In the second installment of GOLF.com’s new series, My Fab 5, Dr. Gary Wiren reveals his favorite courses in the United States. Wiren, a GOLF Magazine Top 100 Teacher and the senior director of instruction for Trump Golf Properties, is a member of both the PGA Hall of Fame and the World Golf Teachers’ Hall of Fame.
Pine Valley Golf Club, Clementon, N. J.
Ranked No. 1 in the U.S. and the World by GOLF Magazine
Like everyone else who has played it, Pine Valley is one of my favorite courses. The first time I played there, a couple of groups were waiting at the first tee when we arrived, so we were asked to start on the fifth hole. It’s a par 3 requiring a 230-yard shot to a green perched on the side of a steep hill with O.B. to the left. Welcome to Pine Valley!
I love the challenges of the greens and the visual intimidation you face on almost every tee shot. There is a great balance between really long, tough par 4s and drive-and-pitch par 4s — but those are really tough too!
Spring Lake Park, Omaha, Neb.
I’m pretty certain no other Top 100 Teacher is going to mention this course. When I first played Spring Lake, it was only nine holes and 1,873 yards long. There were no bunkers, no water hazards, the greens were slow and bumpy, and there were no practice facilities. But Spring Lake is where I grew up as a kid, and where I played 10-cent skins with my buddies as a 10-year-old. The green fee then was $1.75, 35 cents for kids. It’s always been blue collar and accessible to all, but the cups are 4 1/4 inches wide just like at Winged Foot, Pinehurst and St. Andrews.
Trump International, West Palm Beach, Fla.
Ranked No. 71 in the U.S. by GOLF Magazine
There are many courses in America that are aesthetically striking, well designed, beautifully maintained, or challenging but fair — but few meet all these criteria. Trump International is one, and I enjoy my golf there immensely. The members all say, “I never get tired of playing that course.” That’s how I feel as well.
The Inverness Club, Toledo, Ohio
Ranked No. 41 in the U.S. and No. 71 in the World by GOLF Magazine
Inverness became the first major club to invite the professionals into the clubhouse, and it doesn’t take you long to become immersed in the history and tradition of this marvelous place. It’s hosted eight major championships, including four U.S. Opens. The greens are small and quick, and the course has been stretched to almost 7,300 yards, so you will need long irons or hybrids to reach some of the par 4s.
The Kingsley Club, Kingsley, Mich.
You would swear when playing at Kingsley that you had just dropped from a helicopter into the middle of Scotland or Ireland. It is a true links in character even with the Michigan pines that surround it. The fast-running fescue fairways and undulating greens have both speed and a bit of trickery to keep you alert. The two most difficult holes are the second and the ninth, par 3s of only 162 and 157 yards. Some people walk off these shorts holes with a score of 2, others with a 7. The course bunkering is great, and the whole scene is wonderful.