Anyone who has spent time with Canadian golfers knows that they love to sing the praises of the late architect Stanley Thompson, who built golf courses across Canada during the first half of the 20th century. Golfweek’s Best course raters also have taken a shine to Thompson. He is responsible for 10 of the top 30 courses on the Classic list (pre-1960) of Golfweek’s Best Canadian Courses, including four of the top five. Nine are solo designs, and on one he shares the credit.
Thompson’s masterpiece, Highlands Links, holds down the top Classic spot in Golfweek’s inaugural critique of Canadian architecture, while The National Golf Club of Canada, a collaboration of the late George Fazio and his nephew Tom, leads the Modern list.
Doug Carrick is the preferred architect of the Modern era, with eight designs among the top 30, followed by Tom McBroom, who placed five signature or co-designs on the Modern list.
One architect with whom readers might want to acquaint themselves is Rod Whitman, who has three courses on the Modern list. Whitman is at work on heavily hyped Cabot ...
PINEHURST, N.C. – Every once in a while you find a place that reminds you why golf is so special and why golf courses are the most beautiful of all sports fields. Pinehurst No. 2 used to be one of those places, back in the 1920s through the late 1950s.
But it hasn’t been for a while. The village center always has been enchanting, but the course itself lacked a certain appeal. It wasn’t scenic. The holes looked too similar. The fairway bunkers hardly were a factor. And the demanding greens were more hard work than charming. It was an exacting test, but not an aesthetic joy.
That’s all changed now.
Donald Ross’ most famous design from a century ago has been utterly transformed through a restoration by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw that is as radical and path-breaking as any in the history of golf-course architecture. The result is stunning. Pinehurst No. 2 is strategically more compelling than ever – and a whole lot more fun, too. Golf here used to be about the greens and surrounds. Now it’s about every shot.
Few resorts outside of a links setting would have dared introduce so much scruffy ...
Too much of the discussion about golf courses is dominated by scratch players. Sit around the 19th hole at your average course long enough and you’d think that most opinions about course design concern yardage from the back tees and making holes tougher. Yet there’s little correlation between how well someone plays golf and how perceptive he is about the character and features of a hole or a course.
I’m reminded of the time I visited a solid, well-established Midwest private club that measured about 6,500 yards and was a par 71. The green chairman was one of those self-appointed types who wears too many club pins on his jacket lapel, attends too many golf society meetings, and whose golf bag carries emblazoned medallions from a dozen famous old clubs. His primary concern was to get more length on the course, to which end he already had mutilated the first hole (a short par 4) by squeezing in a new back tee that looked like a bad toupee. As I made my way around the pro shop to meet him, I glanced at the scoreboard for the just-concluded club championship, where a score of 13 over ...
In search of golf heaven, some architects move the earth. Others just scratch the ground. If there’s a right way or a wrong way to get there, you wouldn’t know it based upon the golf courses featured in the latest Golfweek’s Best lists. Both paths seem to bring us to the game’s Promised Land.
Welcome to the 15th annual list of Golfweek’s Best Top 100 Classic and Top 100 Modern courses in the U.S.
On the Classic side, defined as layouts that opened before 1960, Pine Valley (N.J.) Golf Club once again heads our ranking. This scrubby course, hewn out of the southern New Jersey Pine Barrens nine decades ago, is legendary for its rugged look and feel. Its position atop our list was interrupted only from 2006 to 2009, when the current No. 2, Cypress Point Club in Pebble Beach, Calif., reigned as the country’s premier Classic course.
Among Modern courses, those that opened in 1960 or later, Sand Hills Golf Club in Mullen, Neb., continues its tenure at ...
ORLANDO, Fla. – Building interesting holes on a dead-flat site is among the toughest assignments in golf design. The traditional Florida solution, championed in the 1950s by Robert Trent Jones Sr. and Dick Wilson, was to dig out ponds and use the excavated material to build up tees, fairways and greens. The result generally had all of the charm of highway grading.
It took Pete Dye to devise a new strategy for dealing with featureless land, using sharp vertical separation by digging 1 foot down, flipping the dirt and creating a 2-foot-high contour line that separated distinct landing areas. The abrupt look, sharpened to extremes at The Players Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach in 1982, defined a new age of design.
Rees Jones, schooled by his father, made his mark in the 1970s and 1980s by massing large, circular land forms and creating features on top of the existing grade. His work always suffered a certain familiarity in that it sat uncomfortably above the natural contours. Thankfully, he has been adjusting his style during the past decade or so, away from the older ...
Golf is a game, not a social policy. Efforts to justify a golf-course project because of the good it will achieve in a community go for naught if the layout itself falls flat.
With that in mind, there is much to admire about The Golf Club at Harbor Shores, a key component of a larger development plan undertaken with the best of intentions, aimed at reviving what was a popular Midwest resort destination. The project is part of a widespread downtown effort to breathe new life into this once-thriving, now-distressed community on Lake Michigan’s southeast shore. Big plans are afoot for the course, including serving as home to the Senior PGA Championship in 2012 and ’14.
