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US South Atlantic Division Best in State Rankings 2016

29 May, 2016

US South Atlantic Division Best in State Rankings 2016

Another eight States in our South Region are revised in the fifth of nine US divisional updates

We’ve now reached the halfway mark in our Best in State biennial re-ranking process for the United States of America. In 2014, we conducted this exercise in four phases, looking at states in the geographical groupings of West, South, Midwest and North East.

This time around, we’re spreading the reappraisals across nine district divisions and this re-ranking announcement (the fifth of our 2016 US reviews) covers the eight South Atlantic states of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Delaware.

We’re also increasing our coverage across almost every state in the country. For example, in this eight-state South Atlantic division, we’re adding seventy new courses, which means we now feature a total of 375 ranked courses for the states under scrutiny.


We maintain a Top 100 chart for the Sunshine State of Florida, which might appear to be rather a lot of courses to feature in just one state but in actual fact it represents less than 10% of the overall number of courses within post-war America’s golfing capital. Miami and Palm Beach were once the main state hotspots for golf but Orlando, the Panhandle and Naples have witnessed unprecedented growth in the last thirty years.

The top six positions in our Florida listings remain exactly the same as last time around, with five of these courses nationally ranked in what is a very strong golfing region. That means the Donald Ross layout at Seminole remains the number 1 course and a recent reviewer, alluding to its difficulty, had this to say about it: “Like a number of great courses, Seminole might be a bit much for anyone but expert golfers to play regularly. But the opportunity to play here should not be missed.”

Three courses make significant upward moves at the top end of the chart. The first of these is Mountain Lake (up twelve to 8), a wonderful old Seth Reynor gem from 1917 that’s peppered with several typical template holes. The next big climber is the West course at John’s Island (up eight to 11), which is a terrific late 1980s Tom Fazio track, located within a smart 54-hole private club. The third track is the Blue Monster at Trump National Doral (up five to 17), where Gil Hanse carried out a much-admired renovation in 2013.


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


We’ve added ten courses to our chart for the Peach State of Georgia, where Augusta National retains its position at the top of the standings. For 99.99% of golfers, it’s just a pipe dream to play here but one of the Top 100 Team did just that a few years back and if you haven’t read Fergal O’Leary’s story before then click this link. Meantime, and back to this year’s Masters tournament, who would have dreamt it would all start to unravel for the defending champion at the short par three 12th on the last day, allowing an Englishman to overtake him and eventually win the event by three shots…

The Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw resort course at Cuscowilla is almost twenty years old but it’s still one of their earlier projects. Situated to the east of Atlanta, on the shores of Lake Oconee, this very natural looking layout just appears to improve with age, maturing into one of the finest tracks in the South Atlantic Region, which is reflected in its latest upward chart movement, rising three places to number 3.

The highest newcomer to the revised chart at number 20 is Cobblestone, a top trending track where twelve of its holes were routed alongside Lake Acworth by Ken Dye back in 1993. Owned by Cobb County and operated as a municipal facility, the course is one of the most popular public golf complexes in the North Atlanta region.

1Augusta NationalNo change
2PeachtreeNo change
3CuscowillaUp 3
4Sea Island (Seaside)No change
5East LakeDown 2
6Atlanta Athletic Club (Highlands)Down 1
7Atlanta Country ClubUp 1
8Ocean ForestDown 1
9Lookout MountainUp 1
10Hawks RidgeDown 1
11The FarmUp 1
12Reynolds on Lake Oconee (Great Waters)Up 1
13Augusta Country ClubUp 1
14Ansley (Settindown Creek)Down 3
15Ford Plantation Up 5
16Atlanta Athletic Club (Riverside)Down 1
17Georgia (Lakeside)Up 5
18CurraheeNo change
19Champions Retreat (Bluff & Island)Down 3
20CobblestoneNew entry
21Reynolds on Lake Oconee (Oconee)Down 2
22Reynolds on Lake Oconee (National)Down 5
23FredericaUp 3
24Harbor ClubNew entry
25River ClubDown 2
26Sea Island (Plantation)Up 1
27TPC Sugarloaf (Stables & Meadows)Down 6
28Cherokee Town (North)New entry
29RivermontNew entry
30Piedmont Driving ClubNew entry
31Standard ClubDown 6
32Country Club of the SouthNew entry
33Reynolds on Lake Oconee (The Landing)New entry
34Barnsley GardensDown 6
35Kinderlou ForestNew entry
36Brickyard at RiversideDown 12
37Savannah HarborDown 8
38Sea Island (Retreat)New entry
39University of GeorgiaDown 9
40Reynolds on Lake Oconee (Creek Club)New entry

