Golfweek’s Best Municipal Courses

A view of hole no. 18, a 411-yard, par 4, and the clubhouse at The Black Course, site of the 2009 U. S. Open at Bethpage State Park,

Of all of the terminology specific to golf, perhaps no term has changed in perception over the years as much as “muni.”

There was a time when “muni” almost invariably was preceded by the adjective “hardscrabble.” The term conjured images of hitting battered range balls off scruffy mats to a flat, dirt range with makeshift “greens” marked by rickety pins topped by tattered flags. Conditions got only marginally better when you reached the first tee.

No more. That quickly becomes apparent when scanning the 2009 list of Golfweek’s Best Municipal Courses. The top three courses – Bethpage Black (2009), Chambers Bay (2015) and Torrey Pines South (2008) – are U.S. Open venues. And many others, including fifth-ranked TPC Scottsdale’s Stadium Course, host the major pro tours.

In some cases, municipalities have spent tax dollars lavishly to build or upgrade facilities such as Chambers Bay, Indian Wells Golf Resort and Harding Park, which will host the Presidents Cup this fall. One can debate whether those outlays make for good public policy, but they’ve resulted in courses that grade well not just in the muni category, but fare well against more ballyhooed public-access facilities.

Courses such as Piñon Hills in New Mexico, Thunderhawk in Illinois, George Wright Municipal in Massachusetts and Sand Creek Station in Kansas have for years been fixtures on the Golfweek’s Best lists of top courses in their respective states.

Suffice it to say, this isn’t the “muni” golf of our youths. And for that, we all can be thankful.

Golfweek’s Best: Municipal Courses (2008–09)

1. Bethpage State Park – Black -- Farmingdale, N.Y.

2. Chambers Bay -- University Place, Wash.

3. Torrey Pines – South -- La Jolla, Calif.

4. Piñon Hills -- Farmington, N.M.

5. TPC Scottsdale – Stadium -- Scottsdale, Ariz.

6. Indian Wells – Celebrity -- Indian Wells, Calif.

7. Indian Wells – Players -- Indian Wells, Calif.

8. Wintonbury Hills -- Bloomfield, Conn.

9. Thunderhawk -- Beach Park, Ill.

10. Olivas Links -- Ventura, Calif.

11. Soldier Hollow – Gold -- Midway, Utah

12. Memorial Park -- Houston

13. Torrey Pines – North -- La Jolla, Calif.

14. George Wright Municipal -- Boston

15. Laurel Hill -- Lorton, Va.

16. Harding Park -- San Francisco

17. Aspen Golf Club -- Aspen, Colo.

18. Shepherd’s Crook -- Zion, Ill.

19. TPC Scottsdale – Champions -- Scottsdale, Ariz.

20. Bethpage State Park – Red -- Farmingdale, N.Y.

21. Papago Municipal -- Phoenix

22. Triggs Memorial -- Providence, R.I.

23. Hideout -- Monticello, Utah

24. Indian Canyon -- Spokane, Wash.

25. Sunbrook – Pointe/Woodbridge -- St. George, Utah

26. Greystone -- White Hall, Md.

27. North Palm Beach -- North Palm Beach, Fla.

28. Chaska Town Course -- Chaska, Minn.

29. Sand Creek Station -- Newton, Kan.

30. Hominy Hill -- Colts Neck, N.J.

31. Fossil Trace -- Golden, Colo.

32. SilverRock -- La Quinta, Calif.

33. Crandon Park -- Key Biscayne, Fla.

34. Lederach -- Harleysville, Pa.

35. Lassing Pointe -- Union, Ky.

36. Neshanic Valley -- Neshanic Station, N.J.

37. Wingpoint -- Salt Lake City

38. Montauk Downs State Park -- Montauk Point, N.Y.

39. Blackthorn -- South Bend, Ind.

40. Brown Deer Park -- Milwaukee

41. Brackenridge Park -- San Antonio

42. Boulder Creek -- Boulder City, Nev.

43. Callippe Preserve -- Pleasanton, Calif.

44. Tangle Ridge -- Grand Prairie, Texas

45. Cobblestone -- Acworth, Ga.

46. The Homestead at Murphy Creek -- Aurora, Colo.

47. Buffalo Dunes -- Garden City, Kan.

48. Village Links of Glen Ellyn -- Glen Ellyn, Ill.

49. Randolph Park – North -- Tucson, Ariz.

50. Wilmington Municipal -- Wilmington, N.C.

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