The Best Golf Courses in America

When my brother and his wife bought me a golf ball cabinet about ten years ago, I started collecting logo balls from all the different courses I played. I hadn’t started my foray in to golf writing at the time so its contents grew slowly but steadily, consisting primarily of muni tracks around Waukesha County.

I started WiscoGolfAddict in 2011, and during that year played 59 different courses including three of my first private clubs. With 2012 came my first out-of-state golf trips: Myrtle Beach with my cousins Frank and Jeff, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with a group of friends. It was also the year I played my first Tour courses, including Erin Hills, Blackwolf Run’s River course, Chambers Bay, University Ridge and Cog Hill No. 4 Dubsdread. I played 126 rounds in 2012 at a total of 52 different courses.

While I’d consider 2012 to be the year that opened my eyes to world-class golf, I’d also consider it to be the year that opened my eyes to the way golf can drain my bank account. An audit of my post-season golf charges that year was just shy of $10,000.

My first media event invites started coming in 2013, first for a pre-tournament media day at the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run, and soon after a weekend trip to Madden’s Resort on Gull Lake in Brainerd, Minnesota. Exciting things with my golf writing were starting to snowball, and they have only continued to this day.

Through my writing I have experienced amazing public and private golf courses across the country, built out a wonderful network of industry experts and friends, and am continuously learning about all the things that make golf great, especially from the design and architectural side.

The experts (Doak, Fazio, Coore, Crenshaw, Jones, Staples, Trent Jones, Jr, …) may score 80-95 on a scale of 100 for their course design knowledge. I can’t claim to know more than 15-20, which is probably still generous, but the path to learning is filled with playing new styles of courses and constantly picking up on the both subtle and obvious nuances that architects institute in their designs. It’s an adventure I hope to continue and enjoy for years to come.

While Golf Digest, GolfWeek and Golf.com release their best courses in the US lists on an annual or semi-annual basis, I have just one: This running list of the 50 tracks I consider to be the best in the country… that I’ve played.

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1. Pacific Dunes (Bandon, OR)

Architect: Tom Doak (2001)
Yardages: Black-6633, Green-6142, Gold-5775
Slope/Rating: Black-142/73.0, Green-133/70.7, Gold-129/68.6

2. Bandon Dunes (Bandon, OR)

Architect: David McLay Kidd (1999)
Yardages: Black-6759, Green-6247, Gold-5751
Slope/Rating: Black-130/73.6, Green-129/71.1, Gold-122/68.7

3. Kiawah Island, Ocean (Kiawah Island, SC)

Architect: Pete Dye (1991)
Yardages: Tournament-7356, Ocean-6779, Dye-6475
Slope/Rating: Tournament-144/77.3, Ocean-138/73.6, Dye-134/72.0

4. Chambers Bay (University Place, WA)

Architect: Robert Trent Jones, Jr (2007)
Yardages: Teal-7585, Navy-7165, Sand-6513
Slope/Rating: Teal-142/76.8, Navy-139/75.6, Sand-135/72.4

5. Erin Hills (Erin, WI)

Architects: Michael Hurdzan, Dana Fry & Ron Whitten (2006)
Yardages: Black-7800, Blue-7174, Green-6754
Slope/Rating: Black-145/77.9, Blue-139/75.0, Green-135/73.2

IMG_0077

6. Old Macdonald (Bandon, OR)

Architect: Tom Doak & Jim Urbina (2010)
Yardages: Black-6944, Green-6320, Gold-5658
Slope/Rating: Black-133/74.1, Green-127/71.3, Gold-119/68.2

7. Whistling Straits, Straits (Haven, WI)

Architect: Pete Dye (1998)
Yardages: Black-7362, Blue-6909, Green-6459
Slope/Rating: Black-151/76.7, Blue-144/74.2, Green-137/71.9

