Makai Golf Club -- Kauai, Hawaii
On the north side of Kauai, waves of adulation wash over Princeville, routinely ranked as the top course in the state. But Princeville can be punishing, and this is Hawaii: you didn't come here in a masochistic spirit. Nearby Makai is easier on your ego. A good case could be made that it's prettier, too.
2 of 10Courtesy of FarmLinks Golf Club
FarmLinks Golf Club -- Sylacauga, Ala.
The course was built as a "living laboratory," with a variety of subjects that serve as the subjects of a turf research center. Funny thing is, when the lab geeks weren't looking, the golfers got a glimpse and came to this conclusion: in a state best known for the Alabama Golf Trail, this stand-alone may be the finest of them all.
3 of 10Courtesy of Belvedere Golf Club
Belvedere Golf Club -- Charlevoix, Mich.
Northern Michigan is home to a host of headline-makers (Bay Harbor, Tree Tops, Arcadia Bluffs). But you have to scan the fine print to find this sleeper, which Willie Watson designed in 1925, just after wrapping up his work at the Olympic Club. Artful greens are the main defense at Belvedere. Approach them as you would the daily paper: by trying to read between the lines.
4 of 10Rob Brown
Rustic Canyon -- Moorpark, Calif.
With the rough-hewn character of an inland links, this superb layout just north of Los Angeles is everything that so much of La-La Land isn't -- subtle, unassuming, substantive. At very least, put it ahead of Disney on your travel plans.
5 of 10Courtesy of Wilderness at Fortune Bay
Wilderness at Fortune Bay -- Tower, Minn.
You'll need a map, if not a compass, to find your way to Wilderness, which sits amid the folds of the Iron Range, four hours from Minneapolis, on the northeast fringes of the state. But it's the course itself, framed by towering pines and craggy rock outcrops, that requires true orienteering skills.
6 of 10Courtesy of Southern Pines
Southern Pines Golf Course -- Southern Pines, N.C.
Designed by the same architect (Donald Ross) in the same setting (the sand hills of North Carolina), it has a lot in common with Pinehurst No. 2. What's different is its profile (rarely does it receive Playboy centerfold treatment). And its price tag. Greens fees start at $48.
7 of 10Courtesy of Montauk Downs
Montauk Downs State Park Golf Course -- Montauk, N.Y.
OK, it's in New York, where nothing can really be called overlooked. But relatively speaking (the relative in this case being Bethpage Black), this public treasure is Long Island's unsung stepchild. Locals like it that way: it means fewer people sleeping in the parking lot.
8 of 10Courtesy of Wild Horse
Wild Horse -- Gothenburg, Neb.
Go a long way from nowhere, then head a little farther, and you come to this lonely layout, which romps across the plains like an unsaddled steed. Designed by Dave Axeland and Dan Proctor (an unheralded pair better known as the guys who built the bunkers at Sand Hills), Wild Horse is nearly as wide as it is long, and as much fun as any course you'll ever play.
9 of 10Courtesy of Gleneagles
Gleneagles -- San Francisco, Calif.
Lee Trevino called it one of the greatest nine-hole courses he'd ever played. But that was decades ago. And now it's even better, thanks to rebuilt bunkers and freshly renovated greens. No tee times here. Just show up and play with a motley cast of characters. The low-slung clubhouse, which calls to mind a Hobbit hovel, feels so trapped in time you're surprised that the barman doesn't have a Scottish brogue.
10 of 10Courtesy of Lawsonia Links
Lawsonia Links (Links Course) -- Green Lake, Wisc.
Ninety minutes from Milkwaukee sit two 18-holers of contrasting styles: one a parkland layout, the other largely treeless. Both are delightful. But the bucket-lister is the Links, which was built in 1930, and looks and feels like a British Open venue. An old railway boxcar, buried under the 7th green, is a metaphor for the course itself: character-rich and hidden from view.
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