​US Pacific Division Best in State Rankings 2020

US Pacific

Division Best in State Rankings 2020

It’s two years since we revised the rankings for our US Best in State listings so now’s the time to refresh the numbers and publish the new charts. We’ll do this over the next few months in nine geographical groupings, starting in this edition with Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington, before eventually ending on the opposite side of the country in New England.

The five Pacific Division states now feature 205 courses in total as we’ve just added another ten to Washington. All told, twenty-four courses make a first appearance in our updated charts and, with sixteen of the more established top tracks occupying a place in our national Top 100, that gives you a good idea of the quality to be found across the entire region.


Alaska

We have a new No. 1 for the Last Frontier State and it’s the golf course at Settlers Bay, located an hour’s drive north of Anchorage in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley. Set within the enormous Fairway Estates residential community, the layout originally started out as a 9-hole course in the late 1970s before an additional nine was opened for play towards the end of the 1990s. Since then, greens have been converted to bent grass, bunkers are all now refurbished and new tees added to make the playing experience more enjoyable for golfers of all skill levels.

Settlers Bay Golf Course

Settlers Bay

Rank/ Course Move
1 Settlers Bay Up 3
2 Chena Bend Up 1
3 Moose Run (Creek). Down 1
4 Anchorage Down 3
5 Moose Run (Hill) No change


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


California

Five of the Top 10 layouts in California remain in the same position and one of the non-movers is the state No.1, Cypress Point Club, which also happens to be the #1 course in both our US and World Top 100 rankings. Recent comments from reviewers for this Alister MacKenzie masterpiece include: “CPC has that perfect combination of great strategic design, wonderful variety of terrain, and gorgeous ocean backdrops… the perfect golf course, every hole is memorable, each improving slightly from the previous… shot value, shot choice and the journey from sand to forest to sea is amazing.”

Cypress Point Club

Cypress Point

A one-place upward move might at a glance seem like nothing much to get excited about, but when it’s made within the Top 10 tier of a very strong golfing state like California then such a modest advance has to be regarded as significant. Three courses make exactly that sort of short stride towards the top rung on the ladder.

The first of these climbers is George C. Thomas Junior’s Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades (up 1 to #4), followed by Alister MacKenzie’s Valley Club of Montecito in Santa Barbara (up 1 to #8) then the Dunes course at Monterey Peninsula Country Club in Pebble Beach (up 1 to #10), which is currently reaping the rewards of a recent renovation by Tom Fazio and his former associates at Jackson Khan Design.

Valley Club of Montecito

Valley Club of Montecito

The highest of ten new entries in our Californian listings arrives at No. 21 and it’s the South course at Los Angeles Country Club, where a sympathetic restoration of the layout was conducted a couple of years ago. For far too long this track had lurked in the shadow of its celebrated sibling, the North course, but that’s no longer the case, with the artistic talents of Gil Hanse bringing it out into the light.

Los Angeles Country Club - South course

Los Angeles Country Club South course

A couple of courses make prodigious leaps forward in the bottom half of the table. Leading the way with a jump from #97 to #54 is the old 1920s John Duncan Dunn layout at Santa Ana Country Club, located 20 miles southeast of Long Beach, which Jay Blasi totally redesigned in 2016 to improve safety, add variety and make better use of the natural landforms on the property.

Santa Ana Country Club

Santa Ana Country Club

Not far behind at #61 (up 23 places) comes the 18-hole layout at Del Paso Country Club in Sacramento, where Kyle Phillips conducted an extensive redesign of the property back in 2006. In a recent post, the course was described by our regular contributor M. James Ward as “a mega shining star.” In his considered opinion “there’s no question The Golden State is blessed with many superior courses but Del Paso may be the most underrated.”

