Turnberry is one of the best golf courses in Scotland and the world.

I’ve talked to a lot of people who say Turnberry is their favorite course. While I thoroughly enjoyed my round, there were many other courses in Scotland that I preferred.

Would love to experience it after the recent remodel, as I can imagine 9-11 are now unbelievable.

Full Recap: Turnberry (Ailsa) – The Most Scenic Open Rota Course in Scotland?

#65: Streamsong (Red Course) – Bowling Green, FL

Streamsong Red Hole 1

People often ask me what I thought of Streamsong. Short answer? The courses there are great!

But there’s always a caveat…it didn’t meet my expectations.

It had been talked up for so long and been spoken so highly of, I think my expectations were way too high.

I found the Red to have a fantastic opening set of holes, but after the first six, I found there to be more of a mix of great holes, and some that were a bit more forgettable.

#64: Atlantic Golf Club – Bridgehampton, NY

Atlantic Golf Club in Bridgehampton, New York

One of the first of the “new” ultra exclusive courses in the Hamptons, Atlantic was built in the early 90s and is a beast of a course. That being said, it’s long and hard while still being interesting and fun.

We had the whole course to ourselves the day we played, and considering we played Maidstone in the morning, it was truly a memorable round.

#63: Ayodhya Links – Bangkok, Thailand

Ayodhya Links Hole #12

Ayodhya Links is a course that I never thought I would get to play, but the stories around it are pretty fascinating.

First off, the entire course was lost to a flood in 2011. They rebuilt and remodeled the entire course from the ground up, and in 2015 it was named one of the Top 100 Courses in the World by Golf Magazine – much to the chagrin of many notable raters who didn’t believe it should be there.

Thank you to the gesture of a very kind friend, I was able to play the course, and I found it to be quite good. The strategy, conditions, and variety was all there in spades.

#62: Chambers Bay – Tacoma, Washington

Hole 5 at Chambers Bay

Chambers is another course that many people love to hate after the debacle that was the 2015 US Open. However, the variety, the fun holes, and the views make this a course that would be hard not to enjoy. You’ll definitely hit a few golf shots there you won’t see anywhere else.

Full Recap: Salish Cliffs and Chambers Bay: The Perfect Golf Getaway

#61: Olympic Club (Lake Course) – San Francisco, CA

The Lake Course at the Olympic Club is one of the top 100 golf courses in the US and has hosted 5 US Open Championships

Let’s not be mistaken, the Olympic Club is hard. It forces you to move the ball in every direction possible, and be on top of your putting game in the process. It’s truly a championship course, and while I found some of the holes to feel a little familiar by the end, there’s no doubt it’s a place I enjoy getting beat up when given the opportunity.

Not to be missed: the burger dog, and the men’s locker room.

#60: Gulph Mills Golf Club – King of Prussia, PA

Gulph Mills Hole 6

Golf Magazine recently claimed that Gulph Mills was the toughest tee time to get in the state of Pennsylvania – that’s saying something.

I found the course to have great variety, was in good condition, and despite a brutally hot day, had a fantastic round. Sticking it close for a birdie on the par 3 6th was definitely a highlight.

#59: Essex County Club – Manchester-by-the-sea, MA

Anyone wanting to know why Essex County is so good, needs to simply look at the fact that Donald Ross lived on the course for a number of years. I found the back 9 to be the better of the two, with elevation change that was reminicsent of Yale at times and some wonderfully fun semi blind shots.

#58: Medinah #3 – Chicago, IL

Medinah #3 is one of the most historic top 100 golf courses in the US.

Iconic par 3.

One of the most famous championship venues in golf, Medinah #3 has some great holes, but by the end became a little long and repetitive. The pars 3s, while all excellent, began to feel similar by #17, and with a score over a 100, I took quite the beating.

#57: Forest Dunes Golf Club – Rosscommon, MI

Forest Dunes is one of the best golf courses in the United States

Now that’s a sunrise

Forest Dunes is in the middle of nowhere. But the Weiskopf layout is worth the trip. It’s in a beautiful region of the country, and you can get some awesome stay and play deals in the fall. And there has never been a better time to go considering they just opened their new Doak reverisble routing called The Loop, which was just named best new publuc course by Golf Digest.

Full Recap: Forest Dunes

#56: Old Macdonald – Bandon, Oregon

"Short" at Old Mac also has the one of the biggest greens you'll ever see.

“Short” at Old Mac also has the one of the biggest greens you’ll ever see.

Don’t get me wrong I love Old Macdonald, and Golf Digest even ranked it as the #2 most fun course in the country! However, while a very enjoyable course with an interesting story (the hommage to CB Macdonald) the brutally long stretch of 9-12 leaves a sour taste in my mouth every time I play it.

