2006: Rising Stars - Golfweek's best new courses
By Bradley S. Klein
There’s nothing more exciting in course architecture than playing
a newly opened course for the
first time. Such a trek elicits a pioneer’s sensibility and fuels endless 19th-hole debates.
Even with the number of annual U.S. new course openings falling to one-third of their volume five or six years ago, there’s plenty of innovative work being done. In our annual rundown of Golfweek’s Best New Courses, we’re showcasing the finest examples from the class of courses that came on line in 2004-05.
Topping the chart is Bandon Trails, designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw and saddled with impossible expectations because its neighbors at Bandon Dunes, Pacific Dunes and Bandon Dunes
(No. 2 and No. 9, respectively, on the Golfweek Modern list), were instant classics the day they opened for play.
Bandon Trails doesn’t sit on the Pacific Ocean like its siblings, instead wending its way from dunesland through meadow into classic Pacific Northwest parkland and back again. Along the way, golfers are treated to firm, fescue fairways and greens, all with the kind of inventive yet natural contours that have come to typify the Coore-Crenshaw style.
They achieve it not through manufacturing shapes with bulldozers but by finding the best native slopes. The only way to do that is by determining the best natural routing. In an era when too many designers are rushing things along to fit their road warrior schedules, Coore and Crenshaw take an old-fashioned approach.
“The most important thing you need for a golf course,” says Coore, “is to take your time.”
There’s a lesson here: Architects and owners too often wreck good sites when taking time would have produced a better routing, better feature work and a stronger grow-in.
Fescue fairways are notoriously slow to establish. Giving the course time to mature is what led the developers of another Coore-Crenshaw design, Old Sandwich Golf Club, in Plymouth, Mass. – our No. 2 Best New layout – to wait
an extra year before opening. The delay was worthwhile; now the fescue turf accommodates members who want to play the ground game.
Our Best New list covers a lot of ground – 28 states in all. Not surprisingly, the Western Sunbelt states of California (six courses) and Arizona (four) top the geographical list for most new layouts on our roster. But there were a few surprises. Connecticut, which has notoriously stringent permitting laws and for decades hardly saw any new layouts, has three on our list. Two of them, both by Rees Jones, are at the Foxwoods Casino’s Lake of Isles facility in North Stonington, where the private membership South Course
(No. 32) and the public-access North Course (No. 36) both amble through rugged, rocky and wetlands-laden New England terrain. The state
also is home to our No. 49 selection, Oxford Greens Golf Club, by a talented young designer named Mark Mungeam.
Perennial powerhouse designers have the
most courses on our Best New list, led by Jack Nicklaus (seven courses) and Tom Fazio (five), followed by Pete Dye (four), Michael Hurdzan (three) and Rees Jones (three). But you don’t
have to be a flagship designer to make an impact in the new course market, not even when it
comes to selling home lots. Witness Mungeam,
or veteran Tulsa, Okla.-based land planner
and designer Randy Heckenkemper, whose private club and real estate layout, The Territory (No. 10), is turning heads in Duncan, Okla.
Great new golf courses turn up in some unlikely places. Michigan’s Upper Peninsula isn’t exactly a golf destination – not yet, anyway. But the Mike DeVries-designed Greywalls Golf Club (No. 18) in Marquette, with spectacular views of Lake Superior, might just be enough to draw curious players up there. It’s what the pioneering spirit of golf travel is all about.
