"Pars & Stripes" 6 of the best courses
Buy your airline ticket, pack your golf clubs and get ready to unleash your inner Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy or Jason Day. Here’s six of the best public golf courses in the USA...
SOUTH CAROLINA - Caledonia Golf & Fish Club. Voted the “Fifth Best New Public Course in America” upon opening its gates in 1994, the accolades have never stopped rolling in for Mark Strantz’s first design on the Grand Strand, Myrtle Beach. It feels like a journey back in time as you drive along the grand entrance lined with rows of centuries-old live oaks draped with Spanish moss to reach the Old South clubhouse. Often compared to Augusta National for its exquisite style, floral beauty, and velvety fairways and greens, Caledonia has a sleepy ambiance that embraces its Southern roots. Built on the site of an old rice plantation and overlooking the picturesque Waccamaw River, Strantz has artfully crafted the site’s streams, ponds and moss- covered oaks to create a hugely enjoyable test of golf.Amid the scenic backdrop of blooming flowers and colourful shrubs are some memorable holes such as the picturesque par-3 11th with a snaking creek to the green, the par-4 13th that doglegs around a giant oak tree and the wonderful closing hole. The par-4 18th borders the Plantation’s old rice field, and requires a precise drive that sets up a difficult second shot - a forced carry onto a green at the foot of the clubhouse, where its tradition for onlookers sitting in rocking chairs sipping their drinks, to respond appropriately and sometimes bet on the results of player’s shots. After your round, pull up a rocking chair on the clubhouse porch and enjoy a cold beer, while taking in what must be one of America’s best 19th-holes. Visit us at www.fishclub.com for more information.
NEVADA –Wolf Creek Located 77 miles north of LasVegas at Mesquite, this is 18 holes of fantasy golf at its ultimate best. Opened in 2000, this visually captivating desert design immediately drew rave reviews andWolf Creek is now firmly established as one of America’s top public courses.There are precious few courses that can generate a genuine sense of awe for several holes at a stretch and exceedingly rare is the layout that can sustain the feeling for an entire round;Wolf Creek is such a place. Set high above the desert floor among red-rock canyons, teeming waterfalls and glistening creeks, it looks as though strips of green velvet have been laid out on a Mars-like landscape. After the tee shot at the 579-yard par-5 opening hole its a roller-coaster golfing adventure among sculpted hills and canyons with several elevation changes, 98 bunkers and forced carries over streams and ravines. Developer Doug Clemetson was determined to leave the distinctive natural landscape in place, accepting that a number of non-traditional golf holes would result. On the 2nd tee box, for example, 90 granite steps lead up to the driving area, which is located some 11 stories high.The 3rd hole plays uphill to one of the highest points on the course with 70-mile views, and par-3 11th’s green is an island in a sea of red rock and typical ofWolf Creek’s dazzling visual appeal.
Visit us at www. golfwolfcreek.com
WISCONSIN –Whistling Straits Billionaire bathroom supplier Herb Kohler had a dream of building a Scottish- style links sculpted along a two-mile stretch of the Lake Michigan shoreline in Wisconsin, and Pete Dye’s creation in 1998 exceeded his expectations, going on to become a major championship venue.The course first hosted the fourth major of the year, the PGA Championship, in 2004 whenVijay Singh was the champion, and since then, Martin Kaymer in 2010 and Jason Day in 2015 have made up the trio of golfers to lift theWanamakerTrophy. It also hosted the Ryder Cup in 2021. It’s a rugged, windswept layout which is more akin to an Irish or Scottish links with undulating fairways bordered by wispy fescue grasses, contoured greens and roughly 1000 bunkers, which must be heading for a world record.There are several standout holes including two memorable shore-hugging par-3’s; hole-7 (Shipwreck) and hole-17 (Pinched Nerve) with spectacular views over Lake Michigan. Polls regularly acknowledge Whistling Straits as one of America’s top 10 greatest public courses. Visit www. americanclubresort.com.
CALIFORNIA – Pebble Beach “If I had only one more round to play, I would choose to play it at Pebble Beach. I’ve loved this course from the first time I saw it. It’s possibly the best in the world,” said 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus, and there are few thrills in golf to match teeing off for the first time on Pebble Beach Golf Links, ranked number one on Golf Digest’s ‘100 Greatest Public Courses in America List 2015/2016.’The course oozes history andatmosphere,andsinceopening in1919 it has hosted some of golf’s most prestigious tournaments, including six U.S. Open Championships andtheannualAT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.Over the years, the exquisite beauty and unique challenge of Pebble Beach has thrilled golfers and spectators alike.The course hugs the rugged coastline, providing wide-open vistas, and cliffside fairways and greens,withtheocean’s crashingsurfasa backdrop. Some of the most spectacular holes are five to eight, which are on the promontory between Stillwater Cove and the Pacific Ocean. As you walk in the footsteps of legends, you anticipate each and every storied hole while recounting magical moments in golf history, such as the par-3 17th, whereTomWatson chipped in during the 1982 U.S.Open. Is it worth the eye-watering green fee of $595? Yes, at least once in a lifetime. Visit us at www. pebblebeach.com
NORTH CAROLINA - Pinehurst No. 2 This star attraction of Pinehurst Resort’s nine courses remains one of the world’s best and most celebrated golf courses. Pinehurst no.2 has served as the site of more single golf championships than any course in America and, in 2014, made history again, becoming the first to serve as host to the U.S. Open and U.S.Women’s Open Championships in consecutive weeks. Opened in 1907, Pinehurst No. 2 was designed by Donald Ross, who called it “the fairest test of championship golf I have ever designed.” Ross was associated with the course for nearly a half-century, improving the course continually until his death in 1948. Pinehurst No. 2 is best known for its crowned, undulating greens, which are some of the most complex and widely hailed in the world. In March 2011, the course reopened following a yearlong, $2.5 million restoration by the design firm of Coore & Crenshaw that restored the course’s natural and historic character. Over the years, its champions have included some of the greatest players in history including Walter Hagen, Sam nead, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus and Payne Stewart.The course will host the U.S. Open once again in 2024.Visit www.pinehurst.com
ARIZONA –Troon North Troon North is the essence of the desert golf experience, with two top- notch 18-hole layouts (the Monument and Pinnacle Courses) stretching through natural ravines and foothills of the high Sonoran desert, in the shadows of Pinnacle Peak. Both immaculately groomed courses will challenge you with their lush green fairways bordered by boulders, rock formations and huge Saguaro cactus that can reach heights of 45 feet. It’s the kind of environment where you half expect to see the ‘Magnificent Seven’ come riding over the horizon on horseback as you tee off. There are some great holes at Troon North, and none better than the Monument Course’s third, aptly named ‘The Monument.’ This 564-yard, par-5 is an intriguing hole with plenty of risk- reward options, that first requires you to dodge a giant boulder anchored in the middle of the fairway. Over the years Troon North has won a multitude of accolades and awards including Golf Magazine’s “Top 100 CoursesYou can Play in the US” and Conde NastTraveler’s “Top 100 Golf Resorts in North America and the Caribbean.” Make sure to add it to your bucket list of places to play in the USA .... go to www.troonnorthgolf.com.