A few years ago I was invited to Pine Valley and for some reason I turned down the offer because I was too “busy.” I was so regretful of this decision I vowed to myself that I would try my very best to always say “yes” when invited to a top 100 golf experience going forward. The more “top 100” courses I played, the more obsessed I became with the game. I began to read books on golf course architecture and golf history and basically began completely nerding-out on golf.
2017 was a crazy year for me golf-wise… this blog went from getting a few hits a day (maybe) to hundreds a day, and even on some days, 1,000s. I set up an Instagram account (for the blog), a facebook page, etc. Most importantly, I was able to play 27 different top 100 golf courses in the US and am very, very appreciative to all those that helped me on this journey. I am now over ½ way through the “top 100” and very excited for upcoming 2018 trips to Monterrey Bay Peninsula, Pine Valley, Streamsong, Bandon Dunes, Trinity Forest, to name a few.
The 27 top-100 courses I played this year include East Lake, Augusta, Mayacama, Butler National. Chicago Golf Club, Riviera, the Valley Club, Aronimink, Winged Foot West and East, Quaker Ridge, Prairie Dunes, Old Sandwich, The Country Club, Inverness, Spring Hill, Hazeltine, Interlachen, Ballyneal, Somerset Hills, Pebble Beach, Spyglass, Oakland Hills, Maidstone, Fishers Island, Alotian and CalClub.
I write extensively about each of these course on my blog, but it is interesting to reflect on the list together in totality. Looking back, while all of these courses were exceptional, here are the real stand outs for me:
— Fishers Island: I can’t wait to play this course again, and again. Every hole has water views a feat that is only possible on a very narrow island like Fishers.
— The Valley Club: Really playable, fun, and awesome course. Alister Mackenzie was obviously a genius course designer and it is really impressive to see his work up-close.
— Ballyneal: I keep thinking about Ballyneal and am actively trying to line up another round there in 2018 with my friend who is a member. Doak did some super funky and cool stuff with this property. The putting surfaces are absurd… really fun place to do match play, really awful place to try and play stroke play. The mulligan par 3 course in itself is amazing and well worth your attention if you’re ever at Ballyneal.
— Somerset Hills: Other than San Francisco Golf Club, this has to be Tillinghast’s best work… and that’s saying something. I live in the area and this course maintains a very low-key profile despite its awesomeness.
— Pebble Beach: Possibly the best piece of land (golf or otherwise) on the planet, the holes along the Pacific (particularly 7, 8, 9, 10 and 18) are epic. It is a wonderful tribute to public golf that this course is accessible to all (albeit an expensive day).
— Augusta: The place lives up to the hype. The course was way more playable that I expected and is just the best course I’ve ever played. The attention to detail by the greenskeeping team there is the best in the world.
Happy holidays and New Year,