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​US Pacific Division Best in State Rankings 2018

26 April, 2018

US Pacific Division Best in State Rankings 2018

Five States in our West Region are updated in the first of nine US divisional updates.

This is the fourth biennial update of the Best in State rankings that we introduced for the United States in 2012. As we did two years ago, we’ll publish the revised tables for the fifty states in nine geographical divisions over the next few months, beginning with the five Pacific States of Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington.

In these state charts, a total of 195 courses are featured – nineteen of which appear for the first time – and with seventeen Pacific tracks currently occupying prominent positions in our national Top 100 for the United States, that statistic tells you it’s a region which is high on quality at the top end.

So, without further ado, it’s time to embark on a golfing journey across North America that starts now on the western seaboard and ends in August on the opposite side of the country with the six states in our New England Division.


Alaska is the only US state where we list fewer than ten courses. The Last Frontier State’s number 1 is still Bill Newcomb’s thirty-year-old Anchorage Golf Course, located on the edge of the City of Lights and Flowers, with the fairways framed by the Chugach Mountain Range, the Anchorage city skyline and the Cook Inlet. The golf season at the club runs from early May through to mid-October but it’s still possible to tee it up on the 1st at 8.00 pm during June or July and finish all eighteen holes around midnight.


Click the link to see full details of our 2018 Alaska Best in State rankings


There’s a little bit of movement within the Top 10 for California but Alister MacKenzie’s Cypress Point remains firmly in the number 1 position – which will hardly come as a shock to the system when you realise it’s also our current US and World Number 1! A reviewer had this to say after a recent round on the course: “Cypress for sure held up as the best course in the world. It was in pristine shape and every single hole was unique and fantastic in its own way.” Suffice to say, all but one of the posts we’ve ever received for this layout has been accompanied by a 6-ball rating.

Two 18-hole layouts make significant two-place upward moves within the new Top 10 and both have benefitted greatly from extensive renovation work carried out over the last few years by two of the world’s top architects. The first of these climbers is the North course at Los Angeles Country Club (at number 3) which Gil Hanse has upgraded and the second course is California Golf Club of San Francisco (at number 6), where Kyle Phillips has given the layout an extensive facelift.

Another course to have its fortunes positively transformed by a large-scale makeover is Monterey Peninsula (Dunes) (up ten spots to number 11) which has had its original 1920s Seth Raynor design remodelled by Tom Fazio and former associate Tim Jackson. Our US Consultant Fergal O’Leary visited last year and he told us there had been “improvements to drainage and irrigation across the course” along with “much-improved bunkering” and he felt “you’ll be left with countless memories due to the excellent design variety and aesthetics” after playing here.

The highest of the twelve new entries in our updated Top 100 for the Golden State arrives at number 35 and it’s the result of another Tom Fazio redesign project at Rams Hill Golf Club in Borrego Springs. Only reopened in 2014 after being closed for a few years, the course enjoys a curtailed playing season during the Autumn and Winter months but its relative remoteness next to the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park makes it an ideal weekend getaway destination for the more intrepid golfer. A reviewer in January described it as “a classic Fazio design, very picturesque, a really good track and fun to play for all levels”.

Rank/ Course Move
1 Cypress Point No change
2 Pebble Beach No change
3 Los Angeles (North) Up 2
4 San Francisco Down 1
5 Riviera Down 1
6 California Up 2
7 Olympic Club (Lake) Down 1
8 Pasatiempo Down 1
9 Valley Club of Montecito No change
10 Spyglass Hill No change
11 Monterey Peninsula (Dunes) Up 10
12 Bel-Air No change
13 Monterey Peninsula (Shore) Down 2
14 Mayacama Down 1
15 Stone Eagle Up 2
16 Rustic Canyon Up 8
17 Martis Camp Club Up 2
18 Meadow Club Up 12
19 Quarry at La Quinta Down 4
20 Preserve Down 6
21 Madison Down 3
22 Barona Creek Up 6
23 PGA West (TPC Stadium) Down 1
24 CordeValle Down 4
25 Torrey Pines (South) Down 9
26 Tradition Up 3
27 Sherwood Down 4
28 Lahontan Down 3
29 Shady Canyon Up 2
30 Vintage Club (Desert) Up 5
31 Menlo CC Up 17
32 Bighorn (Canyons) No change
33 Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe Down 6
34 Pelican Hill (Ocean North) Up 7
35 Rams Hill New entry
36 Vintage Club (Mountain) Up 2
37 Links at Spanish Bay Down 11
38 Eldorado Up 2
39 Pelican Hill (Ocean South) Down 6
40 La Quinta (Mountain) Up 16
41 Trump National - Los Angeles Up 2
42 Wilshire Up 8
43 Stanford University Down 4
44 La Costa (Champions) Up 10
45 Olympic Club (Ocean) Down 8
46 Saddle Creek Down 1
47 Lakeside Up 8
48 Rancho Sante Fe Down 12
49 TPC Harding Park Down 7
50 Coyote Moon Up 2
51 Bighorn (Mountains) Down 17
52 Granite Bay Up 15
53 Indian Wells (Players) Down 2
54 Claremont Up 12
55 Torrey Pines (North) Up 24
56 Pauma Valley Down 12
57 Pacific Grove Up 8
58 La Purisima Down 12
59 Poppy Hills Down 10
60 Shadow Ridge Down 2
61 The Farms New entry
62 San Diego Down 9
63 Maderas Down 16
64 Bayonet & Black Horse (Bayonet) Down 1
65 Rolling Hills New entry
66 PGA West (Nicklaus Private) Up 2
67 Reserve Club Down 5
68 PGA West (Palmer Private) Down 9
69 Desert Willow (Firecliff) Down 9
70 Half Moon Bay (Ocean) Down 13
71 Grand GC San Diego Up 2
72 Hacienda New entry
73 Aviara Down 3
74 Sandpiper Down 10
75 Dark Horse Down 4
76 Toscana (South) Down 15
77 Lake Merced Down 8
78 Old Greenwood Down 6
79 TPC Stonebrae Up 1
80 Soule Park New entry
81 Ironwood (South) Down 7
82 Mission Hills (Pete Dye Challenge) Down 5
83 Indian Wells (Celebrity) Down 8
84 Del Paso New entry
85 SilverRock (Arnold Palmer Classic) Up 11
86 Sunnylands New entry
87 Desert Dunes New entry
88 Peninsula Golf & Country Club Down 4
89 Saticoy Down 3
90 Wente Vineyards Down 5
91 PGA West (Nicklaus Tournament) Down 4
92 Silverado (North) Down 9
93 Bear Creek New entry
94 Schaffer's Mill Club Up 5
95 Bayonet & Black Horse (Black Horse) Down 19
96 Ojai Valley Inn New entry
97 Santa Ana New entry
98 Olympic Club (Cliffs) No change
99 El Caballero New entry
100 Classic Club Down 22