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

South Carolina

We’ve increased the number of courses in our chart for the Palmetto State of South Carolina by 50%, adding another twenty-five tracks to form a Top 75. The Ocean course at the Kiawah Island Resort remains as the number 1 golfing layout in the state and it also sits comfortably within our US Top 100 and World Top 100 charts so don’t expect to see it knocked off the top perch anytime in the near future. The last review for this layout sums up its allure: “the setting in the South Carolina Atlantic Dunes is exceptional, stirs human emotions and presents natural conditions that make the course even more complex and challenging.”

The next two courses in our state chart swap places, with Seth Reynor’s 1926 classic at Yeamans Hall dropping one place to number 3, with Harbour Town Golf Links at the Sea Pines Resort leapfrogging over it into the runner-up position. Host to the Heritage Classic on the PGA Tour since 1972, the course underwent a major renovation last year, when tees and fairways were replaced with Celebration Bermuda grass and greens were re-grassed with Tif-Eagle Bermuda.

A couple of other courses make strong strides up the new table: May River (up five to number 10), which our Canadian correspondent Dave Finn played last year – “Nicklaus gently created a masterpiece with minimal disturbance to the existing property yet maximum impact by using the existing live oak trees and the May River as his canvas” – and Old Tabby Links (up six to number 14), where Arnold Palmer upgraded the course in 2012, two decades after his original design was first unveiled.

1Kiawah Island (Ocean)No change
2Harbour TownUp 1
3Yeamans HallDown 1
4Sage ValleyNo change
5Long CoveNo change
6SecessionNo change
7Dunes Golf & Beach ClubUp 1
8Greenville (Chanticleer)Down 1
9Kiawah Island Club (Cassique)Up 1
10May RiverUp 5
11PalmettoDown 2
12CaledoniaUp 4
13Chechesee CreekUp 1
14Old Tabby LinksUp 6
15Musgrove MillDown 4
16Colleton River Plantation (Nicklaus)Up 2
17Country Club of CharlestonDown 5
18Colleton River Plantation (Pete Dye)Up 1
19Briar's CreekDown 6
20Cliffs at Keowee VineyardsUp 1
21Kiawah Island Club (River)Down 4
22Haig Point (Rees Jones Signature)Up 1
23Bulls BayDown 1
24Cliffs at Mountain ParkNew entry
25Reserve at Lake KeoweeDown 1
26Cherokee PlantationUp 11
27TidewaterDown 1
28Wachesaw PlantationUp 7
29TPC Myrtle BeachDown 2
30Belfair (West)Down 5
31True Blue PlantationDown 3
32Belfair (East)Down 2
33Grande Dunes (Resort Club)Down 2
34Cliffs at Keowee FallsDown 2
35Cliffs at Keowee SpringsUp 5
36Camden Country ClubUp 9
37Cliffs at GlassyDown 4
38Berkeley Hall (North)New entry
39Daniel Island (Beresford Creek)New entry
40Wild Dunes (Links)Down 6
41Barefoot Resort (Love)Down 5
42DeBordieu ClubDown 4
43Daniel Island (Ralston Creek)Down 14
44Country Club of SpartanburgNew entry
45Legends (Heathland) New entry
46Barefoot Resort (Fazio)Down 7
47Myrtle Beach National (King's North)Up 2
48Berkeley Hall (South)New entry
49Heron Point by Pete Dye at Sea PinesDown 7
50Legends (Heritage)Down 3
51Barefoot Resort (Dye)Down 10
52Florence CCNew entry
53Reserve at Pawleys IslandDown 10
54ThornbladeDown 10
55Kiawah Island (Osprey Point)New entry
56Wexford PlantationNew entry
57Arcadian ShoresNew entry
58Pawleys PlantationDown 12
59Glen Dornoch WaterwayNew entry
60Melrose ResortDown 12
61Country Club of South CarolinaDown 11
62Greenville (Riverside)New entry
63OldfieldNew entry
64Dataw Island (Cotton Dike)New entry
65Legends (Moorland)New entry
66Pine LakesNew entry
67WindermereNew entry
68Mount Vintage Plantation (Chester & Vintage)New entry
69Indigo RunNew entry
70Surf Golf & Beach ClubNew entry
71Country Club at Woodcreek FarmsNew entry
72Cross Creek PlantationNew entry
73Kiawah Island (Turtle Point)New entry
74AikenNew entry
75Callawassie Island (Dogwood & Magnolia)New entry

