Best golf course in every state

Written by:
August 6, 2019
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Best golf course in every state

History has shown that the definition of a great golf course is ephemeral, constantly evolving in time with trends and architectural changes. Different courses appeal to different golfers for a variety of reasons; with even at-home viewers of championship golf showing preferences for certain courses over others based on visuals alone. What makes one course better than another varies depending on the viewer or player, or whether they are novices or elite golfers.

A poll completed in 2015 by United Kingdom-based Hallmark Hotels was slightly more concrete in its definition of what makes a perfect golf course. In that poll, three traits were identified that make a golf course great: the landscape of the natural surroundings, the design of the holes, and the amenities for after the game.

Using data from and (rankings updated in 2016 and 2019), Stacker compiled rankings for 2019 to define the 50 best golf courses in the United States by state. The methodology includes the seven criteria as defined by Golf Digest for judging the best golf courses, with the highest average ranking based on expert reviewers. This ranking includes the difficulty of the holes, the course's continuity, and the scenic value of the course—as well as overall feel and atmosphere.

To determine the best golf course in every state, Stacker has used the above criteria, the previous rankings of the best golf courses by Golfweek and Golf, and the information from the Hallmark Hotels poll. Read on to find out which golf course in your state is considered the best.

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Alabama: FarmLinks at Pursell Farms

- Location: Sylacauga
- Yardage: 7,444 yards
- Designed by: Dr. Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry
- Opened: 2003

This golf course has been rated the #1 all-access golf course in Alabama for 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 by Golfweek. FarmLinks is a history lesson mapped out on a pristine golf course, offering historic signs all along the course.

Alaska: Anchorage GC

- Location: Anchorage
- Yardage: 6,601 yards
- Designed by: Bill Newcomb
- Opened: 1987

Located overlooking the city of Anchorage, the course offers views of three different mountain ranges including the tallest mountain in North America, Denali. The layout of the course allows players to see waterfowl, moose, fox, and sometimes bears while golfing.

Arizona: We-Ko-Pa (Saguaro Course)

- Location: Fort McDowell
- Yardage: 6,966 yards
- Designed by: Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw
- Opened: 2006

The We-Ko-Pa is actually two golf courses in Fort McDowell. This honor goes to the Saguaro Course designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. Unencumbered by houses and roads, the Saguaro Course is designed following the natural movement of the land, moving in and out of the Saguaro cacti that dominate the site.

Arkansas: Hot Springs (Park Course)

- Location: Hot Springs
- Yardage: 6,852 yards
- Designed by: Willie Park, Jr
- Opened: 1898

The Hot Springs Park Course is less challenging than its sister course, Arlington. Originally designed and built in 1898, it had extensive renovations in 2001. If you desire to play in the winter, this course offers bentgrass greens for year-round play.

California: Pebble Beach

- Location: Pebble Beach
- Yardage: 6,828 yards
- Designed by: Jack Neville and Douglas Grant
- Opened: 1919

Even the golf novice has likely heard of Pebble Beach, five-time host of the U.S. Open Golf Championship—and it will host it one more time this year. This course has been rated the greatest public golf course in the U.S. by Golf Digest.

Colorado: The Broadmoor (East Course)

- Location: Colorado Springs
- Yardage: 7,355 yards
- Designed by: Donald Ross
- Opened: 1918

At the base of Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs, the Broadmoor was originally an untamed mountain property. Now it is one of the top 50 golf courses. Opened in 1918, it was the highest golf course in the U.S., where you play at 6,400 feet.

Connecticut: Wintonbury Hills

- Location: Bloomfield
- Yardage: 6,711 yards
- Designed by: Pete Dye
- Opened: 2005

Designed by the legendary Pete Dye, this course features undulating greens and thick grass. In a rural area of Connecticut, beautiful countryside surrounds the moderately priced links. While Dye courses are renowned for their difficulty, Wintonbury is considered one of his easier courses. 

Delaware: Bayside

- Location: Selbyville
- Yardage: 7,545 yards
- Designed by: Jack Nicklaus
- Opened: 2005

Designed by golf legend Jack Nicklaus, it is located along the Assawoman Bay coastline while winding through pine forests. In the words of Nicklaus: “Golfers at Bayside enjoy three distinctly different golf experiences all in one golf course.”

