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​US East North Central Division Best in State Rankings 2016

16 June, 2016

US East North Central Division Best in State Rankings 2016

Another five States in our Midwest Region are re-ranked in the seventh of nine US divisional updates

This concludes the Midwest Region of our Best in State re-ranking process for the USA, where we’ve spent the last few months assessing courses across nine regional divisions. This is the seventh in our series of reviews and it covers the five Midwest “Great Lakes” states of Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, which are home to almost fifty million people.

We’re increasing the number of courses that we feature in the USA and this expansion will be exhibited across almost every state in the country. For instance, in this East North Central division, we’re adding ten new courses to each of the five states, resulting in new Top 50 charts for Illinois, Michigan and Ohio.


The top three positions remain exactly the same as last time around, which means that Crystal Downs is still the number one course in the Wolverine State. A recent reviewer described it thus: ”one of the few courses I’ve played in the Top 100 where I was able to remember every single hole… Crystal Downs is unique and presents you with a tough challenge… not by being long but by placing a premium on strategy.” It’s just a pity the course’s remote location and deficient infrastructure has prevented it from hosting more national events like the US Senior Amateur that was held here in 1991.

Climbing three places to number 4, the 9-hole “walking only” course at the Dunes Club makes an impressive move in the right direction near the top of the new state listings. Developed by Mike Keiser of Bandon Dunes fame, this lovely little woodland layout – which squeezed into our recent update of the US Top 100 at number 100 – nestles on the shores of Lake Michigan, where it’s been delighting a select number of golfers ever since it was first unveiled in 1992.

Further down the chart, Barton Hills, a near 100-year old Donald Ross layout that Ron Pritchard spent time restoring in 2013, bounds up a spectacular sixteen places to number 16 and it’s immediately followed by Orchard Lake, our highest new entry at number 17, which is a 1920s Golden Age design from C.H. Alison that has also been the recipient of a new millennium restoration, this time by Keith Foster.

It was too early for us to consider the sixth course at Gull Lake View Golf Club, Southwest Michigan's oldest and largest golf resort. The Gallically named Stoatin Brae course is slated to open shortly and it’s been routed over a former apple orchard, stripped of its trees and reseeded with native grasses by Tom Doak’s Renaissance Design company. No doubt we'll be hearing a lot more about it, along with The Loop at Forest Dunes in northern Michigan, a reversible 18-hole design from the same firm of architects that is due to open in a similar timeframe.


Click this link to see full details of our 2016 Michigan Best in State rankings


There’s little movement at the head of the table in the Buckeye State, where the top five tracks are all nationally ranked, and the Jack Nicklaus and Desmond Muirhead co-design at Muirfield Village is still the state’s number one course. It’s more than forty years since the Golden Bear built this course outside his hometown of Columbus and he’s constructed hundreds down the years since then but this track still remains one of his most endearing.

Pete Dye’s course at The Golf Club, one of the architect’s earliest designs when it appeared back in the late 1960s, drops one place to number three, swapping places with Camargo, which becomes the new number two in our revised listings. Seth Raynor’s Cincinatti masterpiece has had its bunkers overhauled in recent years by Tom Doak’s Renaissance Design team and this work has certainly gone a long way to reviving the fortunes of a fabulous old track.

The most significant upward move in the new chart is made by Alex Campbell’s 1930s course at Moraine Country Club (the USPGA Championship was held here in 1945) which climbs fifteen places to number 9. There’s no doubt the course has massively benefited from a recent Keith Foster renovation, involving the widening of fairways and the reconstruction of new greens and bunkers.

1Muirfield VillageNo change
2CamargoUp 1
3Golf ClubDown 1
4SciotoUp 1
5Inverness ClubDown 1
6CanterburyUp 1
7Brookside CCUp 1
8KirtlandUp 2
9MoraineUp 15
10Country Club at Pepper PikeUp 1
11Mayfield Sand Ridge (Sand Ridge)Up 1
12NCR (South)Down 3
13Double EagleDown 7
14Firestone (South)No change
15Firestone (North)Up 3
16Virtues Down 3
17ColdstreamNo change
18TPC at River's BendUp 1
19ElyriaUp 7
20Fowler's Mill (Lake & River)Up 7
21Little MountainDown 5
22Shaker Run (Woodlands & Lakeside)Down 7
23Shaker HeightsUp 7
24Ohio State University (Scarlet)Down 4
25QuarryUp 11
26WedgewoodDown 5
27PinnacleUp 5
28MaketewahDown 6
29Sleepy HollowDown 1
30BarringtonDown 7
31Hawthorne ValleyDown 6
32Stonelick HillsUp 7
33Boulder CreekDown 4
34Brookside G & CCNew entry
35Congress LakeUp 2
36Black DiamondNew entry
37Windmill LakesNew entry
38EaglesticksDown 5
39Cooks CreekUp 1
40KennsingtonNew entry
41Tartan FieldsDown 10
42Apple ValleyNew entry
43Red Hawk RunDown 8
44Avalon LakesDown 10
45StoneWaterDown 7
46Shale CreekNew entry
47Denison at GranvilleNew entry
48Links at Firestone FarmsNew entry
49Coppertop at Cherokee HillsNew entry
50Aston OaksNew entry

