​US Mountain Division Best in State Rankings 2016

27 April 2016 Respond to this article

Mountain Division Best in State Rankings 2016

Eight states in our West Region are updated in the second of nine US regional revisions

Top 100 Golf Courses inaugurated its Best in State rankings for the United States four years ago so we’re now conducting our second biennial review of those charts. In 2014, we published the revised standings for the fifty States in four news releases, covering four rather large geographical areas.

This year, we’ve decide to extend our reporting across nine distinct divisions and this is the second of those announcements, covering the West region Mountain States of Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

We’ve also expanded the number of courses that we display for every State (apart from Wyoming, which retains a Top 10 chart) so, for the Mountain Division, we’ve increased our coverage from 130 to 195 courses. Arizona now features a Top 50, Colorado has a Top 40 and Nevada a Top 30.

All told, there are only 6 Mountain courses ranked in our Top 100 for the United States so the region isn’t exactly a hotbed for high quality golf courses at a national level. Nonetheless, there are still plenty of interesting layouts worthy of closer examination within the eight states that are under scrutiny.


The Canyon course at Forest Highlands retains its number 1 status in the Grand Canyon State listings. A Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish co-design that debuted in 1988, it was reviewed last year by our US Consultant Fergal O’Leary, who awarded it a 5-ball mark, along with the following comment: “It’s a manicured course that doesn’t play “firm and fast” so to some extent it feels like target golf, however, this doesn’t (at all) take away from the demanding nature of the course.”

Desert Highlands

Three courses make significant upward moves within the Top 10 portion of the state chart: Desert Highlands, an early 1980s Jack Nicklaus track (up three to number 3), Whisper Rock (Lower), where Phil Mickelson teamed up with Dallas-based architect Gary Stephenson to turn a boulder-strewn area in the Sonoran Desert into a very special golf venue (up three to number 8) and Pine Canyon, a Jay Morrish solo design from 2004, which is the centrepiece of a residential community in Flagstaff (up eight to number 9).

In order to expand our Arizona listings to a Top 50, we’ve added twenty new courses to the state chart and this raft of newcomers is headed at number 22 by Talking Stick (North), which is one of two 18-hole courses laid out by Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw in the late 1990s for the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community within their luxury hotel and casino resort near Scottsdale.

Rank/ Course Move
1 Forest Highlands (Canyon) No change
2 Estancia No change
3 Desert Highlands Up 3
4 Whisper Rock (Upper) Down 1
5 Stone Canyon No change
6 We-Ko-Pa (Saguaro) Up 1
7 Rim Up 2
8 Whisper Rock (Lower) Up 3
9 Pine Canyon Up 8
10 Desert Forest Down 6
11 Forest Highlands (Meadow) Down 3
12 Troon Country Club Up 3
13 Desert Mountain (Chiricahua) Down 1
14 Quintero Down 2
15 Mirabel Down 5
16 Seven Canyons Down 3
17 Silverleaf Up 6
18 Dove Mountain (Saguaro & Tortolita) Up 1
19 We-Ko-Pa (Cholla) Down 5
20 Desert Mountain (Geronimo) No change
21 Desert Mountain (Renegade) No change
22 Talking Stick (North) New entry
23 Troon North (Monument) Down 5
24 Talking Rock Up 2
25 Scottsdale National Up 2
26 Chaparral Pines Down 4
27 Troon North (Pinnacle) Down 3
28 TPC Scottsdale (Stadium) New entry
29 Boulders (North) Down 4
30 Ventana Canyon (Mountain) No change
31 Gallery (North) Down 2
32 SunRidge Canyon New entry
33 Gallery (South) New entry
34 Boulders (South) New entry
35 Apache Stronghold New entry
36 Terravita New entry
37 Verrado New entry
38 Ak-Chin Southern Dunes New entry
39 Gold Canyon (Dinosaur Mountain) Down 11
40 La Paloma (Ridge & Canyon) New entry
41 Laughlin Ranch New entry
42 Ventana Canyon (Canyon) New entry
43 Estrella New entry
44 Phoenix New entry
45 Starr Pass (Rattler & Roadrunner) New entry
46 Talking Stick (South) New entry
47 Desert Mountain (Cochise) New entry
48 Grayhawk (Talon) New entry
49 Grayhawk (Raptor) New entry
50 Blackstone New entry

