Despite their vaunted status, many of the greatest golf courses in the world can inspire frustration, rage and awe in even the best players; some inspire all three at the same time. Ask any Tour pro or celebrity amateur golfer for their opinion about a Top 100 golf course and you usually elicit a funny, clever or occasionally nasty retort. Here are some of the best quips ever about our greatest courses.
Cypress Point Club, Pebble Beach, Calif.
“Cypress Point is such a beautiful place, but it’s also very exclusive. They had a very successful membership drive last month. They drove out forty members.” — Bob Hope
Oakmont Country Club, Oakmont, Pa.
“(Oakmont possesses) all the charm of a sock to the head.” — Gene Sarazen
Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, Ga.
“Augusta National is like playing a Salvador Dali landscape. I expected a clock to fall out of the trees and hit me in the face.” — David Feherty
Ballybunion Golf Club (Old), Ballybunion, Ireland
“After playing Ballybunion for the first time, a man would think that the game of golf originated here.” — Tom Watson
Merion Golf Club (East), Ardmore, Pa.
“I love Merion and I don’t even know her last name.” — Lee Trevino
Whistling Straits (Straits), Haven, Wisc.
When Lee Westwood first saw the course he said, “I’d been told there are 10 difficult holes and eight impossible ones. I’m still trying to work out which the 10 difficult holes are.”
Spyglass Hill Golf Course, Pebble Beach, Calif.
“If it were human, Spyglass would have a knife in its teeth, a patch on its eye, a ring in its ear, tobacco in its beard and a blunderbuss in its hand.” — Jim Murray, Hall-of-Fame sportswriter
Hazeltine National Golf Club, Chaska, Minn.
When asked during the 1970 U.S. Open what the course lacked, Dave Hill famously responded, “Eighty acres of corn and a few cows. They ruined a good farm when they built this course.”
Oak Hill Country Club (East), Rochester, N.Y.
“If I owned a Rembrandt and it had some dull colors, I don’t think I’d go put reds and yellows in there just to brighten it up. I feel the same way about old golf courses. When you have a masterpiece, I sure wouldn’t tinker with it.” — Raymond Floyd, ahead of the 1989 U.S. Open, commenting on Tom Fazio’s pre-1980 changes to the course
Castle Stuart Golf Club, Inverness, Scotland
“It should almost be a prerequisite to play Castle Stuart before you’re allowed to design golf courses nowadays.” — Phil Mickelson at the 2011 Scottish Open
Pine Valley Golf Club, Pine Valley, N.J.
“Foursomes have left the first tee there and have never been seen again. They just find their shoelaces and bags.” — Bob Hope
Winged Foot Golf Club (West), Mamaroneck, N.Y.
Jack Nicklaus was once asked to rate a handful of classic courses on a scale of difficulty from 1 to 10. He rated Augusta National, Oak Hill, St. Andrews and Seminole all 8s. Baltusrol and Pebble Beach merited a 10. How about Winged Foot, Nicklaus was asked. “11,” responded Nicklaus. “Maybe 12.”
Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, Southampton, N.Y.
“Golf’s Holy Grail — a genius course.” — Johnny Miller
Fishers Island Club, Fishers Island, N.Y.
“I cannot deny that on a breezy summer’s day, Fishers Island is one of the most idyllic places possible for a round of golf.” — Tom Doak
Prairie Dunes Country Club, Hutchinson, Kan.
After weeks of tromping around the yucca-choked sandhills of Hutchinson in the 1930s, architect Perry Maxwell pronounced, “There are 118 good golf holes here. All I have to do is eliminate 100 of them.”
Aronimink Golf Club, Newtown Square, Pa.
Twenty years after Donald Ross designed Aronimink, he visited the layout and declared, “I intended to make this course my masterpiece, but not until today did I realize I built better than I knew.”
Oakland Hills Country Club (South), Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
“I’m glad I brought this course, this monster, to its knees.” — Ben Hogan, following his final-round 67 at the 1951 U.S. Open
Pinehurst (No. 2), Pinehurst, N.C.
“The man who doesn’t feel emotionally stirred when he golfs at Pinehurst beneath these clear blue skies and with the pine fragrance in his nostrils is one who should be ruled out of golf for life.” — Tommy Armour
TPC Sawgrass (Players Stadium), Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
“It’s Star Wars golf. This place was designed by Darth Vader.” — Ben Crenshaw at the inaugural Players Championship, 1982
Pebble Beach Golf Links, Pebble Beach, Calif.
“Pebble Beach is Alcatraz with grass.” — Bob Hope
St. Andrews (Old Course), St. Andrews, Scotland
“I feel like I’m back visiting an old grandmother. She’s crotchety and eccentric, but also elegant, and anyone who doesn’t fall in love with her has no imagination.” — Tony Lema, winner of the 1964 British Open at St. Andrews