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

North Carolina

The Tar Heel State chart has been augmented with another ten courses so we now feature a Top 60 for North Carolina, where Pinehurst (No.2) remains the number 1 track. A recent reviewer had this to say about the course: “I had never played it pre Coore & Crenshaw renovation but can imagine that the course that’s there now is a huge improvement… from an architectural perspective it’s sheer genius with some of the most interesting greens you may ever see, coupled with great strategy off the tee and plenty of width to increase playability.”

Old Town leaps seven places to number 3 in the state rankings (it was also a new entry in the US Top 100 at #49 six months ago) and the words of a recent reviewer might at least partly explain its meteoric ascent: “Want to make a huge impact on the world of golf? Take a place that’s desperately in need of some serious renovation… have the means to bring in the dynamic duo of Coore & Crenshaw on a wonderful property with the bones of Perry Maxwell. Talk about a formula for success and a poster-child for the golf industry of how to hit a homerun!”

Three other courses making impressive moves in the upper reaches of the chart are worthy of mention: Tobacco Road (up five to 9) is Mike Stanz’s audacious and highly original late 1990s creation, Roaring Gap (up thirteen to 12) is an old Donald Ross design that was recently restored by Kris Spence, and Mid Pines (up twenty to 17), is another 1920s Ross layout which received the restorative attention of Kyle Franz in 2013.

1Pinehurst (No.2)No change
2Wade HamptonNo change
3Old TownUp 7
4GrandfatherUp 3
5Quail HollowNo change
6CharlotteUp 2
7Diamond CreekDown 3
8Dormie ClubUp 1
9Tobacco RoadUp 5
10MountaintopDown 4
11Pine NeedlesNo change
12Roaring GapUp 13
13Forest Creek (South)Up 3
14Eagle PointDown 11
15Forest Creek (North)Down 3
16North Carolina (Dogwood)Down 1
17Mid Pines ClubUp 20
18Champion HillsDown 5
19Pinehurst (No.4)No change
20Hope Valley CCNew entry
21Biltmore ForestDown 1
22Cliffs at Walnut CoveDown 5
23Bright's CreekDown 2
24Old North StateUp 3
25Carolina GCUp 16
26Linville GCUp 2
27Cape Fear Country ClubUp 3
28Pinehurst (No.8)Down 10
29Highlands Country ClubDown 7
30SedgefieldDown 2
31Rock Barn (Robert Trent Jones Jnr)Down 8
32Tanglewood Park (Championship)New entry
33Trump National - Charlotte Down 1
34Linville RidgeDown 8
35Ocean Ridge Plantation (Leopard's Chase)Down 6
36RaleighNew entry
37Southern PinesUp 13
38Wilmington MunicipleNew entry
39Country Club of Landfall (Dye)Down 5
40Duke UniversityUp 2
41Tot Hill FarmDown 2
42Pinehurst (No.7)Up 6
43Ocean Ridge Plantation (Tiger's Eye)Down 5
44Irish CreekDown 4
45Pinehurst (No.9)New entry
46Rivers EdgeDown 3
47Grove Park InnNo change
48Pinehurst (No.6)New entry
49CardinalDown 18
50Sequoyah NationalNew entry
51TPC at Wakefield PlantationDown 18
52TreyburnDown 17
53Peninsula ClubNew entry
54North Carolina (Cardinal)Down 18
55Old ChathamDown 11
56LongviewDown 11
57Legends (Oyster Bay)Down 11
58UNC FinleyDown 9
59Bald Head IslandNew entry
60Cape Fear NationalNew entry

