Golfers have the names of America's greatest courses etched in their memories as firmly as the names of their kids: Little Susie, Cypress Point Club, Hank Jr., National Golf Links... But while you're peering longingly over the fence at these exclusive courses, are you missing other great courses that you can actually play? These are the most underrated courses you can play in America.
10. Coyote Moon Golf Club
This Lake Tahoe-area gem is praised by most who have played it, and virtually unheard of among those who haven't. Brad Bell's layout winds through pines and granite outcroppings along Trout Creek, with a backdrop of the snowcapped Sierras. Bring a camera for the spectacular par-3 13th, which plunges 227 feet.
2 of 10Courtesy of Saddle Creek Resort
9. Saddle Creek Golf Club
Twenty miles east of Stockton, Saddle Creek is one of the game's best little-known hideaways. Its remoteness is a turn-off for some, but the quaint bungalow accommodations and quality golf make for a nice escape. The design is all you can handle, and the bold, imaginative bunker style of Carter Morrish will tie a wayward golfer in knots.
3 of 10Evan Schiller
8. Gold Canyon Golf Resort (Dinosaur Mountain)
Gold Canyon, Ariz.
Leave behind the trophy course hunters gathered in north Scottsdale and strike out an hour to the southeast past Mesa and you'll be rewarded with this scenic Ken Kavanaugh design that darts around the Superstition Mountains. Soaring elevation changeshighlighted by vertigo-inducing drop shots on the par-3smake the Dinosaur Mountain track as memorable as anything in town.
4 of 10Mike Klemme/Golfoto
7. Dancing Rabbit Golf Club (Oaks Course)
Don't let the cutesy name fool you: this pristine Choctaw Tribal layout in east-central Mississippi is a mean test. The Oaks Course always takes a back seat to its prettier and higher-ranked sibling, the Azaleas course, but it shouldn't. Both are fine Tom Fazio/Jerry Pate designs, but the Oaks features more water and rock outcroppings, yet is often considered more player-friendly thanks to wider fairways.
5 of 10Paul Hundley
strong>6. The Golf Courses of Lawsonia (Links Course)
Green Lake, Wis.
Only architecture buffs have probably heard of Langford and Moreau, the gents that sculpted this layout in the 1930s, but their blending of the design characteristics of Donald Ross and Seth Raynor resulted in a superb, mostly treeless layout with a fabulous set of elevated greens. It's hardly the second coming of Whistling Straits, but for taste of Old World design at a high-season weekend rate of $76, this one deserves a visit.
6 of 10Rob Perry
5. Circling Raven Golf Club
If you like floating island greens, you'll have to drive up the road to Coeur d'Alene. If you prefer a back-to-nature round where you're more likely to see a stray elk than another golfer, you'll love this Gene Bates design on tribal land surrounded by forests, meadows and wetlands. The highlight is the quartet of rugged par-3s-including the 12th, which stretches to 253 yards, much of it a forced carry. And prices here max out at $90, and we love underpriced as much as underrated.
7 of 10John & Jeannine Henebry
4. Wynn Las Vegas Golf Club
Las Vegas, Nev.
The $500 price tag is part of its problem: for that much you expect Pebble Beach, but Wynn's latest isn't even as groundbreaking and exciting as Shadow Creek. But let's be fair. This gorgeous Tom Fazio design is what it is: an expensive but strong and varied test, framed with Augusta-like trees that partially obscure The Strip. Modern bells and whistleslike the waterfall on the 18thget the attention, but the real meat of the course is the collection of tough, traditional-looking par-4s.
8 of 10Jim Krajieck
3. Bethpage State Park (Red Course)
Bethpage's B-list course lacks the drama of the famed Black Course, but that has its compensations: the Red costs a fraction of the price, is a lot easier to get on, and offers a more than adequate test of your game. This A.W. Tillinghast design will exhaust your long irons and Rescue clubs, thanks to four par-4s on the back nine alone of 463 yards or longer.
9 of 10Evan Schiller
2. Tobacco Road Golf Club
One of the most polarizing courses in America is this Mike Strantz masterpiece in the North Carolina Sandhills. Funky, multi-tiered greens straight from a Dali painting, blind shots, massive mounds and freakish forced carries over scrub-covered dunes will alternately delight and derail you. A 150 slope buttresses the paltry length from the tips of 6,554 yards, so this is one Tobacco that will really suck the air from your lungs. While this golf on steroids experience isn't for everybody, there's no chance of ever getting bored.
10 of 10Evan Schiller
1. Spyglass Hill Golf Course
Pebble Beach, Calif.
How can a course that is invariably ranked in the top 50 courses in America be underrated? Simple. Spyglass Hill suffers in the long shadows cast by its neighbors, Pebble Beach and Cypress Point. Many serious golfers will claim under oath that Spyglass is harder than its more celebrated neighbors-and more than a few will whisper that it's better. Critics harp that once you leave the sixth tee, you're done with the ocean. That's true, but the inland holes are gorgeous and tough. Two are among the most underrated in golf: the reverse cambered par-4 8th that slopes to the right but doglegs left, and the brutal 16th, a rare par-4 these days where merely hitting the green in regulation is cause for celebration. Throw in recent improvements in drainage that have Spyglass in the best shape it's ever been and you have America's most underrated course.
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