GOLF Magazine Top 100 Teacher Laird Small has your dream job — director of the Pebble Beach Golf Academy. Before that, he was the head pro at Spyglass Hill Golf Course. Life for Small is very, very good. So GOLF.com asked him to help us kick off a new weekly series, My Fab 5, and tell us his five favorite courses in the United States. Here’s what he told us.
1. Pebble Beach Golf Links, Pebble Beach, Calif.
• No. 4 on GOLF Magazine Top 100 in the United States list
“The course is only about 6,800 yards long, so length is not really an issue, but the course demands accurate iron play. The target complexes are small and the weather conditions can change quickly so you really have to hit good shots.”
2. Merion Golf Club, Ardmore, Penn.
• No. 7 on GOLF Magazine Top 100 in the United States list
“Another course that is not really too long, Merion demands that you hit the ball well off the tee if you want to score well. When you play a course like Merion, you have to think about what the course designer, in this case Hugh Wilson, is challenging you to do. If you can read the ideal shot and execute it, you can be successful. But if you don’t, you’ll pay the price.”
3. Interlachen Country Club, Endina, Minn.
• No. 72 on GOLF Magazine Top 100 in the United States list
“I love the fact that all the par 5s on the course are reachable — and for big hitters, an iron is all that’s required on the second shot — but you must put the ball in the ideal area on the greens because they are so undulating.”
4. Castle Pines Golf Club, Castle Rock, Colo.
• No. 85 on GOLF Magazine Top 100 in the United States list
“The Rocky Mountains are just stunning, and playing at altitude puts such a unique premium on controlling your ball flight. Because the air is so thin, shots don’t spin as much and therefore fly lower, so you are challenged to hit the ball higher if you want to stop approach shots on the green. It’s tempting to try overpowering the course because of the scorecard distances, but the holes play shorter than their yardage, so you don’t need to.”
5. Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course, Stateline, Calif.
“The lake is beautiful, and the weather can really change fast up in the Sierras. The holes look a lot longer than they play.”