Class of 2010: New Courses in Top 100 Courses You Can Play
November 07, 2011
1 of 7Wood Sabold
Encores aren't easy when you've got three of the top 15 public courses in the country, but Bandon developer Mike Keiser has crashed his own party. He enlisted Tom Doak and Jim Urbina to channel architect C.B. Macdonald, who in 1911 created National Golf Links of America, the New York layout that paid homage to the best in Britain. Turnpike-wide landing areas provide room amid the typical gusts, and the gigantic greens are hard to miss. Getting the ball into the hole, however, is another matter. All of the Macdonald tributes are in place (from a "Redan" to a "Biarritz") but the best hole might be a Doak/Urbina original, the 377-yard, par-4 7th, which climbs atop a dune ridge in full view of the Pacific. That Old Macdonald is already mentioned in the same breath with Bandon's best speaks volumes.
2 of 7Larry Lambrecht
Mark Calcavecchia once said this 1964 Dick Wilson/Joe Lee design outside Chicago "could host a U.S. Open tomorrow." It won't be the 2017 Open that was awarded to Erin Hills but Cog Hill was very close to earning the national championship. Time, technology and soft, inconsistent greens had removed the fangs from a course nicknamed Dubsdread, but a 2008 redo by Rees Jones deepened and repositioned bunkers and stretched it to nearly 7,400 yards. "There aren't too many golf courses where you absolutely love the layout," Tiger Woods said a few years back. "I love this golf course. The holes fit my eye." Dropped from our 2008 rankings due to its closure, Cog Hill No. 4 is back and likely here to stay.
3 of 7Larry Lambrecht
Another course purged from the 2008 list due to its prolonged closure, Hawaii's Mauna Kea rebounds in spectacular fashion. Rees Jones kept the bones of his father's 1964 design and made it his own. "It's a great routing, with naturally elevated tee and green sites," says the younger Jones. "We wanted to bring it back, especially the old style of bunkers." Today the greens are smoother, the bunkers reinvigorated, and the approaches are less taxing for the higher-handicap resort player but every bit as demanding for the serious stick. What never went away were the Big Island ocean vistas, including the eye-popping par-3 3rd, which has
been restored to its gargantuan length of 261 yards, much of it a carry over the pounding Pacific surf from a tiny tee set into black lava rock. Our advice: snap a photo, then move up a tee box or two.
4 of 7Larry Lambrecht
Located three hours northwest of Detroit, this Tom Weiskopf design debuted in our 2004 rankings, but it aspired to be completely private and exited the Top 100 two years later. Now fully public, Forest Dunes storms into our top 50. Credit a layout that rolls over dunes and through pine forests but plays like a classic, open British links. Strategic decisions abound, such as those on the double-fairway par-4 10th, the par-4 17th and the peninsulagreen par-5 18th. Few public players will ever sample Northern Michigan's Alister MacKenzie classic, Crystal Downs, but Forest Dunes is the next best thing.
5 of 7Ken May/Rolling Greens Photography
Pete Dye once said, "golfers love punishment." They'll find it at his latest frightfest in Dye's home state of Indiana. The layout bludgeons players with more than 8,100 hilly yards, volcano bunkers and ridge-top airways framed by steep, rough-choked drop-offs. This controversial winner of our 2009 Best New Course You Can Play is relentlessly hard, but the shotmaking demands make it a must-play for anybody who can get the ball airborne. French Lick's 1920 Donald Ross design played host to the 1924 PGA Championship, won by Walter Hagen, but proponents feel the new Dye layout is destined for even bigger things.
6 of 7Southern Dunes Golf Club
For the first six years of its existence, Southern Dunes was a private men's club. Worse than being politically incorrect, however, was the fact that the club was located on the "wrong" side of town, an hour from Scottsdale and 25 minutes south of Sky Harbor Airport. Ultimately, the business model failed, but the course
never did. Architects Lee Schmidt and Brian Curley, with Fred Couples consulting, carved out fescue-framed fairways, strategic bunkers, and intriguingly contoured greens. Few holes stand out, but there are still plenty of strong tests. Not many women will tackle the 7,517-yard tips, but now they can if they want to.
7 of 7Evan Schiller
Architect Mike Strantz left us way too soon, succumbing to cancer in 2005 at age 50. His legacy lies in some of the most imaginative course-shaping ever seen. Some critics contend he pushed the envelope too far, but supporters call his finished products pure genius. Tobacco Road, a 1998 creation near Pinehurst, embraces both camps. Towering sandhills dotted with scrubby pines, 70 feet of elevation change, and vast bunkers and chaotically configured greens spice the play, but the strategic options remain superb. Anytime you encounter a course of only 6,554 yards that boasts a staggering slope of 150, instinct tells you that you're in for a wild thrill ride. In that regard, Tobacco Road is practically an amusement park.
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