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Bucket List: 50 Great Golf Courses – Part I
It’s that time of year again, so grab your clubs and hit the greens. Golf season is in full swing (pun intended). While we all have our favorite local course, our go-to destination spots, and even our dream golf resorts, we thought it would be fun to put together a list of great courses for all 50 states. Here are the first 25 of the 50 courses we’ve put on our bucket list:
Alabama – Shoal Creek, Birmingham (Private)
As the story goes, Hall Thompson spent so much time discussing the golf course he wanted to build that his wife, Lucy, told him to stop talking about it and start digging. Hall Thompson enlisted a young Jack Nicklaus to deliver on his vision for a timeless classic that would delight generations of club members while also testing the best players in the world.
Alaska – Chena Bend, Fort Wainright (Public)
While Alaska may not seem like an ideal golf destination, there are actually many scenic and well-maintained courses offered in this beautiful state. One of these courses is Chena Bend. Offering amazing views and challenging play, this course is a great destination choice.
Arizona – The Estancia Club, Scottsdale (Private)
We all know that Arizona has no shortage of astonishing golf courses to choose from. There are superb courses, both public and private, across the entire state. We chose to shoot for the gold and put The Estancia Club on our list. With pristine green, breathtaking dessert views, and all the amenities you could ask for, this course will not disappoint.
Arkansas – Diamante Country Club, Hot Springs Village (Private)
Consistently dubbed as one of the most challenging, yet flexible golf courses ever built, Diamante’s unique course design plays like five incredible golf courses in one. We’re up for the challenge.
California – Torrey Pines, San Diego (Public)
When heading to the golden state, Torrey Pines is a must. Situated atop cliffs towering above the Pacific Ocean in San Diego, California, golfers marvel at the views of the coastline, deep ravines, and classic championship golf holes.
Colorado – The Broadmoor Golf Club (East Course), Colorado Springs (Public)
The Broadmoor's East Course is known for its wide, tree-lined fairways and expansive greens. With its challenging terrain and amazing mountain vistas, this course is ranked among the best golf courses in the country. Since the large trees can alter your shots and the putting greens difficult to read, try and remember that putts break away from the mountains.
Connecticut – Lake of Isles (North), North Stonington (Public)
Designed by renowned Golf Course Architect Rees Jones, Lake of Isles offers 18 unique holes carved from the natural topography that surrounds the 90-acre Lake of Isles. This course offers rolling terrain, island greens and tees, and extraordinary views.
Delaware – Bayside Resort Golf Club, Selbyville (Public)
Bayside Resort Golf Club is a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course with stunning holes along the Assawoman Bay coastline through magnificent pine forests. In face according to Jack Nicklaus, "Golfers at Bayside enjoy three distinctly different golf experiences all in one golf course. Some holes are richly tree-lined, others wind through marshland and still others boast wide-open fairways.”
Florida – TPC Sawgrass (Players Stadium), Ponta Vedra Beach (Public)
The the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass is the home of The Players Championship. This course is an accessible, championship-caliber course like no other. Players Stadium is purposefully designed not to favor a particular style of play, resulting in a truly balanced course. Players find a selection of short, medium and long holes within the categories of par-3s, par-4s and par-5s; both right and left doglegs; and a course routing laid out so no two consecutive holes ever play in the same direction. With its signature island green on the par-3, 17th hole being one of the most recognized in golf, this legendary track has captured the imagination of golf fans all over the world and is consistently named among the top golf courses worldwide.
Georgia – Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta (Private)
We can’t put together a golf course list and not include Augusta. While we probably have no shot of actually playing there, we choose to be optimistic and include the home of The Masters. Here’s to dreaming.
Hawaii – The Prince Course Princeville, Kauai (Public)
While you probably can’t go wrong golfing on any course in Hawaii, we chose The Prince Course in Princeville, Kauai for our list. The wild beauty of the north shore of Kauai is brilliantly integrated into the course. It’s been said that even if it’s raining, golfers will still go out on the course and if they lose a ball, they don’t really care, because the experience of playing here is so fantastic and memorable, what’s a drop of rain or two or some lost balls?
Idaho – The Coeur d'Alene Resort Golf Club, Coeur d'Alene (Public)
The Coeur d'Alene Resort Golf Course provides an unmatched waterfront golf experience. It also offers the fun of the Famous Floating Green on the 14th hole, a man-made island that changes location. Our chances of landing a shot on the island are low. We’ll probably join one of thousands of balls fished out of the water by divers every year, but we’re up for the challenge.
