Top 100 Golf Courses of the USA 2016
Our latest US Top 100 is unveiled
Welcome to the sixth edition of our biennial Top 100 Golf Courses of the USA. Each of the previous five editions of this ranking list featured Pine Valley at the top of the chart. Those that have been following our recent re-ranking releases will already know that Cypress Point has displaced Pine Valley from the top of the World Top 100 rankings. Therefore it will be no surprise to hear that Cypress heads our new US list.
A recent report from the R&A entitled “Golf around the world 2015” states that there are now 15,372 golf facilities nationwide, a figure that represents approximately 45% of the total number throughout the world. This latest US Top 100 list is the second most fiercely contested ranking table behind only the World Top 100. Undeniably America is the strongest golf course nation on the planet.
We used more data input than ever before to form this latest US hundred and there’s really very little change within the Top 20 (only minor movement) which suggests we’re getting things about right. Both Camargo, up nine to #29, and Garden City, up five to #30, move into the Top 30 for the first time – Olympic Club (Lake) and Bandon Dunes make way.
Old Town Club in North Carolina, home of Wake Forest University Golf, crashes into the top fifty as a brand new entry. Sean Arble originally nominated OTC as a gem back in 2008: “The feeling of being on a course of grand scale is further enhanced by the recent (and continuing) felling of many trees which afford lovely interior views. If you plan to be anywhere near Winston-Salem it is worth a bit of grovelling to play Old Town. Even Tom Doak thought so.” A recent renovation by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw has catapulted this gem into the top half of the national rankings and Fergal O’Leary – the man who played the entire US Top 100 in just four years at the age of 28 – was suitably impressed when he played OTC earlier this year: “It’s the best piece of land for a golf course I’ve seen in this country. The routing across the changes in elevation is, in my opinion, Maxwell’s best course on earth.”
The California Golf Club of San Francisco (aka “The Cal Club”) moves into the top fifty, up seven to #47, for the first time. The recent Kyle Phillips restoration used 1927 as a benchmark when Dr Alister MacKenzie re-bunkered the course. Fergal said: “The restoration has been the catalyst for the club’s rising national and world ranking, and I can only anticipate continued future success.” It’s hard to fathom the reason why Golf Digest didn’t place this genuine classic in their 2015 US Top 100 (ranked #136 in their second hundred). It just goes to show how opinions dramatically vary.
Tom Fazio’s Gozzer Ranch moves into the top half of the table, also for the first time, leaping seventeen places to #50. Idaho’s flagship layout divides opinion between the two big-hitting American glossy magazines – Golf Digest #30 and Golf Magazine #81. We think it slots more comfortably in between and Fergal reckons: “It is far and away the best Tom Fazio track I have ever played. It doesn't look like a Fazio, feel like a Fazio, or play like a Fazio… The course definitely grows on you through the round while you try to convince yourself that Ben Crenshaw didn’t sneak in after dark and cut out a few bunkers with his shovel before the sun came up again.”
Eastward Ho! is a brand new entry in our national US Top 100, straight in at #62. This old classic has been ranked highly for years within our Best In State rankings and has finally entered the national list. About time many will say. Fergal recently commented: “Thank god Herbert Fowler created a golf course on this roller-coaster piece of land on the elbow of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Quirky, fun, thrilling, exhilarating and exciting are adjectives commonly used to describe this old layout. What it lacks in length, it makes up for with spectacular design, eye-catching angles and dramatic landforms.” Herbert Fowler is best known for his work at Walton Heath, but he also re-shaped England’s oldest golf course at Westward Ho! on the opposite side of the Pond.
Oak Tree National (#80), Erin Hills (#93), Shelter Harbor (#94), Dismal River's Red course (#97) and Fox Chapel (#99) join Old Town Club and Eastward Ho! to make a septuplet of brand new entries. We also welcome back Michigan’s 9-hole answer to Pine Valley. We controversially ranked Mike Keiser’s Dunes Club in our inaugural 2006 US hundred and its return to the national ranking table will come as no surprise to those who’ve played here. Many golf course aficionados rate the “sacred nine” at Mildenhall as the world’s best nine-holer. Surely Royal Worlington & Newmarket cannot be seriously considered to be better than The Dunes Club?
We don’t claim that our latest US Top 100 is definitive – how could that ever be the case? We also suspect our new US Top 100 will not gain universal approval, but we’ve given these latest rankings even deeper consideration than before. Just for the record, I’d like to remind you that Top 100 Golf Courses is truly independent and we have no association with any magazine publication.
Feedback is always welcome, so please feel free to let us know what you think of our latest 2016 US Top 100. Have we omitted a course that really should be in our rankings, or have we included a course that really doesn’t deserve to be there? Maybe there’s a particular layout that’s riding too high or perhaps there’s one lying too low in the standings? Please click the “Respond to this article” link at the top and bottom of the page if you’d like to share your opinion.
If you’d like to help improve our US golf course rankings, please get in touch. Our new Best In State rankings will be published soon, so please keep an eye on the Top 100 website and our social networking channels for the latest updates.
Finally a big thanks to everyone (especially Steve MacQuarrie) who has taken the time to post many colourful course reviews. Please keep them coming, it’s your reviews that I enjoy reading most of all.
Click to see in detail our new 2016 Top 100 Golf Courses of the USA.
The eight courses that made way for the new entries are: Medinah (No.3), Kapalua Plantation, East Lake, Black Wolf Run (River), Alotian, Wannamoisett, Dallas National and Holston Hills.
12 December 2015 Respond to this article