Cornerstone Greg Norman's finest North American project to date is easily the best high-altitude course in the nation, and quite possibly the world. Set on the Uncompahgre Plateau in southwestern Colorado, Cornerstone is pure mountain golf, with jaw-dropping vistas and bunkers dotted with elk tracks.
Purists will appreciate the tough forced carries and greens that often demand run-up approach shots, and the fast greens and shaved surrounds even things up for players of all abilities. The 9,213-foot altitude might make you think twice about walking Cornerstone, but you definitely won't hesitate when it comes to playing it twice.
The second course at Bedminster is an out-and-out triumph for "The Donald." Only a paucity of in-your-face natural drama kept this from the top spot. In contrast to Trump's Top 100, Tom Fazio-designed Old course here, the New is exudes an Old World feel, with stylish bunkering, small, brilliantly contoured greens and tremendous variety throughout, with a near-perfect blend of open and wooded holes. Trump and Understatement are seldom mentioned in the same sentence, but he has succeeded here on crafting a modern course worthy of a national stage.
Master minimalists Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, who topped our 2007 Top Private Course list with Colorado Golf Club, ventured to the other side of the country for their latest effort-yet remained in the mountains all the same. Situated 40 minutes west of Orlando on shockingly hilly terrain for Florida, with more than 250 feet of elevation changes, Sugarloaf Mountain offers heavily sloped fairways and the occasional blind tee shot, as well as a healthy mix of very short and very long par-3s and 4s. Oaks, firm, fast greens, a variety of bunkers and views of Lake Apopka add further character to this unusual course.
Some panelists felt this Tom Doak design was his best work since Pacific Dunes, while others were less inclined to laud, owing to the severely contoured greens. Still, the consensus is that this firm, fast, undulating layout that's surrounded by an 80,000-acre working ranch is superbly routed, with majestic scenery and inspired bunkering. The 435-yard, par-4 opener, with its split fairway and the 598-yard, par-5 closer, which plays from a rock cliff overlooking a trout stream, with the snow-capped Tetons in the backdrop, bookend a terrific round.
Stamp Tom Fazio's typically gorgeous fairway and bunker shaping on a pine-studded mountain property in the Lake Tahoe region and you have a potent combination when it comes to scenery and playability. Course buff and 2-time U.S. Open champ Lee Janzen called it the best Fazio course he's ever played. With holes such as the 468-yard, par-4 18th, its green backdropped by a boulder pile and by forested mountain peaks beyond, it's easy to see why.