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-event 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 around 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 10-20, 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 not-so-subtle nuances that architects institute in their designs. It’s an adventure I hope to enjoy for years to come.

While Golf Digest, GolfWeek and 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… out of the hundreds 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


6. 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


7. 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


8. 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


9. 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


10. 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


11. 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


12. 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


13. Dismal River, Red (Mullen, NE)

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


14. 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


15. 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


16. 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


17. 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


18. 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


19. 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


20. 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



21. 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


22. 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


23. 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:

24. 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


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


26. 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


27. 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


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


29. 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


30. 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


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


32. 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)

33. 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


34. 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


35. 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


36. 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


37. 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


38. 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


39. 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


40. 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


41. 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


42. 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


43. 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


44. Horseshoe Bay (Egg Harbor, WI)

Architect: Rick Robbins & Brian Lussier (2000)
Yardages: Black-7101, Blue-6601, White-6117
Slope/Rating: Black-139/74.5, Blue-134/72.1, White-130/70.0


45. The Preserve at Oak Meadows (Addison, IL)

Architect: Charles Wagstaff (1923), Greg Martin (2018)
Yardages: Tournament-7015, Black-6631, Blue-6213
Slope/Rating: Tournament-142/74.1, Black-138/72.4, Blue-128/68.2


46. 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


47. ThunderHawk (Beach Park, IL)

Architect: Robert Trent Jones, Jr (1999)
Yardages: Black-7031, Brass-6631, Silver-6124
Slope/Rating: Black-137/74.1, Brass-133/72.3, Silver-128/69.9


48. Geneva National, Palmer (Lake Geneva, WI)

Architect: Arnold Palmer (1991)
Yardages: Black-7101, Gold-6638, White-6057
Slope/Rating: Black-140/74.7, Gold-134/72.2, White-128/69.4


49. Ozaukee Country Club (Mequon, WI)

Architect: William Langford & Theodore Moreau (1922)
Yardages: Blue-6765, White-6381, Gold-5806
Slope/Rating: Blue-130/72.9, White-125/71.0, Gold-121/68.5


50. North Hills Country Club (Menomonee Falls, WI)

Architect: John Barr (1928), Ken Killian (1997)
Yardages: Black-6715, Blue-6424, White-6208
Slope/Rating: Black-133/73.2, Blue-130/71.9, White-127/70.7


The 10 courses I’ll be playing for the first time soon, or am hoping to play soon:

  1. Sand Valley, Mammoth Dunes (WI, Spring/Summer 2018)
  2. Sand Valley, The Sand Box (WI, Spring 2018)
  3. Kiawah Island, River Club (SC, May 2018)
  4. Kiawah Island, Cassique (SC)
  5. The Loop at Forest Dunes (MI)
  6. Meadowbrook Country Club (MI)
  7. Kingsley Club (MI)
  8. Kiawah Island, Cougar Point (SC)
  9. Sage Run (MI)
  10. Arcadia Bluffs, South Course (MI)

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