Florida: TPC Sawgrass (Players Stadium Course)

- Location: Ponte Vedra Beach
- Yardage: 7,245 yards
- Designed by: Pete Dye
- Opened: 1981

Designed in 1982 to host The Players Championship, this golf course favors both the elite and the novice golfer. Golf Digest has ranked the Stadium Course as the 12th best in America's 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses in 2017–2018 and the second ranked “Best Course You Can Play in the State of Florida.”

Georgia: Sea Island (Seaside Course)

- Location: St. Simons Island
- Yardage: 6,657 yards
- Designed by: H.S. Colt and C.H. Alison
- Opened: 1929

Redesigned by Tom Fazio, Seaside Golf Course is like playing the Scottish links without having to go to Scotland. The wind challenges players, but the beauty of its natural settings lets golfers enjoy the Atlantic Ocean, rolling marshes, and the sweeping dunes.

Hawaii: Kapalua (Plantation Course)

- Location: Maui
- Yardage: 7,411 yards
- Designed by: Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore
- Opened: 1991

Every hole in this course offers an ocean view. The site of the PGA Tour's Sentry Tournament of Champions each January, you can play on the links that has hosted Tiger Woods, Jason Day, and K. J. Choi, just to name a few.

Idaho: Circling Raven

- Location: Worley
- Yardage: 7,189 yards
- Designed by: Gene Bates
- Opened: 2003

Circling Raven is located on 620 acres of wetlands, woodlands, and Plouse grasses that reside next to the Coeur d'Alene National Forest. It was rated as one of the “Reader's Choice Top 50 Resort Courses” by Golf Magazine. This course is a member of the Idaho Golf Trail and is owned by the Coeur d'Alene Tribe.

Illinois: Cog Hill

- Location: Lemont
- Yardage: 7,554 yards
- Designed by: Dick Wilson and Joe Lee
- Opened: 1964

Also known for Course #4 Dubsdread at Cog Hill, it has hosted the PGA Tour's BMW Championship from 2009 to 2011. This par 72, 7,554 yard course went under renovation in 2008 by Rees Jones.

Indiana: French Lick Resort (Pete Dye Course)

- Location: French Lick
- Yardage: 8,102 yards
- Designed by: Pete Dye
- Opened: 2009

This course design originally sketched on a napkin by Pete Dye resides on Indiana's highest elevation points. It boasts narrow fairways and rugged terrain. Golfing on this course allows golfers a 40-mile vision surrounded by the Indiana countryside, man-made lakes, and dizzying elevation changes.

Iowa: Spirit Hollow

- Location: Burlington
- Yardage: 7,550 yards
- Designed by: Rick Jacobson
- Opened: 2000

The golf course itself was ranked “Best Course You Can Play in Iowa” by Golfweek, offering four distinct tee boxes to challenge both the novice and the elite player. And after your round you can take a walk around the G.G. Conn Pavilion that was built with 155-year-old stone blocks repurposed from the original barn.

Kansas: Firekeeper

- Location: Mayetta
- Yardage: 7,560 yards
- Designed by: Jeff Brauer and Notah Begay III
- Opened: 2011

This is the first signature course of Notah Begay III, four-time PGA Tour winner and the only Native American on tour. One of the newest golf courses on the list of the top 50, it is an adventure of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation.

Kentucky: Lassing Pointe

- Location: Union
- Yardage: 6,724 yards
- Designed by: Dr. Michael Hurdzan
- Opened: 1994

Golfweek Magazine has ranked Lassing Pointe Golf Course as the #1 public golf course in Kentucky. This golf course gives golfers greens suited for the average player. Lassing Pointe is just minutes away from the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

Louisiana: TPC Louisiana

- Location: Avondale
- Yardage: 7,399 yards
- Designed by: Pete Dye
- Opened: 2004

TPC Louisiana golf course covers over 250 areas of wetlands following the Mississippi River delta. This course is part of the Audubon Golf Trail and a member of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary program.

