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TOPIC: Your Personal Top 10 Golf Courses?

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mcdonnie33
RE: Your Personal Top 10 Golf Courses?
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Thursday October 1, 2020 8:08 PM
New member to the site but long time lurker.

I've been lucky enough to travel around the country and play a number of great courses - including 30-35 in various editions of the Top 100 Public Courses. 10 of the top courses I've played in no particular order:

Arcadia Bluffs

This is probably my favorite course that I've ever played. Everything about the course is memorable and it just came off to me while playing it that it's a better version of Chambers Bay. The views are terrific. The conditions are amazing. The overall playability in some respects is a tad nicer than Chambers. If it was in a more populated area with a better ability to host any kind of major event, it'd pop so well on TV. Coming up 18 at twilight with the bagpipes playing is as good as it gets.

Favorite Hole: Par 5 11th - the views are at its best here on a hole that will test you but provide ample reward if good shots are hit

Chambers Bay

This is my "home" course. I never really bought into all the complaints on the greens before they changed them over as I always thought that they effectively rolled fine (never felt like I missed a short putt because of them). The new greens are a clear improvement though. The design is top notch and there are few "easy" holes out there. One thing that I respect out of top courses is that par is a good score on a hole. Over time I've learned some secrets to some of the holes, but par is always a good score on any hole at Chambers.

Favorite Hole: Par 3 3rd - probably not the hole that most would think of but it sums up Chambers perfectly to me as it's a hole where when you know the secrets of how to get to and after certain pins everything starts to make sense.

Bandon Dunes (Core 4 courses, haven't played Sheep Ranch yet)

Including all of the courses here as over the course of a 3 or 4 day trip of constant golf the holes really all blend together. The effect of the wind obviously has such an impact on the experience as well. Trails gets a bad rap in my mind as it's really good but when you think of Bandon you think links and Trails is something out of the Carolinas (which I love).

Favorite Hole: Pacific Dunes #10 (Par 3) - it's everything that Bandon is in a single shot with the dunes/water combination. Arguably the favorite picture I've ever taken on a golf course.

Pronghorn (Nicklaus)

This will likely be my future "home club." I fell in love with Pronghorn the 1st time that I played it and the love affair is deepened every single time I play it. Every hole is unique to me and it's hard for me to find a hole that I think is a throwaway (closest would be 1st and 10th holes and each of them have some unique elements that would make them above average holes on most courses). I've played a number of Nicklaus designs and this is the one that I like the most as it is challenging but fair. Another course that as you unlock some secrets you get a better understanding of how to play, where to miss, etc.

Favorite Hole: Par 4 6th Hole - just a super unique hole to me from the tee shot that has danger both left/right, then an uphill approach that crests about 30-50 yards short of the green before being straight downhill into a bit of a punch bowl. If that isn't enough, there's a house that awaits upon pulling up to the green that I wish I was fortunate enough to own.

Tobacco Road

Most unique course I've ever played. The visuals blow you away. Anybody that has had the fortune of playing a Mike Strantz course knows it when they are done. I don't know of anybody that hasn't enjoyed their time. Best way I can describe how unique and memorable Tobacco Road is is that on the same trip I also played the Coore/Crenshaw Dormie Club when it was open to the public. In all rankings the Dormie Club rated higher than Tobacco Road. I remember the Dormie Club being good but couldn't really tell you any detail about any hole or shot. I can pretty much tell you every nuance of Tobacco Road 4-5 years after playing there. That's a memorable course.

Favorite Hole: Par 5 1st Hole - The tee shot to open the day tells you everything you need to know about Tobacco Road with 2 massive dunes pinching in just past the 1st landing area followed by a 2nd shot that has 2 smaller dunes pinching the 2nd landing area. To say it's an intimidating shot is an understatement.

Erin Hills

This course kicked my backside in but it's got all of the design elements that make it a truly special course. I was disappointed in how the weather and setup was for the US Open there as they could have turned that thing into a bit of a blood bath if they got everything running super firm and fast with the rough/fescue high. It's probably better suited for being a PGA Championship course as the fairways are a tad too wide for a US Open and the defense of the course isn't at the same level as Chambers Bay.

Favorite Hole: Par 5 18th Hole - I have a soft spot in my heart for courses that have soul crushing finishing holes and this is one of them. It's long. It's populated with bunkers. Even with 2 good to great shots you still will likely have one of the more challenging approach shots on the course to get close.

As an aside, I saw someone in the thread mention Links of Lawsonia and I definitely recommend that choice. I wouldn't say that there are a ton of memorable holes per se, but the greens are definitely memorable. Just a really enjoyable round.