#55: Trump National Bedminster -Bedminster Township, NJ

Trump National Bedminster Hole 16

I wasn’t expecting to like this course much, but considering at one point Mr. Trump claimed it was the very best course in the world (just like every other course he owns), I was excited to play it.

As to be expected the conditioning was impeccable, and while it was certainly a tough test of golf, I thought it had a nice variety and was fun to play. I’ve learned I have an affinity for modern parkland style courses, and despite being a little bit ball busting, it was a very enjoyable round.

#54: The Country Club (Clyde/Squirrel) – Brookline, Mass

The approach on hole 11 at The Country Club

The approach on hole 11 at The Country Club

This is another one that the purists will totally hate on me for. The Country Club is one of the most exclusive courses in the country, and playing it was such a special treat. If you asked me to rank it based on the design and architecture – it’d be top 50 in the world.

But for how much I enjoyed it? It’s not quite as high. I enjoyed the back 9 much more than the front, but also my experience was skewed having played off season in some pretty nasty weather.

#53: Machrihanish Golf Club – Campbeltown, Scotland

Machrihanish Hole 8

Machrihanish Hole 8

I know people who say that Machrihanish is one of their very favorite courses in the world. Don’t get me wrong, there are some world class holes there. The opening tee shot is second to none, and it’s as true a links test as you’ll ever find.

But compared to some other top Scottish courses many of the holes blended together for me, which keeps this from cracking the top 50.

#52: Carnoustie Golf Links – Carnoustie, Scotland

Carnoustie Hole 18

Carnoustie is kind of akin to Bethpage Black here in the states. It’s long, hard, public, and has sort of a no frills vibe going for it. While not nearly as scenic as some of it’s other Scottish neighbors, I enjoyed my round here more than expected – and the history is second to none. Just be prepared for a beating.

Full Recap: Carnoustie Golf Club

#51: Tetherow Golf Club – Bend, Oregon

Tetherow Golf Club in Bend, Oregon is one of the best golf courses in the US.

The 6th at Tetherow in Bend, Oregon.

The exact opposite of Pronghorn, Tetherow is one of the most unique courses in the world. It’s in the high desert, but the fescue grass has it playing like a links course. It’s extremely high on the fun factor, and the greens can leave you some truly terrifying putts. I enjoy it everytime I head out, and with the work they’ve been doing there, it’s only getting better.

Full Recap: Tetherow: The Most Polarizing Course in Oregon

 #50: Cascata Golf Club – Boulder City, NV

Cascata Golf Club

When it was built, Cascata was Caesar’s answer to MGM’s Shadow Creek. While not quite the transformation that Shadow was it’s a dramatic course with tons of great elevation, and the Vegas price tag to go along with.

That said, everything about the experience is first rate, and if you don’t feel like blowing another 400 bucks at the blackjack table, this would be a great alternative.

#49: St. Andrews (Old Course) – St. Andrews, Scotland

The Old Course at St. Andrews during sunrise

From an architecture stand point, the Old Course is one of the greatest (if not the greatest) courses in the world. From a history stand point? It’s unparalleled.

But being totally honest? For the average golfer, there are courses you will find more enjoyable. It’s very flat, not very scenic, and now that I’ve played it, if given the choice to play there or some of the other courses nearby? I’d probably choose one of the others more often than not.

#48: Spyglass Hill – Monterey, CA

The third at Spyglass Hill

The third at Spyglass Hill

Anything on the Monterey Peninsula is going to have some cache, and Spyglass Hill is no exception. The bigger, more brutal brother to Pebble Beach might the best opening 5 holes in golf, or at least it should be up there.

However after that I found it to get a little less interesting, and the inland holes became more hit an miss. It’s one of the tougher courses you’ll play, and I was a little battered by the end.

#47: Dormie Club – North Carolina

The short par 4, 3rd hole at The Dormie Club.

The short par 4, 3rd hole at The Dormie Club.

Coore and Crenshaw are probably my favorite modern designers, and I look forward to hopefully playing many more of their courses in the future. Dormie Club was originally supposed to be a very exclusive private club, but the recession threw a wrench in those plans. Their loss is the public’s gain – I’d take this over Pinehurst #2 8 times out of 10.

Full Recap: The Dormie Club

#46: Wolf Creek – Mesquite, Nevada

Wolf Creek Golf Club in Mesquite, Nevada is one of the top 100 public courses in america.

This is like the Six Flags of golf courses. Up, down, left, right – you won’t find many courses for just flat out fun and unique experience. You pretty much have to take a cart, and you’ll play holes that while not always the most strategic, may very well give you vertigo. This is one of those “must play at least once” type courses.