8. Shoreacres (Lake Bluff, IL)

Architect: Seth Raynor (1921)
Yardages: Black-6530, Raynor-6309, Green-5457
Slope/Rating: Black-133/71.4, Raynor-130/70.4, Green-120/66.5

IMG_5030

9. The Prairie Club, Dunes (Valentine, NE)

Architect: Tom Lehman (2010)
Yardages: Tour-8073, White-7525, Blue-7099
Slope/Rating: Tour-135/75.0, White-133/72.4, Blue-128/71.7

10. Sand Valley, Sand Valley (Rome, WI)

Architect: Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw (2017)
Yardages: Tips-7161, Black-6899, Orange-6520
Slope/Rating: Tips-135/74.7, Black-134/73.2, Orange-130/71.4

11. Bandon Trails (Bandon, OR)

Architect: Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw (2005)
Yardages: Black-6759, Green-6247, Gold-5751
Slope/Rating: Black-130/73.6, Green-129/71.1, Gold-122/68.7

12. Streamsong, Blue (Streamsong, FL)

Architect: Tom Doak (2012)
Yardages: Green-7176, Black-6698, Silver-6285
Slope/Rating: Green-131/74.1, Black-127/72.0, Silver-123/69.7

13. Blackwolf Run, River (Kohler, WI)

Architect: Pete Dye (1988)
Yardages: Black-7404, Blue-6865, Green-6507
Slope/Rating: Black-151/76.2, Blue-144/73.7, Green-139/72.1

14. Streamsong, Red (Streamsong, FL)

Architect: Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw (2012)
Yardages: Green-7148, Black-6584, Silver-6094
Slope/Rating: Green-130/74.2, Black-125/71.7, Silver-119/69.4

15. Milwaukee Country Club (River Hills, WI)

Architect: C.H. Alison (1929)
Yardages: Back-7094, Middle-6444, Forward-5856
Slope/Rating: Back-136.74.6, Middle-130/71.9, Forward-125/69.5

IMG_1368

16. Sand Valley, Mammoth Dunes (Rome, WI)

Architect: David McLay Kidd (2018)
Yardages: Black-6935, Orange-6563, Sand-6027
Slope/Rating: Black-132/72.4, Orange-124/70.5, Sand-117/68.0

DCIM/813MEDIA/DJI_0578.JPG

17. Pine Hills Country Club (Sheboygan Falls, WI)

Architect: Harry Smead (1928)
Yardages: Blue-6481, White-6151, Silver-5817
Slope/Rating: Blue-132/72.3, White-128/70.7, Silver-125/69.3

DCIM/813MEDIA/DJI_0350.JPG

18. Reynolds Lake Oconee, Great Waters (Greensboro, GA)

Architect: Jack Nicklaus (1992)
Yardages: One-7073, Two-6581, Three-6069
Slope/Rating: One-138/74.0, Two-133/71.9, Three-129/69.6

19. Medinah Country Club, No. 3 (Medinah, IL)

Architect: Tom Bendelow (1928), Rees Jones (2009)
Yardages: Gold-7657, Silver-7007, White-6629
Slope/Rating: Gold-152/78.3, Silver-147/75.3, White-142/72.3

DCIM/813MEDIA/DJI_2724.JPG

20. Blue Mound Golf & Country Club (Wauwatosa, WI)

Architect: Seth Raynor (1926)
Yardages: Black-6667, Blue-6313, White-5632
Slope/Rating: Black-131/72.1, Blue-127/70.6, White-124/72.5

21. Dismal River, Red (Mullen, NE)

Architect: Tom Doak (2013)
Yardages: Back-6994, Club-6334, Forward-4830
Slope/Rating: Not available

22. SentryWorld (Stevens Point, WI)

Architect: Robert Trent Jones, Jr (2013)
Yardages: Black-7237, Blue-6711, White-6110
Slope/Rating: Black-139/75.1, 131/72.6, White-125/69.8