The Harvester

Got the pleasure of playing this course in the Summer of 2016 (along with many others on this list) when I had the opportunity to drive around the country for a month playing golf. Unfortunately the course is now private and that's a shame because it's as perfect as golf can get in Iowa. The greens here were as perfect as any set of greens that I've ever played. Also the most memorable tee shot I've ever hit in my life ...

Favorite Hole: Par 4 2nd Hole - Not because the hole is particularly great (medium length par 4 that's uphill, slightly doglegging to the right, with a meandering creek on the right side), but that most memorable tee shot. Get to the tee and there's a wire fence about 30-50 yards past the tee box that contains a few goats "mowing the lawn." For anybody that has a tendency to hit the occasional low bullet with a fairway metal off the tee, to say that's a terrifying tee shot is an understatement. By the time I got to the hole for my 2nd round, the goats had moved up left of the landing area working on the lawn up there.

Kapalua (Plantation)

I can definitely see the love/hate relationship with the course that many have. I'm personally not a fan of Bermuda greens. There are a few holes that feel like they are nothing special if you took the impact of playing those holes in the wind away. The Par 5's are all great. The 8th and 11th are great Par 3's for different reasons. But the course is made by 17 and 18. I don't care who you are it's fun hitting a 5 wood 300 yards off the 17th tee. The 2nd shot on 17 is as difficult of a shot as it gets. Who doesn't like the 400 yard drives on 18 if you catch it just right? Or the feeling of laughing all those years about the chips on 18 that the pros can't control until you hit the chip that you also can't control. As good of a back to back hole set as you'll see.

Favorite Hole: Par 4 17th Hole - 18 is probably the easier choice but 17 is what golf in Hawaii is all about to me with the beautiful views, the puffing off the chest playing downhill/downwind, and difficult shots being asked where the misses look really bad.

Wolf Creek

If you like playing courses that feel like you're playing a video game, Wolf Creek is for you. More than that though, the course is just fun to play and it's really not THAT difficult if you can control your ball. There are a few misses on the course (I'm not a fan of the Par 3 3rd hole for example) but the views and design by and large always leave you wanting to re-rack and go again (unless it's 115 degrees out).

Favorite Hole: Par 5 17th Hole - Tee shot has a ton of hang time to it that always gives you the risk of losing it left or right. It also gives you the chance to hit it long and give yourself a complete risk/reward shot to get home in 2. I love holes that give you the chance to legitimately score anywhere from 3 to 7 depending on the quality of your shots.

Tobiano

This course is located in the Kamloops, BC area and is just visually stunning. If you like bunkers, this is your place. It's really got everything between good design, difficulty, and overlooking a river that while not the Pacific Ocean, gives you some great backdrops to some holes. I've had the chance to take golf trips to Victoria, Whistler, Kamloops, and hopefully next year to Kelowna. The quality of courses in the Kamloops/Kelowna area are strong (same with Whistler). Definitely worth taking the trips here particularly when the CAD is at a 25-30% discount to the USD.

Favorite Hole: Par 4 14th Hole - I'm a sucker for holes that are effectively infinity holes and this is one of them. Hole is a medium to long dogleg left that gradually goes downhill and isn't necessarily a driver hole depending on tee box. 2nd shot plays down where it looks like the green is sitting in the river behind (it's not) leaving an unsettling feeling making a club selection. Add in the wind and it's a hole destined to leave you shaking your head at both the score and view.


A few thoughts on some courses in the Northwest - some of which have been mentioned previously:

Gold Mountain (Olympic) - love the course and one that you can play on a daily basis - great mix of holes where you feel like you can score and holes where you're happy with a bogey. The downhill Par 3 12th is a great hole - one of my favorite Par 3's.

White Horse - When it opened the design was too hard for the average golfer and they softened it. It's far from a long course but the greens are relatively small and all angled so it's a good test on executing golf shots (yardage and direction). Course knowledge is huge as knowing where to miss is key.

Gamble Sands - Great views and a fun round but I feel like it's overrated. It got press as best course in Washington over Chambers (it's not) and immediately the rates are as high as Chambers.

Circling Raven - In Idaho about 45 minutes from Spokane ... this is a great course and definitely the best in the area. Very enjoyable round at about half the cost of Coeur d'Alene (only redeeming quality IMO is the uniqueness of the floating green and conditions; design underwhelming to me). If in the area Palouse Ridge is also worth playing but may leave you scratching your head the first time you play it (course knowledge helps a bunch here).

Pumpkin Ridge - I love the course and definitely in the Next 5 of my favorite courses. Just a really good and fair design where there aren't a ton of tricks resulting in a really honest and challenging test of golf.

Tetherow - There's a reason the course is controversial. I found that there were probably 12 holes that I loved and about 6 holes that I thought should be redesigned in one way or another.