Full Recap: Wolf Creek Golf Club

#45: Plainfield Country Club – Edison, NJ

The 9th at Plainfield

The 9th at Plainfield

Home of last year’s Barclays, Plainfield is a fantastic Donald Ross layout. It starts to border on the “long, championship style” courses that aren’t always my favorite, but I really enjoyed my round out here – especially the back nine.

Recap: Photo Tour of 2015 NYC Road Trip

#44: Rolling Green Country Club – Springfield, PA

Rolling Green Golf Club Hole 3

Rolling Green had some great par 3s. This is the 3rd.

During my trip to Philly this year, Rolling Green was the course I didn’t know a whole lot about, and next to placed like Merion, Aronimink, and Philly Cricket – I wasn’t totally giddy about playing it.

After the round though? Wow. Great variety, lots of elevation, and some really fun and unique holes. It’s easy to see why it was chosen to host this year’s US Woman’s Amateur.

#43: Eugene Country Club – Eugene, Oregon

For years Eugene Country Club has been ranked as by Golf Digest as the best non-Bandon course in Oregon.

There are 15 courses on that list, and up until last month I’d played 14 of them. Pretty sad considering I grew up in Eugene, and my sister used to work here.

Nevertheless, it was worth the wait. The course has some of the best par 3s in the country, and one of the most serene parkland settings I’ve played.

#42: Streamsong (Blue Course) – Bowling Green, FL

Streamsong Blue Hole 1

While it’s usually Streamsong Red that gets the nod as the better of the two, personally I preferred Tom Doak’s Blue Course. It’s big, it’s bold, it’s fun – and if you’re not on your game, you’ll probably have a long day.

#41: Oakland Hills (South Course) – Bloomfield Hills, Michigan

Oakland Hills Country Club is one of the Top 100 Golf Courses in the US

The 11th was my favorite hole at Oakland Hills

There aren’t many major tournaments Oakland Hills hasn’t hosted. This struck a better balance of difficulty and hole variety, than say Medinah or Olympic – and the greens are some of the slickest and most difficult I’ve putted on.

Full Recap: Oakland Hills (South Course)

#40: Bethpage (Black Course) – Farmingdale, NY

Bethpage Black Hole 4

What many consider Tillinghast’s best work, barely cracks my top 3 of his. Bethpage is another course everyone should play at least once, due to it’s accessibility and increasing lore in the golf history books. Expect lots of sand, extremely difficult rough, and a brutal walk that will leave you begging for more.

Full Recap: Bethpage Black

#39: Galloway National – Absecon, NJ

The 17th at Galloway National

The 17th at Galloway National

On the outskirts of Atlantic City, Galloway is a course that’s largely flown under the radar. It was in absolutely perfect shape, and while it’s one of the more difficult courses I’ve played, I still found it very enjoyable and full of memorable holes.

The short par 4 12th, and par 3 17th are two in particular that really stand out.

#38: The Creek Club – Locust Valley, NY

The Creek Club Hole 16

I’m going to admit, when I first played The Creek it was because I literally looked at the Golf Magazine Top 100 America list and wanted to cross off another course – I didn’t know anything about it.

But wow, what a special place. This was hands down one of my best golf days of 2016. Perfect weather, perfect course, and one that exceeded all expectations.

Some might knock it for a weak opener, but I actually found the first 5 holes (save for a pretty weak Eden hole) to be very good – and things only got better from there.

#37: Pronghorn (Nicklaus Course) – Bend, Oregon

This starts one of my favorite stretches of holes anywhere 12-15.

This starts one of my favorite stretches of holes anywhere 12-15.

This was the course that started it all for me. My very first top 100 public course I played. I love Bend and Pronghorn. The course has a few of my favorite holes in Oregon (12-15) and is a treat to play every time I have the opportunity. Not to be missed on a trip to Central Oregon

Full Recap: Pronghorn (Nicklaus Course)

#36: Trump International Golf Club – Aberdeenshire, Scotland

On the tee at 13. One of my favorite photos from my Scotland Trip

On the tee at 13. One of my favorite photos from the trip.

Speaking of brutal walks, this might have been the longest, toughest, most difficult walk of my life. – partially due to the torrential wind and rain, I’m sure. I was surprised by just how good Trump’s course here really was. It had a modern take on links golf that kept things interesting and fun, even if I thought my lungs were going to give out at times.

Full Recap: Trump International Scotland

#35: Erin Hills – Hartford, Wisconsin

Erin Hills Golf Course - 2017 US Open

Host of the 2017 US Open, Erin Hills is another very difficult walk, and the course, which can be stretched out to over 8,000 yards is no slouch either. Another course with excellent stay and play deals, if you live in the midwest, this is a must play. I’ve never been to Ireland, but I feel like this might be as close as I’ve been.

