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Top 100 Golf Courses of the USA 2012

24 January, 2012

Top 100 Golf Courses of the USA 2012

Top 100 Golf Courses pulls back to a Top 100 for the USA

20 January 2012

Twelve months ago we announced the extension of our US top golf course rankings to 250 courses. Having listened to feedback during 2011, we have now decided to revert back to a national Top 100. The reason we are changing back is simple. Very few people have played the US Top 100, let alone the US Top 250. We found it virtually impossible to define the positions for US courses in the ranking range of 150 to 250. Therefore, our future plans are to develop and extend our US Best In State rankings so that we can use local help and expertise to accurately assess the individual states.

One of the reasons for extending our US rankings last year was to identify more US courses that are publicly accessible. As most golfers know, accessing the top US courses is rather tricky, as many clubs require introductions from members. However, those that are tenacious can play the US Top 100 if they have the passion, the grit and the determination to travel the length and breadth of the world’s third (or is it fourth?) largest country. One of our team has done just that.

Fergal O’Leary hails from Portmarnock in Dublin, Ireland, and he managed to play the entire US Top 100 in just four years. Fergal has helped us to understand the best US courses and, in doing so, helped us to define our latest US rankings. Our process does not allow for any one individual – or indeed any one publication – to define our rankings. We take every shred of the latest ranking and rating data into account and we also cast our eyes back to historical data. The result, we think, culminates in a unique angle, which we call “informed” rather than “definitive”.

So what has actually changed since we last looked at the USA twelve months ago?

Well, the short answer is lots!

This year we have included significantly more data from various sources and we’ve adjusted the weightings in our calculations. After analysing the final results, we have to conclude that last year’s rankings were slightly off mark. We think we have now corrected the situation and here follows a summary.

Eighteen courses have moved into our new Top 100, so naturally eighteen courses have dropped out. Fifteen courses moved into the hundred that were previously ranked between positions 101-250. However, we have three brand new entries and our highest new entry hit the headlines long before it even opened. Old Macdonald is the fourth course at Bandon Dunes and Tom Doak and Jim Urbina designed it in the spirit of Charles Blair Macdonald, who is widely regarded as the Father of American golf course architecture. The inclusion of Old Macdonald (straight in at 41st) and a rise of 18 places for Bandon Trails to 45th means that Bandon Dunes can now boast four courses in the US Top 50. I don’t believe that any US club at any time has ever enjoyed four courses in the US Top 100, let alone the Top 50. So, if you want to tick four courses off your US list, then head directly to Oregon.

Our next highest new entry is another Tom Doak design, which quietly opened for play in 2008 in Montana. The course at Rock Creek Cattle Company (straight in at 59th) competes with the 10,000-foot backdrop of the sometimes snow-capped but always dramatic Flint Creek Mountain Range. “Only an exceptional golf course could hope to vie for attention with the natural wonders of the Rock Creek property and of greater Montana,” commented Doak.

The third and final new entry is the realisation of the dream of billionaire investment banker, Warren Stephens. Costing a cool $18m, the Alotian Club debuts at 87th and it has stratospherically raised the golfing bar in Arkansas.

There’s even some change at the top of our rankings this year, although there is very little change at the very top. After all, who would argue against Pine Valley and Cypress Point? Sand Hills moves up three places to the detriment of Pebble Beach and Oakmont. Ballyneal leaps 38 places to 26th while Muirfield Village tumbles 11 places.

New, modern courses may well be our highest new entries but a number of old classics have made a move into the hundred from the lower rankings: Myopia Hunt (57), Yale University (79), Wannamoisett (91), Piping Rock (93), California (94), Ridgewood (98) and Essex County Club (99).

I do hope you enjoy our new and much-improved US Top 100 and if you have any comments or feedback, I’d love to hear from you. And, just for the record, I’d like to remind you that Top 100 Golf Courses is truly independent, having no association with any magazine publications.