Click this link to see full details of our 2016 Ohio Best in State rankings


Chicago retains its place at the top of the Prairie State chart. Currently ranked number 13 in the USA Top 100 and number 22 in our World Top 100, this historically important course is the oldest 18-hole layout in the country, having been established in 1894. Host to three US Opens and four US Amateur Championships in its formative years, the club is now scheduled to stage the inaugural US Women’s Senior Open in 2018.

The No.1 course at Medinah Country Club streaks up the chart from position 39 to 13 and this prodigious leap is all due to the major redesign that was recently carried out by Tom Doak. Nine of the original holes were re-routed, in the words of the architect, “to get fairways away from the nearby Medinah Road and to break away from the back-and-forth nature of the original layout… new greens and bunkering have tightened up the test.”

The highest Illinois newcomer arrives at number 23 and it’s the revered old course at Onwentsia Club, which hosted three major championships during its first two decades of operation – the US Open in 1896, the US Amateur in 1899 and the US Women’s Amateur in 1915. The layout has been lengthened, bunkers have been modified and a lake added since then but it’s still a track that appeals to golfers of a traditionalist persuasion.

1ChicagoNo change
2ShoreacresNo change
3Olympia Fields (North)Up 1
4Butler NationalUp 1
5SkokieUp 1
6Black Sheep (1st & 2nd)Up 1
7BeverlyUp 2
8Medinah (No.3)Down 5
9Olympia Fields (South)Up 2
10Cog Hill (No.4)Down 2
11Conway FarmsUp 1
12Old Elm ClubUp 3
13Medinah (No.1)Up 26
14CanyataDown 1
15Rich Harvest FarmsDown 5
16KnollwoodDown 2
17FlossmoorNo change
18North ShoreDown 2
19Bob O'LinkDown 1
20Merit ClubUp 13
21Bull ValleyNo change
22Shepherd's CrookUp 1
23OnwentsiaNew entry
24Glen ClubDown 2
25TPC Deere RunDown 5
26Butterfield CCUp 8
27Chicago HighlandsUp 2
28RavisloeDown 3
29WeaverRidgeDown 1
30WynstoneNo change
31ExmoorUp 4
32MidlothianNew entry
33Highlands of ElginDown 2
34ThunderHawkDown 8
35Eagle Ridge (The General)Down 16
36Kemper LakesDown 12
37Glen ViewDown 5
38Prairie LandingDown 1
39Cantigny (Woodside & Lakeside)Down 12
40Ivanhoe (Prairie & Forest)No change
41Harborside International (Starboard)New entry
42Indian HillDown 4
43Pine MeadowNew entry
44Orchard ValleyDown 8
45EvanstonNew entry
46Bowes CreekNew entry
47Ruffled FeathersNew entry
48Kankakee ElksNew entry
49Big RunNew entry
50Blackhawk Trace (Highland & Woodland)New entry

Click this link to see full details of our 2016 Illinois Best in State rankings


The Hoosier State of Indiana still has the spectacular 18-hole Victoria National course as its number one, with this rather unique Tom Fazio design holding off a strong challenge from a number of other contenders. Laid out within an abandoned coal mine, the course offers an exacting test of golf where much of the strategic strategy is shaped by a variety of water hazards that now lie within its 400-acre confines.

Pete Dye’s early 1960s layout at Crooked Stick and Steve Smyers’ late 1980s design at Wolf Run exchange positions, with the former course (which held the USPGA in 1991, the Solheim Cup in 2006 and the BMW Championship in 2012 – the BMW returns here again later this year) dropping down one place and the latter, a renowned tough track that’s set in thickly forested terrain outside Indianapolis, moving up one to the runner-up spot.