Click the link to see full details of our 2016 Arizona Best in State courses


Tom Doak’s “inland links” layout at Ballyneal is still our number 1 course in the Centennial State. Such is the quality of this fabulous new millennium design, it’s also ranked very highly in both our US Top 100 and World Top 100 charts so don’t expect to see it displaced from the top of the state listings anytime soon.

Cherry Hills

Rising one place to the runner-up position in our revised Colorado chart, Cherry Hills is a 1922 William Flynn layout that Tom Doak’s Renaissance Golf Design company extensively renovated in 2009. Site of numerous national amateur and professional championships down the years, the course also climbed eight spots to number 87 in our US Top 100 chart when it was revised four months ago.

Three other courses make significant upward moves with the state Top 10: the 2007 Jay Morrish design at Ravenna in Littleton (up three to number 7), the 1984 Jack Nicklaus Signature course at Country Club of the Rockies in Edwards (also up three to number 8), and Tom Fazio’s 1995 design at Maroon Creek near Aspen (up four to number 9).

Rank/ Course Move
1 Ballyneal No change
2 Cherry Hills Up 1
3 Colorado Down 1
4 Castle Pines No change
5 Sanctuary No change
6 Broadmoor (East) No change
7 Ravenna Up 3
8 Country Club of the Rockies Up 3
9 Maroon Creek Up 4
10 Denver Down 1
11 Redlands Mesa Up 1
12 Red Sky (Fazio) Down 4
13 Red Sky (Norman) Down 6
14 Aspen Glen Up 5
15 Roaring Fork Up 3
16 Commonground Down 1
17 Catamount Ranch Down 3
18 Frost Creek Up 7
19 Broadmoor (West) Up 9
20 Breckenridge (Beaver & Bear) Up 9
21 Lakota Canyon No change
22 Cordillera (Valley) Up 1
23 Ironbridge Down 7
24 Ridge at Castle Pines North New entry
25 Pradera Down 3
26 Country Club at Castle Pines Down 9
27 Raven at Three Peaks No change
28 Haymaker New entry
29 Columbine Down 3
30 Devil's Thumb New entry
31 Murphy Creek New entry
32 Cougar Canyon Down 8
33 Flying Horse New entry
34 Riverdale (Dunes) New entry
35 Bear Dance Down 5
36 Fossil Trace New entry
37 Four Mile Ranch New entry
38 Eagle Springs New entry
39 Cherry Creek New entry
40 Red Hawk Ridge New entry

Click the link to see full details of our 2016 Colorado Best in State courses


Shadow Creek (North) remains our number 1 course in the Silver State. Constructed for casino mogul Steve Wynn from a barren, featureless desert site outside Las Vegas by Tom Fazio in 1989, this totally artificial – yet seemingly natural – track was seen by some at one time as the eighth modern wonder of the golfing world so it just goes to show what can be achieved when money is no object.

Clear Creek

Four hundred and fifty miles northwest of Las Vegas, a couple of 18-hole layouts near Lake Tahoe take small steps in the right direction in our new state listings, with both rising two positions. At number 2, Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw’s 2009 production at Clear Creek, just outside Carson City, is a much-admired, rugged mountain track and at number 8, the Jack Nicklaus Signature Course at Montreaux Golf & Country Club is an annual PGA Tour stop, hosting the Barracuda Championship (formerly the Reno-Tahoe Open).