Rank/ Course Move
1 Cypress Point No change
2 Pebble Beach No change
3 Los Angeles (North) No change
4 Riviera Up 1
5 San Francisco Down 1
6 California No change
7 Olympic Club (Lake) No change
8 Valley Club of Montecito Up 1
9 Pasatiempo Down 1
10 Monterey Peninsula (Dunes) Up 1
11 Bel-Air Up 1
12 Monterey Peninsula (Shore) Up 1
13 Martis Camp Club Up 4
14 Spyglass Hill Down 4
15 Stone Eagle No change
16 Rustic Canyon No change
17 Mayacama Down 3
18 Meadow Club No change
19 Quarry at La Quinta No change
20 Preserve No change
21 Los Angeles (South) New entry
22 CordeValle Up 2
23 Barona Creek Down 1
24 PGA West (TPC Stadium) Down 1
25 Shady Canyon Up 4
26 Torrey Pines (South) Down 1
27 Menlo CC Up 4
28 Rams Hill Up 7
29 Lahontan Down1
30 Sherwood Down 3
31 Tradition Down 5
32 Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe Up 1
33 Vintage Club (Mountain) Up 3
34 La Quinta (Mountain) Up 6
35 Vintage Club (Desert) Down 5
36 Madison Down 15
37 Bighorn (Canyons) Down 5
38 Eldorado No change
39 Wilshire Up 3
40 Pelican Hill (Ocean North) Down 6
41 Olympic Club (Ocean) Up 4
42 Pelican Hill (Ocean South) Down 3
43 La Costa (Champions) Up 1
44 Stanford University Down 1
45 Saddle Creek Up 1
46 Links at Spanish Bay Down 9
47 TPC Harding Park Up 2
48 Rancho Sante Fe No change
49 The Farms Up 12
50 PGA West (Nicklaus Private) Up 16
51 Granite Bay Up 1
52 Trump National - Los Angeles Down 11
53 Winchester Country Club New entry
54 Santa Ana Up 43
55 Lakeside Down 8
56 Claremont Down 2
57 Coyote Moon Down 7
58 Indian Wells (Players) Down 5
59 Hacienda Up 13
60 Hideaway (Clive Clark) New entry
61 Del Paso Up 23
62 Torrey Pines (North) Down 7
63 Pauma Valley Down 7
64 La Purisima Down 6
65 Bayonet & Black Horse (Bayonet) Down 1
66 Morgan Creek New entry
67 Pacific Grove Down 10
68 Shadow Ridge Down 8
69 Lake Merced Up 8
70 San Diego Down 8
71 Rolling Hills Down 6
72 Bighorn (Mountains) Down 21
73 Poppy Hills Down 14
74 Maderas Down 11
75 Reserve Club Down 8
76 Hillcrest New entry
77 PGA West (Palmer Private) Down 9
78 Ironwood (South) Up 3
79 Saticoy Up 10
80 Half Moon Bay (Ocean) Down 10
81 Soule Park Down 1
82 Wente Vineyards Up 8
83 Bear Creek Up 10
84 Desert Willow (Firecliff) Down 15
85 Dark Horse Down 10
86 Ojai Valley Inn Up 10
87 PGA West (Nicklaus Tournament) Up 4
88 Sandpiper Down 14
89 Silverado (North) Up 3
90 Andalusia New entry
91 Mission Hills (Pete Dye Challenge) Down 9
92 Annandale New entry
93 Desert Dunes Down 6
94 TPC Stonebrae Down 15
95 Orinda New entry
96 Olympic Club (Cliffs) Up 2
97 Ruby Hill New entry
98 Bayonet & Black Horse (Black Horse). Down 3
99 Olivas Links New entry
100 Indian Wells (Celebrity) Down 17


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


Hawaii

The David McLay Kidd-designed layout at Nanea Golf Club on the west coast of the Big Island remains the #1 course in Hawaii. Described in the past by our US Correspondent Fergal O’Leary as “the most under-rated course in the US,” Nanea received another review last year from somebody who said “it’s the best course you’ll ever play, next to Augusta”. Now that’s a very bold statement to make, but a handful of 6-ball reviews posted by golfers who have played here certainly adds credence to the claim.

Nanea Golf Club

Nanea Golf Club

Sixteen of the Top 30 move upwards in the new chart and the biggest four-place move is reserved for a couple of courses: the Ted Robinson layout at King Kamehameha Golf Club in the foothills of the West Maui Mountains (at #15) and Robin Nelson’s design at Puakea Golf Club on the southeast coast of Kauai island (at #23).

King Kamehameha Golf Club

King Kamehameha Golf Club

The only new entry into our chart is The Dunes at Maui Lani at #30. Robin Nelson designed this public facility at the end of the 1990s and because it’s set out on a long, narrow tract the fairways are orientated in either a northwest or southeast direction, with the prevailing wind cutting across the holes when it gets breezy, adding an extra degree of challenge when playing here.

The Dunes at Maui Lani

The Dunes at Maui Lani

The Robert Trent Jones Junior-designed Prince course at the Princeville resort on the North Shore of Kauai island is still closed while ownership issues continue to drag on (it's also in need of some repair work to storm-damaged sections of the layout). Once these matters are resolved, and the course is restored to its former glory, there’s no doubt it should slot back in near the top of the state rankings.

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


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


Oregon

There are no surprises at the top of the table in Oregon, with all four of the currently world-ranked courses at the Bandon Dunes resort retaining their ranking position in the chart. That means Tom Doak’s Pacific Dunes course holds onto the coveted No. 1 slot, though it will be interesting to see where Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw’s brand new Sheep Ranch layout slots into the resort’s pecking order when the next biennial review is conducted.

