Are You Playing these Top Golf Courses in the Right Order?

Last week, we gave you some general advice for scheduling your rounds in a logical order on a golf vacation.

We received some great feedback, and wanted to follow up this week with our specific recommendations for course orders at some of America's largest resorts (all members of this list have three or more courses).

Bandon Dunes (the "big courses) - Bandon, Ore.


  • Bandon Dunes
  • Pacific Dunes
  • Bandon Trails
  • Old Macdonald

Why this order? We like playing these amazing courses in the order in which they were built, but every Bandon Dunes devotee seems to have a slightly different preference. If there's one resort where the debate over playing order is most heated, it's at Bandon. If you've been here, we definitely want your thoughts on this.

PGA National - Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.


  • The Palmer
  • The Squire
  • The Champion
  • The Fazio

Why this order? PGA National's Palmer and Squire courses both have their demanding stretches, but the Champion Course is one of those relentlessly challenging courses you'd better work your way up to. In case you do end up getting beat up a little, seek redemption on the friendlier but still engaging Fazio.

Pinehurst Resort


  • No. 8
  • No. 5
  • No. 9
  • No. 4
  • No. 2

No. 1 and No. 3 each make great add-on rounds, and No. 6 and No. 7 make for modern complements to Pinehurst's more classic layouts.

Destination Kohler/The American Club


  • Meadow Valleys
  • Blackwolf Run
  • Irish Course
  • Whistling Straits

Why this order? We favor a site-by-site approach, since both two-course facilities sit about a dozen miles apart.

Reynolds Lake Oconee - Greensboro, Ga.


  • The Preserve
  • The Oconee
  • The National
  • The Landing
  • Great Waters

Why this order? Great Waters and Oconee get much of the ink, but Reynolds' average course quality is higher than most big resorts, to the point where you might just place the Landing, Preserve or National layouts in equal esteem. We still give Great Waters the finale nod due to its higher number of holes on the lake.

Sea Island - St. Simons Island, Ga.


  • Retreat
  • Plantation
  • Seaside

Why this order? Though the Rees Jones-designed Plantation has more scenic views than the Retreat, and it now serves as the secondary course for the PGA Tour's RSM Classic, we prefer the inland Davis Love III layout overall. Start on a higher note there before moving onto the two courses on the Lodge property. And keep an eye out for PGA Tour pros like Matt Kuchar, Zach Johnson and Harris English honing their games.

Kiawah Island Resort - Kiawah Island, S.C.


  • Oak Point
  • Cougar Point
  • Osprey Point
  • The Ocean Course
  • Turtle Point

Why this order? This is a classic gradual buildup to a penultimate-round, tough-as-nails high note which, similar to the Champion at PGA National, might leave you wanting a chance to recover from a tough round while still playing a couple more holes' worth of oceanside golf (Turtle Point has three holes on the beach).

Sea Pines Resort - Hilton Head Island, S.C.


  • Atlantic Dunes
  • Heron Point
  • Harbour Town

Why this order? Harbour Town used to be the best course at Sea Pines by a mile and a half, but the resort's recent investment in first Heron Point and, last year, Atlantic Dunes, has elevated the stature of the resort's entire golf product considerably. Here, We'd encourage you to start with the more spacious corridors of Atlantic Dunes and gradually honing in on the tighter fairways of Harbour Town. This order also allows architecture buffs to see two courses from different periods in Pete Dye's storied design career back-to-back

La Quinta Resort & Club - La Quinta, Calif.


  • La Quinta - Mountain Course
  • Norman Course
  • La Quinta - Dunes Course
  • TPC Stadium Course
  • Nicklaus Tournament Course

Why this order? This is another example of a resort where the most famous course is also the toughest one. It's also a rare opportunity to play multiple PGA Tour courses at the same site, so we'd recommend you mimic the pros' preparation habits: play the rest before you visit the best.

The Greenbrier - White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.


  • Meadows Course
  • Greenbrier Course
  • Old White TPC

Why this order? Once all three golf courses have recovered fully from last year's flooding, the Greenbrier may challenge the Old White TPC for supremacy, but we expect the venerable C.B. Macdonald layout to continue to be the biggest draw.

Barefoot Resort - Myrtle Beach, S.C.


  • Love Course
  • Norman Course
  • Fazio Course
  • Dye Club

Why this order? The Love Course is our second-favorite Barefoot layout behind the Dye, but we recommend starting there because it has the widest fairways of the four courses onsite.

The Broadmoor - Colorado Springs, Colo.


  • West Course
  • East Course
  • Mountain Course

Why this order? We'd recommend getting your feet wet with The Broadmoor's two hotel-side, classic golf courses (including the East, which has hosted the most big-time tournament golf at the resort) before heading uphill to play the very challenging Nicklaus-designed Mountain Course.

Trump National Doral - Miami, Fla.


  • Red Tiger
  • Golden Palm
  • Blue Monster
  • Silver Fox

Why this order? Gil Hanse's renovations to the Red Tiger and Golden Palm courses have turned them from also-rans into excellent complements to the Blue Monster. The Silver Fox is a bit tighter off the tee, so make sure to play it once you're in a good groove with your driver.

What do you think about playing these courses in these orders? Anything you'd do differently? Let us know below in the comments!

Tim Gavrich is a Senior Writer for Golf Advisor and the Managing Editor of the Golf Vacation Insider newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @TimGavrich and on Instagram @TimGavrich.
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