Turnberry’s seaside Ailsa course, scene of Tom Watson’s greatest triumph and tragedy, is legitimately Top 20 in the world. I shot 78 the first time around, but felt guilty about my good score, because the wind was absent. The massive Edwardian hill-top hotel will undoubtedly benefit from the Trump touch.
2 of 27Pete Madden
Having played Royal Links plenty of times since its 1999 debut, I have chalked up this Walters Golf/Perry Dye replica design as just another fun Vegas gimmick. However, I encountered it most recently on a cool, misty morning in March 2013 and genuinely felt transported to the U.K.
3 of 27Pete Madden
Shanqin Bay, the stunning cliff-top Coore/Crenshaw creation on Hainan Island, China dishes out nicer bagtags than this one, for those who have ventured that far. Still, I retained this scrap for its hand-written Chinese letters, small proof of how far I go to see great golf.
4 of 27Pete Madden
If you’d like to know where Donald Ross developed the design genius for crowned greens he displayed at Pinehurst No. 2, check out Royal Dornoch, where he grew up. The first course I ever played in Scotland, in 1992, Dornoch boasts par-3s where it’s easier finding the greens with your tee shots than it is with your second shots.
5 of 27Pete Madden
Not the more famous Portmarnock Golf Club nearby, this Bernhard Langer design sits next to a terrific hotel. Memorable for me, however, is that I began a 9-day trip to Ireland back in 1993 by slicing my opening tee shot here into a cemetery. By Damien, that was one truly unpleasant omen.
6 of 27Pete Madden
I wish I could tell you that this matchbook from New Jersey’s Ridgewood symbolized how I was smoking my drives, but no such luck in two trips around this classic A.W. Tillinghast design, that’s hosted the 1935 Ryder Cup, 1974 U.S. Am, 1991 U.S. Senior Open and more recently the 2008 and 2010 PGA Tour Barclays events. The Norman Revival clubhouse is one of my favorites.
7 of 27Pete Madden
I’ll rate Pine Valley and Cypress Point above it on the design front, but for my money, there is no greater tournament golf course in the U.S. than Shinnecock Hills on Long Island. Look for it again at the 2018 U.S. Open.
8 of 27Pete Madden
Kawana Hotel’s Fuji course is Japan’s answer to Pebble Beach. Cliff-top thrills, ocean panoramas and C.H. Alison’s superior bunkering and strategies make this course, and adjoining 86-year-old hotel worth the 3-hour journey from Tokyo.
9 of 27Pete Madden
Don’t you love iconic properties where one word is enough to convey its stature? That’s how I feel after three visits to The Broadmoor, etched into Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. You’re literally exhilarated by the thin air, at 6,200-feet and by the golf creations from Ross, RTJ Sr. and Nicklaus. Kudos for grabbing the number 1 spot in our 2014 Premier Resorts Awards.
10 of 27Pete Madden
This matchbook from a 2006 visit to The Golf Club, a men’s-only domain outside Columbus, Ohio yielded a look at one of Pete Dye’s early masterworks (1967) and at one of the greatest locker rooms in golf.
11 of 27Pete Madden
Scenes from the 70s-era movie “Ryan’s Daughter” were filmed on the beach below the 17th tee at this jaw-dropping Arnold Palmer design in southwest Ireland, which was cool, because my wife and I played there together. She’s a “Ryan” and so also a “Ryan’s daughter.” Alas, we both bogeyed the par-4 hole.
12 of 27Pete Madden
No pressure when you come out of the blocks declaring it “the greatest course in the world,” pre-opening, as Donald Trump did, who never met hyperbole he didn’t like. That said, Trump International Golf Links Scotland in Aberdeen is flat-out awesome.
13 of 27Pete Madden
I shelled out $50 to play Pebble Beach in 1980, $90 to play with my dad in 1984 and emptied my life savings account to get my wife and I aboard in 2004. Honestly? It was money well spent. It is, and always will be, the ultimate public-access bucket list U.S. course. You have to play it in your lifetime.