23. The Classic at Madden’s on Gull Lake (Brainerd, MN)

Architect: Scott Hoffman, Geoffrey Cornish, John Harris & Warren Rebholz (1996)
Yardages: Tour-7102, Black-6717, Blue-6438
Slope/Rating: Tour-145/75.6, Black-141/73.9, Blue-134/72.1

24. The Harvester (Rhodes, IA)

Architect: Keith Foster (2000)
Yardages: Black-7365, Blue-6840, White-6430
Slope/Rating: Black-140/76.0, Blue-132/73.1, White-128/70.8

08-IMG_2037

25. The Prairie Club, Pines (Valentine, NE)

Architect: Graham Marsh (2010)
Yardages: Black-7403, White-6824, Green-6080
Slope/Rating: Black-134/75.0, White-128/72.4, Green-115/69.4

03-IMG_2434

26. The Wilderness at Fortune Bay (Tower, MN)

Architect: Jeffrey Brauer (2004)
Yardages: Gold-7207, Blue-6772, White-6147
Slope/Rating: Gold-142/75.3, Blue-137/73.2, White-131/70.4

Wilderness at Fortune Bay
Photo credit: GolftheWilderness.com

27. Lawsonia, Links (Green Lake, WI)

Architect: William Langford & Theodore Moreau (1930)
Yardages: Blue-6853, White-6494, Gold-6022
Slope/Rating: Blue-130/73.0, White-128/71.5, Gold-124/68.8

IMG_1677

28. Marquette Golf Club, Greywalls (Marquette, MI)

Architect: Mike DeVries (2005)
Yardages: Black-6828, Grey-6537, White-5908
Slope/Rating: Black-144/73.0, Grey-138/70.7, White-130/68.2

IMG_5833

29. Black Sheep Golf Club (Sugar Grove, IL)

Architect: David Esler (2001)
Yardage: Holes 1-18: Black-7111, Grey-6732, White-6463; Holes 1-9, 19-27: Black-6930, 6659, 6382; Holes 10-27: Black-7107, Grey-6729, White-6519
Slope/Rating: Holes 1-18: Black-74.7/137, Grey-72.7/133, White-71.5/130; Holes 1-9, 19-27: Black-73.5/134, Grey-72.1/132, White-70.8/129; Holes 10-27: Black-74.6/135, Grey-72.6/132, White-71.7/130

30. Pumpkin Ridge, Witch Hollow (North Plains, OR)

Architect: Bob Cupp (1992)
Yardages: Black-7015, Blue-6506, White-6000
Slope/Rating: Black-142/74.9, Blue-140/72.4, White-132/69.9

06-IMG_0309

31. Whistling Straits, Irish (Haven, WI)

Architect: Pete Dye (2000)
Yardages: Black-7201, Blue-6750, Green-6366
Slope/Rating: Black-146/75.6, Blue-141/73.5, Green-137/72.0

11-IMG_1926

32. RTJ Golf Trail, Ross Bridge (Hoover, AL)

Architect: Robert Trent Jones (2006)
Yardages: Black-8191, Purple-7446, Orange-6783
Slope/Rating: Black-135/78.5, Purple-127/74.9, Orange-118/71.3

IMG_6304

33. Torrey Pines, South Course (La Jolla, CA)

Architect: William P. Bell, Sr (1957), Rees Jones (2001)
Yardages: Black-7628, Blue-7051, White-6628
Slope/Rating: Black-143/78.1, Blue-139/76.1, White-136/74.3

18-IMG_2925

34. The Club at Lac La Belle (Oconomowoc, WI)

Architect: Unknown (1896), Craig Haltom (2020)
Yardages: Tips-6820
Slope/Rating: N/A

DCIM/813MEDIA/DJI_1606.JPG

35. Blackwolf Run, Meadow Valleys (Kohler, WI)

Architect: Pete Dye (1989)
Yardages: Black-7165, Blue-6735, White-6236
Slope/Rating: Black-144/74.6, Blue-138/72.6, White-132/70.1

