Best New Golf Courses You Can Play 2009

Best New Golf Courses You Can Play 2009

Pete Dye's Course at French Lick Resort.
Ken May/Courtesy of Fusion Media Strategies

For Connoisseurs of new golf courses, 2009 won’t be remembered as a vintage year. The world recession has battered the golf industry, so while we previously celebrated course-design trends, we now just celebrate course openings. There have been fewer causes for celebration this year than in any other since World War II: By mid-October, just 33 new 18-hole courses had opened in the United States. Compare that with 398 in 2000. And course openings outside the U.S. are only slightly more common.

On the bright side, the Class of 2009 can hold its own against the crop of debutantes in most other years, with a solid offering of mostly affordable seaside and mountain layouts.

Best New Course of the Year
1. French Lick Resort (Pete Dye Course)
French Lick, Indiana
8,102 yards, par 72
Green Fees: $350

Never has a winner of our
Best New Course honors
so polarized our panelists
as the Pete Dye course at
French Lick. The staggering
yardage — and equally
staggering price tag — has
sparked considerable

Take the
closing trio of holes, for
example: a 301-yard par-3,
followed by a 518-yard par-4,
and then a 657-yard par-5.

For all that, there are
compensations for savvy
golfers: shorter tees to
choose from, golf packages,
and mandatory forecaddies
to guide you through the

The bottom
line: This is a violent thrill
ride with one classic Pete
Dye hole after another. If
you like that sort of thing,
you’ll never forget Dye’s
contribution to French Lick.

2. Sequoyah National Golf Club

Cherokee, N.C.
6,602 yards, par 72
Green Fees: $65-$110

Robert Trent Jones II
carved this short, hilly
layout in the steep foothills
of the Great Smoky
Mountains as an amenity
for Harrah’s Cherokee
Hotel & Casino, 45
minutes west of Asheville.
It’s spectacular throughout,
but stray off the tee and
you’ll have a better chance
of beating the casino than
you will of making par.

3. Waldorf Astoria Golf Club

Orlando, Fla.
7,113 yards, par 72
Green Fees: $75-$185

A heavy hitter in
the hospitality industry
delivers its first golf
course — and it’s an
impeccable complement
to the brand. Rees
Jones sculpted a superb
resort golf course — not
terribly demanding but
with gigantic bunkers
and water in play for
nearly the entire back
nine. It’s all the Florida
golf you’d want when
the wind blows.

4. Ritz-Carlton GC, Dove Mountain (Saguaro/Tortolita)

Marana, Ariz.
7,849 yards, par 72
Green Fees: $80-$225

Home to the WGC-Accenture
Match Play Championship, Jack
Nicklaus’ brawny romp through the
desert sports vast fairways, but its
defenses rely on forced carries over
desert washes, enormous bunkers
and wildly sloping greens. The
resort’s third nine of a planned
four, Wild Burro, is Jack’s favorite,
but start with the tournament
nines, then catch your breath.

5. Wine Valley Golf Club

Walla Walla, Wash.
7,360 yards, par 72
Green Fees: $45-$90

Southeastern Washington
has never been a golf hotbed,
but architect Dan Hixson’s
effort in the state’s desert-like
wine region may change that.
The massive bunkers that
melt into the terrain dominate
the design, but the endless vistas
of the Blue Mountains and
swaying wheatgrass rough
will linger long after you’ve
returned to civilization.

Honorable Mentions

Stone Canyon Golf Club
Blue Springs, Mo.
7,131 yards, par 72
Green Fees: $50-$75

Lonnie Poole Golf Course at North Carolina State University
Raleigh, N.C.
7,358 yards, par 71
Green Fees: $45-$75

The Preserve on Rathbun Lake
Moravia, Iowa
6,987 yards, par 72
Green Fees: $47-$58.50