Click the link to see full details of our 2018 California Best in State rankings


The top seven positions in the Aloha State remain the same as before so that means David McLay Kidd’s design at the ultra-exclusive Nanea holds on to its status as the number 1 in state. According to the DMK website, this was the first course in North America to use paspalum from tee to green, across the entire course. David’s father Jimmy had pioneered the use of this grass in the Middle East years earlier and he felt that it would be ideally suited for the Hawaiian islands. Taking a not so subtle swipe at his critics, the architect says: “Nanea was my retort to those that enviously postulated that anyone could have designed Bandon Dunes.”

The only course to progress within the Hawaiian Top 10 is the Rees Jones design at Kohanaiki, inching one spot closer to the top at number 8. Laid out with six ocean-front holes on a coastal site near Kona international airport, the course is the sporting centrepiece of a private residential development where its paspalum fairways are routed around a rather unique environment of Ahu rock shrines, numerous anchialine ponds and black lava outcrops.

The highest-placed of three new entries is Makena Golf & Beach Club on the southeast coast of Maui which enters at number 15. The course started out as the North course at the Maui Prince Hotel in the early 1990s but, after several changes of ownership over the last decade, the Discovery Land Company acquired the property four years ago and commissioned Dennis Wise, a former Tom Fazio associate, to remodel the layout.

Rank/ Course Move
1 Nanea No change
2 Kapalua (Plantation) No change
3 Princeville (Prince) No change
4 Mauna Kea No change
5 Manele No change
6 Kuki'o No change
7 Hokuli'a No change
8 Kohanaiki Up 1
9 Kukui'ula Down 1
10 Hualalai (Ke’olu) No change
11 Poipu Bay Up 1
12 Waialae Down 1
13 Hualalai (Hualâlai) Up 3
14 Wailea (Gold) Up 4
15 Makena New entry
16 Wailea (Emerald) Up 4
17 Hoakalei Down 4
18 Mauna Lani (North) Up 3
19 King Kamehameha Down 5
20 Turtle Bay (Palmer) Down 5
21 Princeville (Makai) Down 4
22 Hokuala (Ocean) New entry
23 Waikoloa Beach (King's) Up 2
24 Mauna Lani (South) No change
25 Kapalua (Bay) Up 1
26 Ko'olau Down 4
27 Puakea Up 2
28 Kapolei New entry
29 Ko Olina Down 2
30 Ka‘anapali (Royal Ka‘anapali) Down 2

Click the link to see full details of our 2018 Hawaii Best in State rankings


The top four slots in our Beaver State chart are all held by courses from the iconic Bandon Dunes Resort with Tom Doak’s Pacific Dunes layout retaining its position at the top of standings, where it has held a tight grip on the number 1 position for the last six years. All four 18-hole layouts at this modern golf destination are firmly entrenched within our US Top 100, giving Bandon a reasonable claim to be considered as the best golf resort in the country.

The course at Waverley Country Club rises seven places to number 5, tucked in behind another three Bandon layouts in our chart. Originally redesigned by Chandler Egan more than a century ago, the layout has been modified over the last couple of decades by Gil Hanse, with many trees removed and bunkers reinstated to help revitalise its Golden age design credentials. Host venue for a number of USGA tournaments over many years, the course came under the national spotlight again last year when it was used for the 2017 Senior Women’s Amateur.

