1. Cabo del Sol (Ocean Course), Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
7,103 yards, par 72 (1994)
Promotional hyperbole may have influenced Nicklaus to describe Cabo del Sol’s closing trio, as “the three finest finishing holes in golf,” but there is no question that the stunning seaside/desert locale makes for a memorable conclusion to a round. The par-3 17th, its green hard by the Sea of Cortez, is especially stunning.
2. Cap Cana Resort (Punta Espada Course), Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic
7,396 yards, par 72 (2006)
Bluffs, beach and jungle are constant companions on this modern Caribbean classic. Most memorable is the 249-yard, par-3 13th, which features a dramatic, Cypress Point-like carry over the Atlantic.
3. The Challenge at Manele, Lanai City, Lanai, Hawaii
7,039 yards, par 72 (1993)
The three clifftop holes will linger long in your memory, especially the 208-yard, par-3 12th with its Pacific Ocean backdrop that is so compelling that Bill Gates used its tee box to exchange his wedding vows.
4. Reynolds Plantation (Great Waters Course), Greensboro, Georgia
7,048 yards, par 72 (1992)
With practically the entire back nine skirting Lake Oconee, there’s eye candy galore, but fans of risk/reward options will gleefully embrace the short par-4 11th and the reachable par-5 18th.
5. The Greenbrier (Greenbrier Course), White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
6,675 yards, par 72 (1924/1977)
The site of the 1979 Ryder Cup, the Greenbrier Course plays through an Allegheny Mountain valley lined with maples, oaks and pines. However, the two most striking holes are laced with water, the 403-yard, par-4 2nd and the 339-yard, par-4 10th.
6. May River Golf Club at Palmetto Bluff, Bluffton, South Carolina
7,171 yards, par 72 (2004)
Massive oaks drenched in Spanish moss and freshwater wetlands are in abundance at this low-profile Hilton Head-area layout, but the holes you’ll come back for are along the oyster-filled May River, especially the par-3 14th.
7. Reflection Bay at Lake Las Vegas, Henderson, Nevada
7,261 yards, par 72 (1998)
Water in the desert is the dominant theme at this raucous romp just 30 minutes from the Strip. The two closing holes on each nine are more fun than a county fair log ride.
8. The Ocean Course at Ginn Hammock Beach Resort, Palm Coast, Florida
7,201 yards, par 72 (2000)
Formerly known as Ocean Hammock, this breeze-fueled, linksy layout was the site of 13-year-old Michelle Wie’s triumph at the 2003 U.S. Women’s Public Links Championship. While the final four holes along the Atlantic rightly earn acclaim as “the Bear Claw,” the best of the 18 might be the 468-yard, par-4 9th, with the ocean looming to the right.
9. Old Works Golf Course, Anaconda, Montana
7,705 yards, par 72 (1997)
Aside from the bargain price and the gargantuan length, Old Works is best known for its distinctive black slag bunkers, a by-product from the property’s former life housing iron ore smelters.
10. Grand Bear, Saucier, Mississippi
7,204 yards, par 72 (1999)
Routed amid the towering pines and ball-devouring cypress wetlands of the DeSoto National Forest, this graceful design boasts bold bunkering and utter tranquility.