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​US Mountain Division Best in State Rankings 2018

29 April, 2018

US Mountain Division Best in State Rankings 2018

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

We established our Best in State listings for the United States six years ago so this is the fourth biennial review of those classifications. We’re re-ranking now across nine distinct divisions and this is the second of those reappraisals, covering the West region Mountain States of Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

Two years ago, we increased the number of courses featured in this geographical area by almost 50% and this time we’ve added a few more courses for Colorado and Montana, so we now profile over 200 courses across the eight states. Only half a dozen Mountain courses are ranked in the US Top 100 so, although the region isn’t exactly bristling with golf facilities listed at a national level, it still has lots of exciting layouts worthy of closer inspection.


With the top five courses in Arizona remaining in the same position, it means the Canyon course at Forest Highlands retains its position at the pinnacle of our Grand Canyon State listings. A Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish design that was first unveiled in 1988, it’s a fun course which has entertained seasonal property owning members and their guests for the best part of three decades now. Considering the raft of modern courses constructed in Arizona over that period of time, the Canyon course demonstrates remarkable staying power by holding onto its number 1 status.

Further down the state rankings, the Outlaw course at Desert Mountain is the highest of four new entries at number 25. Located within a massive 8,000-acre property in the high Sonoran Desert, the Outlaw course was the sixth and final Jack Nicklaus signature design to open at Desert Mountain’s private facility in north Scottsdale. Golf journalist and regular Top 100 contributor M James Ward said of this course just a couple of months ago: “how many have overlooked this course leaves me baffled. Outlaw personifies its name. It is neither conventional in penal alignment with other modern desert courses nor is it predictable. The genius of the layout is the fun factor – shots you relish and holes you wish to play again and again.”


Click the link to see full details of our 2018 Arizona Best in State courses


We’ve added another ten courses to our Centennial State listings to create a Top 50 chart and Tom Doak’s links-like layout at Ballyneal in Holyoke continues to head the standings. Described by recent reviewers as “a course that is always fun to play” and “a real thinker’s course (with) blind tee shots, blind second shots and challenging greens,” Ballyneal is the only course in our Mountain Division to occupy a position within both our national Top 100 and global Top 100 charts.

A significant climber in the Colorado state list is the century-old layout at Denver Country Club (up five to number 5), where Gil Hanse has been renovating bunkers and selectively removing trees. A couple of exciting new millennium designs by Jim Engh also make prodigious leaps up the state rankings: The Club at Pradera near Parker (up eleven to number 14) and Four Mile Ranch, just outside Cañon City (up fourteen to number 23).

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

Click this link to see full details of our 2018 Colorado Best in State courses


Tom Fazio’s layout at Gozzer Ranch Golf & Lake Club near Coeur d’Alene holds off a strong challenge from David McLay Kidd’s course at Huntsman Springs in Driggs (up one to number 2) to maintain a firm grip on the number 1 berth in the Gem State. The Gozzer Ranch drivable par fours are outstanding and three of its four short holes are carved through magnificent rock formations, with a jagged-edged bunker style not quite what might be expected from a Fazio design. The back nine in particular, in the words of a reviewer, is “nothing short of jaw-dropping”.

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

Click the link to see full details of our 2018 Idaho Best in State courses


We’ve added another five courses to the Treasure State listings, expanding the table to a Top 20. Tom Doak’s Rock Creek Cattle Company layout is still the top track, a position it’s held since we first established our Best in State rankings in 2012. The eighteen holes are laid out across an expansive, rugged landscape where generously proportioned fairways offer all manner of approach options to heavily-contoured greens.

Straight in at number 4, The Reserve at Moonlight Basin is the highest of our five new entries in the Montana chart. Opened in 2016, it’s a Jack Nicklaus Signature Course that’s draped across a dramatic landscape to the north of Sphinx Mountain in the Madison Range. Set at an altitude of 7,500 feet above sea level and measuring 8,000 yards from the back tees, this course is geared up to having the game of golf played out on an epic scale.