Rank/ Course Move
1 Shadow Creek (North) No change
2 Clear Creek Up 2
3 Cascata Down 1
4 Southern Highlands Up 1
5 SouthShore Up 1
6 Wolf Creek Down 3
7 Edgewood Tahoe No change
8 Montreux Up 2
9 Wynn Las Vegas No change
10 Coyote Springs Down 2
11 Las Vegas Country Club Up 1
12 DragonRidge Down 1
13 Rio Secco Up 4
14 Reflection Bay New entry
15 Bali Hai New entry
16 Bear's Best Up 2
17 Royal Links New entry
18 Las Vegas Paiute (Wolf) Down 4
19 TPC Summerlin Down 6
20 TPC Las Vegas No change
21 Incline Village (Championship) Down 6
22 Oasis (Palmer) New entry
23 Conestoga Down 7
24 Las Vegas Paiute (Sun Mountain) Down 5
25 Las Vegas Paiute (Snow Mountain) New entry
26 Boulder Creek (Desert Hawk & Coyote Run) New entry
27 Badlands (Desperado & Diablo) New entry
28 Falcon Ridge New entry
29 Genoa Lakes (Lakes) New entry
30 Primm Valley (Lakes) New entry

Click the link to see full details of our 2016 Nevada Best in State courses

New Mexico

The Paa-Ko Ridge(1st & 2nd) layout in Sandia Park was our number 1 course in the Land of Enchantment when we first established our state listings in 2012 and it remains top of the standings after our latest round of re-rankings. Designed by Ken Dye and opened early in the new millennium, the original 18-hole course had an additional 9-hole circuit added to the layout in 2005 to form a fantastic 27-hole facility.

Las Campanas Sunset course

Rising one place to number 2 in our New Mexico chart, the Sunset course at Las Campanas is the newer and slightly shorter of two Jack Nicklaus courses that are laid out within an exclusive country club located just outside Santa Fe. The Golden Bear marked the opening of the course with a match against Ben Crenshaw in “Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf” television series soon after it debuted in 2000.

Rank/ Course Move
1 Paa-Ko Ridge (1st & 2nd) No change
2 Las Campanas (Sunset) Up 1
3 Black Mesa Down 1
4 Las Campanas (Sunrise) No change
5 Pinon Hills No change
6 Twin Warriors Up 1
7 Rainmakers Down 1
8 University of New Mexico (Championship) Up 2
9 Pueblo de Cochiti No change
10 Sierra del Rio Down 2
11 Inn of the Mountain Gods New entry
12 Red Hawk New entry
13 Taos New entry
14 Sandia New entry
15 Rockwind Community Links New entry

Click the link to see full details of our 2016 New Mexico Best in State courses


Sand Hollow

Tom Fazio’s Glenwild design in Park City is still on top of the ranking chart for the Beehive State. Unveiled in 2001, this course is routed around a wandering creek with a number of associated lakes so keeping the golf ball dry is imperative on this 7,541-yard layout.

The Championship course at Sand Hollow, a John Fough design located near Hurricane, makes an impressive leap from number 8 to 2, just coming up short of the Fazio layout, but it’s one to watch out for next time around.

Rank/ Course Move
1 Glenwild No change
2 Sand Hollow (Championship) Up 6
3 Victory Ranch Up 1
4 Salt Lake Country Club Up 1
5 Promontory Club (Canyon) Down 3
6 Tuhaye Up 1
7 Promontory Club (Painted Valley) Down 4
8 Red Ledges Down 2
9 Entrada at Snow Canyon No change
10 TalonsCove New entry
11 Soldier Hollow (Gold) New entry
12 Thanksgiving Point New entry
13 Coral Canyon Down 3
14 Willow Creek New entry
15 Hideout New entry
16 Ledges of St George New entry
17 Wasatch Mountain (Mountain) New entry
18 Park Meadows New entry
19 Sunbrooke (Point & Woodbridge) New entry
20 Ranches New entry

Click the link to see full details of our 2016 Utah Best in State courses


Another Tom Fazio design, Gozzer Ranch, comfortably holds onto the number 1 slot in the Gem State. Ranked inside the top half of our US Top 100 chart, the course isn’t quite a “typical Fazio” layout, as discovered by this reviewer: “Without question or debate, Gozzer Ranch looked, felt, and played so much like a Coore & Crenshaw with its ragged edges to bunkering, wonderful use of fescue, holes perfectly placed on the land… the front nine is very good, but the back nine is nothing short of superb.”