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


The Old Dominion state listings have been extended to a Top 40, which means we’ve added ten extra courses in this revision. Still the state number 1, the Kinloch course was host venue for the US Senior Men’s Amateur Championship in 2011. It’s a new millennium co-design from Lester George and Vinny Giles that’s routed around a 70-acre lake, with an additional par three 19th hole intended as a tie-breaker.

Two courses make modest upward moves at the top end of the chart: Robert Trent Jones (up one place to number 3), where four of the first six Presidents Cup matches were held from 1994 to 2005, and Olde Farm (up one spot to number 4), which is a Bobby Weed design that opened for play in 2000. The highest new entry arrives at number 22 and it’s Foundry, a fine walking golfer’s course that’s complemented by an excellent caddie program.

1KinlochNo change
2Homestead (Cascades)No change
3Robert Trent JonesUp 1
4Olde FarmUp 1
5Highland at PrimlandDown 2
6BallyhackNo change
7Golden Horseshoe (Gold)Up 1
8Trump National (Championship)Up 3
9VirginianDown 2
10Spring CreekUp 2
11Country Club of Virginia (James River)Up 4
12Farmington (North & South)Up 2
13Kingsmill (River)Down 4
14Tradition Club (Royal New Kent)Up 3
15Mattaponi SpringsDown 2
16Hermitage (Manakin)No change
17Trump National (River)Up 1
18Creighton FarmsUp 6
19Bay Creek (Nicklaus)Down 9
20Pete Dye River Course of Virginia TechDown 1
21Poplar GroveNo change
22The FoundryNew entry
23Potomac ShoresNew entry
24Laurel HillDown 6
25Keswick Golf ClubNew entry
26Bay Creek (Palmer)Down 6
27ViniterraNew entry
28RiverfrontDown 5
29Independence (Championship)Down 1
30BayvilleDown 5
31Golden Horseshoe (Green)Down 9
32StonewallDown 6
33King CarterDown 6
34Lansdowne (Norman)Down 5
35Magnolia GreenNew entry
36Hermitage (Sabot)New entry
371757 Golf ClubNew entry
38Raspberry FallsNew entry
39BirdwoodNew entry
40Blue Ridge ShadowsNew entry

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

West Virginia

The number of courses in our Mountain State of West Virginia chart has been increased by 50% to fifteen. There’s not much movement within the new table, indeed all of the top five courses remain in the same position as last time, meaning that Pete Dye retains the top spot in the state standings. There’s a quite a story attached to the length of time it took to convert the site of an old coal mine into a championship golf course – suffice to say its esteemed architect is not short of stamina!

The highest new entry of the five state newcomers is the Meadows course at the famous Greenbriar Resort. Originally called “Lakeside,” it opened as a 9-hole layout in 1911, was subsequently expanded to an 18-hole course by Dick Wilson in 1962, then redesigned by Bob Cupp in 1999, when it was also given its current name.

