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Wednesday, March 8, 2006
Updated: December 24, 3:43 PM ET
America's 100 Greatest Golf Courses

By Ron Whitten
Golf Digest

• Golf Digest: State-by-State Rankings | Best Places to Play

Times change, tastes change, attitudes change--and so does the list of America's 100 Greatest Golf Courses, every two years. But, my, how it changed in 2005. For our biennial survey of the best in American golf course architecture, it's a radical departure from the past.

The shift is not quite from top to bottom. Pine Valley Golf Club in New Jersey remains the No. 1 course in the land, precisely where it has been for all but one survey period since Golf Digest began ranking courses by number in 1985. But there are two new members to the Top 10 in 2005, the first time that has happened in 10 years. From 1997 through 2001, the members of the Top 10 didn't change at all.

National Golf Links of America, the ancient Long Island layout often considered the seminal source of course design in America, ranks ninth, its highest position ever. At 10th, Seminole Golf Club in Florida returns to the Top 10 for the first time since 1989. Both benefited from long-term improvement programs--extensive tree removal and fairway expansion at National, bunkering and turf upgrades at Seminole. It's the sort of activity that's typical at most 100 Greatest courses, particularly those in the Top 10.

New back tees, intended to counteract technological advances in clubs, balls and golfer physiques, have been well publicized at Augusta National and Shinnecock Hills, and more quietly ongoing at Pine Valley, Oakmont, Pebble Beach, Merion and Winged Foot. Only at Cypress Point have officials deliberately refused to extend their back tees, preferring to have the layout remain as a graphic reminder of a different era. To that end, Cypress just completed a three-year bunker-restoration program that considerably tightens many landing areas.

The biggest change comes farther down the list. There are 18 courses new to the list from two years ago, the largest turnover ever. That shatters the record of 13 new courses in 1971, when the list went from being called America's 100 Most Testing Courses to America's 100 Greatest Tests of Golf. Our 1993 ranking (bearing the present name) also had 13 additions.

Why the drastic shake-up? Attribute it to a single factor: our decision to abandon the Bonus Tradition category in our ranking. Tradition had been with us since 1985, when we first asked our panel of experts to judge, using a scale of 1 to 10, "What impact has the course had on the history and lore of the game?" In 1989 we reduced Tradition to a bonus category, with a maximum of two points, determined not by panelists but by an in-house editorial board. In 1995 we increased that bonus to a maximum of 10 points, still awarded editorially, and in recent years those points were based on a formula that, quite frankly, is too complicated to explain in 25 paragraphs or less.

Tradition has long been the lightning rod of the list. In the past decade, readers, club officials, course architects and even some Golf Digest panelists have criticized us, all claiming that Tradition propped up old courses and suppressed newer courses far more worthy. We finally concluded the bonus category had outlived any useful purpose. In its place, we now use Ambience--"How well does the overall feel and atmosphere of the course reflect or uphold the traditional values of the game?"--voted on by all panelists (today there are more than 800 of them) and applicable to all courses, old and new. Ambience had been a small portion of our Bonus Tradition formula.

And thus the floodgates opened, sort of. The turnover of 2005 is not as extreme as it sounds. Of the 18 additions, six are previous 100 Greatest members that had slipped off in recent years. The remainder are an impressive mix of young courses that (wouldn't you know?) reflect some of the grandest traditional values of the game, from the no-carts, no-cartpaths, walking-only policy at Northern California's Mayacama to the use-what-the-land-allows pastoralism of Hawks Ridge outside Atlanta. These newer courses also represent the latest fashion in golf design. All are opulent in presentation, immaculate in their conditioning and, with one exception, very exclusive. Michigan's Arcadia Bluffs is the only public course among the 18 new members, and it's expensive to play.

