I do not intend to play the world’s top 100 golf courses
Sure, I’d love to play as many of the top tracks in the world and any opportunity that arises to play a highly-ranked course will be strongly considered and likely acted upon with great appreciation.
That being said, playing courses of this magnitude is usually expensive, first and foremost and secondly, takes a lot of time if it involves travel. When you’re running a business to support your family and get only a few waking hours each weekday with your wife and infant son, money and time are precious commodities.
Thankfully, I have an awesome wife who sympathizes with my golf addiction and fully supports the occasional golf getaway.
Okay, on to the list –
I fully expect this post to evolve over time and I will update it as need be, whether it’s to add a course to the list or to cross one off that I end up playing.
This is not meant to be a definitive list of every course I want to play – that list would go on forever. Instead, this list only includes the courses that I’d be hard pressed to decline an invitation even on short notice, regardless of price OR courses I’d book an entire trip around just to play.
– Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, Georgia, USA
– Cypress Point Club, Pebble Beach, California, USA
– Merion Golf Club, Ardmore, Pennsylvania, USA
– Pine Valley Golf Club, Pine Valley, New Jersey, USA (shown below)
An invitation received to play any of these clubs would almost certainly be accepted and acted upon even on the shortest of notice. I’d likely be on a plane or on the road that night even if the tee time was less than 24 hours away.
There are a couple of things all these courses have in common: first of all, almost every one of them are ranked in the top 10 in numerous publications either in the US or Canada. Secondly, they are all intensely private clubs where invitations are few and far between.
The rest of the courses on my list would be places I’d likely try to build a trip or vacation around.
– Blackhawk Golf Club, Spruce Grove, Alberta, CANADA
If I’m ever back in the province, I’ll likely extend the stay and play Kananaskis Country Golf Course, where they have two courses ranked inside the top 100 in Canada (Mount Kidd and Mount Lorette). Blackhawk is a Rod Whitman design in the Edmonton area.
– Barnbougle Dunes, Bridport, Tasmania, AUSTRALIA
– Kingston Heath Golf Club, Cheltenham, Victoria, AUSTRALIA
– Lost Farm, Bridport, Tasmania, AUSTRALIA
– New South Wales Golf Club, La Perouse, New South Wales, AUSTRALIA
– Royal Melbourne Golf Club, Black Rock, Victoria, AUSTRALIA (shown below)
At some point in my life, I hope to make a trip down under to take in some of the best golf on the planet. Royal Melbourne is the jewel of the Sand Belt and Kingston Heath is right around the corner from what I understand. New South Wales has some of the most picturesque views in all of golf with many holes hugging the coastline. All three of those courses are private but like the great courses in Europe, these gems will all accept limited unaccompanied guest play with a proper introduction.
Tasmania is home to Barnbougle Dunes, which is soon to be a 36-hole resort featuring Lost Farm, the very highly anticipated Coore/Crenshaw design which is set to open at the end of 2010.
BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA:
– Capilano Golf & Country Club, West Vancouver, British Columbia, CANADA
Capilano is another of Stanley Thompson’s finest designs. When I head back to Sagebrush Golf & Sporting Club again, I’ll likely look into accessing Capilano and perhaps Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club as well.
– Los Angeles Country Club, Los Angeles, California, USA
– The Olympic Club, San Francisco, California, USA
– San Francisco Golf Club, San Francisco, California, USA
– Spyglass Hill Golf Course, Pebble Beach, California, USA
California is a big state so you definitely have to plan a Northern California vacation and one for Southern California as well.
Northern California is home to the Monterey Peninsula, where I was fortunate enough to play Pebble Beach and MPCC (Shore) in 2013. Cypress Point is ultra private and a very tough course to access while Spyglass Hill is a resort course, open to the public but extremely expensive. There are two private clubs in the San Francisco area I’d love to play as well in The Olympic Club’s Lake Course and San Francisco Golf Club, another tough course to get an invite to. During my 2013 trip, I was lucky enough to play the Cal Club in South San Francisco and the delightful Pasatiempo GC in Santa Cruz.
In Southern California, LACC is a very exclusive private club that I actually turned down a chance to play while playing Riviera CC in 2007. If I was in the area and had a chance to play it again, I wouldn’t turn down the invitation. I’d likely play Riviera again in the area and also try to play private clubs like Bel Air CC and Sherwood CC and perhaps publics like Rustic Canyon GC.
– TPC at Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, USA
There’s not much else in Florida that I need to see other than Pete Dye’s most famous design, the Stadium Course, home of the Players Championship on the PGA Tour. Perhaps Seminole GC, an ultra-private club in North Palm Beach. Maybe World Woods (Pine Barrens Course) in Brooksville but that’s about it.