Crosswater - Will be playing a couple of rounds there in a couple of weeks so that will hopefully solidify some of my opinions on the course. I remember liking the balance of the course but had some struggles that day that probably didn't help my opinion of it.
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 Message #96487 - This was a reply to message #96446
michaelko
RE: Your Personal Top 10 Golf Courses?
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Friday October 2, 2020 10:50 AM
1. Pebble: If you've played this course, and this isn't #1, then you are one lucky dude.

2. Bandon Dunes
3. Old Mac
These Bandon courses are amazing.. can't wait to get to Sheep Ranch

5. Kapalua Plantation: Best course in Hawaii: haven't played Kauai or the privates on Big Island

6. Bandon Trails
7. Pacific Dunes
These 2 are amazing, but a notch below Kapalua

7. Aviara
My favorite SoCal course. This is what I envision Augusta is like, even though I've never set foot on the property.

8. Incline Village Championship
9. Spyglass
Incline beats out Spyglass, IMO... similar courses, Incline had more interesting holes. and the altitude makes it more interesting.

10. Pasatiempo
Underrated layout.

My criteria: 18 interesting holes and the ambience/views/shock value. Not too much in SoCal that meets that criteria. I've played Torrey North, Riviera, and almost every public course of note. Riviera would make my Honorable Mention. Northern Cal: MPCC Dunes, Edgewood, Poppy Hills, Spanish Bay, and Yocha DeHe make my Honorable Mention.

Haven't played anything in Cabo... I'm sure there are some great courses there that might force their way in. And not too much east of Nevada. (Streamsong would be the highest ranked course I've played)
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 Message #96494 - This was a reply to message #96487
Nickesquire
RE: Your Personal Top 10 Golf Courses?
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    August 11, 2007


Favorite Golfer:
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Favorite Golf Course:
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Tuesday October 27, 2020 10:14 AM
I was looking back over this thread and again looking at the designers of the favorite courses listed.

No surprise to me that John Fought had multiple courses on my list. I have never played a course designed with Fought as one of the designers that I did not think was a very good to excellent golf course. If I see Fought's name, I can make an intelligent projection based on prior experience that it will have 18 solid golf holes and be fun to play.

Also not a surprise that Fazio & Palmer had multiple courses on my list. Have never played a course with either one's name associated with designing it that I did not like. And most I really liked.

Courses designed by the Lee E. Schmidt/Brian Curley team are uniformly very good. Many very playable So Cal courses have been designed by them. I see their courses as maybe not excellent courses that are famous and/or destination courses.

Two very famous modern (within the last 50 years) designers that do not pass my personal test many times are Dye and Nicklaus.

Many Dye courses are among the most famous or infamous in the U.S. Pretty good bet that most Dye designs are more over the top than I would prefer. Yet I really like PGA West Stadium?

No designers name makes me wonder more than Jack. He is my all-time favorite golfer, but his designs are very hit and miss with me. I have found a few of Jack's designs to be awesome and a few that were not so much. With multiple tiers/levels associated with his name, w/o digging sometimes it's hard to tell if it was Jack personally or if someone just associated with one of his companies who was the actual designer?

Plug for old time designers like Donald Ross. Most have withstood the test of time. Growing up playing and learning the game on one of his courses was a real treat. Simple yet could be made tough, playable with nothing really tricked up.
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The goal has always been long and straight! But since I can no longer hit them long, hopefully straighter could be achieved more than occasionally?
 Message #96751 - This was a reply to message #84736
livegolf
RE: Your Personal Top 10 Golf Courses?
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Wednesday November 4, 2020 9:05 PM
Good thread! Love this kind of stuff, some great courses here.

For me, in no particular order...

Sand Hollow
Paa Ko Ridge
Chambers Bay
Pebble Beach
Old Works
Spanish Bay
Tobacco Road
We Ko Pa Cholla
Circling Raven
Wolf Creek
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livegolf
RE: Your Personal Top 10 Golf Courses?
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Wednesday November 4, 2020 9:12 PM
QUOTED  [Posted By Nickesquire on 10.27.2020 10:14 AM]

I was looking back over this thread and again looking at the designers of the favorite courses listed.

No surprise to me that John Fought had multiple courses on my list. I have never played a course designed with Fought as one of the designers that I did not think was a very good to excellent golf course. If I see Fought's name, I can make an intelligent projection based on prior experience that it will have 18 solid golf holes and be fun to play.

Also not a surprise that Fazio & Palmer had multiple courses on my list. Have never played a course with either one's name associated with designing it that I did not like. And most I really liked.



Agree completely! I've played four Fought courses and he does a great job along with Palmer and Fazio (or probably these folks' design firms) - especially when it comes to the fun, rewarding factor without being too penal. I'd also put Jeff Brauer, Fred Couples, Dan Hixon and Gary Panks on my list of architects I enjoy.
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