Full Recap: Erin Hills: Home of the 2017 US Open

#34: Bandon Preserve – Bandon, Oregon

Some think the 2nd at Bandon Preserve is the best on the course.

Some think the 2nd at Bandon Preserve is the best on the course.

This is the only course on this list that isn’t a full 18 hole course, but it’s so good that I had to include it. Any one of of the 13 holes on Bandon’s par 3 course would make for a great hole on any of the bigger courses.

But to grab a bunch of friends, some beers, and set out in 30mph winds? Now that’s fun that is only topped by perhaps a day at the Sheep Ranch.

#33: Crosswater Golf Club – Sunriver, Oregon

Crosswater Hole 6

I usually play Crosswater a few times a year, and love it every time. It has a solid variety of holes, forcing you to be very strategic at times (4th hole with extremely shallow green), and to flat out bomb it at others (687 yard par 5, 12th). While I do wish there were a bit more elevation at times, this is a must play when visiting Central Oregon.

Full Recap: Crosswater Golf Club

#32: Pacific Dunes – Bandon, Oregon

It may be short, but it's also one of the most scenic par 3s in golf!

It may be short, but it’s also one of the most scenic par 3s in golf!

Another one that you might expect to be higher. I love Bandon and I love Pacific Dunes, but having played the course 3 times now I just don’t love it as much as many other people do – as much as I wish I did.

Full Recap: Pacific Dunes

#31: Ballyneal Golf Club – Holyoke, CO

Ballyneal Golf Club Hole 4

Ballyneal is probably the most remote golf course I’ve ever played. I mean, it’s out there – but I mean that in the best way possible.

It’s the ultimate destination club, and fortunately their golf course makes every second of the journey worth it. It feels like a links course in the middle of nowhere, and that’s because, well, that’s essentially what it is.

There are no tee boxes at Ballyneal, so each round feels very much like a game of “choose your own adventure.”

#30: California Golf Club of San Francisco – San Francisco, CA

Obligatory shot of Cal Club. The bunkers here were insane.

Obligatory shot of Cal Club. The bunkers here were insane.

Cal Club as most people affectionately call it, has some of the most brutal (and beautiful) bunkering I’ve ever seen – no surprise, considering Alistair Mackenzie helped with them. This course has flown under the radar, but it’s among the best courses in a state full of phenomenal golf.

#29: Pumpkin Ridge (Witch Hollow) – North Plains, Oregon

The scary 2nd shot on the short par 5, 14th at Witch Hollow.

The scary 2nd shot on the short par 5, 14th at Witch Hollow.

I may be slightly biased on this one, considering it’s my home course – but the setting and variety here is absolutely stunning. The par 5 14th is one of the best short par 5s in the world, and while it may not have the length to host a modern day US Open, it’s a course that can still challenge some of the best players in the world.

#28: Myopia Hunt Club – Hamilton, Massachusetts 

The 12th at Myopia Hunt outside of Boston.

The 12th at Myopia Hunt outside of Boston.

Walking off the highly unique short par 4, first hole, I knew I was going to like this course. It goes up, it goes down, it goes short, it goes long. It’s tradition and history is deep and the course itself is extremely special.

With that said, it seemed on nearly every hole drives I thought were pretty good ended up in bunkers I didn’t know were there 🙂

#27: Pronghorn (Fazio Course) – Bend, Oregon

The 8th hole on the Fazio Golf Course at Pronghorn outside of Bend, Oregon

This was from the ladies tees, but had a particularly cool angle of the cave.

The Fazio course at Pronghorn gets very little play, and as such is in immaculate condition. It’s views of the Three Sisters mountains are unparalleled, and the par 3 8th over an ancient lava tube is one of the best and most unique par 3s you’ll ever play.

Full Recap: Pronghorn (Fazio Course)

#26: Colorado Golf Club – Parker, CO

Colorado Golf Club Hole 2

I knew I was going to like Colorado Golf Club before I even set foot on the property. It’s Coore Crenshaw on a beautiful piece of land, and some incredibly unique holes.

CGC is also one of the best match play courses I’ve ever played, and it has some excellent risk reward short par 4s and par 5s.

#25: Blackwolf Run (River Course) – Kohler, Wisconsin

5th hole on the River Course at Blackwolf Run

One of the most fun tee shots in all of golf.

When I think of the River Course, the first word that comes to mind is fun. Dye uses bunkers and water, to weave you through a tapestry of different landscapes, and he gives you multiple options on every hole – with the best example of this being the three distinct fairway options on the par 4, 9th.

