And now here they are – Golf Digest’s top 100 golf courses in America

Let’s refresh your memory. Last week I hinted that you might get a look at the top 100 golf courses in America, a list composed by Golf Digest. Instead of naming any of the courses, I concentrated on looking at the criterion used to rate those golf courses and, maybe more importantly, how one could get the job of doing so.

I mean, what better job could one have, other than food tasting or playing with puppies! Again to review, let’s look at the seven criterions for rating the courses. Shot values, resistance to scoring, design variety, memorability, aesthetics, conditioning and ambience are what the panelists gauged in making their recommendations. Whether you have other ideas really doesn’t matter — unless you land a spot on the panel.

One of my golfing buddies and I have argued for years what one course we would play in this country if given the chance. He picked Augusta National primarily because it is not open to the public. The fact that there is not a blade of grass out of place had something to do with it as well. I chose Pebble Beach primarily for the ocean vistas. Did these two courses make the list? Let’s take a look.

For the first time since 2015 Augusta National was NOT ranked No. 1. This time it fell to the second spot. While we will get to the poll winner later, for now let me say that if given the opportunity to play Augusta, I would like to do so in the spring when the azaleas are blooming. Say about a week after the Masters…

Pebble Beach made the list at No. 7. Imagine six courses being ahead of Pebble. I can’t. In fact, it was not the top course on the Monterey Peninsula as that honor goes to Cypress Point. Four courses on the legendary Seventeen Mile Drive cracked the top hundred in the country. I’ve been there. They deserve their rankings.

Last week I suggested that six courses in Ohio made the top 100 and asked if you had any guesses. I’m guessing most of you thought immediately of Muirfield Village in Dublin. That was the highest ranked course in the Buckeye State at No. 15. You might also have chosen the Inverness Club in Toledo and you again would have been correct as it came in at 89th.

If you got the other four — I’m impressed. You are truly a fan of the game if you came up with The Golf Club (#34) in New Albany, Camargo Club (#52) in Indian Hill, Scioto Country Club (#57) in Columbus and Double Eagle Club (#86) in Galena.

Which state had the most selections? Well that would be New York with 13 including Bethpage Black, Shinnecock Hills and Winged Foot. California was next with 12 including Riviera and the Olympic Club as well as the aforementioned Monterey Peninsula courses.

Perhaps my favorite names for courses were the Gozzer Ranch Golf and Lake Club in Idaho and Old MacDonald in Oregon ranked 28th and 47th respectively. Looks like some feller turned the family farm into a course!

Here’s a sampling of the more famous courses that made the list. TPC Sawgrass, with its famed island green, came in at No. 51. Castle Pines in Colorado, where the elevation would make a long driver out of me, was ranked No. 42. Oakmont was No. 5, Medinah No. 48, The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island No. 21 and Southern Hills in Oklahoma No. 35.

Closer to home, Crooked Stick in Indiana where John Daly emerged after winning the PGA after getting in as an alternate, ranked 94th. Of course another course where Daly made a name for himself, Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina was ranked No. 30. It’s hard to forget Daly finally giving in to the frustration of greens that putted like bathtubs as he swatted his still moving golf ball towards his bag before walking off the course.

Been there, done that John. Not on national TV though…

So what course came in last on this list? I would like to play Eagle Point Golf Club in Wilmington, North Carolina. Last, but still a pretty good course, one would think. It would be like having to settle for your 100th favorite ice cream flavor. By the way, on my list that would be huckleberry. It’s purple and tasty!

As for the best of the best, that honor goes to Pine Valley Golf Club in New Jersey. Knocking Augusta National off its perch, Pine Valley got the nod of the panel. Here are a couple of comments from the panelists.

“Considering the absolutely relentless bunkering, the unforgiving misses both off the fairways and on the greensides and the total distance and accuracy required to navigate the course — and you have one demanding golf course that has you thinking on every single shot, regardless of distance.”

Well now, still want to play the best? How about this comment: “every single shot is a double bogey waiting to happen.” Hmmm…

Look, if I’m going to go out and shoot 150 I think I would just as soon play the courses right here in our own backyard. However, if Golf Digest wants me — they can find me.

I’ll be the one eating huckleberry ice cream and playing with puppies!

Al Stephenson is The A-T’s golf columnist.

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