They’re the ultimate muni foursome of tournament golf: Bethpage Black, Torrey Pines South, Chambers Bay and TPC Harding Park.
While all present very unique histories in different parts of the country with wildly different designs, they’ve nevertheless all hosted some of the most prestigious events in golf, including the U.S. Open, World Golf Championships, FedEx Cup Playoffs and upcoming PGA Championship.
As the first round of The Barclays kicked off at Bethpage Black on Thursday, we asked Twitter which course golfers would most like to play.
Here is the poll question (live thru Friday morning):
Which tour-tested 'Super Muni' would you most like to play?— Golf Advisor (@GolfAdvisor) August 25, 2016
Bethpage Black appears to be the clear leader based on your votes. So, how do your results compare to Matt Ginella's opinion? All four made his Top 50 courses you can play in the U.S.
'Super Munis' on Ginella’s Top 50
Torrey Pines South (No. 30)
TPC Harding Park (No. 25)
Chambers Bay (No. 18 )
Bethpage Black (No. 4)
So let’s compare how the poll results and Ginella's rankings stack up with golfer reviews on Golf Advisor. Managing a muni is tough business, especially when they carry such high expectations. When the cameras leave the grounds, these facilities have an obligation to schlep an extraordinary number of golfers around its fairways. And because these are all difficult layouts to boot, it’s no surprise each course’s pace of play ratings are the laggard.
Bethpage is the clear winner overall, with the only weak link being pace of play. Chambers Bay makes up for lower Value and Conditions with an excellent Staff Friendliness rating and the highest Course Layout rating.
TPC Harding Park has the most reviews by far, and is also the lowest-performing of the four munis in most categories. Management has a tough task here. Of these munis, it’s closest to the city center and has extreme demand for year-round play (Bethpage has five courses total, Torrey Pines has two 18s, while Harding Park just has a small, 9-hole course). It is, of the four facilities, the best combination of accessibility and affordability. It’s also regarded by raters as the easiest layout, which can be seen by many as an advantage.
These certainly aren't the only great munis in the U.S. In fact, Mike Bailey wrote up his ten favorite beyond the PGA Tour-tested venues we know and love.