Full Recap: Blackwolf Run (River Course)

#24: Tobacco Road – Sanford, North Carolina

Tobacco Road Hole 9

This might be the most controversial course here, it’s very much a love it or hate it course. Personally? I love it. It’s unique, rebellious, and features one unique hole after another. It’s so good, I’m still trying to convince some of my golfing buddies to fly across the country to play it with me. And at under $100 a round most of the time? It’s one of the best values here.

Full Recap: Tobacco Road

#23: Philly Cricket Club (Wissahickon Course) – Philadelphia, PA

Philly Cricket Club hole 18

The fantastic 18th at Philly Cricket Club.

Possibly with the exception of Pinehurst #2, I’m not sure there has been a more celebrated restoration in America than the Tillinghast designed Wissahickon course. It’s just so good.  You’re engaged all the way through the round, and there isn’t a weak hole on the property.

#22: Gleneagles (Kings Course) – Gleneagles, Scotland

The 5th at Gleneagles Kings Course

There were a handful of big surprises in 2016, but none were as big as the Kings Course. This was literally a matter of “we have some time, where in Scotland can we drive and go play a round?”

We randomly decided on Gleneagles, and almost played the Centenary course instead. What a mistake that would have been. The Kings course was incredibly diverse, with fantastic long holes, short holes, wide fairways, narrow fairways – it made you think throughout the whole round.

We barely got the whole thing in before dark, and I’m amazed this course doesn’t get more attention than it does-  it was that good.

#21: The Course at Yale – New Haven, Connecticut

Yale Hole #9 Biarritz

The famed Biarritz hole at Yale

How Golf Digest doesn’t have this as a top 100 course is totally beyond me. The conditioning may be lacking compared to many other courses, but the quality and diversity of the holes is absolutely incredible.

#20: Kingsbarns – Fife, Scotland

The 15th at Kingsbarns

The 15th at Kingsbarns

When I played Kingsbarns the Scottish fog was out in full force (as were the flashing red guidance lights) – but that didn’t keep me from immensely enjoying the course. Kyle Phillips did a tremendous job of blending old and new, and making a course that’s one of the most fun and enjoyable anywhere.

#19: Pasatiempo – Santa Cruz, California

Pasatiempo Hole 8 Small

Pasatiempo was my first Mackenzie course, and is another one Golf Digest didn’t have ranked highly. While there may be a few pedestrian holes, more often than not the course is world class with some of the best bunkering I’ve ever seen.

16 is easily one of the top 5 green complexes I’ve seen. Probably the most underrated course by traditional measures that’s on my list.

#18: Bandon Dunes – Bandon, Oregon

Now that's a golf hole.

Now that’s a golf hole.

I used to have Pacific Dunes ranked ahead of Bandon, but having played them both a few times since, I just keep finding myself enjoying Bandon Dunes more. The ebb and flow of the course from inland to water constantly keeps you entertained and excited for the next leg of the journey.

Full Recap: Bandon Dunes

#17: Whistling Straits – Kohler, Wisconsin

Whistling Straits Hole 6 Approach

One of the most well known, and highly ranked public courses in the country, Whistling Straits is grand in every sense of the word. Each of the 4 par 3s rests on the banks of Lake Michigan, and if the views don’t distract you and kill your round, the nearly 1,000 bunkers on the course most likely will.

Full Recap: Whistling Straits

#16: Loch Lomond – Alexandria, Scotland

The spectacular par 3, 5th at Loch Lomond Golf Club

The spectacular par 3, 5th.

There’s no denying that part of the allure of Loch Lomond is that it is so hard to get an invitation to play. Next to Merion, it was probably my most anticiapted round of 2016, and it didn’t disappoint.

The setting right on Loch Lomond and within the national park is spectacular, and I found the course to be engaging all the way through. I wasn’t expecting to like the inland holes as much as I did, either.

It’s becoming pretty clear that I’m a big fan of modern parkland courses – and this might be the best example I’ve played.

Full Recap: Loch Lomond: The Most Private Club in Europe

#15: Arcadia Bluffs – Arcadia, Michigan

Arcadia Bluffs Golf Club in Michigan is one of the Top 100 Golf Courses in America

The 11th at Arcadia

Yes, I said it, I like Arcadia better than Whistling Straits. Whistling Straits is more strategic and demanding, but Arcadia is just a blast to play. Almost every hole has views of Lake Michigan, and while critics will look at holes like 11 and call it a “bobsled course” – that doesn’t change the fact that for the average golfer it’s a ton of fun to play.

Full Review: Arcadia Bluffs

#14: Hudson National – Croton-on-Hudson, New York

Hudson National Hole 10

Apparently I have a thing for big downhill holes, as #5 at Hudson National is the epitome of this. Hudson was the first top private I played in the NYC area and I enjoyed it immensely. Fazio created a unique, and fun course that uses elevation change to create a true adventure of a golf course.