Bandon Dunes - Sheep Ranch

Bandon Dunes - Sheep Ranch

For now, at least, Pacific Dunes rules the roost on the Oregon coast, with M. James Ward an unabashed proponent of its majesty, as articulated in his review of last month: “When Tom Doak came forward in 2001 with his tour de force effort at the mega-course facility he actually exceeded all the fanfare that the original Bandon Dunes created… the phrase ‘must play’ is mouthed to the point of being a mindless cliché. However, in this particular case, it’s worthy on all counts.”

Two of the three new entries in the latest Oregon state listings are located at the same venue. The Craddock and Hankins courses at the Silvies Valley Ranch boutique eco-resort (new at #8 and #10) are part of a reversible 36-hole set-up that uses 27 greens for the two 18-hole layouts, with nine shared greens and nine stand-alone greens for each track. Designed by Dan Hixson and constructed over the best part of a decade, the two courses are configured so that only eight holes, four on each course, do not share common ground.

Silvies Valley Ranch - Craddock course

Silvies Valley Ranch - Craddock course

Only six courses make any numerical progress in the new chart and the biggest move is made by the 18-hole layout at the semi-private Eagle Point Golf Club (up three to #23), where Robert Trent Jones Jr. fashioned the fairways in the mid-1990s. The front nine occupies a flat, open landscape while the back nine is laid out on more undulating terrain, with sand-capping of fairways during construction ensuring optimum playing conditions no matter how hard it rains.

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


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


Washington

The top five courses in the Evergreen State rankings stay as they were in 2018. Having ousted Chambers Bay from the top spot last time, Gamble Sands emerges with its No. 1 status intact. With another 14-hole layout (called Quicksand) from David McLay Kidd due to appear here very soon, it looks like the Gebbers family (who own this Brewster golf facility) aren’t content to rest on their laurels.

Gamble Sands

Gamble Sands

Our International Correspondent David Davis had this to say about the course in his review last year: “The fairways are very wide but the visuals are excellent, the bunker shaping fits perfectly into the Eastern Washington dune country… It plays very firm and fast and that may be new for many PNW players, especially if they haven’t been to Bandon Dunes or Chambers Bay… It opens up options to use the ground game and percentage-wise this doesn’t happen often enough in the US.”

Two courses make impressive five-place gains in the new standings.

The first of these is the 18-hole layout at the Desert Canyon Golf Resort in Orondo (now at #11), comprising the Lakes and Desert nines, which enjoys a fantastic setting on high ground above the Columbia River, with the Cascade Mountains to the west. The other big mover is the course at Kalispel Golf & Country Club in Spokane and this layout, originally established in 1910 as Spokane Country Club, is now owned and operated by the Kalispel Tribe of Indians.

Sand Point Country Club

Sand Point Country Club

The highest of the ten new entries is the old 1927 layout at Sand Point Country Club, located above the shores of Lake Washington, close to downtown Seattle. Nick Schaan from DMK Design has just completed a renovation here, re-building some of the holes, re-bunkering all the sand traps, and removing many of the trees that were blocking the fabulous long views across the lake.

Rank/ Course Move
1 Gamble Sands No change
2 Chambers Bay No change
3 Wine Valley No change
4 Aldarra No change
5 Tumble Creek No change
6 Salish Cliffs Up 1
7 Palouse Ridge Up 1
8 Sahalee (South & North) Up 1
9 Seattle Down 3
10 Snoqualmie Ridge Up 1
11 Desert Canyon Up 5
12 Gold Mountain (Olympic) No change
13 Port Ludlow Up 2
14 Royal Oaks Down 4
15 Fircrest Down 2
16 Loomis Trail Down 2
17 White Horse Up 3
18 Suncadia (Prospector) Down 1
19 Tacoma No change
20 Sand Point New entry
21 Semiahmoo Down 3
22 Indian Canyon No change
23 The Home Course New entry
24 McCormick Woods Up 1
25 Kalispel Up 5
26 Overlake New entry
27 Creek at Qualchan Down 6
28 Washington National Down 4
29 Broadmoor New entry
30 Suncadia (Rope Rider) Down 4
31 Canterwood Down 8
32 Manito New entry
33 Gold Mountain (Cascade). New entry
34 Trophy Lake Down 7
35 Harbour Pointe New entry
36 Apple Tree Down 8
37 Inglewood Down 8
38 MeadowWood New entry
39 The Plateau New entry
40 Indian Summer New entry


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

Next up – the Mountain Division states of Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

Jim McCann
Editor
Top 100 Golf Courses