By Jason Bruno
Over the past five years we've traveled the U.S and featured many of America's best golf
course designs. From ultra exclusive to mighty muni, we described the experiences and
captured thousands of images of the nation's finest routings. As I began to compile the list
and photos of these superb links landscapes, it became apparent that no matter how many
great golf holes we present in this "Best Of", there are dozens that deserve to be mentioned
that will be left out. Another observation: There were a handful of course architects that
had multiple entries on our favorites list: Tom Doak, Coore/Crenshaw, Pete Dye, Donald Ross
and Hurdzan/Fry topped the list. Although less frequent, Fazio, Hanse, Nicklaus, and Trent
Jones II were equally impressive with their work at Black Diamond, Trump Doral, The Concession,
and Chambers Bay respectively.
The fourteenth at Chambers Bay which sits along the Peconic Bay in Tacoma, Washington - One
of two RTJ II entries on our list. The 2015 U.S Open will be played on this links style muni. Super
Josh Lewis and his crew have the task of delivering possibly the most unique Open set up in the
Hugh Wilson's fifth at Merion is one of those classic holes, after you play it . . . you'll never forget it.
Hugh Wilson, Seth Raynor, and David McKlay Kidd only have holes from one course that made
our list, but they knocked it outta the park on Merion, Mountain Lake and Bandon Dunes.
Scottish designer McKlay Kidd proved developer Mike Kaiser right when he crafted perhaps the
most fun and soulful experience a linkster can have in America at Bandon Dunes.
Obvious settings like Pebble Beach, Winged Foot and Bethpage are three of our favorites
and each has golf holes worthy of such a feature, but these are the pearls from courses that
we actually reviewed from 2009 thru August 2014. Many you'll recognize, many you won't . . .
but you'll want to play them all.
The par 5 seventh at Jack Nicklaus' Concession is one of our favorite holes in Florida. A draw that
avoids the right fairway bunker sets up the best approach. Who says Jack doesn't create great right
to left golf holes . . . you'd be hard pressed to find a better one than this anywhere.
Eric Bergstol's creation at Bayonne took a toxic wasteland in an industrial part of central New Jersey
and crafted a unique faux links. The seventh hole requires a fade between the dunes.
Pure eye candy: The 212 yard par-3 eighth at Fazio's $15 million renovation at Emerald Dunes in West
The sixth at Dorado Beach East is a brilliant stroke by RTJ II, his redesign of his father's gem in
Puerto Rico is worthy of a trip to the island. I had the pleasure of playing the back nine with Chi
Chi Rodriguez, what a thrill!
The Biarritz 16th at Streamsong Red is one of the true sights in golf that must be seen. At over
70 yards in length, this green complex will test every facet of your shortgame . . . not to mention
she's easy on the eyes as well. Along with the 17th at Black Diamond's Quarry, this is my choice
for best par 3 in Florida.
The 402 yard thirteenth at Whistling Straits, is a DYE-abolical masterpiece. A slight cut off the peaked
pot bunker will funnel down and leave a short approach. This is my favorite Pete Dye par 4 in America.
The short downhill par 4 third at Crenshaw & Coore's Dormie Club in North Carolina gives options in a
dramatic setting. This track gets little pub, but I'd take it over their restoration of the famous No.2
down the road.
The first at Streamsong Blue isn't the toughest hole on Tom Doak's Florida design, but it offers an
amazing view of the entire landscape, and a buzz to start the round.
The ninth at Aronimink is another Donald Ross old school classic.
The second at Bandon Preserve is my favorite on the resort's par 3 course that boasts a "Baker's
The par 5 third at Black Diamond's Ranch course is an absolute blast to play
The 572 yd seventh at Fazio's Forest Creek South in North Carolina
The 17th at Black Diamond's Quarry is one the best long par 3's in America (it played 219
yards when we played it on 8/3). Although private, there are many ways to get on this
Fazio track. The FSGA and ExecGolf both offer entry into events on the Quarry.
The par-5 fourth at Bayonne GC in New Jersey gives the vibe and aesthetics of an authentic links
The drivable 16th at Trump Doral is one of Hanse's great alterations at the Donald's new Blue Monster.
The dogleg right eighth at Donald Ross' Pine Needles is flanked by tall native grasses down the the
right and pine straw on the left. With all due respect to the other highly acclaimed Ross designs,
Pine Needles might be my favorite track by the native Scotsman.
The approach at Merion's sixteenth requires a carry over the Quarry, this green has the most
severe undulations on the course.
World Woods is Pure Golf. The par-5 fourth at Fazio's Pine Barrens is his Ode to Pine Valley -
located Brooksville, Florida
The Lone Star's best new Muni resides in Laredo right alongside the Rio Grande. The short par 3
fifteenth at "The Max" is worthy of a trip down by the border.
The fourth at Hamilton Farms par 3 Hickory course in Gladstone, New Jersey requires a high soft
right to left tee shot. Of the thousands of photos of golf holes taken over the past five years, this
one is among my very favorite (truth be told nearly every hole on the Hickory could make our list).