Full Review: Hudson National

#13: Somerset Hills – Bernardsville, New Jersey

Somerset Hills Hole 12 2 Small

When you think of Tillinghast you think of ball busting courses like Bethpage Black. Somerset is much more subdued and friendly – and I loved it. From the beautiful and severe #2 redan hole, I was hooked.

Integrating features of the land, like the old horse race track on the property make it all the more special.

Thank you Tim, Alex, and John for one of my best golf days of last year!

Full Recap: Photo Tour of 2015 NYC Trip

#12: Diamante Dunes – Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Diamante Dunes is the #1 Cabo San Lucas golf course.

Standing back behind tees on 15. Quite possibly my favorite golf photo I’ve ever taken.

Diamante is the top ranked course in Mexico, and for good reason. It’s essentially a links experience in the desert, and was unlike anything I’ve experienced before. The views were amazing, and the “all-inclusive” atmosphere makes for a gluttonous, but incredibly rewarding experience.

I also took my favorite golf photo I’ve ever taken here.

Full Recap: Diamante Dunes

#11: The Club at Black Rock – Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

Black Rock Waterfalls

If that’s not an exciting approach shot, I don’t know what is.

This was the first top 100 course I ever played, and is another one where I could see purists cringe – but there’s no denying the course is incredibly fun and scenic at the same time.

The par 4 11th hole with an approach in between two waterfalls is one of the most unique holes you’ll ever play, and there’s at least 3 or 4 other holes that would be in contention for a top 100 holes list.

Full Recap: The Golf Club at Black Rock

#10: Maidstone Club – East Hampton, New York

The 14th at Maidstone is unreal.

The 14th at Maidstone is unreal.

This is another one that barely makes the cut for Golf Digest. I’ve heard complaints that it has a weak opening and a weak finish – but I didn’t think so. I thought the course eased you into the round beautifully, and then smacked you in the face with some world class holes.

It’s not overly long or difficult by today’s standards, but it had just the right amount of personality and quirk to make me fall in love with it.

Full Recap: 2015 NYC Golf Road Trip

#9: Castle Stuart – Inverness, Scotland

Castle Stuart Hole 17

Castle Stuart was one of only two golf courses from 2016 to make it into the top 10, and for damn good reason.

It’s modern links at it’s finest. Infinity greens, risk reward par 5s, and a handful of dramatic holes you simply won’t see anywhere else.

I’d be curious to play some of the links courses that I’ve ranked above it again, because it would not surprise me to see this rise even higher in the future.

#8: Boston Golf Club – Hingham, Massachusetts

Pretty much the whole course looks like this: dramatic.

Pretty much the whole course looks like this: dramatic.

My Boston whirlwind last year was fun because we got to play 4 of the best courses in the city (read: country): Essex County, Myopia, Boston, and The Country Club. Everyone we talked to had a different opinion on how these ranked. I knew I would love Boston. I like modern course designs, and Hanse did an incredible job crafting memorable and strategic holes.

#5, “Shipwrecked,” might be the most unique short par 4 I’ve ever played – and if you know me, you know I love short par 4s!

Also, thank you Jeff for bringing me along on your Boston whirlwind – looking forward to the next one!

#7: San Francisco Golf Club – San Francisco, CA

The par 3 11th at San Francisco

The par 3 11th at San Francisco

This proves I don’t just like modern designs. SFGC was one of the most special experiences I’ve ever had on a golf course. It’s one of Tillinghast’s earliest designs, and similar to Somerset Hills, stands out as being quite a bit different than his other work.

It took me two years to get on the course, but a really big thank you to the two people who helped make this happen. I sincerely hope we can do it again one day, and that I can find a way to return the favor!

#6: North Berwick – East Lothian, Scotland

North Berwick is one of the most historic golf courses in Scotland, and one of the top 100 in the world.

This might be my favorite green in the world.

Often overlooked by many on Scotland trips in favor for Open Rota courses, North Berwick is one that should never be missed. It’s home to the original (and best I’ve played) redan green, and at just over 6400 yards won’t scare anyone with it’s length.

However, the quirkiness of the course made me fall in love with it. The 16th psuedo-biarritz green might be my favorite green in the world, and the 13th green tucked behind a stone wall is something you won’t find anywhere else.

Full Recap: North Berwick

#5: Cruden Bay – Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Cruden Bay Hole 14 Green

You want to talk about adventure golf? It doesn’t get much more adventurous than this. It’s amazing this course was built so long ago, because it has so many features that I love in the more modern courses I play – you know except for so many blind shots.

There are few things as rewarding in golf as the view from the 9th tee box after the hike to get up there.

