Top 50 Golf Courses
What makes one course better than another?
Architecture? Shot value? History? Cost? Access? Condition? Ambiance? Name-brand course designer?
The importance of any single criterion is, in the final analysis, entirely up to the individual golfer. And, as with our industry-leading golf equipment testing, we believe most golfers best relate to feedback and opinions from ….wait for it … other regular golfers.
Sure, we’d all love to walk the fairways at Pine Valley or Augusta National. But what good is a course ranking if the opportunity to play it is somewhere between no chance in hell and absolutely 100% no chance in hell.
To build our list of the best golf destinations, we turned to TheGrint and to real golfers just like you.
ABOUT THEGRINT’S RANKINGS
To generate our rankings, we leveraged data from TheGrint, a golf handicap and stat-tracking service that also allows golfers to rate the courses they play. Think of it as something similar to Yelp for golf courses.
Here are the pertinent details:
- Ranking derived from more than 300,000 golf course reviews from golfers just like you.
- Only reviews from the previous year (2020) are used.
- Only considered courses with a minimum of 50 reviews.
- Golfers considered course conditions and overall experience as ranking criteria.
We get that most of what goes into a golf course review is subjective and there’s always going to be a difference of opinion. Then again, some might argue that the primary purpose of such ranking is to foster dialogue and debate.
We’ve also provided an interactive map that allows you to quickly view course location and ranking. The larger the bubble, the higher the rank. You get the idea.
10. Pebble Beach Golf Links
Jack Nicklaus famously remarked, “If I only had one more round to play, I would choose to play it at Pebble Beach.” If there’s a golf equivalent to Mecca, Pebble Beach is likely it.
9. Pinehurst Resort | No.4
Alongside Pinehurst No. 2, which is the centerpiece of Pinehurst’s nine courses, the No. 4 course co-hosted the U.S. Amateur in 2019. Gil Hanse redesigned No. 4 in 2018 and plenty of golfers feel it’s now every bit as good as its even-numbered sibling.
8. Bandon Dunes Golf Resort | Bandon Dunes
It’s hard to believe Bandon Dunes Golf Resort is more than two decades old. Originally designed to give golfers an authentic links’ experience, the resort now includes six distinct courses. However, it’s the original David McLay Kidd design that tops our rankings.
7. Whistling Straits Golf Course | Straits Course
Wisconsin is home to the world’s best cheese curds, architect Frank Lloyd Wright—and plenty of outstanding golf. More specifically, the village of Kohler on the west shore of Lake Michigan is world-renowned as a premier golf destination with five-star amenities including two outstanding golf campuses: Whistling Straits (two courses) and Blackwolf Run (three courses).
6. Harbour Town Golf Links
Situated on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina, Harbour Town Golf Links has hosted the RBC Heritage on the PGA TOUR since 1969. The Pete Dye creation provides golfers the opportunity to tee it up on a championship course where a solid round is likely the result of finesse, imagination and shot-making as opposed to brute strength. And you can’t miss the iconic red-and-white striped lighthouse on the par-4 18th hole.
5. Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course
Edgewood Tahoe is an upscale resort on the south shore of Lake Tahoe. At 6,200 feet above sea level, it combines lakeside golf with alpine terrain. And my hunch is that most golfers would tell you that the pictures, while striking, don’t quite do it justice.
4. TPC Sawgrass | Stadium Course
The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass is home to the PGA TOUR’s flagship event, The Players. But it’s the iconic island-green par-3 (No. 17) that everyone remembers. Fun fact: the highest score ever recorded on this hole during The Players is 12 (Bob Tway, 2005).
3. Erin Hills
Erin Hills is just over an hour southwest of Kohler, Wisc., and hosted the 2017 U.S. Open. The course stretches out to 7,700 yards (77.9 rating) and recently opened a 63,000 square-foot practice putting green. (Side note: I have a buddy who has played a lot of top-shelf resort courses and firmly places this as one of his top five.)
2. Blackwolf Run Golf Course | River
In terms of Midwest golf destinations, Herb Kohler is making a strong push as the heartland Dairy King (unofficial title). Of the four championship courses at Whistling Straits and Blackwolf Run, three are ranked in the top 20 and two in the top 10.
1. Spyglass Hill Golf Course | Spyglass Hill
The Monterey Peninsula is like that friend who looks good in any outfit. It almost feels unfair. While Pebble Beach is perhaps the first course most golfers associate with this prized piece of land, it’s Spyglass Hill that tops our rankings this year.