Finally a big thank you to everyone who has taken the time to post course reviews online. Please keep them coming, it’s your reviews that make the Top 100 website come alive.

Keith Baxter

2012 Course Move
1 Pine Valley No change
2 Cypress Point No change
3 Shinnecock Hills Up 1
4 Augusta National Down 1
5 Sand Hills Up 3
6 Oakmont Down 1
7 Merion (East) No change
8 Pebble Beach Down 2
9 National Golf Links of America Up 1
10 Bandon Dunes (Pacific Dunes) Down 1
11 Crystal Downs Up 4
12 Winged Foot (West) Down 1
13 Chicago Up 1
14 Fishers Island Down 2
15 Seminole Down 2
16 Pinehurst (No.2) Up 1
17 Prairie Dunes Up 2
18 Friar's Head Up 7
19 Whistling Straits (Straits) Down 3
20 Country Club (Clyde/Squirrel) No change
21 Oakland Hills (South) No change
22 San Francisco Up 9
23 Riviera Up 13
24 Kiawah Island (Ocean) Down 1
25 Olympic Club (Lake) Up 1
26 Ballyneal Up 38
27 Bethpage (Black) Down 5
28 Oak Hill (East) Down 4
29 Muirfield Village Down 11
30 Golf Club Down 2
31 Bandon Dunes (Bandon Dunes) Down 1
32 Los Angeles (North) Up 15
33 Baltusrol (Lower) Down 4
34 Sebonack Up 6
35 Garden City Up 6
36 Wade Hampton Down 9
37 Old Sandwich Up 11
38 TPC at Sawgrass (Stadium) Down 3
39 Shadow Creek (North) Down 6
40 Somerset Hills Up 5
41 Bandon Dunes (Old Macdonald) NEW
42 Southern Hills Down 6
43 Maidstone Down 1
44 Quaker Ridge Up 18
45 Bandon Dunes (Bandon Trails) Up 18
46 Shoreacres Up 7
47 Camargo Up 8
48 Inverness Down 10
49 Medinah (No.3) Down 17
50 Spyglass Hill Down 16
51 Pasatiempo Up 24
52 Chambers Bay Up 6
53 Valley Club of Montecito (Valley Club) Up 20
54 Honors Course Down 5
55 Peachtree Up 5
56 Plainfield Up 5
57 Myopia Hunt X Top 250
58 Pete Dye Down 2
59 Rock Creek Cattle Company NEW
60 Winged Foot (East) Down 10
61 Monterey Peninsula (Shore) Down 10
62 Interlachen Down 10
63 Kinloch Down 9
64 Kingsley Club Up 25
65 Victoria National Up 7
66 Kittansett No change
67 Milwaukee Up 3
68 Newport Up 16
69 Harbour Town Down 12
70 East Lake Down 2
71 Cherry Hills Down 25
72 Scioto Down 13
73 Castle Pines Down 34
74 Olympia Fields (North) Down 7
75 Congressional (Blue) Down 4
76 Dallas National Down 7
77 Gozzer Ranch X Top 250
78 Baltimore (East) Up 15
79 Yale University X Top 250
80 Yeamans Hall Up 20
81 Nanea X Top 250
82 Salem Up 10
83 Black Wolf Run (River) Up 14
84 Crooked Stick Up 2
85 Calusa Pines Up 9
86 Hazeltine National Down 4
87 Alotian NEW
88 Butler National Down 44
89 Boston X Top 250
90 Colorado X Top 250
91 Wannamoisett X Top 250
92 Estancia X Top 250
93 Piping Rock X Top 250
94 California X Top 250
95 Sutton Bay X Top 250
96 Whispering Pines X Top 250
97 World Woods (Pine Barrens) X Top 250
98 Ridgewood (West/East) X Top 250
99 Essex County Club X Top 250
100 Colonial Down 10

Click the blue link to see in detail our new 2012 Top 100 Golf Courses of the USA.


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