Although now working separately, Dr. Michael Hurdzan & Dana Fry produced some of the best modern
designs American Golf has to offer.
Located in the mountains of Sullivan County, Pennsylvania is Eagles Mere CC, a century old William
Flynn design that has oodles of character, the sixth hole (shown above) requires a precise drive just
right of the rock shelf that steps down to the fairway grade.
The fifteenth on Black Diamond's Quarry gives you options - split fairways and virtually any strategy
you choose to employ. Driver, fairway wood, hybrid or long iron are all options off the tee - just don't
get too mesmerized by the scenery, and don't go left.
The eighth at Seth Raynor's 1916 design - Mountain Lake. Nothing in Florida equals the originality
of this ultra-exclusive layout.
The brawny thirteenth at Tom Doak's Pacific Dunes combines challenge, beauty and the elements.
Very few par 4's in America measure up to this sliver of the Pacific coastline.
#1 rated public course in the Garden State is Atlantic City CC, the par-3 twelfth is a stunner.
Hurdzan/Fry's Top 100 layout in Naples, Florida is the ultra-exclusive Calusa Pines. The sun was
going down as I snapped this image of the magnificent eighth. If there is an Augusta like club in
Florida, this is it.
The downhill par-3 second at Bandon Trails is another Coore/Crenshaw marvel
The par-3 sixteenth at P.B Dye's Loblolly Pines in Hobe Sound, Florida is an intimidating one-shotter.
The seventh hole at Old Mac is Doak at his finest, the green complex sits high above the fairway
looking out onto the Pacific, and is among the most unique at Bandon Resort (and that's saying
plenty). On the early spring morning in 2012 when I played OM, I soaked in the setting here at this
The par-3 seventh at Streamsong Blue is the signature hole on Doak's central Florida layout carved
into land that was once a deserted phosphate mine.
The right to left tee shot here at the fourteenth at the Glen Club in Chicago made for a perfect
Autumn setting during our visit to the Windy City during Ryder Cup week 2012.
The 150 yd par-3 ninth at Erin Hills in Wisconsin was the scene for our visit - October 15th, 2010.
In 2017 Hurdzan/Fry's layout will host the U.S Open. If you make the trek to the Dairy State to
play Whistling Straits, don't pass up perhaps the most underrated design on U.S soil.
At Tiger's old stomping grounds, the 185 yard par 3 second at Isleworth in Orlando is a mid to
long iron through the Cypress and Pine to a well undulated green.
TPC Boston was the scene of our review July 8th, 2011. The risk reward par 5 - eighteenth has
been the scene of many dramatic finishes at the Duetsche Bank Championship.
photo of Seminole Golf Club 14th by HolyGrailGolfer
The approach at the par 5 fourteenth at legendary Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Florida.
Just 512 yards from the green is my favorite tee box in the game, set within the Seagrape
mangroves along the Atlantic shoreline . . .
in fact you can hear the sweet sound of the Atlantic as you take the club back. This is perhaps
. . . the most surreal teeing ground on the east coast.
Another Hurdzan/Fry beauty, the fourteenth at Hamilton Farm had me at "Hello"
The view from the eleventh tee at Pacific Dunes. Just a pitching wedge shot, anything longer in distance
might take away from the moment.
The site of the 1st PGA Championship was here at Donald Ross' Siwanoy Golf Club in Bronxville, N.Y -
the par-4 seventeenth (shown above) is guarded on the left by deep fescue and stone banked terrain.
The par 5 second at Kiawah's Ocean Course is my choice for best tee shot on Pete Dye's South
Carolina knockout. Your best right to left launcher is required to have a chance to reach in two
. . . but holding the green (pictured below) with a long club is unlikely.
(cont.) The green at the second is well guarded. Although the layout on the Ocean Course looks
like a links, in truth it's far from it. The elevated greens and Paspalum turf require higher softer shots
. . . which can be an issue when the winds blow here at South Carolina's finest.
The approach at the sixth at Isleworth in Windermere is to an uphill putting surface with mucho
undulation. Tiger's old playground will now host his World Challenge in December.
The fourth at Pinehurst No.2 plays as a par 5 for most everyone, the USGA turned it into a long
par 4 for the U.S Open in 2014. Although the routing on this hole moves right to left, the fairway
tilts the opposite way.
Gary Player's design of the short downhill par-4 fifth at the Ace Club perfectly compliments the
The sixteenth at Bandon Dunes could get an entire feature all to itself. All of the holes in this feature
are the products of great design work, this hole combines the extraordinary talents of David McKlay
Kidd and natures finest showcase . . .
At the green, McKlay Kidd did a great job of allowing the setting to dominate the vibe.
It's been a great 5 years of traveling, reviewing, and describing America's Best Golf course
designs and the experiences that comes with each. There are many more we're looking forward
to traveling to - playing, describing and presenting to the "LinksNation".