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Top 100 Golf Courses "BiteSize" - June 2016

Our June BiteSize update focuses largely on the continued rollout of our US Best In State rankings, where we’ve completed our biennial appraisal of a dozen States in the East North Central and West North Central Divisions of the country. We continue to extend these US Best In State ranking lists where we believe it’s warranted and in this update we present our first Top 50 rankings for Illinois, Michigan and Ohio. We’ve also expanded the number of courses we display for seven of the nine other States; only North and South Dakota remain unchanged, where we maintain a Top 10 ranking for both the Roughrider and Mount Rushmore States. We’re grateful to everyone who has assisted – if you can help us to further improve our Best In State rankings, please get in touch. 

Also in this month’s edition we’ve published our account of the remodelled Ailsa course at Trump Turnberry, which reopened less than a month ago. And finally we share a story following another visit to Morocco by our Editor, who uncovers new golfing delights in the Western Kingdom.

2016 Illinois Best in State rankings

Chicago retains its place at the top of the Prairie State chart. Currently ranked 13th in our USA Top 100 and 22nd in our World Top 100, this historically important course is the oldest 18-hole layout in the country, having been established in 1894. Host to three US Opens and four US Amateur Championships in its formative years, the club is now scheduled to stage the inaugural US Women’s Senior Open in 2018.

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2016 Indiana Best in State rankings

The Hoosier State of Indiana still has the spectacular 18-hole Victoria National course as its number one, with this rather unique Tom Fazio design holding off a strong challenge from a number of other contenders. Laid out within an abandoned coal mine, the course offers an exacting test of golf where much of the strategic strategy is shaped by a variety of water hazards that now lie within its 400-acre confines.

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2016 Iowa Best in State rankings

We’ve added another five layouts to our chart for the Hawkeye State, where Harvester remains in the same No.1 position it has occupied since we established state lists in 2012. The course is a new millennium offering from Keith Foster and he returned a decade after it opened to renovate bunkers, alter tees and add stone wall edgings to Lake Harvester, which plays a prominent part in proceedings at the end of each nine.

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2016 Kansas Best in State rankings

The Sunflower State of Kansas has been enlarged to now feature a Top 15 table, where Prairie Dunes comfortably holds onto its number 1 status. That’s hardly a surprise, right enough, when you consider the course currently sits at number 29 in our World Top 100 chart.

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2016 Michigan Best in State rankings

The top three positions remain exactly the same as last time around, which means that Crystal Downs is still the number one course in the Wolverine State. A recent reviewer described it thus: ”one of the few courses I’ve played in the Top 100 where I was able to remember every single hole… Crystal Downs is unique and presents you with a tough challenge… not by being long but by placing a premium on strategy.”

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2016 Minnesota Best in State rankings

We’ve added ten new courses to our Minnesota chart, where seven of the top ten positions remain exactly the same as last time around. The two nationally ranked courses at the top of our North Star State listings swap positions, with the century-old Willie Watson-designed Interlachen course (currently number 81 in our US Top 100) replaced by a Donald Ross layout of a similar vintage at White Bear Yacht Club (rising twenty-four places to number 73 in our US Top 100).

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2016 Missouri Best in State rankings

We’ve doubled the number of courses in our rankings for the Show Me State of Missouri to a Top 20. St Louis returns to the head of the chart after Bellerive ousted the old classic from that position when we last re-ranked in 2014. The architects of this Midwest masterpiece back in the early 1910s were none other than Charles Blair Macdonald and Seth Raynor, the team who designed the National Golf Links of America and around a dozen other top-drawer courses.

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2016 Nebraska Best in State rankings

The Cornhusker State listings have been extended by five courses to a Top 15. Still the state number 1, Sand Hills is a mid-1990s Coore & Crenshaw creation that many believe to be the most natural course built in the country in over a hundred years. Occupying an immense 8,000-acre property, the biggest problem for the architects was deciding which 18 holes to choose from over 130 they had identified as possibilities.

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2016 North Dakota Best in State rankings

We retain a chart of ten courses for the Roughrider State, where the top four positions stay exactly as they were when we last re-ranked twenty-four months ago. That means Hawktree is still the number 1 course in North Dakota, and this contemporary late 1990s Jim Engh design is probably most famous for the black “sand” (actually recycled coal slag) that’s used in its bunkers.

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2016 Ohio Best in State rankings

There’s little movement at the head of the table in the Buckeye State, where the top five tracks are all nationally ranked, and the Jack Nicklaus and Desmond Muirhead co-design at Muirfield Village is still the state’s number one course. It’s more than forty years since the Golden Bear built this course outside his hometown of Columbus and he’s constructed hundreds down the years since then but this track still remains one of his most endearing.

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2016 South Dakota Best in State rankings

The number of courses in our Mount Rushmore State chart remains unchanged at ten. There are quite a lot of small moves within the new table, with only two courses remaining in the same position as last time. Sutton Bay is one of those non-movers, retaining the top spot in the state standings, and this cliff top inland links is a new millennium track fashioned by Graham Marsh which enjoys fabulous views across Lake Oahe from many of the fairways.

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2016 Wisconsin Best in State rankings

The Badger State listings are headed by the Straits course at Whistling Straits. Site of three USPGA Championships, this highly-regarded layout is all set to host the Ryder Cup in 2020. A recent reviewer is of the opinion that “Pete Dye’s work here was done spectacularly well… it’s quite playable for less talented golfers, often because Dye built wide fairways and huge greens… I place Whistling Straits alongside the world’s best ‘modern links’ courses.”

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Turnberry’s Ailsa course is reborn

The Ailsa has long been a favourite course for those who love its scenic location overlooking the Firth of Clyde with views across to the Kintyre Peninsula and the Isle of Arran. Less than a month ago, the Ailsa at Trump Turnberry reopened after an extensive renovation. Now, following a massive makeover from architect Martin Ebert, there’s real substance to match the style that the course has always had in abundance.

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Further golfing delights uncovered in Morocco

Six months ago, our Moroccan review indicated that we’d like to take a closer look at courses outside the Marrakech area. Well, we’ve done just that, visiting Agadir in January then returning in May to look at more than a dozen courses in Casablanca, Fes, Tangier and Rabat.

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Have you downloaded our Scottish publication yet?

Top 100 Golf Courses of Scotland 2016-2017 was recently published in Kindle format, which can be enjoyed on any device with Kindle’s free App. This latest title in the Top 100 series is jam-packed full of previously unreleased material and it includes an insight from our Editor and Scottish Correspondent, Jim McCann, who has played every layout in the Scottish hundred.

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Recent Player Reviews

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