It’s unlikely that the most rabid Red Sox fan will ever get a chance to knock a 95-mph heater off the Green Monster. Nor is there much chance of the most ardent Cheesehead throwing a game-winning touchdown at Lambeau Field.
But only a day after Tiger Woods’ dramatic playoff victory at the 2008 U.S. Open, public golfers filled the tee sheet at Torrey Pines, testing their far-less formidable skills on the course that had just hosted the national championship.
They could try to replicate Woods’ improbable third-round chip-in on No. 17 or his unforgettable 12-foot putt on No. 18 Sunday to force a playoff.
That, in part, is what led us to produce our second annual Golfweek’s Best Tour Courses You Can Play, a compilation of the best public-access courses played on the PGA, Champions, Nationwide and LPGA tours in 2008-09. The list is a celebration of one of golf’s grandest idiosyncrasies: the fact that amateurs can test their games on the playing fields and iconic holes where the game’s greatest players have made history.
At TPC Sawgrass, we can try our luck at the island 17th. At Bay Hill, we can try to simulate Woods’ clinching 72nd-hole birdie putts of the past two years. We can stand on the par-3 16th at TPC Scottsdale and imagine what it’s like to hit a tee shot while surrounded by 15,000 frenzied fans.
And yes, a few days after this year’s U.S. Open concludes, public golfers will line up at Bethpage Black for the chance to try their luck on a national-championship venue.
1. Pebble Beach Golf Links — Pebble Beach, Calif.
2. Bethpage State Park – Black — Farmingdale, N.Y.
3. Spyglass Hill Golf Club — Pebble Beach, Calif.
4. TPC Sawgrass – Players Stadium — Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
5. Cap Cana Resort – Punta Espada — Cap Cana, D.R.
6. Harbour Town Golf Links — Hilton Head Island, S.C.
7. Kapalua Resort – Plantation — Maui, Hawaii
8. Crosswater — Sunriver, Ore.
9. Bulle Rock Golf Club — Havre de Grace, Md.
10. Trump International Golf Club — Rio Grande, Puerto Rico
11. Royal Kaanapali Golf Course – North — Maui, Hawaii
12. Cog Hill No. 4 – Dubsdread — Lemont, Ill.
13. Classic Club — Palm Desert, Calif.
14. Bay Hill Lodge & Club — Orlando, Fla.
15. Torrey Pines – South — La Jolla, Calif.
16. Ocean Course at Ginn Hammock Beach — Palm Coast, Fla.
17. TPC Scottsdale – Stadium — Scottsdale, Ariz.
18. Indian Wells – Celebrity — Indian Wells, Calif.
19. Kinderlou Forest Golf Club — Valdosta, Ga.
20. The Club at Savannah Harbor — Savannah, Ga.
21. Sonoma Golf Club — Sonoma, Calif.
22. Reunion Resort – The Independence — Reunion, Fla.
23. Atunyote Golf Club — Verona, N.Y.
24. The Glen Club — Glenview, Ill.
25. Doral Golf Resort & Spa – Blue — Miami
26. Innisbrook R&GC – Copperhead — Tarpon Springs, Fla.
27. PGA National – Champion — Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
28. Grayhawk Golf Club – Raptor — Scottsdale, Ariz.
29. Kingsmill Resort & Spa – River — Williamsburg, Va.
30. Ross Bridge — Hoover, Ala.
31. TPC Louisiana — Avondale, La.
32. Torrey Pines – North — La Jolla, Calif.
33. TPC Las Colinas — Irving, Texas
34. Reunion Resort – The Legacy — Reunion, Fla.
35. TPC Deere Run — Silvis, Ill.
36. Magnolia Grove – The Crossings — Mobile, Ala.
37. TPC Summerlin — Las Vegas
38. La Cantera Golf Course — San Antonio
39. TPC Tampa Bay — Lutz, Fla.
40. Conservatory at Hammock Beach — Palm Coast, Fla.
41. SilverRock — La Quinta, Calif.
42. The Legend at Capitol Hill – Senator — Prattville, Ala.
43. Brown Deer Park Golf Course — Milwaukee
44. Poppy Hills Golf Course — Pebble Beach, Calif.
45. Redstone Golf Club – Tournament — Humble, Texas