Rank/ Course Move
1 Rock Creek Cattle Company No change
2 Wilderness Club No change
3 Stock Farm No change
4 Reserve at Moonlight Basin New entry
5 Yellowstone Club Up 2
6 Spanish Peaks No change
7 Iron Horse Down 3
8 Old Works Down 3
9 Eagle Bend (Eagle & Bear) Up 4
10 Yellowstone Country Club Down 1
11 Black Bull Down 3
12 Northern Pines Down 2
13 The Ranch Club Down 2
14 Whitefish Lake (South) No change
15 Whitefish Lake (North) Down 3
16 Buffalo Hill New entry
17 Canyon River Down 2
18 Briarwood New entry
19 Meadow Lake New entry
20 Big Sky New entry

Click this link to see full details of our 2018 Montana Best in State courses


The Tom Fazio-designed course at Shadow Creek retains its position as the number 1 layout in the Silver State. Built for casino magnate Steve Wynn in the late 1980s, this completely artificial track was once regarded by some as the eighth wonder of the modern golfing world and M James Ward had this to say about it only last month: “Shadow Creek is a testament of man’s desire to build something on the grandest of scales. The pyramids of golf. How appropriate such a course would reside in the most fantasy related communities such as Las Vegas.”

The highest of three Nevadan new entries appears at number 11 and it’s The Summit, another Tom Fazio layout developed in partnership with the Discovery Land Company. The course is situated less than ten miles from the Las Vegas Strip and it’s the centrepiece of a large residential development near the Red Rock National Conservation Area. There’s also a par three 19th hole next to the practice area, where the clubhouse will be built, and this extra hole is perfect for settling bets or tied matches.

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

Click this link to see full details of our 2018 Nevada Best in State courses

New Mexico

The top eight places in our New Mexico chart remain exactly as they were when we last re-ranked two years ago so that means the Paa-Ko Ridge(1st & 2nd) layout in Sandia Park is still our number 1 course in the Land of Enchantment. A new millennium track designed by architect Ken Dye of the Texas-based company Finger Dye Spann Inc., the original 18-hole course at Paa-Ko Ridge Golf Club had another 9-hole layout added to it in 2005 to fashion a fabulous 27-hole facility that’s conveniently located less than a half an hour’s drive from downtown Albuquerque.

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

Click this link to see full details of our 2018 New Mexico Best in State courses


The Beehive State’s new number 1 is the Championship course at the Sand Hollow Resort near Hurricane. It jumped an impressive six places up to the runner-up position two years ago and it has now gone one step further by replacing Tom Fazio’s Glenwild Golf Club and Spa at the top of the table. A John Fought design, the fairways are routed around steep ridge lines and deep canyons, with thrilling elevation changes and spectacular views offering golfers one of the most entertaining golf experiences in the state. The Championship layout is complemented by the 9-hole Links course, a 3,600-yard par 36 layout that is the perfect companion for its bigger sibling.

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

Click this link to see full details of our 2018 Utah Best in State courses


Tom Fazio’s 18-hole layout at Shooting Star in Jackson Hole retains the top spot in our Top 10 chart for the Equality State. Set between the Snake River Ranch, a working cattle operation for the last eighty years, and the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Shooting Star is a first class skiing and outdoor recreation facility set within 1,300 acres of protected property in the shadow of three mountain ranges. Designed to resemble the glacial moraine landscape of nearby Grand Teton National Park, the layout occupies land that was once nothing other than flat pasture before its transformation into a distinctive 18-hole golf course.

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

Click the link to see full details of our 2018 Wyoming Best in State courses

We welcome feedback when we re-rank our state listings so please let us know what you think if you have a strong opinion about any one of these eight newly refreshed US Best in State charts. Which course have we inadvertently left out or perhaps we’ve included one that really doesn’t deserve to be listed? Maybe there’s one placed too high or positioned too low? Whatever your thoughts are, by all means click the “Respond to this article” link at the top or bottom of this page to share your views with us.

Jim McCann
Top 100 Golf Courses


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