14-IMG_3259

36. Kiva Dunes (Gulf Shores, AL)

Architect: Jerry Pate (1995)
Yardages: Gold-7092, Blue-6454, White-5849
Slope/Rating: Gold-132/73.9, Blue-129/70.8, White-119/67.8

08-IMG_4379

37. World Woods, Pine Barrens (Brooksville, FL)

Architect: Tom Fazio (1993)
Yardages: Yellow-7237, Black-6817, Green-6316
Slope/Rating: Yellow-133/75.3, Black-131/72.5, Green-125/70.2

18-IMG_8364 (9)

38. Medinah Country Club, Course 1 (Medinah, IL)

Architect: Tom Bendelow (1925), Tom Doak (2014)
Yardages: Gold-6895, Silver-6667, White-6213, Green-5505
Slope/Rating: Gold-136/73.3, Silver-134/72.3, White-129/70.2, Green-128/70.0

39. Wild Rock (Wisconsin Dells, WI)

Architect: Michael Hurdzan & Dana Fry (2008)
Yardages: Quartzite-7414, Granite-6953, Shale-6393
Slope/Rating: Quartzite-141/76.5, Granite-135/74.5, Shale-134/70.8

IMG_0387

40. Reynolds Lake Oconee, The Oconee (Greensboro, GA)

Architect: Rees Jones (2002)
Yardages: One-7029, Two-6732, Three-6294
Slope/Rating: One-137/73.5, Two-134/72.1, Three-128/70.0

16-IMG_6868

41. Cog Hill, No. 4 Dubsdread (Lemont, IL)

Architect: Joseph Lee & Dick Wilson (1964), Rees Jones (2008)
Yardages: Black-7554, Gold-7144, Blue-6750
Slope/Rating: Black-151/77.8, Gold-144/75.8, Blue-138/73.9

11-IMG_7167

42. The Bull at Pinehurst Farms (Sheboygan Falls, WI)

Architect: Jack Nicklaus (2003)
Yardages: Black-7354, Blue-6867, Green-6424
Slope/Rating: Black-147/76.3, Blue-144/73.8, Green-138/71.7

06-IMG_5210

43. Chicago Highlands (Westchester, IL)

Architect: Arthur Hills (2009)
Yardages: Black-7490, Gold-7066, Blue-6580
Slope/Rating: Black-141/76.4, Gold-136/74.2, Blue-132/72.1

13-IMG_4308

44. University Ridge (Verona, WI)

Architect: Robert Trent Jones, Jr (1991)
Yardages: Black-7259, Blue-6610, White-6053
Slope/Rating: Black-144/74.9, Blue-139/72.9, White-129/69.3

6-IMG_1449

45. Kenosha Country Club (Kenosha, WI)

Architect: Donald Ross (1921)
Yardages: Blue-6530, White-6277, Gold-5680, Red-5107
Slope/Rating:Blue-130/71.9, White-127/70.8, Gold-122/67.9, Red-121/69.4

46. Dismal River, White (Mullen, NE)

Architect: Jack Nicklaus (2006)
Yardages: Tips-7368, Members-6638, Forward-4965
Slope/Rating: Tips-149/77.0, Members-139/73.2, Forward-135/69.6

04-IMG_2746

47. True Blue (Pawley’s Island, SC)

Architect: Mike Strantz (1998)
Yardages: Black-7126, Blue-6812, White-6375
Slope/Rating: Black-145/74.3, Blue-141/72.8, White-127/70.1

e864c-14-img_3359

48. Strawberry Creek (Kenosha, WI)

Architect: Rick Jacobson (2006)
Yardages: Black-7113, Gold-6658, Blue-6157
Slope/Rating: Black-136/74.8, Gold-131/72.8, Blue-126/70.5

14-IMG_3538

49. TPC Deere Run (Silvis, IL)

Architect: D.A. Weibring (2000)
Yardages: John Deere-7258, Black-7075, Blue-6530
Slope/Rating: John Deere-144/75.8, Black-141/74.4, Blue-135/71.9