Rock Creek

The highest of five new entries in our expanded Top 15 chart is Rock Creek at number 6, a recent Tom Weiskopf design located on the cliff tops overlooking Lake Coeur d’Alene. It was originally meant to be an additional 18-hole layout for the adjacent Black Rock development (which is number 2 in the Idaho chart) but the same gentleman who owns the Rock Creek Cattle Company in Montana acquired the property and he’s decided to give his Idaho course a very similar name.

Rank/ Course Move
1 Gozzer Ranch No change
2 Black Rock (Jim Engh) No change
3 Hunstsman Springs No change
4 Tamarack (Osprey Meadows) No change
5 Circling Raven No change
6 Rock Creek New entry
7 Coeur d'Alene Down 1
8 Whitetail Up 2
9 Teton Springs (Headwaters) No change
10 Sun Valley (Trail Creek) Down 2
11 Idaho Club Down 4
12 Hillcrest Country Club New entry
13 Blue Lakes New entry
14 Jug Mountain Ranch New entry
15 Quail Hollow New entry

Click the link to see full details of our 2016 Idaho Best in State courses


The Rock Creek Cattle Company course prevails as the number 1 track in the Treasure State. Tom Doak routed the eighteen holes across a rather remote, rugged landscape, with wide, Kentucky blue-grassed fairways offering all sorts of approach options to heavily-contoured greens. As might be expected of a Doak course, there’s more than enough design interest on every hole to keep golfers totally engaged from start to finish on this layout.

Wilderness ClubClosing in just behind this nationally-ranked layout, two courses climb two places in the chart. The first of these is Wilderness Club at number 2, a Nick Faldo layout from 2009 which is appropriately named due to its remote location outside of Eureka, near the Canadian border.

The other course, at number 3, is Stock Farm Club, a late-1990s Tom Fazio design that’s laid out in Bitterroot Valley, near Hamilton.

Rank/ Course Move
1 Rock Creek Cattle Company No change
2 Wilderness Club Up 2
3 Stock Farm Up 2
4 Iron Horse Down 2
5 Old Works Down 2
6 Spanish Peaks No change
7 Yellowstone Club Up 1
8 Black Bull New entry
9 Yellowstone Country Club New entry
10 Northern Pines Down 1
11 The Ranch Club Down 4
12 Whitefish Lake (North) New entry
13 Eagle Bend (Eagle & Bear) New entry
14 Whitefish Lake (South) New entry
15 Canyon River Down 5

Click this link to see full details of our 2016 Montana Best in State courses


Snake River

The Equality State retains a Top 10 ranking chart which is headed by Tom Fazio’s Shooting Star, a Jackson Hole layout that has water in play at more than half the holes. Two other courses move up the listings: Snake River in Jackson Hole (up three to number 2) which is a Tom Weiskopf design from 2006, and Rochelle Ranch in Rawlins (up one to number 9), where Ken Kavanaugh set out the course in 2004.

Rank/ Course Move
1 Shooting Star No change
2 Snake River Up 3
3 3 Creek Ranch Down 1
4 Powder Horn (Mountain & Stag) Down 1
5 Teton Pines Down 1
6 Jackson Hole No change
7 Devils Tower No change
8 Three Crowns No change
9 Rochelle Ranch Up 1
10 Bell Nob Down 1

Click the link to see full details of our 2016 Wyoming Best in State courses

We always welcome your thoughts when we carry out our re-ranking process so please let us know what you think if you have a strong opinion about any one of our eight newly updated US Best in State charts. What layout have we omitted or maybe there’s a course that really shouldn’t be included? Perhaps there’s one positioned too high up in the listings or one sitting too far down? Whatever your feelings are, please click the “Respond to this article” link at the top or at the bottom of this page if you’d like to get in touch with us.

Jim McCann
Top 100 Golf Courses