Travelin' Joe Passov reveals his picks of the best values in the Top 100 You Can Play, and the courses where quality designs are trumped by high costs.
Worth Playing at Twice the Price
No. 1 Rustic Canyon (93) $32-$76
Firm, fast, strategy-filled and an hour from downtown L.A. — and you can walk it Monday through Thursday after 11 a.m. for $32! Now that's a Hollywood tale that's hard to believe.
No. 2 Wild Horse (67) $35-$54
Designed by the same guys who built Sand Hills, this middle-of-nowhere Nebraska track is worth the journey for links-like play on the prairie and a price tag that provides change from your $50 bill during the week — whether you walk or ride.
No. 3 Bethpage (Black) (6) $65-$150
Sure, it's brutal to get onto, tougher to walk and isn't even dirt-cheap for nonresidents, but for a U.S. Open course this good, it's way underpriced.
No. 4 World Woods (Pine Barrens) (18) $40-$119
Zigzagging through pine forests and huge natural sand waste areas, this 1993 Tom Fazio Florida design pays tribute to Pine Valley, but even Pine Valley has homes on the course. This one doesn't.
No. 5 Longaberger (56) $59-$99
This 1999 Arthur Hills creation is superbly groomed and a must-play for anyone in the vicinity of the Buckeye State, especially at this price.
Great Courses, Not Great Values
No. 1 Karsten Creek (69) $300
Tom Fazio did some nice work here, and the university-affiliated course continues to churn out terrific prospects such as Rickie Fowler and Hunter Mahan, but three bills for a course in Oklahoma that's never held a major?
No. 2 Cascata (55) $250-$500
The flawlessly conditioned course 35 minutes from Las Vegas is uniquely dramatic, but individually the holes aren't that memorable — not for 500 bucks, anyway.
No. 3 Atunyote at Turning Stone Resort (65) $200-$225
This gorgeous, lightly played Tom Fazio design hosts the PGA Tour, but its sibling the Shenandoah is the better course — and costs $75-$110 less.
No. 4 Torrey Pines (South) (20) $41-$279
If you happen to be a 62-year-old San Diego resident, the South course will run you $41 on weekdays. For the rest of us, however, a weekend time with cart is $279. Yes, you've got PGA Tour, U.S. Open and cliff-top cachet, but mostly what you have is an exhausting slog, with muni service and conditions.
No. 5 Bandon Trails (15) $75-$275
I'm a fan of this Coore/Crenshaw inland layout with its graceful routing and spectacular bunkers. But for $275 I want more encounters with the ocean and fewer with some of the wackiest greens I've stumbled upon.