– Ballybunion Golf Club, Ballybunion, IRELAND
– Enniscrone Golf Club, Enniscrone, IRELAND
– Lahinch Golf Club, Lahinch, IRELAND
– Old Head Golf Links, Kinsale, IRELAND
– Royal County Down Golf Club, Newcastle, N. IRELAND (shown below)
– Royal Portrush Golf Club, Portrush, N. IRELAND
This is probably the trip I want to take more than any other. In fact, getting the chance to experience Royal County Down may be right at the top of my list. This is a trip that will likely take two weeks to do the right way or will require multiple visits due to the fact there are places both in Ireland and Northern Ireland that I want to see. A number of other courses deserve mention and I’m sure I will play others that aren’t listed above but these are the ones I really want to see.
NEW YORK, USA:
– Friar’s Head, Baiting Hollow, New York, USA
New York, like Michigan, is chalk full of great golf courses, many of which have hosted major championships. There are a few other New York State courses listed in the ‘No Brainers’ section. They are all very private, as is Friar’s Head and there are a couple other notable private clubs in the state, like Fisher’s Island and Sleepy Hollow.
– Cape Kidnappers, Hawkes Bay, NEW ZEALAND (shown below)
– Kauri Cliffs, Matauri Bay, NEW ZEALAND
New Zealand would definitely be a stop on any trip down to Australia and Cape Kidnappers and Kauri Cliffs are two of the most picturesque places on the planet. CK has a similar look to Tobiano in British Columbia, a course I played for the first time in 2009, with fingers of land sitting well above a body of water. Both CK and KC host the annual Kiwi Challenge, a silly season event usually featuring four young up-and-comers on the PGA Tour.
NORTH CAROLINA, USA:
– Tobacco Road, Sanford, North Carolina, USA (shown below)
Tobacco Road is another Mike Strantz design, another public track like Pinehurst but one that is a very polarizing design. Many hate the course, many love it. That’s Strantz for you! Another notable course in NC includes Pine Needles in Southern Pines.
NOVA SCOTIA, CANADA:
– Cabot Links, Inverness, Nova Scotia, CANADA
– Cape Breton Highlands Links, Ingonish Beach, Nova Scotia, CANADA
Highlands Links (shown above) has always been ranked near the top of the ScoreGolf ranking of Canadian courses and it looks like I’m finally going to get my opportunity to play this esteemed course in 2012. I will be in Newfoundland on a business conference that year (yes, some things are planned that far in advance) and I’ll likely extend my stay to venture out to Cape Breton to play Highlands and also Cabot Links, a Rod Whitman and Ran Morrissett collaboration which isn’t completed yet. I’ll likely also try to play Crowbush Cove in Prince Edward Island and perhaps Humber Valley Golf Resort in Newfoundland, assuming it will still be operational (they are having liquidity issues from what I understand).
– The Golf Club, New Albany, Ohio, USA
– The Inverness Club, Toledo, Ohio, USA
I had the pleasure of visiting some of Ohio’s best courses in July 2011, including Scioto CC and Muirfield Village, shown above. I definitely would like to return someday and play a few courses we didn’t see the first time, like Pete Dye’s The Golf Club and the Donald Ross classic Inverness. I’d also like to visit Firestone Country Club in Akron, the home of the WGC Bridgestone Invitational. The very private Double Eagle GC is also a possibility.
I have now been lucky enough to visit Scotland on two occasions and while I’ve hit most of the “big ones”, there are still countless hidden gems that I need to go back and see, including Machrihanish GC and The Castle Course at St. Andrews.
SOUTH CAROLINA, USA:
– Harbour Town Golf Links, Hilton Head, South Carolina, USA (shown below)
I’d likely try to play some golf in Georgia if I was visiting South Carolina, with courses like Cuscowilla GC, Peachtree GC and East Lake all hopeful destinations. I won’t hold my breath on Augusta National but a man can dream…
– Blackwolf Run, Kohler, Wisconsin, USA
– Whistling Straits, Haven, Wisconsin, USA
The American Club Resort in Kohler, Wisconsin is home to four world class golf courses. Blackwolf Run’s River Course is joined by the Meadow Valleys course at the resort and just a few miles away in Haven sits Whistling Straits, with the famous Straits Course (host of the 2010 PGA Championship and shown above) and Irish Course on that site. Very expensive golf but open to the public. I’ve also heard great things about Milwaukee Country Club.
– Kapalua (Plantation Course), Kapalua, Hawaii, USA
– Redtail Golf Course, St. Thomas, Ontario, CANADA
– Rock Creek Cattle Company, Deer Lodge, Montana, USA
I’ll likely be crossing Redtail off this list in 2010, as I expect to spend a day there sometime this summer. The other courses here are all quite remote or located in places I’m not likely to visit off the cuff – I mean, really…when am I ever going to be in Montana? Tom Doak’s Rock Creek (shown above) looks tremendous but barring a long weekend invitation, there is no chance of me getting out there.