The only new entry in the Oregon Top 30 appears at number 11 and it’s yet another Bandon Dunes layout, the 13-hole par-three circuit named Bandon Preserve, which is located between the sand hill holes at Bandon Trails and the closing holes at Bandon Dunes. Our International Correspondent David Davies awarded this short track a 6-ball mark when he played here, saying it “has enough eye candy to equal every one of the other Bandon courses… the routing is wonderful and runs through extremely wild and rolling sand dunes… a roller coaster ride of short irons, punch and knock down shots”.

Rank/ Course Move
1 Bandon Dunes (Pacific Dunes) No change
2 Bandon Dunes (Bandon Dunes) Up 1
3 Bandon Dunes (Old Macdonald) Down 1
4 Bandon Dunes (Bandon Trails) No change
5 Waverley Up 7
6 Pronghorn (Fazio) Down 1
7 Eugene Down 1
8 Pumpkin Ridge (Witch Hollow) Down 1
9 Pronghorn (Nicklaus) Down 1
10 Portland No change
11 Bandon Dunes (Preserve) New entry
12 Crosswater Down 3
13 Tetherow Down 2
14 Columbia Edgewater (Macan) No change
15 Broken Top No change
16 Pumpkin Ridge (Ghost Creek) Down 3
17 Running Y Ranch Up 1
18 Astoria Up 11
19 Aspen Lakes Down 3
20 Brasada Ranch Up 3
21 Bandon Crossings Down 2
22 Juniper Down 5
23 Reserve Vineyards (South) Up 4
24 Sandpines Down 4
25 Oregon Down 3
26 Eagle Point No change
27 Black Butte Ranch (Glaze Meadow) Down 6
28 Salishan Down 3
29 Black Butte Ranch (Big Meadow) Down 5
30 Reserve Vineyards (North) No change

Click the link to see full details of our 2018 Oregon Best in State rankings


The Evergreen State chart is now headed by David McLay Kidd’s Gamble Sands which eases up one place from the runner-up position to number 1. Laid out on top of a sandy mesa within a massive 1,000-acre property, this course proves that it doesn’t take an enormous construction budget to create a nationally ranked top track. Of course, it helps to have the right topography and an architect who knows how to extract the best from it.

The course at Wine Valley Golf Club advances two positions to number 3 in our revised state listings. It’s Dan Hixon’s second design and already he’s being earmarked as an architect worth watching (his 2017 reversible creation at Silvies Valley Ranch in Oregon is also receiving praise). Last month, one reviewer posted the following for this course: “there’s plenty of width here in a similar vein to Gamble Sands. With width you get options and with the wind that blows here it’s a necessity. Wine Valley will appeal to minimalists but it just seemed a touch bland off the tee lacking focal definition to my eyes – a few more fairway bunkers [required] perhaps.”

The first of two new entries comes in at number 20 and it’s the course at White Horse Golf Club near Kingston in Kitsap County. Now operated by the Suquamish Clearwater Resort and Casino, the original Cynthia Dye-designed layout opened a decade ago to much critical acclaim, though many observers felt it was just too tough. When the golf facility changed ownership a few years back, architect John Harbottle III (who sadly passed away in 2012 at the age of just 53) was called in to soften the layout by widening fairways, removing bunkers, clearing trees and adding more tees. Since those changes were carried out, the club has never looked back.

Rank/ Course Move
1 Gamble Sands Up 1
2 Chambers Bay Down 1
3 Wine Valley Up 2
4 Aldarra No change
5 Tumble Creek Up 1
6 Seattle Up 1
7 Salish Cliffs Up 1
8 Palouse Ridge Up 1
9 Sahalee (South/North) Down 6
10 Royal Oaks No change
11 Snoqualmie Ridge No change
12 Gold Mountain (Olympic) Up 1
13 Fircrest Down 1
14 Loomis Trail No change
15 Port Ludlow Up 4
16 Desert Canyon Down 1
17 Suncadia (Prospector) No change
18 Semiahmoo Down 2
19 Tacoma Up 3
20 White Horse New entry
21 Creek at Qualchan Up 3
22 Indian Canyon Down 1
23 Canterwood Down 5
24 Washington National Down 1
25 McCormick Woods No change
26 Suncadia (Rope Rider) Up 3
27 Trophy Lake Down 7
28 Apple Tree Down 1
29 Inglewood Down 3
30 Kalispel New entry

Click the link to see full details of our 2018 Washington Best in State rankings

We’re always happy to hear what you think about our re-ranking process so feel free to let us know your opinion of our five newly updated US Best in State charts. Which course have we overlooked or maybe there’s one (or more) that really shouldn’t be listed? Perhaps a particular layout features too prominently or maybe it sits too low in the standings? Whatever your thoughts, please click the “Respond to this article” link at the top or at the bottom of this page if you’d like to voice your opinion.

Jim McCann
Top 100 Golf Courses


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