One of the great joys in golf is returning to a course you haven't played in years and finding it's remarkably improved. Putts are rolling true, the staff members' smiles are bigger and the food in the restaurant tastes better.
It elevates the energy of the whole joint. And you start coming back again and again.
We took the 2013-14 ratings of golf courses across the U.S. to seek out the most improved courses coast-to-coast. We found some with astounding improvement.
The biggest improvement, based on ratings from GolfAdvisor users, was Tucson's Arizona National Golf Club. Its story has been a tumultuous one, officially hitting rock bottom in the fall of 2012 when, due to a delinquent bill, their water was shut off by the city of Tucson.
The water was restored after a couple months, but its rating in 2013 was a meager 2.5, near the bottom of courses in Arizona. It's a shame for any course, not to mention a Robert Trent Jones Jr. signature course that had the potential to be among the top public courses in town.
In the spring of 2014, O.B. Sports assumed management of the course. Later that summer, a Canadian investment company, Romspen, purchased the property. $500,000 was invested in conditions, new golf carts and other property repairs.
With this commitment, service was stepped up in a big way, too.
"It was about bringing in the right people," said Dennis Palmer, general manager at Arizona National, who personally responds to many reviews of his course left on GolfAdvisor. "The whole customer service aspect has been changed tremendously."
The result is a lot of happy golfers and the most improved course of the year.
A tip of the cap to Arizona National and the 24 other course owners and operators who have stepped up their games at these most improved golf courses in 2014.
Courses needed a 3.5 rating or higher in 2014 to be eligible and at least 20 ratings. (YoY improvement in parentheses).
Top 25 Most Improved Golf Courses in 2014
1. Arizona National Golf Club , Tucson, Ariz. (+71 percent)
2. Browns Mill Golf Course , Atlanta (+61 percent)
3. Belle Terre Country Club , La Place, La. (+56 percent)
4. Miami Springs Golf & Country Club , Miami Springs, Fla. (+46 percent)
5. Siena Golf Club , Las Vegas (+45 percent)
6. Twin Creeks Golf Course , Allen, Texas (+43 percent)
7. Fern Hill Golf Club , Clinton Township, Mich. (+42 percent)
8. Forest Park Golf Course , Woodhaven, N.Y. (+41 percent)
9. Griffin City Golf Course , Griffin, Ga. (+41 percent)
10. Desert Mirage Golf Course , Glendale, Ariz. (+40 percent)
11. Minnechaug Golf Club , Glastonbury, Conn. (+40 percent)
12. Carriage Greens Country Club , Darien, Ill. (+38 percent)
13. Cimarrone Golf Club , Jacksonville, Fla. (+36 percent)
14. Black Bear Golf Club , Franklin, N.J. (+35 percent)
15. Knoll East Country Club , Parsippany, N.J. (+34 percent)
16. San Ignacio Golf Club , Green Valley, Ariz. (+33 percent)
17. Alderbrook Golf Course , Tillamook, Ore. (+32 percent)
18. Bonaventure Country Club , Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. (+29 percent)
19. Saddle Creek Golf Club , Lewisburg, Tenn. (+28 percent)
20. Kiskiack Golf Club , Williamsburg, Va. (+28 percent)
21. Alhambra Municipal Golf Course , Alhambra, Calif. (+28 percent)
22. Foxcliff Golf Club , Martinsville, Ind. (+28 percent)
23. River Oaks Golf Club , Statesville, N.C. (+27 percent)
24. MetroWest Country Club , Orlando, Fla. (+27 percent)
25. Fox Hollow Golf Course , Somerville, N.J. (+27 percent)