The effort is ambitious: a 500-acre, mixed-used development straddling the cities of Benton Harbor and St. Joseph. The area was left in the lurch when Whirlpool Corp. downsized its corporate headquarters. Into the breach stepped a joint venture involving the Whirlpool Foundation, a pair of public-sector economic-development organizations (Consortium for Community Development and Cornerstone Alliance) and a private firm (Evergreen Development).
It’s a complicated land plan. Actually, it ...
‘How do I get my course nationally rated?’
I get that question a lot. What follows are some of the pointers I give when people ask me the secrets to ratings success.
1.) Avoid overzealous staff
I want to see the course, not be assaulted by hordes of beaming staffers. There’s no need for the security guard at the gate house to engage me in a friendly chat while traffic backs up.
And please, spare me the attack of the swarming bag rats, the car park staffers who surround your vehicle as you approach and want to “assist you,” as if you’re helpless.
2.) If a hole needs explaining, it doesn’t work
There’s nothing worse than a hole that’s so confusing that you need to see it on a GPS monitor to figure out where it’s going or what the options are. If a hole is that complicated, it’s probably worth redesigning. On the course, everything should be self-evident, whether it’s how a hole plays or where the next hole lies.
Also, a pleasant greeting from the starter is fine, but spare us the long litany of rules, explanations and elaborations.
2010 Golfweek’s Best: New Courses
1) Old Macdonald 8.90
2010, Tom Doak, Jim Urbina
2) Huntsman Springs 7.77
2009, David McLay Kidd
3) Shooting Star 7.75
Teton Village, Wyo.
2009, Tom Fazio
4) The Patriot 7.65
2010, Robert Trent Jones Jr.
5. Clear Creek 7.33
2009, Bill Coore, Ben Crenshaw
6. The Wilderness Club of Montana 7.13
2009, Nick Faldo
7. Red Ledges 6.90
Heber City, Utah
2009, Jack Nicklaus
8. Wine Valley GC 6.87
Walla Walla, Wash.
2009, Dan Hixson
9. Victory Ranch 6.75
Park City, Utah
2009, Rees Jones
10. Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort 6.71
French Lick, Ind.
2009, Pete Dye
11. Chicago Highlands 6.68
2010, Arthur Hills
12. The Prairie Club (Dunes) 6.67
2010, Tom Lehman
13. Payne Stewart GC 6.50
2009, Chuck Smith, Bobby Clampett
14. TPC San Antonio (AT&T Oaks) 6.50
San Antonio, Texas
2010, Greg Norman
15. Ballyhack 6.33
2009, Lester George
STILLWATER, Okla. – Oklahoma State walked away with the team championship. UCLA sophomore Pontus Widegren headed back to California with the medalist trophy.
But when all was said and done Sept. 28 at the 22nd Ping/Golfweek Preview, the golf course was the big winner.
At Karsten Creek, site of the 2011 NCAA Division I Men’s Championship, players and coaches in the 15-team Preview field got a good indication as to what they might expect come the first week in June. What they no doubt learned is that par will be a premium score and players had better keep it in the fairways.
“This (Karsten Creek) is an awesome place,” said Darren Spease, chairman of the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Committee and senior associate athletics director at Charlotte, who was among a few committee members on hand during the Preview. “It’s a great golf course, and at the end of the day, that’s the ultimate test. I think it’s going to be a great championship.
“(Karsten Creek) certainly will challenge everyone in both the stroke-play and match-play portions of the tournament.”
The 7,407-yard, par-72 Tom Fazio-designed course offered competitors a different set of playing ...
LELAND, N.C. – The game was born on firm ground, and when a course sits on marshland there had better be plenty of room to play. That is especially the case on a course such as Cape Fear National at Brunswick Forest, which does double duty as a daily-fee facility and as centerpiece of a vast real-estate development.
The plan is ambitious. Brunswick Forest’s developer, Lord Baltimore Capital Corp., has planned 7,000 homes for the 4,500-acre, master-planned community. That’s a bold blueprint, though the property, sitting six miles south of Wilmington, is in a region blessed with a year-round climate for golf, easy access to beaches, a diverse economic base and a revived downtown. It helps that the area has not suffered through the kind of golf-development boom that has glutted many other communities.
Course architect Tim Cate, something of a fixture on both sides of the coastal North Carolina-South Carolina border, has done a good job taming a tough site. Wetlands and lateral ponds abound, limestone was excavated and piled into walls to create attractive vertical relief, and 1,500 feet of bridges was built to carry players across environmentally sensitive areas. All told, 1 ...
NEWPORT, Wales – Just in time for a major sporting event, a little country gets a big golf course.
For Wales, a nation the size of Massachusetts and with the population of Chicago, the Oct. 1-3 Ryder Cup presents a chance to emerge from the protective cloak of the United Kingdom. Since the awarding of the event in 2001, Welsh officials have worked with tourism leaders to establish Wales as a unique destination. There’s more to offer than castles, coal, mad writers and a native language with consonants run amok.