Without further ado, here they are, America's 100 Greatest Golf Courses for 2005-06:

AMERICA'S 100 GREATEST GOLF COURSES
FIRST 10


Yards Par Points
1. PINE VALLEY G.C. 6,853 70 74.04

Pine Valley, N.J.-- George Crump & H.S. Colt (1918)


2. AUGUSTA NATIONAL G.C. 7,290 72 73.14

Augusta, Ga.-- Alister Mackenzie & Bobby Jones (1933)


3. SHINNECOCK HILLS G.C. 6,821 70 72.42
Southampton, N.Y. -- William Flynn (1931)
4. CYPRESS POINT CLUB 6,509 72 71.30

Pebble Beach, Calif. -- Alister Mackenzie & Robert Hunter (1928)


5. OAKMONT C.C. 7,279 71 70.41

Oakmont, Pa. -- Henry Fownes (1903)


6. PEBBLE BEACH G. LINKS 6,840 72 70.40

Pebble Beach, Calif.-- Jack Neville & Douglas Grant (1919)


7. MERION G.C. (East) 6,852 70 69.92

Ardmore, Pa. -- Hugh Wilson (1912)


8. WINGED FOOT G.C. (West) 7,229 72 68.87

Mamaroneck, N.Y. -- A.W. Tillinghast (1923)
9. NATIONAL G. LINKS OF AMERICA 6,876 73 68.14

Southampton, N.Y.—C.B. Macdonald (1911)


10. SEMINOLE G.C. 6,836 72 67.97

Juno Beach, Fla.—Donald Ross (1929)
SECOND 10


Yards Par Points
11. CRYSTAL DOWNS C.C. 6,518 70 67.96
Frankfort, Mich.—Alister Mackenzie & Perry Maxwell (1931)
12. SAND HILLS G.C. 7,089 71 67.94

Mullen, Neb.—Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw (1994)


13. OAKLAND HILLS C.C. (South) 7,099 72 67.92
Bloomfield Hills, Mich.—Donald Ross (1918)/Robert T. Jones (1950)
14. PINEHURST RESORT & C.C. (No. 2) 7,274 72 67.60

Pinehurst, N.C.—Donald Ross (1935)


15. MEDINAH C.C. (No. 3) 7,580 72 67.58
Medinah, Ill.—Tom Bendelow (1928)
16. FISHERS ISLAND CLUB 6,566 72 67.34
Fishers Island, N.Y.—Seth Raynor & Charles Banks (1926)
17. WADE HAMPTON G.C. 7,154 72 64.38
Cashiers, N.C.—Tom Fazio (1987)
18. MUIRFIELD VILLAGE G.C. 7,269 72 67.16

Dublin, Ohio -- Jack Nicklaus & Desmond Muirhead (1974)


19. THE COUNTRY CLUB (Clyde/Squirrel) 6,577 71 67.15
Brookline, Mass.—Willie Campbell (1895)/Alex Campbell (1902)
20. SHADOW CREEK 7,239 72 67.03

North Las Vegas, Nev.—Tom Fazio (1990)


THIRD 10


Yards Par Points
21. VICTORIA NATIONAL G.C. 7,239 72 66.99

Newburgh, Ind.—Tom Fazio (1998)


22. PACIFIC DUNES 6,633 71 66.76

Bandon, Ore.—Tom Doak (2001)


23. WHISTLING STRAITS (Straits) 7,362 72 66.55

Haven, Wis.—Pete Dye (1998)

24. PRAIRIE DUNES C.C. 6,708 70 66.32

Hutchinson, Kan.—Perry Maxwell (1937)/Press Maxwell (1957)


25. THE OLYMPIC CLUB (Lake) 6,850 71 66.31

San Francisco—Sam Whiting (1928)


26. SOUTHERN HILLS C.C. 7,085 71 66.28

Tulsa, Okla.—Perry Maxwell (1936)


27. OAK HILL C.C. (East) 7,145 71 66.08

Rochester, N.Y.—Donald Ross (1925)


28. BANDON DUNES 7,326 72 66.07

Bandon, Ore.—David McLay Kidd (1999)


29. BETHPAGE STATE PARK (Black) 7,299 71 66.00

Farmingdale, N.Y.—Joseph H. Burbeck & A.W. Tillinghast (1936)

30. QUAKER RIDGE G.C. 6,835 70 65.87

Scarsdale, N.Y.—A.W. Tillinghast (1926)


FOURTH 10


Yards Par Points
31. SAN FRANCISCO G.C. 6,754 71 65.77

San Francisco—A.W. Tillinghast (1918)


32. THE HONORS COURSE 7,215 72 65.72

Ooltewah, Tenn.—Pete Dye (1983)


33. KINLOCH G.C. 7,168 72 65.66

Manakin-Sabot, Va.—Lester George & Vinny Giles (2001)


34. WINGED FOOT G.C. (East) 6,750 72 65.50

Mamaroneck, N.Y.—A.W. Tillinghast (1923)