IMG_0082

50. Pumpkin Ridge, Ghost Creek (North Plains, OR)

Architect: Bob Cupp (1992)
Yardages: Black-6839, Blue-6386, White-5921
Slope/Rating: Black-147/74.5, Blue-139/72.1, White-136/69.8

IMG_0167

The next 50:
51. Horseshoe Bay (Egg Harbor, WI)
52. The Preserve at Oak Meadows (Addison, IL)
53. Geneva National, Palmer (Lake Geneva, WI)
54. ThunderHawk (Beach Park, IL)
55. Ozaukee Country Club (Mequon, WI)
56. West Bend Country Club (West Bend, WI)
57. North Hills Country Club (Menomonee Falls, WI)
58. TimberStone (Iron Mountain, MI)
59. Racine Country Club (Racine, WI)
60. Geneva National, Player (Lake Geneva, WI)
61. Hawk’s Landing (Verona, WI)
62. The Legend at Bristlecone (Hartland, WI)
63. Mistwood Golf Club (IL)
64. Sweetgrass (Harris, MI)
65. Brown Deer Park (Milwaukee, WI)
66. Westmoor Country Club (Brookfield, WI)
67. The University Club (Milwaukee, WI)
68. Washington County (Hartford, WI)
69. Grand Geneva, The Brute (Lake Geneva, WI)
70. The Oaks (Cottage Grove, WI)
71. The Legend at Bergamont (Oregon, WI)
72. Castle at the Bay (Arkdale, WI)
73. Kiawah Island, Cougar Point (Kiawah Island, SC)
74. Peninsula Golf Club (Fort Morgan, AL)
75. Juliette Falls (Dunnellon, FL)
76. Wild Ridge (Eau Claire, WI)
77. Kiawah Island, Osprey Point (Kiawah Island, SC)
78. Hawks View, Como Crossings (Lake Geneva, WI)
79. Tuckaway Country Club (Franklin, WI)
80. Bishops Bay Country Club (Madison, WI)
81. The Bog (Saukville, WI)
82. Bull’s Eye Country Club (Stevens Point, WI)
83. Harborside International, Port (Chicago, IL)
84. Trapper’s Turn (Wisconsin Dells, WI)
85. World Woods, Rolling Oaks (Brooksville, FL)
86. Morningstar (Waukesha, WI)
87. Reynolds Lake Oconee, The National (Jonesboro, GA)
88. TPC Tampa Bay (Lutz, FL)
89. Hidden Glen at Bentdale Farms (Cedarburg, WI)
90. Fire Ridge (Grafton, WI)
91. Lawsonia, Woodlands (Green Lake, WI)
92. Whispering Springs (Fond du Lac, WI)
93. Wisconsin Club (Milwaukee, WI)
94. Big Fish (Hayward, WI)
95. Medinah Country Club, Course 2 (Medinah, IL)
96. Craft Farms, Cotton Creek (Gulf Shores, AL)
97. Lost Key (Perdido Key, FL)
98. Shepherds Crook (Zion, IL)
99. Naga-Waukee (Pewaukee, WI)
100. Stone Creek (OR)

The courses I’m hoping to play soon for consideration:

  1. Kingsley Club (MI)
  2. Inverness (OH)
  3. Forest Dunes (MI)
  4. Arcadia Bluffs (MI)
  5. French Lick, Dye (OH)
  6. The Dunes Club (MI)
  7. Rich Harvest Farms (IL)
  8. Oconomowoc Country Club (WI)
  9. Sage Run (MI)
  10. Arcadia Bluffs, South Course (MI)
  11. Harbor Shores (MI)
  12. Stoatin Brae (MI)
  13. French Lick, Ross (OH)
  14. Troy Burne (WI)
  15. Grand Geneva, The Highlands (WI)
  16. La Crosse Country Club (WI)
  17. The Legend at Merrill Hills (WI)

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