Top 100 Golf Courses 2021: Honorable Mentions
Every year for 7 years I published my list of my top 100 golf courses.
And each year it got more and more difficult.
For better or worse, last year was easy: we didn’t update the list.
With COVID keeping my travel at bay, I simply didn’t play enough new courses to warrant an update.
Fortunately, that’s changed this year.
While I’m still not back at pre-COVID (and pre-baby) travel levels, I’ve been able to get out and see a handful of new courses. Can I just tell you how good it feels to travel again?
As I began reviewing both my 2019 list and my list of 2019 “honorable mentions” I knew this task was going to be more difficult than ever.
But what fun is traveling to play golf courses if you can’t make subjective opinions that everyone will criticize!
So let’s get on with it.
Here are my honorable mentions for my favorite courses that sit just outside my personal top 100.
2021 Top 100 Golf Courses: Honorable Mentions
Coeur d’Alene Resort – Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Coeur d’Alene goes down as one of the most fun times I’ve had on a golf course. The first time I played it was in a torrential downpour. Loved it.
The second time was under perfect conditions. Loved it even more.
The conditioning is second to none, and it has some of the most favorable local rules I’ve ever seen. You’ll visit for the island 14th, but be surprised by how many fun, scenic holes are scattered throughout the round.
Old Oaks Country Club – Purchase, NY
I was supposed to go play Yale, but we pulled an audible the morning of 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’.
Aspen Lakes Golf Course – Sisters, Oregon
I’ve played this course probably 30 times in my life, and it’s one course I keep coming back to when people ask me about hidden gem recommendations. When asking myself “would I rather play this, or this” Aspen Lakes often gets the nod over much more notable courses.
The routing is fun, has elevation, never laps you back and forth – and has beautiful scenery. Not sure what else you can ask for in a golf course.
The maintenance has been a little suspect on my last couple visits, but that doesn’t change the fact it’s a fun routing with a little bit of everything.
Ayodhya Links – Bangkok, Thailand
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 (and again in 2017) 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, conditioning, and variety was all there in spades.
Aronimink Golf Club – Newtown Square, PA
Aronimink was the last round we played on our Philadelphia swing a few years back. 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 has some fun holes, and if you’re playing from the correct tees, it’s a definite treat.
I’d expect this to rank higher now that Hanse has completed his restoration – I just haven’t played it since then. Also cool to see them finally get their major with the 2027 PGA Championship.
Full Recap: Aronimink Golf Club
Tokatee Golf Course – Blue River, OR
I’ve been going to Tokatee ever since I was 4 years old – before I was even a golfer.
It holds a special place in my heart, and for most of you reading this? You’ll likely never be close enough to make a visit.
But if you do? You’ll be rewarded with one of golf’s ultimate “hidden gems.” Towering fir trees, remarkably good greens, and a golf experience that’s as pure as you’ll find anywhere.
Silvies Valley Ranch (Hankins Course) – Seneca, OR
This is the epitome of a place where the sum of its parts exceeds any individual aspect of it.
All 4 of the courses there are incredibly unique and fun to play. And when you factor in the remoteness, and other unique aspects of the ranch like ATV rides, shooting range, or 7 course Chef’s Dinner, it’s truly a golf experience everyone should have at some point in their lives.
Machrihanish Golf Club – Campbeltown, Scotland
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 is what just barely keeps it out of my personal favorites.
Gulph Mills Golf Club – King of Prussia, PA
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, I had a fantastic round. Sticking it close for a birdie on the par 3 6th was definitely a highlight.
Although I’m told the tree in the photo above no longer exists. Guess I’ll need to make it back and see for myself!
Full Recap: Gulph Mills Golf Club
Atlantic Golf Club – Bridgehampton, NY
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 one of the most memorable 36 holes days I’ve had.
Pumpkin Ridge (Ghost Creek) – Portland, Oregon
A staple in most publications’ top 100 public golf courses list, Ghost Creek continues to impress nearly 30 years after it was built.
It has everything: excellent variety of hole lengths, massive greens, tiny greens, water, forest, meadow – it’s a Northwest style course at its finest and is one I never get sick of playing.
Stonewall Links (North Course) – Philadelphia, PA
In 2018, we had our Eighty Club championship at Stonewall, and both courses are very impressive. And there aren’t many better places in golf to hang out at for a weekend.
The North Course, or “Udder Course” as it used to be named has some fantastic holes, nice use of elevation, and is a perfect complement to its sister down the road.
Breaking Eighty 2021 Top 100 Golf Courses List
Over the next 10 days I’ll be releasing 10 courses a day announcing our 2021 Top 100 courses list. So check back all week to see who made the cut!