Let’s continue our completely arbitrary, but totally accurate, discussion of the best golf courses in America. See the first 5 here. Don’t agree with us? Please send to all your friends and figure out where we went wrong.
#5 Fishers Island Golf Club, Fishers Island, NY
Located on a island that is only 8 miles long and 2 miles wide, this course screams old money. It is super exclusive, but if are really wealthy, you can purchase a membership, so you have something to shoot for. Playing on such a small plot of land, nearly ever hole is along the coast and you can see the water from those that are inland. In addition to the natural beauty, review after review lists the course as very fun to play. The course is not rated particularly difficult, nor is it abnormally long, so maybe that makes it more enjoyable for mere mortals (extremely wealthy mortals). Players talk about the stretch of holes from 3 to 7, the shot making, the views, etc, the way they talk about loving their children. The signature hole is #5, a par-3 heavily guarded by bunkers and playing it is a requisite requirement for entrance to golf heaven. Quoted on Golf.com, architect Tom Doak said this, “I cannot deny, on a breezy summer’s day, Fishers Island is one of the most idyllic places possible to play a round of golf.” Boom. Player’s tip: stay out of the fescue.
#4 Bandon Dunes, Bandon, OR
You could slide either of the 2 Dune courses in Bandon in this slot, but we chose the original, and our first, Bandon Dunes. Why do we like it? It is a public course on the ocean, in a place that is refreshingly quiet and removed. The Oregon coast is beautiful and, after playing Bandon Dunes, seems like it was meant to house a terrific links course. Anything else would just seem out of place. Designed by renowned architect, and true Scotsman, David McLay Kidd, Bandon Dunes appears as if it was taken straight from golf’s birthplace and planted on our west coast. The rawness of the course is wonderful and after playing it, you feel as if you have accomplished something. In fact, you are encouraged to walk (so get in shape) or hire a caddy, who actually carries bags. So I tell the Llama, I’m a pro jock…Anyway, if you are spending $200, kick in another $100 or so for the caddy and your world will change. You can enjoy the views, while your looper read the putts. Tough to find a better blend of luxury and real golf experience.
#3 Tobacco Road Golf Club, Sanford, NC
Wait, you’ve never heard of this course? Too bad, we put it at #3 anyway because it is awesome. Not really fitting into any one style, the course leans towards links, with a hint of totally crazy. Designer Mike Stantz did not pull any punches when putting together this extremely fun course. On Tobacco Road you will find yourself going up, down and around as it is full of hills, blind approach shots and multi-level greens, basically a carnival ride of golf a outing. If you are a traditionalist, we encourage you to choose another course on the list. However, if you are looking for year-round, under $100, public fun, head to Tobacco Road ($100 fun refers to golf, not anything else you choose to get into). Don’t worry, the rangers are polite and will allow you some time to figure out your approach shot. The course is just full of good ole country charm.
#2 Cypress Point Club, Pebble Beach, CA
Another uber-exclusive course, we just could not keep it off. Also, another course built against the bosom of the ocean, so I guess we have a theme going. Cypress point makes our list for a number of reasons, and the first is its beauty. Call us superficial. If you don’t get to the 15th and start crying, or faint, at the true spectacular image of the short par-3 surrounded by bunkers and cypress trees being caressed by the Pacific Ocean, you are kicked off the course. And take it all in, because the 16th is another par-3, only it is 220-yd, which you have to carry over the ocean. Punishingly beautiful, like Scarlett. Cypress Point is also very democratic, which we dig. At the end of the year, the club tallies up its operating costs and splits them between all the members. How fair is that? It also gives members to play a lot, since they’re paying either way. As if one needed encouragement.
#1 The Black Course at Bethpage Black, Farmingdale, NY
We are men of the people, so our top course has to be public. And the Black Course is certainly a doozy, perhaps the toughest public course in America. Not only will the course hurt you, and just accept that it will, but getting a tee-time can be pretty uncomfortable as well. Available on a first come, first serve basis, patrons sleep in their cars the night before, just for a chance at 18 holes of pain. Put it this way, the Black Course has hosted the US Open, twice, in the last 10 years, which just happens to be the hardest professional tournament of the year. On the first hole, there is a warning sign about the difficulty, which is awesome. The course needs more than difficulty, though, to really be interesting. The layout is always interesting and views throughout are terrific, and it is not even on the coast! Rolling hills, beautiful white sand traps and 100-year old trees almost make you forget you are 20-over on 16. Plus it is only $55, because it is a true public course. As you get to 18, tired, with a sore back, take a breath and survey the scene before you. The uphill par-4 into the clubhouse is the signature hole, as if the course is saying sorry, and thanks playing.