#4: Bandon Trails – Bandon, Oregon

I love the 17th at Trails

I love the 17th at Trails

In my previous top 25 list of a couple years ago, Bandon Trails was the outright winner. Which many have been shocked by as traditionally it’s the lowest ranked of the four courses at Bandon. My rationale? It’s the most unique.

Hundreds of courses have ocean.

Very few weave dunes, meadows, and forest together in a way that flows so well. And as for 14? I don’t hate it as much as everyone else. Just calls for a different strategy!

Full Recap: How I Broke 80 at Bandon Dunes in the Coolest Way Possible

#3: Royal Dornoch – Dornoch, Scotland

The par 3, 10th at Dornoch

The par 3, 10th at Dornoch

What’s there to say about Dornoch? It’s one of the oldest courses in the world, and the more courses I play, the more I see course designers that have been heavily influenced by the course. Tom Watson once said it’s “the most fun he’s ever had on a golf course.” 

For me, it’s not hard to see why. It’s a bit of a trek to get there, but totally worth it.

Full Recap: Royal Dornoch

#2: Merion Golf Club (East) – Ardmore, PA

Merion Hole 13

To put it simply, Merion has everything I look for in a golf course. Unique, fun holes. A bevy of short par 4s, and does all of this while still being strategic, and providing a true challenge and test of golf.

I knew before I played Merion would either shoot to the top of the list, or I’d find it wasn’t my style and would consider it overrated.

Luckily in this case, it was totally the former that prevailed.

#1: Pebble Beach – Monterey Peninsula, California

The iconic 7th at Pebble.

The iconic 7th at Pebble.

I should preface this by saying, I had lowered my expectations for Pebble after hearing so many people say it’s overrated.

I’m sorry, Pebble Beach is an absolutely phenomenal golf course. Not only are the water holes unique and beautiful, but even the inland ones (with one or two exceptions) were still world class.

Someone recently told me Pebble beach was boring. If you think Pebble Beach is boring, I can’t imagine what course you would say is fun.

For me, I’ve yet to see a better combo of fun and excellence in architecture and design. It’s that good.

Full Recap: Pebble Beach, a Camaro, and an MVP

Wrapping Up 2016

I hope you had as much fun following along as I released my Top 100 courses as I did creating the list (and playing the rounds).

I truly am one of the luckiest guys in the world, and I don’t take that for granted. This next year I’m excited to be devoting even more time to Breaking Eighty and rolling out some pretty cool projects here on the site.

If you’ve enjoyed the photos, like the reviews, and want to get occasional updates on what’s going on? Check out our email list below – I’d love you forever.




There are 30 comments

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  1. John Steinberg

    Love seeing Yale on here. Grew up playing it and the layout is second to very few. Conditions to vary but if you’re there in a year they are hosting a NCAA Regional it is MINT.

  2. Connor Burchfield

    Thoughts on harbour town in Hilton head? One of the most enjoyable tracks I’ve ever played and seems to follow the definition of fun you’ve laid out.

    • Sean Ogle

      Unfortunately when I was in Hilton Head, the course was closed for Heritage prep, so I havent been able to play it yet. But from what I heard, it looks like one I’ll enjoy.

  3. John

    Great list and I understand these are based on where you’ve gotten. By this list I’m guessing you haven’t been to Fishers Island or really much of the Met Section other than Old Oaks. Plans for 2017? I may be able to help with some spots..

    • Sean Ogle

      Yeah I’ve played a handful of courses in NJ and Long Island, but not a ton in that exact area.

      Clearly I have yet to play Fishers haha.

      Plan on heading out in the spring most likely, have connections at some great spots there now that I didn’t have the last time out. Would love to chat more, shoot me an email Sean@breakingeighty.com

  4. Stan

    Sean, nice list and great photography!
    To be honest I skimmed by most of the list as I cannot afford nor would I ask to be invited to a exclusive course. I’m a long time volunteer at many USGA events from US opens, senior, LPGA, ameature, and first tee events. I’ve instructed junior golf, I’m a Vet, worked all of my life and frankly have little to no chance of traveling the world playing many of these courses. As an example – if I were to travel to Scotland some of the places you rate would not be available to me or some of your readers.
    The reason I’m writing is not to knock your list but to ask for another slant showing a ‘top five’ public affordable list by region. For example if I’m traveling to a area what courses are in reach and are still on you fun list.
    Regards

  5. Nathan Carr

    What makes a course fun? IMO: the challenge, shots requiring strategy, risk/reward, and playability. Fun can also be affected by how you’re playing, how the conditions impact play, and who you are sharing the 4+ hour experience with.
    That’s why I would have Chambers Bay a little higher on my list. It’s big, bold, and makes you play shots you don’t get to play elsewhere. Doesn’t hurt that I was able to enjoy my round with my sons.
    Having just played Pebble I agree. My only complaint is that the surroundings border on distracting. Golf almost seems secondary.
    I noticed an absence of island golf on the list. Mauna Kea would be up there for me.