35. BUTLER NATIONAL G.C. 7,434 71 65.42

Oak Brook, Ill.—George Fazio & Tom Fazio (1974)


36. OLYMPIA FIELDS C.C. (North) 7,205 71 65.41

Olympia Fields, Ill.—Willie Park Jr. (1922)


37. LOS ANGELES C.C. (North) 6,909 71 65.35

Los Angeles—George C. Thomas Jr. (1921)


38. THE OCEAN COURSE 7,356 72 65.35

Kiawah Island, S.C.—Pete Dye (1991)


39. CHICAGO G.C. 6,710 70 65.09

Wheaton, Ill.—C.B. Macdonald (1894)/Seth Raynor (1923)


40. BALTUSROL G.C. (Lower) 7,400 72 64.95

Springfield, N.J.—A.W. Tillinghast (1922)


FIFTH 10


Yards Par Points
41. INVERNESS CLUB 7,255 71 64.94

Toledo, Ohio—Donald Ross (1919)


42. SOMERSET HILLS C.C. 6,659 71 64.68

Bernardsville, N.J.—A.W. Tillinghast (1918)


43. FLINT HILLS NATIONAL G.C. 6,946 71 64.54

Andover, Kan.—Tom Fazio (1997)


44. INTERLACHEN C.C. 6,829 73 64.53

Edina, Minn.—Willie Watson (1911)


45. RICH HARVEST LINKS 7,601 72 64.48

Sugar Grove, Ill.—Jerry Rich & Greg Martin (1999)


46. GARDEN CITY G.C. 6,911 73 64.44

Garden City, N.Y.—Devereux Emmet (1899)


47. RIVIERA C.C. 7,013 71 64.36

Pacific Palisades, Calif.—George C. Thomas Jr. & W.P. Bell (1926)


48. MILWAUKEE C.C. 6,928 72 64.34

River Hills, Wis.—H.S. Colt & C.H. Alison (1929)


49. SHOAL CREEK 7,114 72 64.25

Shoal Creek, Ala.—Jack Nicklaus (1977)


50. CASTLE PINES G.C. 7,619 72 64.18
Castle Rock, Colo.—Jack Nicklaus (1981)
SIXTH 10
51. THE GOLF CLUB 7,268 72 64.15

New Albany, Ohio—Pete Dye (1967)


52. SAND RIDGE G.C. 7,127 72 64.12
Chardon, Ohio—Tom Fazio (1998)
53. SPYGLASS HILL G. CSE. 6,862 72 64.08

Pebble Beach—Robert Trent Jones (1966)


54. THE QUARRY AT LA QUINTA 7,083 72 64.02

La Quinta, Calif.—Tom Fazio (1994)
55. FOREST HIGHLANDS G.C. (Canyon) 7,007 71 63.90

Flagstaff, Ariz.—Jay Morrish & Tom Weiskopf (1988)


56. ARCADIA BLUFFS G.C. 7,300 72 63.72
Arcadia, Mich.—Rick Smith & Warren Henderson (2000)
57. CAMARGO CLUB 6,636 70 63.71

Indian Hill, Ohio—Seth Raynor (1921)


58. CHERRY HILLS C.C. 7,160 72 63.70
Englewood, Colo.—William Flynn (1923)
59. SCIOTO C.C. 6,955 71 63.62

Columbus, Ohio—Donald Ross (1916)


60. KITTANSETT CLUB 6,782 70 63.41
Marion, Mass.—William Flynn & Frederic Hood (1922)
SEVENTH 10
61. BLACKWOLF RUN (River) 6,991 72 63.37
Kohler, Wis.—Pete Dye (1990)
62. MAIDSTONE CLUB 6,403 72 63.34

East Hampton, N.Y.—Willie Park Jr. & Jack Park (1924)


63. THE PRINCE COURSE 7,309 72 63.33
Princeville, Kauai, Hawaii—Robert Trent Jones Jr. (1990)
64. PEACHTREE G.C. 7,043 72 63.28

Atlanta—Robert Trent Jones & Bobby Jones (1947)


65. DALLAS NATIONAL G.C. 7,326 72 63.22
Dallas—Tom Fazio (2002)
66. OCEAN FOREST G.C. 7,140 72 63.21

Sea Island, Ga.—Rees Jones (1995)


