Courses and Travel

Top 10 New Private Courses in the U.S.

Photo: Brent Stewart/Colorado Golf Club

The 18th hole at Colorado Golf Club

In GOLF Magazine's January 2008 issue, we crowned Colorado Golf Club, in suburban Denver, our top new private course for 2007. This lay-of-the-land Coore-Crenshaw design was the only private course we listed. However, the category was crammed full of worthy competitors, each of which enjoyed a formal grand opening in the 2007 calendar year. Here, then, are the Top 10 New Private Courses in the U.S. for 2007.

Colorado Golf Club
Parker, Colo.
7,604 yards, par 72
coloradogolfclub.com
Architects: Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw
As Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw proved with earlier designs at Nebraska's Sand Hills and Oregon's Bandon Trails, nice guys can finish first. At Colorado Golf Club, outside of Denver, they quietly molded a ravine- and meadow-filled former Arabian horse ranch with a never-repeating variety of shotmaking demands, highlighted by several split-fairway par-5s and by a set of cunningly contoured greens.

Gozzer Ranch
Coeur d'Alene, Ida.
7,237 yards, par 71
gozzerranchclub.com
Architect: Tom Fazio
National Geographic once called Lake Coeur d'Alene "one of the five most beautiful alpine lakes in the world." Add to the stunning lake views Tom Fazio's artful shaping, a superbly balanced design, pine-covered slopes and 10-story-high rock spires and you have GOLF Magazine's recipe for success.

The Creek Club at Reynolds Plantation
Greensboro, Ga.
7,079 yards, par 72
reynoldsplantation.com
Architect: Jim Engh
Combine a classically rolling tract through tall Georgia pines with Engh's innovative design handiwork and you have the most unique course in the southeastern United States. Engh's wild green complexes are replete with Dali-esque contours and pinched by cocooning mounds and his signature muscle bunkers. They aren't everybody's cup of tea, but the never-a-dull-hole layout, including the par-5 18th with its three separate greens, is good to the last drop.

The Madison Club
La Quinta, Calif.
7,426 yards, par 72
madisonclubca.com
Architect: Tom Fazio
Turn Tom Fazio loose with an unlimited budget and glorious mountain vistas and the result is the Shadow Creek of Palm Springs, a spectacular valley layout hewn from the flat desert floor that wows with vast, rolling fairways, sprawling bunkers, streams, lakes and thousands of flowers. Eye-candy aside, The Faz pulled out all of his design stops, too, in creating the rare test that will enchant everybody.

The Club at Spanish Peaks
Big Sky. Mont.
7,170 yards, par 72
spanish-peaks.com
Architect: Tom Weiskopf
Fifteen years after the movie "A River Runs Through It" rendered "must-visit" status on Big Sky, Mont., Spanish Peaks' Tom Weiskopf design has compelled folks to return. Moose, bears, gigantic pines and snow-capped Rocky Mountain peaks are only part of the charm; the balance is supplied by Weiskopf's creativity. At an elevation of 7,000 feet, all the holes are breathtaking, but break out the oxygen—and your camera—for the par-3 15th, with its 180-yard plunge to the green.

The Golf Club of Cape Cod
Falmouth, Mass.
7,047 yards, par 72
tgccc.com
Architect: Rees Jones
Rees Jones tamed the glacier-impacted rocky terrain to yield of eye-catching, yet playable holes that entice every class of player. A pair of dramatic par-3s, the 175-yard 4th and the 190-yard 16th, illuminate the Jones design philosophy perfectly. A forced carry over an enormous sand sprawl at the 4th and a similar shot over a pond at the 16th are necessary to get the ball close, but perfectly proportioned bail-outs are available for those not up to the task.

The Golf Club at Ravenna
Littleton, Colo.
7,263 yards, par 71
ravennagolf.com
Architect: Jay Morrish
U2 once used Colorado's Red Rocks to dramatic effect, and now Jay Morrish has done the same. The distinctive outcroppings frame such holes as the par-4 7th and the par-3 9th, but for sheer drama, it's tough to top the par-3 16th, which demands a carry over a 50-foot-deep ravine.

Stonebrae Country Club
Hayward, Calif.
7,140 yards, par 72
stonebrae.com
Architect: David McLay Kidd
Young Kidd burst on the scene in 1999 with his epic Bandon Dunes creation, but subsequent efforts have proved he's no one-hit wonder. Kidd's latest winner meanders atop a hill through oaks and coastal shrubs and sports numerous grin-inducing vistas of San Francisco Bay. As usual, though, it's his emphasis on subtlety and strategy that will keep the faithful coming back day after day.

The Cliffs at Keowee Falls
Keowee Falls, S.C.
7,171 yards, par 72
cliffscommunities.com
Architect: Jack Nicklaus
With a half-dozen superb courses already in the Cliffs stable and a Tiger Woods track on the way, it would be easy to overlook this Jack Nicklaus design—but that would be a mistake, because this back-to-nature, core layout deserves its own spotlight. Handsome pine- and hardwood-covered mountainsides edge most of the holes, but most compelling are the watery, risk/reward par-5s on the back nine, numbers 14, 16 and 18, where fortunes in Nassaus and Skins Games can change dramatically.

Promontory Club (Painted Valley Course)
Park City, Utah
8,098 yards, par 72
promontoryclub.com
Architect: Jack Nicklaus
Nestled into the heart of one of America's foremost ski meccas, Promontory's Painted Valley opens with a downhill run of 718 yards and never lets up. At more than eight grand from the tips and with water in play on 15 holes, this is hardly a layout for novices, but with roomy fairway landing areas and unobstructed looks at the sagebrush-covered Wasatch Mountains, you'll warm to this test in short order.

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