UPDATE: COURSES I’VE CROSSED OFF THE BUCKET LIST…BUT WOULD RETURN TO IN A HEARTBEAT!
– Arcadia Bluffs Golf Club, Arcadia, Michigan, USA PLAYED IN 2014
– Ballyneal Golf & Hunt Club, Holyoke, Colorado, USA PLAYED IN 2010, 2012 & 2013
– Bandon Dunes, Bandon, Oregon, USA PLAYED IN 2011
– Bandon Trails, Bandon, Oregon, USA PLAYED IN 2011
– Banff Springs Golf Course – Thompson Course, Banff, Alberta, CANADA PLAYED IN 2015
– Bethpage State Park – Black Course, Farmingdale, New York, USA PLAYED IN 2011
– California Golf Club of San Francisco, South San Francisco, California, USA PLAYED IN 2013
– Carnoustie Golf Links, Carnoustie, SCOTLAND PLAYED IN 2017
– Castle Stuart Golf Links, Inverness, SCOTLAND PLAYED IN 2019
– Cruden Bay Golf Club, Cruden Bay, SCOTLAND PLAYED IN 2019
– Crystal Downs Country Club, Frankfort, Michigan, USA PLAYED IN 2014
– Devil’s Paintbrush, Caledon East, Ontario, CANADA PLAYED IN 2013
– Hamilton Golf & Country Club, Ancaster, Ontario, CANADA PLAYED IN 2010
– Jasper Park Lodge Golf Course, Jasper, Alberta, CANADA PLAYED IN 2015
– Kiawah Island Golf Resort – Ocean Course, Kiawah Island, South Carolina, USA PLAYED IN 2014
– Kingsbarns Golf Links, St. Andrews, SCOTLAND PLAYED IN 2017
– Kingsley Club, Kingsley, Michigan, USA PLAYED IN 2014
– Mid Pines Inn and Golf Club, Southern Pines, North Carolina, USA PLAYED IN 2015
– Monterey Peninsula Country Club – Shore Course, Pebble Beach, California, USA PLAYED IN 2013
– Muirfield Golf Club, Gullane, SCOTLAND PLAYED IN 2017 & 2019
– Muirfield Village Golf Club, Dublin, Ohio, USA PLAYED IN 2011
– National Golf Club of Canada, Woodbridge, Ontario, CANADA PLAYED IN 2011
– National Golf Links of America, Southampton, New York, USA PLAYED IN 2011
– North Berwick Golf Club – West Links, North Berwick, SCOTLAND PLAYED IN 2017 & 2019
– Oak Hill Golf Club – East Course, Rochester, New York, USA PLAYED IN 2015
– Oakland Hills Country Club – South Course, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, USA PLAYED IN 2014
– Oakmont Country Club, Oakmont, Pennsylvania, USA PLAYED IN 2007
– The Old Course at St. Andrews, St. Andrews, SCOTLAND PLAYED IN 2017
– Old Macdonald, Bandon, Oregon, USA PLAYED IN 2011
– Pacific Dunes, Bandon, Oregon, USA PLAYED IN 2011
– Pasatiempo Golf Club, Santa Cruz, California, USA PLAYED IN 2013
– Pebble Beach Golf Links, Pebble Beach, California, USA PLAYED IN 2013
– Pinehurst Resort – #2 Course, Pinehurst, North Carolina, USA PLAYED IN 2015
– Riviera Country Club, Pacific Palisades, California, USA PLAYED IN 2007
– Royal Dornoch Golf Club – Championship Links, Dornoch, SCOTLAND PLAYED IN 2019
– Sand Hills Golf Club, Mullen, Nebraska, USA PLAYED IN 2010
– Scioto Country Club, Columbus, Ohio, USA PLAYED IN 2011
– Sebonack, Southampton, New York, USA PLAYED IN 2011
– Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, Southampton, New York, USA PLAYED IN 2013
– St. George’s Golf & Country Club, Etobicoke, Ontario, CANADA PLAYED IN 2012
– Turnberry Golf Resort – Ailsa Course, Turnberry, SCOTLAND PLAYED IN 2017
– Winged Foot Golf Club, Mamaroneck, New York, USA PLAYED IN 2013
– The Course at Yale, New Haven, Connecticut, USA PLAYED IN 2013
So there is the list, an exhaustive one at that! I look forward to hearing your comments – what have I not included that should be on my dream list? What have you played on this list that you feel shouldn’t be on the list?
Hope to hear from everyone who visits!