There are at least 132 top 100 venues available to the golf addict in the United States. That is, if you believe Golf and Golf Digest Magazines. A total of 68 courses appear on both lists.
There is general agreement on the top 25 courses. Only Troon North (number 21 per Golf Magazine) does not make the Golf Digest list, while all of the top 25 from Golf Digest made the cut at Golf Magazine. Eighteen golf facilities made the top 25 on each list. Six courses in the top 50 for Golf Digest do not make Golf’s list, while eight of Golf’s top 50 are not in Golf Digest’s top 100.
So, who has the better list? Golf Digest gets the early nod as they correctly identify Pebble Beach as Number 1 (Golf Magazine whiffed on this one with Pacific Dunes). Further, most of the Golf Magazine courses that did not make the grade in Golf Digest, were in my second tier of ratings. However, there were notable omissions in the Golf Digest list including the two Reynolds Plantation courses, any venues in Arizona (Golf Magazine has seven), Bay Hill, Innisbrook Copperhead and Lake of Isles. Significant omissions in Golf Magazine include Tetherow, Pelican Hill, Kingsmill and Edgewood. Whereas Golf Magazine has an Arizona bias, Golf Digest cites eight courses in Michigan and nine in Hawaii (combined 8 in Golf Magazine).
As for the rankings, each messed up a few. Aside from the error on Pacific Dunes as number one, Golf Magazine overrated Pinehurst No 2 (3), Old Macdonald (9), World Woods, Pine Barrens (19) and Troon North (20). Notably underrated were Shadow Creek (17), Erin Hills (29), Wolf Creek (65), Karsten Creek (68), Lake of Isles (85) Boulders Club, South (93) and Tobacco Road (95). Golf Digest also overrated Pinehurst No 2 (7) and Old Macdonald (12) as well as Pete Dye French Lick (17), Quarry at Giant’s Ridge (20) and Broadmoor East (29). Underrated included Fallen Oak (40), Paa-Ko Ridge (41), Bay Harbor (65), Tobacco Road (87), Linville (88), and Caledonia Golf and Fish Club (big miss at 97).
Overall, despite different methodologies and raters, both magazines have done a credible job evaluating America’s greatest courses, although they both seem unreasonably enamored of Pinehurst Number 2 and Old Macdonald; two venues that offer good golf, but nothing to justify the ranking.
There are several ironies in the lists. For example, The Greenbrier course is listed in Golf Magazine, while its sister course Old White appears on the Golf Digest list. Similarly, Turning Stone’s Shenandoah course gets the nod from Golf Magazine, while the adjoining facility, Kaluhyat is pegged by Golf Digest.
Acquisition of these lists if the first step in designing an impractical program of playing America’s greatest public golf courses. In future postings I will provide additional information that might actually assist in structuring future golf vacations.
Weekly Observation: The LPGA must be ecstatic over the Michelle Wie victory in the U.S. Open. The charismatic Lucy Li, coupled with strong American finishes by Stacy Lewis and Lexi Thompson, in combination with Julie Inkster’s Saturday round could be the beginning of getting the tour off life support.
By Paul Laubach
Paul Laubach is completely unqualified to provide expertise with respect to golf course rankings and design, however, he is a highly opinionated golf addict who believes everyone should be entitled to his thoughts. He is in the process of completing the story of his journey to play America’s top 100 courses. Please visit this website regularly for more useless information.