Illinois – Chicago Golf Club, Wheaton (Private)
The Chicago Golf Club is the home of the oldest 18-hole course in North America and was founded by the first US Amateur champion, Charles Blair Macdonald. Needless to say, this destination has had a profound impact on golf in America. The problem is that there are only 125 members of this prestigious club, and invites are extremely rare.
Indiana – Victoria National Golf Club, Newburgh (Private)
Victoria National Golf Club is “dedicated to the spirit and camaraderie of golf in its purest form.” It is intriguingly set among 418 acres of reclaimed mining land, features a dramatic landscape with dense native vegetation and spring-fed lakes. This course displays a rare sense of charm that appeals to old time gent in us.
Iowa – The Harvester Golf Club, Rhodes (Public)
If you like to feel like you’re “one with nature” while you golf, The Harvester Golf Club is this course for you, as it features natural wetlands, woodlands, and creeks. It’s often described as peaceful, serene, and tranquil. As an added bonus to all that nature, it’s also a really good golf course.
Kansas – Hallbrook Country Club, Leawood (Private)
Built on what was once a family farm, the Hallbrook Country Club golf course takes full advantage of the spectacular property. The course features a surprising amount of elevation change as well as a picturesque creek that meanders throughout the course. It does a great job incorporating both the native Kansas prairie grasses and the heavily wooded hillsides that frame the golf course.
Kentucky – Valhalla Golf Club, Louisville (Private)
Kentucky is home to one of the PGA of America's most prized tournament venues: Valhalla Golf Club. It’s where the greats of the game have played. Again, we know we’re reaching by putting this on the list, but a gent can hope, right?
Louisiana – TPC Louisiana, Avondale (Public)
This course stretches over 250 acres of wetlands along the Mississippi River delta and is part of the Audubon Golf Trail and a proud member of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary program – providing a landscape that many have compared to a private nature reserve. The golf course layout incorporates cypress and oak trees, with plenty of water hazards and bunkers to make for a highly interesting game. Plus, there are five sets of tees at TPC Louisiana ranging from 5,121 yards from the front/women’s tees to 7,400 yards from the tips!
Maine – Belgrade Lakes Golf Club, Belgrade Lakes (Public)
Belgrade Lakes Golf Club is nestled in the rustic woodlands and panoramic hills of central Maine. Designed by acclaimed architect Clive Clark, the Belgrade Lakes Golf Course uses it most valuable asset—the idyllic landscape—to its utmost advantage. This course features 6,629 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 71.
Maryland – Congressional Country Club (Blue), Bethesda (Private)
The Blue Course Congressional Country Club is often considered among the best 100 courses in the United States. The course measures 7,250 yards and is known for its rolling terrain, tree-lined fairways, and wide challenging greens. Water hazards also come into play. It is private, and exclusive, but if you manage to get a tee time, it will not disappoint.
Massachusetts – Nantucket Golf Club, Siasconset (Private)
Nantucket Island is beautiful on it’s own, but add a caliber golf course like Nantucket Golf Club, and we’re in heaven. This award-winning course is integrated within an environmentally sensitive area and features truly stunning coastal views with sandplain grasslands.
Michigan – Arcadia Bluffs, Arcadia (Public)
Arcadia Bluffs is set on 245 acres overlooking Lake Michigan and 3,100 feet of Great Lakes shoreline, making it a sight of beauty for sure. This is a true links-style course with 50 sod-wall bunkers, and requiring a complete game to score well.
Minnesota – The Quarry at Giants Ridge, Biwabik (Public)
The Quarry at Giants Ridge is an excellent example of a repurposed industrial site and is a fitting tribute to the region's mining history. The course was built on the site of an old sand and gravel mining operation. In short, The Quarry is a remarkable golf course that more than justifies the journey to Minnesota.
Mississippi – Old Waverly Golf Club, West Point (Public)
The location of Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point is just oozing with history. While the club opened in 1988, the concept dates back to 1852 with Colonel George Hampton Young’s “Waverley” mansion. With its grand architecture and many mature trees, it is hard to believe the club is merely twenty-five years old. Golfing here feels like your enjoying a piece of our nation's history.
Missouri – Boone Valley Golf Club, Augusta (Private)
The Boone Valley Golf Club is located on 440 acres of scenic farm land and features 6,519 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 71. The course has well-groomed fairways and greens and the layout leads to a difficult yet friendly round of golf.
Stay tuned for our next 25 and share your top courses in the comments section!
About Ben Davis
A serial entrepreneur, Ben Davis is founder of The Gents Place and a leading investor in gentlemen's refinement and confidence.
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This article is a guest post by Randall Hanauer. He runs family-owned R. Hanauer Bow Ties, founded by his father.
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