Making the Grade
From a one-year-old phenom to a 111-year-old veteran, here are the new courses among the 2008 Top 100 You Can Play
Chambers Bay Golf Course
Having been named the site of the 2015 U.S. Open,
Chambers Bay doesn't suffer from a lack of accolades,
but this spiritual cousin to Ballybunion does
suffer from misconceptions.
First, unlike Bandon Dunes, which can be challenging to get to, Chambers
Bay is practically a suburban park course, just minutes
from downtown Tacoma and 45 minutes from
Second, don't let the tips yardage of 7,585 bother you: the slope from the back
tees is only 135, so while this walking-only track will
test your hamstrings, you'll find it tough to lose a
ball, which might be the true genius of the design.
Third, for anyone who has a preconceived notion
of what a Robert Trent Jones II design is supposed
to look like, forget it. Chambers Bay is a true collaboration
of the RTJ II team Bruce Charlton, Jay Blasi
and Jones himself and the course is a strategic
masterpiece with wild elevation changes, split fairways,
enormous dunes, tattered-edge bunkers and
stunning scenery. We can't wait for the 2015 Open.
2 of 11Atlantic City Country Club
Atlantic City Country Club
What's old is new at least for 111-year-old Atlantic City Country Club, which
cracks our Top 100 You Can Play list for
the first time. Originally laid out by John
Reid and Willie Park Jr., ACCC was
redesigned by William Flynn in 1923. But
it was a Tom Doak redo in 1999 that made
the difference. Measuring an Old World
6,577 yards and playing to a par 70, the
course eases across flat, firm coastal terrain.
The 339-yard, par-4 14th perfectly
illuminates the course's virtues, with its
peninsula tee, bunkers and marshes and
its view of the Atlantic City skyline.
3 of 11The G.C. at Redlands Mesa
The G.C. at Redlands Mesa
This Jim Engh design is back in the Top
100 after a hiatus of two years. In 2006
the sentiment was that the intrusion of
houses had ripped away its appeal. Today,
the consensus says that the houses
still intrude, but not enough to keep this
layout off the list. Stretched across the
floor of a high-desert canyon, Redlands
Mesa boasts one memorable hole after
another. Most striking are the cliff-top
par-3s that plunge into box canyons,
including a trio 8, 12 and 17 that would
qualify for anyone's hall-of-fame.
4 of 11Circling Raven
It may not sport a floating island green
like its neighbor up the road, but this bird
has everything else. Given 620 acres by
the Coeur d' Alene Tribe, architect Gene
Bates emphasized a design philosophy of
least disturbance. The back nine is particularly
back-to-nature, punctuated by endless
views of meadows, forests and mountains.
You'll need to snap back to reality to
conquer the four par-3s, notably the forcedcarry,
253-yard 13th. But this is the rare
course that offers so much fun that the setting
outweighs any scorecard stress.
5 of 11Laurie Hyndman/Sunday River
Sunday River is the third debut entry
from Robert Trent Jones II. The course was
overlooked in its early days, mostly owing
to its off-the-beaten-trail location in western
Maine. Consider it found.
even more scenic version than Jones's other
Maine attraction, the 20-year-old Sugarloaf,
Sunday River is carved from dense forest
and dishes out instant variety and memorability.
Plenty of grin-inducing vistas of
the Mahoosuc Range await, including a
dandy at the 443-yard, par-4 18th. For pure
sensory overload, make an autumn visit.
6 of 11Osprey Meadows
Osprey Meadows at Tamarack Resort
Back in the summer of 2006, Robert
Trent Jones II served up a near-perfect
mountain course some 80 miles north
of Boise that eases its way comfortably
across 400 acres of sprawling meadowland
dotted with sparkling lakes and
streams. The surrounding views of
Council Mountain and Lake Cascade
are superb enough, but the real star
at Osprey Meadows is the quintet of
interesting par-5s, most notably the
split-fairway 4th that doglegs around
a fly-fishing pond and the uphill,
7 of 11Primland Resort
The Highland Course at Primland
English writer-turned-architect Donald Steel has crafted an enviable slate of layouts for the moneyed set, including Scotland's Skibo Castle, Canada's Red Tail and The Abaco Club in the Bahamas. This aptly named layout is his first publicly accessible design in the U.S. The course is perched on the edge of the Dan River Gorge, but the pristine scenery is only half the fun. The firm, fast track is replete with ridge-top tees, hilly lies and deep, low-key British-style bunkers, and the blend of forced carries and an emphasis on the ground game make for a superb test.
8 of 11Lonna Tucker/We-Ko-Pa Golf Club
We-Ko-Pa Golf Club (Saguaro)
Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw have fashioned
a fun romp through the desert with
enough retro shot values and eye-candy
backdrops to please both purists and
We-Ko-Pa's Saguaro course
features extra-wide fairways framed by
its namesake cacti. The superb variety and
imaginative green contouring, along with
panoramic mountain vistas in every direction
and no homes or roads on a parcel owned by the Yavapai Tribal Nation, create
a worthy companion to We-Ko-Pa's
seven-year-old sibling, the Cholla course.
9 of 11Michael Clemmer/Fallen Oak
Fallen Oak at Beau Rivage
Sure, it's an opulent Tom Fazio design
open only to guests of an MGM hotel 20
minutes to the south, but it's not quite fair
to call Fallen Oak a southern-fried Shadow
Creek. It stands on its own.
Creek was hewn from an absolutely barren
landscape, this 7,487-yard layout flaunts
its natural attributes, from the rolling
terrain to its streams, lakes and wetlands.
The Southern mansion clubhouse adds
greatly to the Gone With the Wind ambience,
but it's the individual holes that lift Fallen
Oak from merely "pretty" to "pretty great."
10 of 11Paul Hundley
Erin Hills Golf Course
The most talked about course of 2006
is, like Chambers Bay, a wild Irish rover
that unfolds over heaving farmland 35
miles northwest of Milwaukee.
named as the site of the 2011 U.S. Amateur,
this Michael Hurdzan/Dana Fry/Ron
Whitten design remains on the short list
of possible U.S. Open venues.
7,824 yards from the back, Erin Hills has
all the length it will ever need, plus an endless
variety of lies, stances and angles. Only
the club's bratwurst reminds you that the
Emerald Isle is still an ocean away.
11 of 11Tidewater Golf Club
Tidewater Golf Club & Plantation
Tidewater was once ranked in the high
30s on the Top 100 You Can Play list before
slipping off. But tastes change. Tidewater
offers uncommon elevation change and
variety for the Myrtle Beach region. Holes
3, 4, 12 and 13 afford views of the Atlantic,
while the closing trio skirts the Intracoastal
Waterway. Architect Ken Tomlinson
didn't sprinkle mounds over the course,
and so his bunkers and greens are on the
flattish side, a design treatment that fell out
of favor for a few years. But a recent reexamination
of the course's virtues has vaulted
it back onto the ranking. This Tide is in.
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