10 best new public golf courses in the United States

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GOLF Magazine's Top 10 New Courses You Can Play The crop of candidates for our Top 10 New honors ran the gamut from the spiritual (Del Webb at Ave Maria) to the sinister (John Daly's Murder Rock Golf & Country Club), but the winners rose above the fray. Selected with input from our course-ranking panelists, editors and spies in the field, these are the best new public-access courses opened in 2007—and the best new private and international tracks—and most of them can be played for a lot less than $100. No matter where you live, there's a must-play newbie right around the corner. Believe it or not, the course on the left is not in Ireland, Scotland, Australia or New Zealand. It's in America and is our 2007 Course of the Year. Continue on to the gallery and learn where this emerald beauty can be found.
2 of 13 Clive Barber/Humber Valley Resort
Best New International Course Humber Valley Resort (River Course) Newfoundland, Canada 7,199 yards, par 72 Green fee: $50-$100 866-686-8100, humbervalley.com Humber Valley Resort's River Course is reason enough for golfers to keep an eye on the Weather Channel to see when the snows melt to the north. Architect Doug Carrick infused this layout with sufficient length and mettle to challenge the serious stick, as shown by his artfully sectionalized greens and the deft risk/reward test posed by such holes as the downhill par-5 13th, where bunkers narrow the target for long hitters. Perhaps Carrick's greatest feat, however, was allowing a stunning piece of property to yield one spectacular, fun-to-play hole after another. Particularly unforgettable is the par-4 10th, which plunges 180 feet from tee to fairway. The par-3 5th calls for a long carry over the lakeshore, and the par-3 14th perilously skirts the river—another two holes that make this out-of-theway journey well worth the effort.
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Bandon Crossings Golf Course Bandon, Ore. 6,855 yards, par 72 Green fees: $33-$93 541-347-3232, bandoncrossings.com "Bandon on a budget" best describes this low-key layout near the famed Bandon Dunes Resort. Designed by local boy Dan Hixson, this inland track plays around a dry river bottomland. Majestic coastal trees, classically sculpted bunkers and uneven terrain provide the main challenges. It's not Bandon Dunes, but if aching legs and wallet woes are an issue, this is a refreshing alternative, and well worth every penny.
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The Crossings at Carlsbad Carlsbad, Calif. 6,835 yards, par 72 Green fee: $90-$120 760-444-1800, thecrossingsatcarlsbad.com Municipal courses that overlook the Pacific Ocean are about as common as civil political campaigns these days. Here's why: The Crossings was green-lighted in a 1990 public vote but it took another 17 years to clear permit hurdles. It was worth the wait. This Greg Nash design, a mile inland, is draped over heaving terrain that's bisected by scrub-choked canyons. Environmental restrictions forced a dozen routing changes and the result is some awkward transitions, but you'll love a handful of enticing holes, particularly the par-5 7th with its shallow, elevated green menaced by a lake, and the par-4 10th, which boasts a 10-story drop to the fairway. There are muni moments here: airplane traffic and amusement-park din, but where else can you gaze over the Pacific from the 18th tee yet still get change from $100?
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Juliette Falls Golf & Spa Community Dunnellon, Fla. 7,239 yards, par 72 Green fee: $125 352-522-0309, juliettefalls.com Florida's Marion County, 85 miles northwest of Orlando, is home to some 200 horse farms, and its latest golf offering is a pure thoroughbred. Architect John Sanford coaxed a classic parkland layout from gently rolling terrain, and while there are a few bells and whistles—four waterfall features and eye-catching waste bunkers dotted with shrubbery and wire grass the course's strength lies in the variety of its par-4s and the standout quartet of par-3s, two of which feature Daliesque greens that seemingly melt into the water. Gallop over here before it goes private sometime down the road.
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Leopard's Chase Golf Club at Ocean Ridge Plantation Ocean Isle Beach, N.C. 7,155 yards, par 72 Green fees: $95-$195 910-287-1717, big-cats.com Architect Tim Cate has toiled on all four courses at Ocean Ridge, and has improved on every one. Leopard's Chase might just launch him to a national audience. This big cat stalks you with a daunting 140 slope, due primarily to the enormous, heaving, speedy greens and a back nine that bares its fangs at the 11th and never lets up. The front nine sports the prettiest hole—the island-green par-3 4th, quickly followed by the intriguing par-4 5th, its green completely encircled by sand—but it's the (par 37) back nine that can shred your scorecard. The 439-yard finishing hole has ponds bracketing the fairway, a gigantic waste bunker up the right side, a waterfall left of the green and a prevailing left-to-right breeze. All that makes for one of the most memorable closers on the Grand Strand.
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Cougar Canyon Golf Links Trinidad, Colo. 7,709 yards, par 72 Green fees: $35-$73 719-422-7015, cougarcanyonliving.com Residental courses tend to be like the golf communities they inhabit: relaxed, conventional and uncontroversial. Cougar Canyon, located in the old mining town of Trinidad, halfway between Denver and Albuquerque, breaks that mold. Chris Cochran of Nicklaus Design has crafted a peril-filled track with the Sangre de Christo Mountains as a backdrop. The formidable length from the tips is mitigated by the 6,000-foot elevation, but there's plenty of trouble here, starting with the 42 deep, black sand bunkers (a nod to the town's mining heritage). The flattish front nine yields to jacked-up excitement on the back, notably at the stunning 163-yard 16th, which demands a short-iron dart over a yawning swath of Gray Creek to an island green that rests atop a 7,800- square-foot mesa.
