Matt Ginella's Top 50 golf courses you can play in the U.S.: 50-31

Travel expert Matt Ginella is counting down his Top 50 Courses You Can Play in the U.S. on Golf Channel's Morning Drive. The top 10 courses will be revealed on Sunday morning at 7:30 a.m. EST.

The end. It's my favorite time of the year. It inspires reflections on lessons learned, moments worth remembering, and lists in need of tweaking.

On the subject of My Top 50 in the U.S. That You Can Play, a new Coore and Crenshaw design in Wisconsin takes the place of a Donald Ross original in North Carolina, that's not only off the list, it's no longer going to exist.

Sand Valley's first course, which debuts at No. 24, is yet another remote, playable and scenic, sand-based routing built by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw for Mike Keiser. It's not nearly as dramatic as Cabot Cliffs, which might be as high as No. 2 on this list if it included Canada. Sand Valley doesn't have as many memorable holes as Bandon Trails (No. 8). And it doesn't have the narrative build to a climactic finish like Streamsong Red (No. 11). Which are three of the last five Coore and Crenshaw public designs in the U.S. (Dormie Club and Bandon Preserve are the other two). But as the first course of a budding destination, Sand Valley does exactly what Keiser needs it to do: It leaves people wanting to come back for more.

Which is what they'll get: At least two more 18-hole courses and at least one short course is coming to Sand Valley very soon.

As for the biggest movers of courses already on the list, that goes to the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass (from No. 21 to No. 13) and Mid Pines (from No. 24 to No. 18).

The host of The PLAYERS Championship has become more playable with bigger greens, better putting surfaces and a drivable par 4.

And Mid Pines, which underwent a restoration of Pinehurst No. 2 proportions, deserves more respect and recognition.

Pinehurst No. 2 not only maintains its place in my top 3, the 2011 restoration of center-line irrigation, natural collection areas and random lies in wire grass has caused a sand storm throughout the Sandhills. Kyle Franz's restoration work at Mid Pines has made it my second favorite course in the area, ahead of Pinehurst No. 8 (No. 20), Pine Needles (No. 22), Dormie Club (No. 34) and Tobacco Road (No. 38). It's worth noting, Franz is now working on restoring Pine Needles. And Keith Foster is restoring Greenbrier's Old White (No. 26).

Meanwhile, Pinehurst No. 4 (No. 23 in 2015) is off the list because in 2017, Gil Hanse will completely renovate what was most-recently a Tom Fazio design. And yet again, Hanse promises more of a natural look to everything surrounding the playing surface.

Yes, another year has gone by, and yet, golf in America continues a trend of turning back the clock to what makes the most sense: Thoughtful, fun, fast, natural and sustainable. As for affordable, that's a relative term and this is a list of The Best, which, in every industry, comes with A Cost.

Which brings me to a two-for-one: The Loop, Tom Doak's reversible routing in Roscommon, Mich., and Mossy Oak, Gil Hanse's new course in West Point, Miss. I didn't consider these three new courses for this year's list. I only walked Mossy Oak well before it was open. And although I played The Loop in both directions multiple times, in fairness, it was preview play and conditions in June were a bit too raw to get a sense of where they'd rank on any list. However, I maintain that what Doak pulled off — 18 greens that can be played in two directions — is impressive and could inspire yet another layer of alternative forms of golf architecture. Are those greens at The Loop too small with too many severe undulations given the demand of modern green speeds? Doak knows those dice and doesn't seem to be afraid to keep rolling 'em. (See: Streamsong Blue, No. 28.)

As for Streamsong Black, another Gil Hanse design, I'm looking forward to the fall opening of what will be the third course at Mosaic's Central Florida golf getaway.

And while My Top 10 stays the same, with consistency to conditions and ongoing enhancements, such as the 14th and 17th greens, Pebble Beach has only increased its lead as my favorite public course in the country.

Which brings us back to the end, and my list, yet again …

Ginella's Top 50 courses in the U.S. you can play

50. East Course at The Broadmoor

Colorado Springs, Colo.
Designer: Donald Ross, Robert Trent Jones Sr.
Price: $280
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. Fazio Foothills at Omni Barton Creek Resort

Austin, Tex.
Designer: Tom Fazio
Price: $199-250
Video: Austin the 5th best buddies trip destination

47. Bayonet at Bayonet and Blackhorse

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

46. Palmer Course at Turtle Bay Resort

Kahuku, Hawaii
Designer: Arnold Palmer, Ed Seay
Price: $155-185
Video: Ginella's Top 5 courses in Hawaii

45. Crosswater at Sunriver Resort

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

44. Mauna Kea Golf Course

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

43. Manele Golf Course

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

42. Smith Signature at Treetops Resort

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

41. True Blue

Pawleys Island, S.C.
Designer: Mike Strantz
Price: $145
Video: A trip to Myrtle Beach

Video: Ginella on his Top 50 courses, Nos. 50-41

40. TPC Deere Run

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

39. The Classic at Madden's on Gull Lake

Brainerd, Minn.
Designer: Scott Hoffman
Price: $86-120

38. Tobacco Road Golf Club

Sanford, N.C.
Designer: Mike Strantz
Price: $100-130

37. Saguaro Course at We-Ko-Pa Golf Club

Fountain Hills, Ariz.
Designer: Bill Coore, Ben Crenshaw
Price: $210-235

36. CordeValle Golf Club

San Martin, Calif.
Designer: Robert Trent Jones Jr.
Price: $325
Video: Ginella, Rymer and Williams on CordeValle

35. Erin Hills

Erin, Wis.
Designer: Michael Hurdzan, Dana Fry, Ron Whitten
Price: $280 (Editor's Note: Erin Hills is closed to the public until the completion of the 2017 U.S. Open.)

34. Dormie Club

West End, N.C.
Designer: Bill Coore, Ben Crenshaw
Price: $190-215

33. Stadium Course at PGA West

La Quinta, Calif.
Designer: Pete Dye
Price: $199-229

32. Gamble Sands

Brewster, Wash.
Designer: David McLay Kidd
Price: $110-160

31. Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale

Scottsdale, Ariz.
Designer: Tom Weiskopf, Jay Morrish
Price: $275-329
Video: Ginella on Tom Weiskopf and TPC Scottsdale

Click here to see Nos. 30-21

Video: Ginella speaks with David McLay Kidd about Nos. 40-31

Green fees based on posted peak season rates and are subject to change.

Dec 08, 2016

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htoriello's avatar
htoriello wrote at 2016-12-14 16:32:52+00:00:

For what it's worth, my vote for the course with the worst bugs is Forest Dunes!  We were actually thankful that a strong rainstorm rolled in, since it at least got rid of the bugs!  Bring plenty of repellent!

tgd112gostate's avatar
tgd112gostate wrote at 2016-12-15 19:37:39+00:00:

Bring a box of dryer sheets and tuck it in the collar of your shirt. They hate those, for whatever reason. Problem solved!! (Played there about 6 years ago on a stay-and-play with clients- same problem). Awesome course tho-

Laurelcreek's avatar
Laurelcreek wrote at 2016-12-09 13:21:58+00:00:

Lucky enough to played most of these... Don't quite get Erin Hills.. I paid $500 which included caddie..not worth it!..the straits course way better and at $375. A better bang for the buck..

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Matt Ginella

Special Contributor

Matt Ginella is Golf Channel's resident travel insider. He writes for 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.