1Pete DyeNo change
2Pikewood NationalNo change
3Greenbriar (Old White)No change
4Greenbriar Sporting Club (Snead)No change
5Stonewall ResortNo change
6Glade Springs (Stonehaven)Up 1
7Glade Springs (Cobb)Up 1
8Greenbriar (Greenbriar)Down 2
9Williams Country ClubUp 1
10Raven at Snowshoe MountainDown 1
11Greenbriar (Meadows)New entry
12Canaan ValleyNew entry
13Oglebay (Palmer)New entry
14CacaponNew entry
15Twisted GunNew entry

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


Things are rather static in the Old Line State of Maryland – where five courses have been added to its ranking chart – with the top six positions all staying exactly as they were when we last re-ranked in 2014. Baltimore (East) is therefore the state number 1 and it’s a course with a stellar tournament pedigree, having hosted the USPGA Championship (1928), US Amateur (1932), Walker Cup (1965), Women’s US Open (1988) and three US Senior Players Championships (2007-9).

The only course to make a positive move within the state Top 10 is the century-old layout at Chevy Chase Country Club. Originally designed by Donald Ross in 1910, the course was rebuilt by Harry Colt’s associate, C.H. Alison, in 1922. A reworking of the greens and bunkers by Arthur Hills in the late 1990s has given this parkland track a new lease of life.

1Baltimore (East)No change
2Congressional (Blue)No change
3Caves ValleyNo change
4Bulle RockNo change
5ColumbiaNo change
6Congressional (Gold)No change
7Chevy Chase ClubUp 6
8Four StreamsDown 1
9Burning TreeDown 1
10Lighthouse SoundNo change
11Whiskey CreekDown 2
12TPC PotomacDown 1
13LodestoneUp 1
14Country Club at WoodmoreDown 2
15Lake PresidentialUp 2
16BethesdaDown 1
17Rocky Gap LodgeUp 1
18Rum PointeUp 2
19River MarshNo change
20Woodmont (North)Up 5
21Maryland NationalUp 3
22Queenstown Harbor (River)No change
23Musket RidgeNew entry
24WoodholmeDown 8
25Queenstown Harbor (Lakes)New entry
26Worthington ManorNew entry
27Eagle's LandingDown 6
28Swan PointDown 5
29GreystoneNew entry
30Country Club of MarylandNew entry

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


The First State of Delaware has been expanded to a Top 15 chart, with the South course at Wilmington Country Club holding onto the top spot. Designed by Robert Trent Jones Snr, it’s the longer and tougher of two 18-tracks that opened with a year of each other at the club in the early 1960s. The club has since hosted the US Amateur (1971), two US Junior Amateur Championships (1965 and 1978), the US Girls’ Junior Amateur (1978) and the US Mid-Amateur (2003) so its commitment to the non-professional game can hardly be questioned.

Steaming up four places to the runner-up position, the course at Bidermann is a Dick Wilson design from 1965 which is shared by two clubs, Vicmead Hunt and Bidermann, located within a few miles of each other. With a combined membership of only around three hundred people, tee times are not required on a course that sees less than eight thousand rounds a year.

1Wilmington (South)No change
2BidermannUp 4
3Bayside ResortDown 1
4Baywood Greens (Woodside & Waterside)No change
5The PeninsulaDown 2
6Wilmington (North)Down 1
7FieldstoneNo change
8DuPont (DuPont)No change
9DeerfieldNew entry
10Back CreekDown 1
11White Clay CreekDown 1
12Heritage ShoresNew entry
13DuPont (Nemours)New entry
14Bear Trap Dunes (Grizzly & Black Bear)New entry
15Maple DaleNew entry

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

We’re always keen at Top100 to get feedback about our re-rankings so please let us know what you think about our eight newly updated US Best in State charts. Are there any other courses that deserve to be included or is there one or two that really shouldn’t be listed? Whatever your thoughts are, please click the “Respond to this article” link at the top or at the bottom of this page to share your opinion.

Jim McCann
Top 100 Golf Courses


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