67. MAYACAMA G.C. 6,785 72 63.16
Santa Rosa, Calif.—Jack Nicklaus (2001)
68. DOUBLE EAGLE CLUB 7,140 72 63.10

Galena, Ohio—Jay Morrish & Tom Weiskopf (1992)


69. THE VALLEY CLUB OF MONTECITO 6,612 72 63.00
Santa Barbara, Calif.—Alister Mackenzie & Robert Hunter (1929)
70. VALHALLA G.C. 7,305 72 62.99

Louisville—Jack Nicklaus (1986)


EIGHTH 10
71. LONG COVE CLUB 7,026 71 62.98
Hilton Head Island—Pete Dye (1981)
72. HAZELTINE NATIONAL G.C. 7,360 72 62.94

Chaska, Minn.—Robert Trent Jones (1962)


73. COLONIAL C.C. 7,080 70 62.92
Fort Worth—John Bredemus (1936)
74. CROOKED STICK G.C. 7,516 72 62.91

Carmel, Ind.—Pete Dye (1964)


75. THE HOMESTEAD (Cascades) 6,679 70 62.88
Hot Springs, Va.—William Flynn (1923)
76. THE ESTANCIA CLUB 7,146 72 62.86

Scottsdale—Tom Fazio (1995)


77. LAUREL VALLEY G.C. 7,399 72 62.82
Ligonier, Pa.—Dick Wilson (1960)
78. SAGE VALLEY G.C. 7,331 72 62.75

Graniteville, S.C.—Tom Fazio (2001)


79. EAST LAKE G.C. 7,267 72 62.72

Atlanta—Donald Ross (1915)/Rees Jones (1995)
80. SANCTUARY 7,033 72 62.68

Sedalia, Colo.—Jim Engh (1997)


NINTH 10
81. HAWKS RIDGE G.C. 7,385 72 62.61
Ball Ground, Ga.—Bob Cupp (1999)
82. ARONIMINK G.C. 7,152 70 62.60

Newtown Square, Pa.—Donald Ross (1928)


83. THE PRESERVE G.C. 7,067 72 62.58
Carmel, Calif.—Tom Fazio, J. Michael Poellot & Sandy Tatum (2000)
84. TRUMP INTERNATIONAL G.C. 7,300 72 62.56

West Palm Beach—Jim Fazio (1999)


85. BLACK DIAMOND RANCH (Quarry) 7,159 72 62.55
Lecanto, Fla.—Tom Fazio (1988)
86. CANTERBURY G.C. 6,942 72 62.48

Beachwood, Ohio—Herbert Strong (1922)


87. GRANDFATHER G. & C.C. 7,030 72 62.40
Linville, N.C.—Ellis Maples (1968)
88. ATLANTIC G.C. 7,117 72 62.39

Bridgehampton, N.Y.—Rees Jones (1992)


89. CONGRESSIONAL C.C. (Blue) 7,250 72 62.36
Bethesda, Md.—Robert Trent Jones (1962)
90. HUDSON NATIONAL G.C. 6,955 70 62.30

Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y.—Tom Fazio (1996)


TENTH 10
91. PETE DYE G.C. 7,248 72 62.28

Bridgeport, W.Va.—Pete Dye (1994)


92. GALLOWAY NATIONAL G.C. 6,901 71 62.27
Galloway, N.J.—Tom Fazio (1995)
93. SHOREACRES 6,521 71 62.26

Lake Bluff, Ill.—Seth Raynor (1921)


94. OLD WAVERLY G.C. 7,018 72 62.25
West Point, Miss.—Bob Cupp & Jerry Pate (1988)
95. PLAINFIELD C.C. 6,962 72 62.23

Plainfield, N.J.—Donald Ross (1921)


96. THE G.C. AT BRIAR’S CREEK 7,117 72 62.20
Johns Island, S.C.—Rees Jones (2001)
97. HARBOUR TOWN G. LINKS 6,973 71 62.04

Hilton Head Island—Pete Dye & Jack Nicklaus (1969)


98. TPC AT SAWGRASS (Stadium) 6,954 72 61.96
Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.—Pete Dye (1981)
99. SAHALEE C.C. (South/North) 7,003 72 61.94

Sammamish, Wash.—Ted Robinson (1969)


100. EUGENE C.C. 6,854 72 61.90

Eugene, Ore.—Robert Trent Jones (1967)


Text provided by Golf Digest.