Maine: Belgrade Lakes

- Location: Belgrade Lakes
- Yardage: 6,723 yards
- Designed by: Clive Clark
- Opened: 1998

From the first tee, golfers can see past the tree tops for a clear view of Belgrade Lakes. The course winds in and out of densely wooded forests of tall pines and oaks surrounding the fairway.

Maryland: Bulle Rock

- Location: Havre de Grace
- Yardage: 7,375 yards
- Designed by: Pete Dye
- Opened: 1998

After looking at an uncertain future in 2017, Bulle Rock Golf Course is open for business. That's good news for this top-ranked daily fee course and the only five-star golf facility in the mid-Atlantic. This is a public course that offers a country club experience. The front tees are great for shorter hitters while the back tees offer any challenge.

Massachusetts: Farm Neck

- Location: Oak Bluffs
- Yardage: 6,815 yards
- Designed by: Geoffrey Cornish and Bill Robinson
- Opened: 1979

This semi-private golf course boasts that it's “four miles out to sea on Martha's Vineyard.” Aside from Martha's Vineyard, the draw to Farm Neck is the landscape, with meadows, salt marshes, and woodlands. It also counts former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama as patrons.

Michigan: Arcadia Bluffs

- Location: Arcadia
- Yardage: 7,300 yards
- Designed by: Rick Smith
- Opened: 1999

Open from mid-April to mid-November, the Bluffs is a public course with no private memberships. The Bluffs overlooks 3,100 feet of Lake Michigan shoreline. The iconic shorter flagsticks and the custom cut smaller flags of the course are both used to combat the strong winds coming off Lake Michigan.

Minnesota: The Quarry at Giants Ridge

- Location: Biwabik
- Yardage: 7,201 yards
- Designed by: Jeff Brauer
- Opened: 2003

Built on land that was once a sand quarry, the Quarry is the #1 public golf course in Minnesota. There are also the hazards that were made from reclaimed and repurposed mine land making this course different from any other course in the Midwest.

Mississippi: Fallen Oak at Beau Rivage

- Location: Biloxi
- Yardage: 7,487 yards
- Designed by: Tom Fazio
- Opened: 2006

This course is exclusive for guests of Beau Rivage Resort & Casino. Golfweek has named it the “Best Course You Can Play in 2018.”

Missouri: Buffalo Ridge Springs

- Location: Hollister
- Yardage: 7,036 yards
- Designed by: Tom Fazio
- Opened: 1999

Staying true to its name, the Buffalo Ridge Springs golf course is designed so that golfers can see free-ranging North American bison from Dogwood Canyon Nature Park. This course will require every club in your bag.

Montana: Wilderness Club

- Location: Eureka
- Yardage: 7,207 yards
- Designed by: Nick Faldo
- Opened: 2009

This course designed by Sir Nick Faldo is the Wilderness Club. The course boasts four tee box positions from 5,431 to over 7,200 yards, allowing golfers of all levels to enjoy the game and their majestic surroundings.

Nebraska: The Prairie Club (Dunes Course)

- Location: Valentine
- Yardage: 7,583 yards
- Designed by: Tom Lehman and Chris Brands
- Opened: 2010

If you are up to the challenge of links-style golf, keep the ball low and enjoy the large rolling seascape of prairie grass. The average fairway size is 5.1 acres while the average fairway width is 58 yards.

Nevada: Shadow Creek

- Location: North Las Vegas
- Yardage: 7,560 yards
- Designed by: Tom Fazio
- Opened: 1990

Nestled in the desert, the Shadow Creek Golf Course has played host to some historic golf showdowns. Amateurs can start their experience at the MGM Resorts International, where limousines and private caddies shuttle guests back and forth to the course.

New Hampshire: Omni Mount Washington

- Location: Bretton Woods
- Yardage: 7,004 yards
- Designed by: Donald Ross, restored by Brian Silva
- Opened: 1915, reopened in 2008

The Presidential Mountain Range acts as a backdrop for this course that was originally designed in 1915 by Scottish architect Donald Ross. It was redone to the exact specifications of Ross' original plans by Brian Silva in 2008.

