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US West North Central Division Best in State Rankings 2016

08 June, 2016

US West North Central Division Best in State Rankings 2016

Seven States in our Midwest Region are re-evaluated in the sixth of nine US divisional updates

We’re now well into our Best in State re-ranking process for the United States of America, where we’ve been re-evaluating courses across nine district divisions. This article – the sixth of our 2016 US reviews – reports on the seven Midwest “Farm Belt” states of Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota, covering a geographical area of just over half a million square miles.

The number of courses that we feature in the USA is also being increased, and this expansion of our coverage will be reflected across nearly every state in the country. For example, in this seven-state West North Central division, we’re adding thirty-five new courses across five of the states and this augmentation from 90 to 125 represents an enlargement of more than a third.


We’ve added ten new courses to our Minnesota chart, where seven of the top ten positions remain exactly the same as last time around. The two nationally ranked courses at the top of our North Star State listings swap positions, with the century-old Willie Watson-designed Interlachen course (currently number 81 in our US Top 100) replaced by a Donald Ross layout of a similar vintage at White Bear Yacht Club (rising twenty-four places to number 73 in our US Top 100).

A recent reviewer of our new state number 1 called it “the most underrated and under-appreciated Donald Ross course in the country.” He went on to say: “The most distinctive feature of this course is the dramatically rumpled fairways. I can’t even imagine how this course was built a century ago; it’s just a testament to the mastermind who signed off on the layout.”

The highest climber in the state chart is Minneapolis (up five places to number 10), a 100-year old Willie Park Jnr track (subsequently redesigned by Donald Ross) that hosted the USPGA Championship in 1959. The highest Minnesotan new entry is North Oaks (at number 20), which was the last course that Stanley Thompson built outside his native Canada in 1951.


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


We’ve also added another five layouts to our chart for the Hawkeye State of Iowa, where Harvester remains in the same number one position it has occupied since we established state lists in 2012. The course is a new millennium offering from Keith Foster and he returned a decade after it opened to renovate bunkers, alter tees and add stone wall edgings to Lake Harvester, which plays a prominent part in proceedings at the end of each nine.

Spirit Hollow rises three places to number 3 and it’s an early 1990s design from Rick Jacobsen, who is said to have got the commission to build the course because he was the only one of three architects interviewed by owner Randy Winegard who had the temerity to tell the proprietor his design wasn’t up to much. The Tournament Club of Iowa is the only Arnold Palmer Signature course to exist in the state and it’s the highest newcomer in our revised listings at number 8.

1HarvesterNo change
2WakondaUp 1
3Spirit HollowUp 3
4Des Moines (South)No change
5Glen OaksDown 3
6Blue Top Ridge at RiversideUp 2
7DavenportDown 2
8Tournament Club of IowaNew entry
9Preserve on Rathbun LakeNew entry
10Hunters RidgeNew entry
11Des Moines (North)Down 4
12Cedar RapidsDown 3
13Amana ColoniesDown 3
14Bos LandenNew entry
15Brooks (Mounds & Val Brooks)New entry

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


The number of courses in our chart for the Show Me State of Missouri has been doubled, so we’ve added ten tracks to form a new Top 20. St Louis returns to the top of the chart after Bellerive ousted the old classic from that position when we last re-ranked in 2014. The architects of this Midwest masterpiece back in the early 1910s were none other than Charles Blair Macdonald and Seth Raynor, the team who designed the National Golf Links of America, and they would go on to collaborate on around a dozen top drawer courses, including Piping Rock and Yale.

The most significant upward move in the new listings (up three to number 7) comes from Branson Hills (formerly known as Payne Stewart Golf Club) where creeks, rocky outcrops, woodlands and waterfalls come into play on a course intended to honour all the great Missouri golfers of the past. The highest newcomer arrives at number 9 and it’s the Club at Porto Cima, a forested Jack Nicklaus Signature course routed around the Lake of the Ozarks, which we previously featured as a gem.

1St LouisUp 1
2BelleriveDown 1
3DalhousieNo change
4Boone ValleyUp 1
5Old WarsonDown 1
6Buffalo Ridge SpringsNo change
7Branson Hills Up 3
8St Albans (Lewis & Clark)No change
9Porto CimaNew entry
10St Albans (Tavern Creek)Down 3
11Old KinderhookDown 2
12Shoal CreekNew entry
13Fox RunNew entry
14National GC of Kansas CityNew entry
15Swope MemorialNew entry
16Norwood Hills (West)New entry
17Country Club at The Legends (18-hole)New entry
18Tiffany GreensNew entry
19Persimmon WoodsNew entry
20LedgeStoneNew entry

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


The Sunflower State of Kansas has been enlarged to now feature a Top 15 chart, where Prairie Dunes comfortably holds onto its number 1 status. That’s hardly a surprise, right enough, when you consider the course currently sits at number 29 in our World Top 100 chart.