14 of 27Pete Madden
After at least three rounds at each of Bandon’s Championship 18s, Tom Doak’s Pac Dunes remains my clear favorite. Is it better than Pebble Beach? My heart says no. My brain says yes.
15 of 27Pete Madden
It’s not pure links golf, and it’s certainly not Cypress Point, but Arthur Hills’ Drew Rogers drew up an unforgettable mix of seaside holes in the dunes north of Lisbon, Portugal where the variety employed harkens to the test offered at Cypress.
16 of 27Pete Madden
Bandon Dunes became a must-play destination before it opened in 1999, just from the photos being leaked. With one course, Mike Keiser and David McLay Kidd turned the southern Oregon coast into America’s ultimate public-access, “If you build it, they will come” destination.
17 of 27Pete Madden
Fairmont’s Jasper Park is the only course where I’ve ever seen bears, elk and wolves during the same round, during my first visit in 1993. Handsome rustic cabins and a lodge adjoin in the heart of Alberta’s Canadian Rockies.
18 of 27Pete Madden
Virtually all of the holes at the Golf Club at Eagle Mountain sit at the bottom of bowl-shaped fairway corridors in Fountain Hills, Arizona, east of Scottsdale. Walking up and down the slopes, back and forth to your golf cart parked above is a better workout for your hammies and calves than a stairmaster.
19 of 27Pete Madden
I played the brand-new private Encanterra club with its co-designer, Tom Lehman, in January 2008. Lehman displayed a refreshing design style that emphasized playability and variety and he showed infinite patience -- and humor -- in accommodating my loose shots.
20 of 27Pete Madden
A last-minute, pro-am fill-in at the LPGA event played at JW Marriott’s Wildfire Golf Club in my backyard worked well for me in March 2013. Great cause -- I got to renew acquaintances with Peggy Kirk Bell, one of the great ladies in golf -- and great fun, alongside bubbly Paige Mackenzie.
21 of 27Pete Madden
The poster child for gorgeous fall golf in the U.S. is the Equinox, in Manchester Village, Vermont.
22 of 27Pete Madden
I’ve stayed and played twice at the Glen Club in the leafy northern suburbs of Chicago. Both times, I’ve marveled at the shaping skills of the modern architect -- in this case, Tom Fazio, who converted the runways of a former Naval Air Station into a linksy, beautifully rolling spread.
23 of 27Pete Madden
What some call the best set of par-3s in U.S. public-access golf -- at Robert Trent Jones Sr.’s Golden Horseshoe (Gold) -- is accompanied by entertaining American history lessons literally steps away in Colonial Williamsburg.
24 of 27Pete Madden
I got married in 2001 alongside Raptor’s 18th hole at Grayhawk in Scottsdale, Ariz. My wife Betsy liked the lake, flowers and McDowell Mountain views to the east. I liked the risk-reward options and sidehill tilt of the fairway. Yes, we’re still married!
25 of 27Pete Madden
Credit Bob McNichols, who developed Longbow, with being one of the great supporters in the business of junior and women’s golf. I’ve played in the Junior-Am portion of the AJGA’s Heather Farr event for 10 years and continue to be amazed by McNichols’ generosity and the comportment and skills of the juniors that compete.
26 of 27Pete Madden
Talk about spectacular fall foliage: legendary Canadian architect Stanley Thompson crafted Quebec’s Chateau Montebello, now a Fairmont property, in 1929 and the hardwoods covering the Laurentians have only matured since then. I witnessed this kaleidoscope in 1994 and have never forgotten the images.
27 of 27Pete Madden
Golf’s greatest “hang,” is out west at Scottsdale’s Whisper Rock. It’s nearly as much fun running into folks such as Gary McCord, Martin Kaymer and Jim “Bones” Mackay on the range or in the clubhouse as it is actually playing the Lower or Upper courses.
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