Three courses each make notable five-place upward moves: Brickyard Crossing at number 7 (where four of its fairways are located inside the oval of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway track), Notre Dame’s Warren course at number 9 (which held the US Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship in 2010) and South Bend Country Club at number 12, an old George O’Neil design described by Tommy Armour as “the sweetheart golf course of the Midwest”.

The highest Indianan new entry comes in at number 11 and it’s the Kampen course at the 36-hole Birck Boilermaker golf complex, a mid-1990s Pete Dye layout that has attracted a number of distinguished state and regional golf competitions in the two decades since it debuted.

1Victoria NationalNo change
2Wolf RunUp 1
3Crooked StickDown 1
4French Lick (Pete Dye)No change
5Sycamore HillsNo change
6French Lick (Donald Ross)No change
7Brickyard CrossingUp 5
8Prairie ViewNo change
9WarrenUp 5
10FortDown 3
11Birck Boilermaker (Kampen)New entry
12South BendUp 5
13Rock HollowDown 4
14ElconaNew entry
15Harrison HillsNo change
16Sagamore Down 6
17BroadmoorUp 2
18WoodlandDown 7
19PurgatoryDown 6
20Culver AcademiesDown 2
21Chariot RunDown 1
22Otter Creek (North & West)Down 6
23Donald RossNew entry
24Trophy ClubNew entry
25Indiana University (Championship)New entry
26BelterraNew entry
27BlackthornNew entry
28Heartland CrossingNew entry
29Swan Lake (Black)New entry
30Covered BridgeNew entry

Click this link to see full details of our 2016 Indiana Best in State rankings


The Badger State listings are headed by the Straits course at Whistling Straits. Site of three USPGA Championships in 2004, 2010 and 2015, this highly-regarded layout is all set to host the Ryder Cup in 2020. A recent reviewer is of the opinion that “Pete Dye’s work here was done spectacularly well… it’s quite playable for less talented golfers, often because Dye built wide fairways and huge greens… I place Whistling Straits alongside the world’s best ‘modern links’ courses: those at Bandon, Barnbougle, Kingsbarns and Streamsong.”

Only three courses make upward moves in the new Wisconsin chart and the highest climber (up four places to number 11) is SentryWorld, an early 1980s Robert Trent Jones Jnr layout that was closed at the end of 2012 to undergo an extensive two-year renovation. The original architect was called back in to oversee the construction of new tees, bunkers and greens, the regrading and reseeding of fairways, the reconfiguration and rerouting of several holes, and the introduction of new par threes at the 3rd and 12th.

Soaring into the revised listings as a new entry at number 11, Troy Burne is a late 1990s public access facility from Dr Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry, built in consultation with Tom Lehman, which took almost three years to construct. Water hazards feature at almost half the holes, thanks to the presence of four man-made lakes and a babbling brook, with bentgrass fairways and greens routed around 225 acres of rolling countryside.

1Whistling Straits (Straits)No change
2MilwaukeeNo change
3Erin HillsUp 1
4Blackwolf Run (River)Down 1
5Lawsonia (Links)No change
6Blue MoundNo change
7SentryWorldUp 4
8Bull at Pinehurst FarmsNo change
9Whistling Straits (Irish)Down 2
10University RidgeNo change
11Troy BurneNew entry
12Pine Hills CCNo change
13West Bend New entry
14Blackwolf Run (Meadow Valleys)Down 5
15Oneida G&CCDown 1
16Grand Geneva (Brute)Up 1
17The BogNew entry
18Strawberry CreekNew entry
19Green BayDown 3
20Wild Rock at the WildernessNew entry
21Horseshoe BayDown 8
22MinocquaDown 7
23OzaukeeDown 4
24Trappers Turn (Lake & Canyon)Down 4
25Lawsonia (Woodlands)Down 7
26Geneva National (Gary Player)New entry
27KenoshaNew entry
28Hawks View (Como Crossings)New entry
29Big FishNew entry
30House on the Rock (Springs)New entry

Click this link to see full details of our 2016 Wisconsin Best in State rankings

As ever, we like to ask for feedback when we conduct a re-ranking exercise so please let us know what you think about our five newly revised US Best in State charts. Hopefully, you agree with what’s been published but maybe you think we’ve not quite got everything right. Whatever your opinion is, please click the “Respond to this article” link at the top or at the bottom of this page to let us know your views.

Jim McCann
Top 100 Golf Courses


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