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Cottonwood Hills Golf Club Hutchinson, Kan. 7,260 yards, par 72 Green fees: $49-$55 620-802-9150, cottonwoodhills.net Nick Faldo won his first British Open with 18 straight pars in the final round, but we'd be more impressed if he could do it on his new course in Central Kansas. Blind shots, rippled fairways, more than 70 bunkers and diabolically contoured greens allow creative players to thrive while the rest of us can bunt around trouble. Cottonwood Hills rivals nearby Prairie Dunes as a varied test. And with a peak fee of $55, it is heaven in the heartland.
9 of 13 L.C. Lambrecht
Stowe Mountain Club Stowe, Vt. 6,411 yards, par 72 Green fees: $175-$250 802-253-3564, stowemountainclub.com Golfers with egos bigger than their drives might scoff at the total yardage at Stowe Mountain Club: just 6,411 yards. If that's you, let your eyes wander over to the fearsome slope of 141 as testament to the strength of architect Bob Cupp's pint-sized shotmaker's delight at the Stowe Mountain Resort. The course basks in postcard views of Mt. Mansfield, Vermont's highest point, but the off-course vistas are exceeded only by the on-course challenges. Among them: the muscular 252-yard par-3 4th, which sports rock-wall tee boxes, a mountain stream and a greenside bunker that will catch even a slight push. The flatter back nine features a trio of holes that tangle with Peregrine Lake.
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Blue Top Ridge at Riverside Casino and Golf Resort Riverside, Iowa 7,505 yards, par 72 Green fees: $55-$80 877-677-3456, riversidecasinoandresort.com This is golf's answer to Field of Dreams — a sporting oasis in the middle of an Iowa cornfield. Blue Top Ridge is a brawny Rees Jones design that boasts remarkable variety, with three different landforms. The front nine begins in a prairie before descending at the 4th to a river plain (a trio of holes are set on the Iowa River). The back nine is carved into a hillside that boosts the requisite drama quotient. There is a wonderful ebb and flow to the course, but the finishing stretch will resonate, especially the gargantuan 665-yard 16th hole, where a creek splits the landing areas.
11 of 13 Rob Perry/Butterfield Trail GC
Butterfield Trail Golf Club El Paso, Tex. 7,307 yards, par 72 Green fees: $65-$80 915-772-1038, butterfieldtrailgolf.com Tom Fazio is known for his stylized, flawlessly landscaped, big-budget designs that are as polished as a Beverly Hills trophy wife. At Butterfield Trail, not far from El Paso International Airport, each hole is named for a different Stagecoach stop on the 2,800-mile Missouri-to-San Francisco trail used by the Butterfield Overland Mail Company from 1858 to 1861. The fairways are wide enough to accommodate shots in the roaring west Texas winds, but there are sufficient strategic options to keep you interested. The Trail's final stop is its finest, a classic gambler's par-5 of 566 yards that buttonhooks to the right around a lake. If you want an on-time arrival at the green, your approach had better be letter-perfect.
12 of 13 Dick Durrance II
Best New Course of the Year Chambers Bay Golf Course University Place, Wash. 7,585 yards, par 72 Green fee: $65-$150 877-29-LINKS, chambersbaygolf.com At Chambers Bay the visuals scream Ireland: giant sand dunes, rumpled fairways, stunning sea views, and unpredictable weather. But this superb new course is almost 5,000 miles west of Ballybunion, atop an old gravel mine about an hour south of Seattle, Wash. This Robert Trent Jones II-designed municipal track is a walkers' only feast for the eyes, and a relentless test of both swing and stamina. Call it Bethpage Black-by-the-Sea. The eye candy commences right at the 1st hole, with a 50-foot-high dune to the right and the backdrop of Puget Sound. It only gets better from there. Highlights include the par-4 5th, called "Free Fall," which plummets 80 feet from tee to landing area and culminates in two separate greens—150 yards apart. The farther green is receptive to a lowrunning approach, while the closer one is fiercely guarded by sand. The dearth of forced carries means Chambers Bay is playable for all, although a memorable exception to that is the jaw-dropping par-3 9th, its wavy potato chip-contoured green perched on the far side of a ravine. Chambers Bay earns the greatest compliment it's possible to bestow on a new course: By the time your caddie replaces the flag at 18, all you can think about is repeating the journey.
13 of 13 Brent Stewart/Colorado Golf Club
Best New Private Course Colorado Golf Club Parker, Colo. 7,604 yards, par 72 coloradogolfclub.com Architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw—the partnership behind Sand Hills and Bandon Trails—were handed a 1,700-acre former Arabian horse ranch dusted with deep gullies, meadows and clusters of tall pines. Not a bad start, right? And they improved on it. The fairways hew to the lay of the land, and the artfully crafted, multitiered greens ensure that a variety of shotmaking skills are required to navigate the challenges. After the 653- yard downhill opening hole, the course switches gears abruptly at the 154-yard 2nd, requiring a precise pitch over a wash and a pot bunker to a tiny green that rejects balls hit to the edges. Game on. Brutal two-shot holes are balanced by reachable, short par-4s; split-fairway, thinking-man's par-5s mesh with the occasional grip-it-and-rip-it test. The result is a terrific medley of holes that appear to have evolved rather than been manufactured, a true expression of least-disturbance design by two of its finest practitioners.