New Jersey: Atlantic City Country Club & Ballyowen at Crystal Springs Resort (TIE)

- Location: Northfield & Hamburg
- Yardage: 6,577 yards & 7,094 yards
- Designed by: John Reid & Roger Rulewich
- Opened: 1897 & 1998

Designed in 1897, New Jersey Atlantic City Country Club is one of America's oldest golf clubs. It also carries the distinction of being the “Birthplace of the Birdie.” The challenges that made it formidable centuries ago are still present, including deep sand bunkers with long carries over saltwater marshes and natural ponds.

New Mexico: Paa-Ko Ridge

- Location: Sandia Park
- Yardage: 3,737 yards
- Designed by: Ken Dye
- Opened: 2000

This 27-hole public golf course is located on the east side of the Sandia Mountains. The elevation ranges from 6,500 to 7,000 feet. Each hole has five sets of tees so you can play from 5,702 to 7,562 yards.

New York: Bethpage State Park (Black Course)

- Location: Farmingdale
- Yardage: 7,468 yards
- Designed by: A. W. Tillinghast
- Opened: 1936

Known as one of the most feared public or private golf courses in the country, the Black Course hosted the 2002 and 2009 U.S. Open Championships and the 2012 and 2016 Barclays PGA Tour events. Opened in 1936 as part of a Depression-era public works project, the Black Course features 7,468 yards that put golfers' skills to the test.

North Carolina: Pinehurst (No. 2 Course)

- Location: Pinehurst
- Yardage: 7,588 yards
- Designed by: Donald Ross
- Opened: 1907

Pinehurst No. 2 has hosted more golf championships than any other course in the U.S. Opened in 1907, its architect Donald Ross has called his masterpiece “the fairest test of championship golf I have ever designed.” In 2010, the firm of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw restored the course, including the removal of approximately 35 acres of turf and the reintroduction of hardpan, natural bunker edges, and native wire grasses.

North Dakota: Hawktree

- Location: Bismark
- Yardage: 7,085 yards
- Designed by: Jim Engh
- Opened: 2000

Hawktree was designed to make each hole feel like its own course. This course has differing elevations, rough prairie grass, water, and black sand bunkers. The word used by most every review is “challenging.”

Ohio: The Virtues

- Location: Nashport
- Yardage: 7,243 yards
- Designed by: Arthur Hills
- Opened: 1999

Golf Magazine has named the Virtues Golf Club the #1 public golf course in Ohio. It also ranked it #70 in “Top 100 Courses You Can Play.” And although golfing is a priority here, this golf club is renowned for its 60,000-square-foot clubhouse, making it the perfect spot for weddings, holiday parties, and business meetings.

Oklahoma: Karsten Creek

- Location: Stillwater
- Yardage: 7,449 yards
- Designed by: Tom Fazio
- Opened: 1994

Karsten Creek is the current home of the Oklahoma State University men's and women's golf teams, 11-time champion golf teams. This difficult course stretches over 7,400 yards with fairways that crisscross in and out of native blackjack oak trees.

Oregon: Pacific Dunes

- Location: Bandon
- Yardage: 6,633 yards
- Designed by: Tom Doak
- Opened: 2001

Pay heed to its website description: “Pacific Dunes is short enough to give you hope but rugged enough to test every facet of your game.” Natural bunkers line the landscape along the course, with shore pines and 60-foot sand dunes.

Pennsylvania: Nemacolin Woodlands (Mystic Rock Course)

- Location: Farmington
- Yardage: 7,526 yards
- Designed by: Pete Dye
- Opened: 1995

Sitting atop the Allegheny Mountains is the Mystic Rock Course, this public course has been ranked 22nd in Golf Digest as “America's Top 50 Courses for Women.” Golfweek has named it the #1 “Public Course in Pennsylvania,” and Golf Range Magazine named it to the list of the “Top 50 Public Ranges.”

Rhode Island: Newport National

- Location: Newport
- Yardage: 7,244 yards
- Designed by: Arthur Hills
- Opened: 2002

Newport National started out as a 200-acre landscape nursery. This modern links course has marshes and bunkers that appear out of nowhere on its sloping fairways. The steady winds that blow off the Narragansett serve as a background for views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Sakonnet Passage.

