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US West South Central Division Best in State Rankings 2016

17 May, 2016
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US West South Central Division Best in State Rankings 2016

Four States in the South Region are updated in the third of nine US divisional revisions

We first established Best in State rankings for the United States four years ago so this is our second biennial update of those charts. In 2014, we revised the standings for the fifty States in four large geographical clusters which, on reflection, was perhaps a bit too unwieldy. This time, we’re spreading the work over nine district divisions and this announcement, our third in the 2016 reappraisal process, relates to the four West South Central States of Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas.

We’re also expanding the number of featured courses in nearly every American State. For instance, in this four-state division, we’ve almost doubled our coverage of courses, up from 80 to 155. In fairness, a large proportion of this increase occurs within the state of Texas, where our former Top 50 listings have now become a Top 100. In particular, the Lone Star State’s major cities of Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio all now boast increased numbers of private and public layouts.

Texas

Having risen one place to the state number 1 position last time around, Whispering Pines retains the top spot in our revised Texan listings. A new millennium track by Chett Williams of Nicklaus Design, the course is something of a testing ground for top amateur players. Our Argentina Correspondent Javier captained his national team in the club’s Spirit International Golf Championship a few years back, at a time when fellow competitors such as Martin Kaymer, Edoardo Molinari and Jason Day were about to embark on their professional careers.

Easing up one place to number 2, Colonial is where Ben Hogan played a lot of his early golf. A renowned tough track, the course has staged events on the PGA Tour for more than sixty years now and this original John Bredemus design has also hosted three major professional tournaments – the 1941 US Open, the 1975 Players Championship and the 1991 US Women’s Open.

A couple of 18-hole layouts in Dallas rise two places in our new chart: A.W. Tillinghast’s 1922 design at Brook Hollow, which was sympathetically renovated by Coore & Crenshaw in 1993, is at number 4 and Ralph Plummer’s mid-1960s course at the all-male Preston Trail Golf Club, where the Byron Nelson Championship was held from 1968 until 1982, now occupies the number 5 slot in our new listings.

Another two new millennium courses make impressive upward moves in the upper reaches of the new Texan Top 100. The first of these, Austin (up five to number 8), is another Coore & Crenshaw design that debuted in 2001, with two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw instrumental in the formation of the club. The other high flying climber is the strategically challenging course at Miramont Country Club (up six to number 12), where Robert Trent Jones Jnr routed no fewer than thirteen of the holes around water hazards.

The highest Texan new entry arrives at the lofty position of number 25 and it’s architect Mike Nuzzo’s first design at Wolf Point Golf Club. Built on a flat site close to Port Lavaca, the course was constructed with the assistance of Superintendent Don Mahaffey, who played a crucial role in its development. The property might lack dramatic topography but its designer was able to move small amounts of earth in localised areas to fashion greens and bunkers, thus adding golfing interest to the largely level terrain.

We're keeping a close eye on Tiger Woods' first 18-hole US design, which he fashioned with Beau Welling. Opened last month just outside Houston, Bluejack National was just a tad too young for us to include in our Texas rankings this time round. Next time, all bets are off.

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

Oklahoma

We’ve doubled our coverage of courses in the Sooner State, where we now feature a Top 20, and the Championship course at Southern Hills remains our number 1 track. Laid out by Perry Maxwell in the 1930s, this wonderful 18-hole layout has attracted three US Opens and four USPGA Championships down the years, along with half a dozen USGA national amateur events. The course is also ranked very highly in our US Top 100 chart and it was a new entry in our recently updated World Top 100 so it might be a while before its position as “Best in State” is threatened.

The only climber in our state chart is Oklahoma City Golf and Country Club, another Perry Maxwell design from the late 1920s, where lakes and creeks come into play at more than half of the tree-lined holes on the scorecard. Host to the1953 US Amateur Championship, the course has been altered and re-sequenced a little down the years but the length and routing remains intact since Gene Littler narrowly defeated Dale Morey in the Amateur final, more than sixty years ago.

The highest newcomer at number 9 is yet another Perry Maxwell track – the Tulsa-based architect is reckoned to have designed more than seventy courses and remodelled another fifty during his career – at Twin Hills Golf and Country Club, close to downtown Oklahoma City. Opened for play in 1923, the course was used for the USPGA Championships in 1935 and although the routing is still the same, there are unfortunately very few of the original Maxwell greens still in use today.