“It’s our Olympic Games,” said Alun Ffred Jones, Wales’ heritage minister.
Now they have their Olympic Stadium: Celtic Manor Resort’s Twenty Ten Course. The layout is
part of a 1,400-acre, five-star resort in southeast Wales, near the English border. Celtic Manor is the brainchild of Sir Terry Matthews, a Welsh telecommunications and Internet magnate. This lush, modern resort makes a serious commitment to international golf with three courses. Since 2000, the resort has hosted the European Tour’s Celtic Manor Wales Open.
The 7,378-yard, par-71 ...
We’d be the last to suggest that the way to choose the right college is to opt for the one with the best golf course. But given the quality of golf on campuses throughout the U.S., there probably are worse ways to decide.
Golfweek’s Best Campus Courses list – 30 tracks spanning 22 states – runs the gamut, from elite private schools and service academies to massive state universities and a small, women’s-only school.
As if proof were needed that quality golf doesn’t need to come at the cost of a quality education, consider that our No. 1 layout is found at Yale, a school regularly ranked at or near the top of U.S. colleges. It’s one of many elite academic institutions that placed courses on the list.
The Research Triangle in North Carolina not only is a base for ACC basketball powers, but also strong when it comes to golf courses: Duke at No. 10, N.C. State at No. 22 and UNC at No. 24. Two service academies also merit national ranking; the Air Force Academy at No. 20 and ...
2010 Golfweek’s Best: Campus Courses
1. The Course at Yale 7.43
Yale, New Haven, Conn.
1926, C.B. Macdonald, Seth Raynor
2. Taconic Golf Club 6.88
Williams, Williamstown, Mass.
1927, Wayne Stiles
3. Palouse Ridge Golf Club 6.83
Washington State, Pullman, Wash.
2008, John Harbottle
4. The Rawls Course 6.47
Texas Tech, Lubbock, Texa
2003, Tom Doak
5. Stanford Golf Course 5.92
Stanford, Stanford, Calif.
1930, W. Bell, J. Harbottle, G. Thomas Jr.
6. University Ridge Golf Course 5.90
Wisconsin, Verona, Wis.
1991, Robert Trent Jones Jr.
7. The Orchards Golf Club 5.89
Mount Holyoke, South Hadley, Mass.
1922, Donald Ross
8. Colbert Hills Golf Course 5.87
Kansas State, Manhattan, Kan.
2000, Jim Colbert
9. Ohio State University (Scarlet) 5.84
Ohio State, Columbus, Ohio
1939, Alister MacKenzie
10. Duke University Golf Club 5.83
Duke, Durham, N.C.
1957, Rees Jones, Robert Trent Jones Sr.
11. University of Georgia Golf Course 5.79
Georgia, Athens, Ga.
1968, Robert Trent Jones Sr., Davis Love III
12. University of Michigan Golf Course 5.75
Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich ...
This year’s U.S. Amateur at Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash., would be interesting enough just given the unique nature of this links-style golf course. But there’s added interest for viewers at home since this year’s championship is a preview of the U.S. Open to be held here in 2015. Moreover, in the wake of the “Bunkergate” furor that saw last week’s PGA Championship end controversially, there’s reason to think the sandy hazards at Chambers Bay could make for a similar dilemma.
During the first two days of the U.S. Amateur, devoted to stroke-play qualifying, Chambers Bay shares hosting duties with another daily-fee layout, The Home Course. But come the start of match play on Aug. 25, Chambers Bay, a municipal layout, has the spotlight all to itself through the 36-hole final on Aug. 29.
It’s built on an old, abandoned sand quarry, with all of its dunes-like features manufactured, and the whole thing offering 100 feet of elevation change along with stunning views of Lower Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountain Range.
Scenery aside, here’s what to watch for during the nine ...
KOHLER, Wis.- The tweaking never stops, even on a layout that’s No. 3 on the Golfweek’s Best list of modern courses in the U.S.
The Straits Course at Whistling Straits, a 1997 Pete Dye design, already has proved that it’s tournament tough when it played host to the 2004 PGA Championship (won by Vijay Singh) and 2007 U.S. Senior Open (Brad Bryant).
Dye is renowned for tinkering with his courses, though in this case he was encouraged by owner Herb Kohler to make numerous changes, including at the oft-questioned 18th.
“It’s a great golf course but not a great finishing hole,” said Justin Leonard, who tied for second with Chris DiMarco at the ’04 PGA after losing to Singh in a three-man playoff. Leonard’s concerns about the par-4 18th were widely shared by other players. However, his views have particular poignancy because it was here, on the 72nd hole, that Leonard lost his lead after laying up with a 3-wood to the top of a hill overlooking a ravine, then trying to hit a 5-iron downhill across a center bunker to a hole location just behind it.
Now, thanks to considerable adjustment of ...