    • Sean Ogle

      Ah man, your comment was the first one that made me realized I left a course out – Bay Course at Kapalua. Although I played it in 2006, so probably shouldn’t count.

      Other than that I really havent played much island golf. Would like to get out to Hawaii sometime soon.

  6. Rick Roe

    Royal County Down, Royal Portrush easily accessible and must plays. Just got back from a golf excursion in Australia. Played Cape Wickham, Royal Melbourne, Kingston Heath, Metropolitan, Ocean Dunes, Barnbougle Dunes, Lost Farms, Victoria, and New South Wales. Trip of a lifetime. Cape Wickham and New South Wales are all world!

  7. Rick Williamson

    Played both Wolf Creek and Tobacco Road in 2016, after reading about them on you web site. Must say they are both absolute joys to play, regardless of what you shoot. Played Wolf Creek in 30-40 mph winds, and played Tobacco Road in a steady drizzle. Neither could dampen my enjoyment of playing these wonderful tracks.

  8. Ray DeMaio

    Sean, just wanted to shoot out a note and tell you how much I enjoyed your list/review.
    Got the chance to play Pebble this past July on a 65th birthday trip/present from the honey and couldn’t agree more of its #1 standing. Best week of my life: played Pebble on Friday, SpyGlass on Saturday, SFGC on Monday and Harding Park Tuesday. Home run; keep up the great work.

  9. Stéphane

    Nice list Sean ! I also ranked courses I played and applied about the same process than you.
    If I could play only one single last round, where would it be ? And a second ? and a third …

  10. Bill Wallace

    Tobacco Road was the only course where you actually said it was a good “value”. So many of these are un-attainable for the “average, public golfer” you claim to be aiming for. Outside of Tobacco Road, there probably aren’t five other courses here that can be played for less than 100 dollars. This was more like a Joe Passov, “I get to play for free, in exchange for a good review”, list. All about exclusivity and big-name designers. I’d have lots of fun as a guest at these courses, too.
    P.S. I’m not griping, just pointing out that it is, in fact, very much like a Golf Digest, Golf Magazine, ranking. Though you do occasionally remind us that it is a highly personal list based on “fun-factor”. Hope you have a great 2017 (honestly), as I will continue to try to beat my own previous “117 straight calendar months played” streak here in the cold northeast. I did enjoy the photos, and the mention of some lesser known tracks. Merry Christmas. Bill W.

  11. Andrew

    Bravo Sean. It was your article about Royal Dornoch which convinced me to head up there this year during my first golf trip to Scotland, and I had the time of my life. All I can honestly say is Thank You. It was the best course I’ve ever played. You were spot on with North Berwick and Cruden being up there too. I’m off to Cape Wickham in Feb, so keep an eye on my Insta account (@golfaholic1) for the results! Season’s Greetings….

  12. WillB

    Sean:

    I think you’d like the Highlands course at Primland, in Southwest Virginia (about an hour north of Greensboro/Winston-Salem; two hours from Pinehurst). If you go in mid/late October, the fall colors are fabulous. And the course is top-notch.

  13. Dawson

    Make it a priority to get to Cape Breton in Nova Scotia. According to Matt Ginella, Cabot Cliffs is better than Pebble. Cabot Links is also phenomenal and while there enjoy a Canadian Classic from famed architect Stanley Thompson and play Highlands Links. Awesome blog, really enjoyable! Keep up the great work.

  14. bill

    Druids Glen in Ireland. Great course with a lot of interesting views and shots.
    It would be helpful if you had simple list of these courses that I could print out and have a single sheet to review for potential future rounds.

  15. Jed

    Underrated course up a little west of Tacoma has to be Gold Mountain (Olympic Course). Fantastic variety of holes and has plays host to several big tournaments. If you haven’t gotten to play it I highly recommend!

  16. Dan

    Love the list. I disagree with where you have pinehurst 2 ranked. Just played again last week. It is a course that requires good iron play and patience. Since I did not have either that day I did not score well. Thought pinehurst # 4 was great as well. I also thought Shenandoah was the best course at turning stone.

  17. Paul Seifert

    Great post, Sean! Have you had a chance to get to Sand Valley yet? I’m curious where you’d fit the first (Coore/Crenshaw) course in on this list. I think they did a great job of keeping it FUN foremost. Let me know next time you’re in Wisconsin and let’s get a round or two together. -Paul


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