Matt Ginella's 2015 top 50 Public Courses in the U.S.: Nos. 50-41



To engage with any ranking, one must first understand the criteria. For my list of the Top 50 Public Courses in the U.S., my criteria starts with fun-factor. When I putt out on the 18th green, do I immediately want to go back to the first tee?

Prestige of a course plays a role in my ranking. There's a lot to be said for walking the same fairways as the game's greats. Would you rather play softball at Wrigley Field or Walter Williams Park?

I also like variety. And that especially pertains to the par 3s. I'm not a fan of a golf course that has four par 3s that all play the same yardage. I like a drivable par 4 and reachable par 5s. Certainly a variety of scenery helps. As much as I love Bandon Trails, it's hard to beat the coastal views at Bandon Dunes and Pacific Dunes. No one plays Pebble Beach for the inland holes. And yet -- spoiler alert -- Bethpage Black, Pinehurst No. 2, Pasatiempo and Forest Dunes are all in my top 10.

Walkability plays a role in my criteria. Courses that encourage carts, or go as far as making them mandatory, drop down or off my list. Courses that encourage walking and offer caddies move up. And as I learn more about architecture from architects who take time to devise the property's ultimate 18, I have a greater appreciation for the routing of a course.

Conditioning is a tough one. It's like assessing a course based on weather. I'm sorry if you played one of these courses on a bad day, or a week after they punched the greens, my list is based on the idea that you're playing these courses in peak season and in perfect condition.

What this list doesn't use as a component of the criteria is the green fee. I have other lists that focus on value. This is simply The Best that you can play in America. That being said, as you go through the list, it can then help you identify some of the best values by cross-referencing the ranking with their green fee. Bethpage Black and Forest Dunes, for example, based on their green fees, and where they rank among the top golf courses in the country, are relatively good value. (Still feel priced out? See my Top 10 Budget Buddies Trip Destinations or my Top 10 Hidden Gems).

Lastly, as you might imagine, the opportunity to play all of these courses has been a privilege, and I have never taken it for granted. I also appreciate a ranking is subjective and as we reveal my Top 50 over the next five days on Golf Channel's Morning Drive, I look forward to hearing about what I got wrong or what I've missed. I share pictures and anecdotes of my travels on Twitter (@mattginellagc) and Instagram (matt_ginella).

You can join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #MattsTop50. Or, click on each course page to write your own review of the course and see what your fellow golfers have to say about their rounds.

Matt Ginella's Top 50 Public Courses: 50-41

50. East Course at The Broadmoor

Colorado Springs, Colo.
Designer: Donald Ross, Robert Trent Jones Sr.
Price: $275
Video: Golf and craft beer in Denver and the Broadmoor Resort


49. The Quarry at Giants Ridge

Biwabik, Minn.
Designer: Jeff Brauer
Price: $82-89


48. Bayonet at Bayonet and Blackhorse

Seaside, Calif.
Designer: Gene Bates
Price: $135
Video: Bayonet and Blackhorse two hidden gems of the Monterey Peninsula


47. Crosswater at Sunriver Resort

Sunriver, Ore.
Designer: Bob Cupp
Price: $160


46. Mauna Kea Golf Course

Kohala Coast, Hawaii
Designer: Robert Trent Jones Sr., Rees Jones
Price: $235-275


Matt Ginella's top 50 courses: 45-41

45. Manele Golf Course

Lanai City, Hawaii
Designer: Jack Nicklaus
Price: $325


44. Fazio Foothills at Omni Barton Creek Resort

Austin, Tex.
Designer: Tom Fazio
Price: $180-250
Video: Austin the 5th best buddies trip destination


43. Smith Signature at Treetops Resort

Gaylord, Mich.
Designer: Rick Smith
Price: $79-110


42. True Blue

Pawleys Island, S.C.
Designer: Mike Strantz
Price: $149
Video: A trip to Myrtle Beach


41. TPC Deere Run

Silvis, Ill.
Designer: D.A. Weibring
Price: $79
Video: The story of TPC Deere Run


The other 40: 10-1 | 20-11 | 30-21 | 40-31 | honorable mentions

Green fees are based on latest peak-season rates and are subject to change. In the case of resort courses, stay-and-play packages and specials often greatly reduce the price of the green fee. Many of these courses also offer dynamic online tee times, off-season and twilight rates that lower the green fee.

Dec 02, 2015



Join the conversation


Related Links


Matt Ginella

Special Contributor

Matt Ginella is Golf Channel's resident travel insider. He writes for GolfChannel.com and appears weekly on "Morning Drive." Before Golf Channel, Ginella was senior travel editor for Golf Digest and Golf World from 2007-2012 and covered courses, resorts and the avid amateur golfer's annual buddies trips to over 60 destinations around the country. Ginella graduated from St. Mary's College (Calif.) in 1995 and earned a masters degree in journalism from Columbia University in 2003. Follow Matt on Twitter at @mattginellagc and on Instagram at @Matt_Ginella.