Course- Location- Designer- Opened- Type- Points
- Bandon Trails Bandon, Ore. Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw 2005 Resort 7.85
- Old Sandwich Golf Club Plymouth, Mass. Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw 2004 Private 7.50
- Trump National Golf Club Bedminster, N.J. Tom Fazio 2004 Private 7.11
- Lakota Canyon Ranch Golf Club New Castle, Colo. Jim Engh 2005 Daily fee, real estate 7.10
- Boston Golf Club Hingham, Mass. Gil Hanse 2005 Private 7.09
- Forest Creek Golf Club – North Course Southern Pines, N.C. Tom Fazio 2005 Private, real estate 6.83
- Pronghorn Club – Nicklaus Course Bend, Ore. Jack Nicklaus 2004 Private 6.66
- May River Course at Palmetto Bluff Bluffton, S.C. Jack Nicklaus 2004 Resort, real estate 6.63
- Stone Eagle Golf Club Palm Desert, Calif. Tom Doak 2005 Private 6.60
- The Territory Duncan, Okla. Randy Heckenkemper 2005 Private, real estate 6.60
- Whisper Rock Golf Club – Upper Course Scottsdale, Ariz. Tom Fazio 2005 Private 6.58
- Currahee Club Toccoa, Ga. Jim Fazio 2004 Private, real estate 6.58
- The Snead White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. Tom Fazio 2004 Private 6.53
- 3 Creek Ranch Jackson, Wyo. Rees Jones 2005 Private, real estate 6.50
- Members Club at Grande Dunes Myrtle Beach, S.C. Nick Price & Craig Schreiner 2005 Private, real estate 6.50
- The Blessing Johnson, Ark. Robert Trent Jones Jr. 2004 Private 6.44
- Morgan Creek Golf & Country Club Roseville, Calif. Kyle Phillips 2004 Private 6.33
- Greywalls Golf Course Marquette, Mich. Mike Devries 2005 Daily fee 6.30
- Shelter Harbor Golf Club Westerly, R.I. Dana Fry & Michael Hurdzan 2005 Private 6.30
- Three Crowns Golf Club Casper, Wyo. Robert Trent Jones Jr. 2005 Daily fee 6.29
- Pradera Parker, Colo. Jim Engh 2005 Private, real estate 6.23
- Tumble Creek Roslyn, Wash. Tom Doak 2005 Private 6.21
- Cliffs at Walnut Cove Arden, N.C. Jack Nicklaus 2004 Private, real estate 6.17
- Desert Mountain – Outlaw Scottsdale, Ariz. Jack Nicklaus 2004 Private, real estate 6.16
- Pine Canyon Club Flagstaff, Ariz. Jay Morrish 2004 Private, real estate 6.15
- Tuscany Reserve Golf Club Naples, Fla. Pete Dye & Greg Norman 2004 Private, real estate 6.11
- Lake Winnipesaukee Golf Club New Durham, N.H. Clive Clark 2004 Private 6.11
- Hideaway Golf Club – Clark Course LaQuinta, Calif. Clive Clark 2004 Daily fee 6.08
- The River Club Suwanee, Ga. Greg Norman 2005 Private, real estate 6.08
- Big Fish Golf Course Hayward, Wis. Pete Dye & Tim Liddy 2004 Daily fee 6.06
- The Gallery – South Course Marana, Ariz. John Fought 2004 Private, real estate 6.05
- Lake of Isles – South Course North Stonington, Conn. Rees Jones 2005 Private 6.05
- TPC at Craig Ranch McKinney, Texas Tom Weiskopf 2004 Private, real estate 6.04
- Wilderness at Fortune Bay Tower, Minn. Jeff Brauer 2004 Daily fee, resort 6.00
- Canyata Marshall, Ill. Mike Benkusky 2005 Private 5.95
- Lake of Isles – North Course North Stonington, Conn. Rees Jones 2005 Daily fee 5.94
- Atunyote Golf Club Verona, N.Y. Tom Fazio 2004 Daily fee, resort 5.94
- Old Greenwood Truckee, Calif. Jack Nicklaus 2004 Real estate 5.90
- Southern Hills Plantation Club Brooksville, Fla. Pete Dye 2005 Private, real estate 5.88
- Bully Pulpit Medora, N.D. Michael Hurdzan 2004 Daily fee 5.85
- Tuhaye Tuhaye, Utah Mark O’Meara 2005 Private, real estate 5.80
- Trump National Golf Club Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. Pete Dye & Donald J. Trump 2005 Daily fee 5.75
- Escena Golf Club Palm Springs, Calif. Jack Nicklaus 2005 Daily fee 5.75
- Mattaponi Springs Golf Curse Ruther Glen, Va. Bob Lohmann 2004 Daily fee 5.69
- Eagle Creek Golf Club Orlando, Fla. Ron Garl 2004 Daily fee 5.68
- Neshanic Valley Neshanic Station, N.J. Michael Hurdzan 2004 Daily fee, municipal 5.67
- The Patriot Golf Course at Grand Harbor Ninety Six, S.C. Davis Love III 2004 Private, real estate 5.67
- Bayside Golf Club Fenwick Island, Del. Jack Nicklaus & Rick Jacobson 2005 Private, real estate 5.64
- Oxford Greens Golf Club Oxford, Conn. Mark Mungeam 2005 Daily fee, real estate 5.60
- Suncadia – Prospector Golf Course Roslyn, Wash. Arnold Palmer 2005 Resort 5.50