Rank/CourseMove
1Southern HillsNo change
2Oak Tree NationalNo change
3Karsten CreekNo change
4Oklahoma GCNo change
5PatriotNo change
6Oklahoma CityUp 4
7TerritoryNo change
8Oak Tree (West)No change
9Twin HillsNew entry
10Oak Tree (East)Down 4
11TulsaNew entry
12Dornick HillsNew entry
13Jimmie Austin New entry
14Forest RidgeNew entry
15Stillwater New entry
16Chickasaw PointeNew entry
17Cherokee HillsNew entry
18Cedar RidgeDown 9
19HillcrestNew entry
20Oaks Country ClubNew entry

Click the link to see full details of our 2016 Oklahoma Best in State rankings

Louisiana

We’ve added another ten tracks to our Louisiana state listings, where Squire Creek holds onto its number 1 status. A Tom Fazio layout that debuted in 2002, the course occupies a central position within a large residential development where native grasses attractively frame the fairways. Wetland areas, small lakes and creeks threaten on occasion but the aquatic element is never too penal.

The highest new entry in our newly extended state Top 20 arrives at number 8 and it’s English Turn, a late 1980s Jack Nicklaus design. The course hosted the New Orleans Open seven times between 1989 and 2006 and it’s recognised as a testing layout, which is no surprise when you consider that water comes into play at each and every one of the eighteen holes on the scorecard.

Rank/CourseMove
1Squire CreekNo change
2Country Club of LouisianaNo change
3The BluffsNo change
4TPC LouisianaUp 1
5OakbourneDown 1
6Black BearNo change
7Gray PlantationNo change
8English TurnNew entry
9Contraband BayouNew entry
10Southern TraceDown 2
11Carter PlantationDown 2
12Koasati PinesNew entry
13Baton Rouge CCNew entry
14Atchafalaya at IdlewildDown 4
15Tamahka TrailsNew entry
16LaTour New entry
17Audubon ParkNew entry
18University Club of Baton RougeNew entry
19MetairieNew entry
20Country Club at Golden NuggetNew entry

Click the link to see full details of our 2016 Louisiana Best in State rankings

Arkansas

The Arkansas state chart has been extended to a Top 15, which means we’ve added an extra five courses in this revision. Our number 1 in the Natural State is still Alotian, a new millennium offering from Tom Fazio. Laid out across three hundred acres of a hilly, wooded landscape near Little Rock, the course is the private golfing playground of a billionaire investment banker who spent a sizeable chunk of his wealth having a dream course built to exacting standards – the owner is also a member of Augusta National and a number of holes here are said to resemble some on the other, more famous, layout.

The highest new entry at number 4 on the new state chart is the Arlington course at the 36-hole Hot Springs Country Club, an old Bill Diddel course that was lovingly reworked by Coore & Crenshaw in the mid-1990s. Such was the attention paid to detail at that time, old drawings were used as a point of reference to ensure the accurate restoration of greens back to their original size and location.

Rank/CourseMove
1AlotianNo change
2BlessingsNo change
3DiamanteUp 2
4Hot Springs (Arlington)New entry
5Pleasant Valley (Blue & Yellow)Down 2
6Little RockUp 4
7Chenal (Bear Den Mountain)Down 3
8Chenal (Founders)Down 2
9TexarkanaDown 1
10Pinnacle CCNew entry
11Big CreekNew entry
12HardscrabbleDown 5
13Hot Springs (Park)New entry
14Thunder BayouNew entry
15Mountain RanchDown 6

Click the link to see full details of our 2016 Arkansas Best in State rankings

We’re always keen to know what you think about our re-rankings so please feel free to share your opinion of our four newly updated US Best in State charts. Which course did we leave out or perhaps there’s one listed that really shouldn’t be there? Maybe we’ve ranked a layout too highly or perhaps there’s one sitting too far down its state chart? Whatever your impressions are, please click the “Respond to this article” link at the top or at the bottom of this page to share your thoughts.

Jim McCann
Editor
Top 100 Golf Courses

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