South Carolina: The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Resort

- Location: Kiawah Island
- Yardage: 7,356 yards
- Designed by: Pete Dye and Alice Dye
- Opened: 1991

This course hugs the Atlantic Ocean, with the most seaside holes in the Northern Hemisphere: 10 holes hug the Atlantic, and the other eight run parallel to those 10. The course is made all the more difficult in part because of the unpredictable breezes that come off the Atlantic.

South Dakota: Red Rock

- Location: Rapid City
- Yardage: 7,103 yards
- Designed by: Randy Fisher and Ron Farris
- Opened: 2003

The course at Red Rock takes golfers through the Black Hills terrain. The fairways are lined by ponderosa pine trees, while links-style bunkers make a surprise appearance now and then. With the minimum four tee placements per hole, golfers of every level can enjoy teeing off at Red Rock.

Tennessee: Mirimichi

- Location: Millington
- Yardage: 7,479
- Designed by: Bob Mitchell and Bill Bergin
- Opened: 1976

Mirimichi is a Native American word meaning “place of happy retreat.” With the native grasslands, the waterfalls, and the creeks, this course can help golfers realize that “the game of golf has a rhythm that is a part of the nature that surrounds it.”

Texas: Pine Dunes Resort & Golf Club

- Location: Frankston
- Yardage: 7,117 yards
- Designed by: Jay Morrish and Carter Morrish
- Opened: 2001

This course is nestled in the Piney Woods of East Texas. Reinvented from a nine-hole course on its way to oblivion, Pine Dunes is now an award-winning 18-hole masterpiece tucked in the middle of a rural area.

Utah: Sand Hollow (Championship)

- Location: Hurricane
- Yardage: 7,315 yards
- Designed by: John Fought and Andy Staples
- Opened: 2008

Sitting in a desert landscape, this 72-par course has been ranked the #1 Best Course You Can Play in Utah since 2009. It isn't an easy course, but the course designer John Fought insists that it's doable for golfers of all levels.

Vermont: Jay Peak & Okemo Valley (TIE)

- Location: Jay & Ludlow
- Yardage: 6,908 yards & 6,400 yards
- Designed by: Graham Cooke, Warren Huxham & Steve Durkee
- Opened: 2006 & 2000

The Jay Peak Ski & Golf Resort in Vermont is the best of everything Vermont offers. The golf course flows naturally through the Vermont landscape, and each hole has five sets of tees so all levels can enjoy the beauty of the land while attempting to beat the course.

Virginia: Omni Homestead (Cascades Course)

- Location: Hot Springs
- Yardage: 6,667 yards
- Designed by: William S. Flynn
- Opened: 1923

Legend has it Sam Snead began his career at this golf course. The Cascades Course is set against the backdrop of Virginia's Allegheny Mountains, blending the beauty of the landscape with its challenges.

Washington: Chambers Bay

- Location: University Place
- Yardage: 7,585 yards
- Designed by: Robert Trent Jones, Jr.
- Opened: 2007

In University Place, Wash., Chambers Bay is an 18-hole walk-only course. From the massive sand dunes to the long fairways, this course has hosted both the U.S. Amateur and the U.S. Open.

West Virginia: The Greenbrier (Old White TPC Course)

- Location: White Sulphur Springs
- Yardage: 7,292 yards
- Designed by: C.B. Macdonald
- Opened: 1914

This course is named for the Old White Hotel, which was on the grounds from 1858 through 1922. The course is shaped to resemble some of the most famous holes throughout Europe: the eighth hole was styled after the “Redan” at North Berwick in Scotland, the 13th after the “Alps” at Prestwick, and the 15th after the “Eden” at St Andrews.

Wisconsin: Whistling Straits (Straits)

- Location: Kohler
- Yardage: 7,790 yards
- Designed by: Pete Dye
- Opened: 1998

The Straits is designed along two miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, allowing the course to be defined by its windswept terrain and the rugged fairways. Its design borrows from the Irish links courses.

Wyoming: Teton Pines

- Location: Wilson
- Yardage: 7,412 yards
- Designed by: Arnold Palmer, Ed Seay, John Fought, and Robert Walker
- Opened: 1987

Designed by Arnold Palmer, this course sits at the base of the Teton Mountain Range in Jackson Hole, Wyo., where the base of the mountain range is 6,200 feet. The course was designed to conserve the natural habitat and wildlife of the region.

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