Perry Maxwell built the first nine holes here in 1937 before his son Press seamlessly added another nine holes two decades later and this jewel of a links-style course has hosted two major competitions since the start of the new century – the 2002 US Women’s Open and the 2006 US Senior Open.

Chart positions 2, 3 and 4 remain as they were before Firekeeper appears at number 5, rising five places from its former number 10 slot. Designed by Notah Begay III – the only full-blooded Native American on the PGA Tour – in association with architect Jeff Brauer, this course is set within an enormous property owned by the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation.

1Prairie DunesNo change
2Flint Hills NationalNo change
3Kansas CityNo change
4Shadow GlenNo change
5FirekeeperUp 5
6Colbert HillsNo change
7Wolf CreekNo change
8HallbrookDown 3
9Sand Creek StationNo change
10Buffalo DunesNew entry
11Sycamore RidgeNew entry
12SouthwindDown 4
13Prairie HighlandsNew entry
14MilburnNew entry
15Mission Hills CCNew entry

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


The Cornhusker State listings have been extended to a Top 15, which means we’ve added an extra five courses in this revision. Still the state number 1, Sand Hills is a mid-1990s Coore & Crenshaw creation that many believe to be the most natural course built in the country in over a hundred years. Occupying an immense 8,000-acre property, the biggest problem for the architects was deciding which 18 holes to choose from over 130 they had identified as possibilities.

Soaring into the new Nebraskan chart as a new entry at number 2, the Red course at Dismal River has only been opened for three years but it’s already made its mark as a nationally ranked layout, entering our recent US Top 100 at number 97. Designed in Tom Doak’s own inimitable minimalist style, this course is a more than worthy companion for the Jack Nicklaus-designed White course which opened at the same location in 2006.

1Sand HillsNo change
2Dismal River (Red)New entry
3Prairie Club (Dunes)Up 1
4Wild HorseDown 2
5OmahaUp 1
6Firethorn (North & South)Down 1
7Dismal River (White)Down 4
8Prairie Club (Pines)No change
9BaysideUp 1
10ArborLinksDown 1
11Quarry OaksDown 4
12Champions RunNew entry
13Players Club (Palmer Championship)New entry
14Iron HorseNew entry
15Awarii DunesNew entry

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

South Dakota

The number of courses in our Mount Rushmore State chart remains unchanged at ten. There are quite a lot of small moves within the new table, with only two courses remaining in the same position as last time. Sutton Bay is one of those non-movers, retaining the top spot in the state standings, and this cliff top inland links is a new millennium track fashioned by Graham Marsh which enjoys fabulous views across Lake Oahe from many of the fairways.

The course at Minnehaha Country Club climbs two places to number 4. Golf has been played at the club for just over a hundred years now but the course has been renovated a number of times down the years, allowing members to celebrate the club’s centenary in some style. With Willow Run dropping out of the state chart, it’s replaced at number 10 by a mid-1990s course called The Bluffs, which is a well-regarded upscale public facility with water in play at seven of the holes.

1Sutton BayNo change
2Red RockUp 1
3Dakota DunesDown 1
4MinnehahaUp 2
5Hart RanchDown 1
6Prairie GreenUp 2
7Southern HillsNo change
8MeadowbrookDown 3
9The BluffsNew entry
10HillcrestDown 1

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

North Dakota

We retain a chart of ten courses for the Roughrider State, where the top four positions stay exactly the same as they were when we last re-ranked twenty-four months ago. That means Hawktree is still the number 1 course in North Dakota, and this contemporary late 1990s Jim Engh design is probably most famous for the black “sand” (actually recycled coal slag) that’s used in its bunkers.

The 18-hole courses at Fargo Country Club and Riverwood and the 9-hole layout at Medicine Hole each move up one place in the new standings (to positions 5, 6 and 8 respectively) whilst Souris Valley makes way for another Jim Engh design at number 10, Minot Country Club, which the architect laid out for the club after ruinous flooding wiped out its old course in 2011.

1HawktreeNo change
2Links of North DakotaNo change
3Bully PulpitNo change
4King's WalkNo change
5FargoUp 1
6RiverwoodUp 1
7OxbowDown 2
8Medicine HoleUp 1
9EdgewoodDown 1
10MinotNew entry

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

We always like to hear from you when we carry out a re-ranking exercise so please share your thoughts to let us know what you think about our seven newly updated US Best in State charts. What did we get right or, maybe more importantly, where did we go wrong? Whatever your opinion is, please click the “Respond to this article” link at the top or at the bottom of this page to let us know your views.

Jim McCann
Top 100 Golf Courses


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