New golf course openings are not nearly as robust as they were in the early 2000s, but as the world has moved farther away from "the great recession," things have started to perk up.
Not that the slowdown was all bad.
First, it caused many golf course architects to pivot to renovation and restoration of existing golf courses, channeling talent and creativity into improving existing golf courses.
Second, it means any new golf courses tend to be of particularly high quality.
As you will see from the list we've assembled, each of these new golf courses is "notable" at the worst, and spectacular at best.
Let's dive in:
Sand Valley Golf Resort - Rome, Wisc.
Designer: Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw
Sand Valley is the next outpost in the golf course empire of Mike Keiser, who continues to improve and expand his landmark Bandon Dunes Golf Resort into one of the greatest assemblages of golf on Earth. Located in the sandy hills of central Wisconsin, much closer to Keiser's hometown of Chicago than Oregon, the original Coore & Crenshaw routing will be the first of a handful of layouts eventually draped across the beautiful site. David McLay Kidd's course is already taking shape and should be open in 2018. I got a sneak-preview of the course this past August, and it's destined to live up to the considerable hype.
The Loop at Forest Dunes Resort - Roscommon, Mich.
Designer: Tom Doak
Forest Dunes' first course opened in the 1990s, designed by Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish. It has resided on many "top 100 you can play" lists ever since. The addition of The Loop, which will enjoy its first full season in 2017, elevates the facility to new heights, not just because of Doak's considerable talents in designing a single course, but because he succeeded in delivering a routing that can be played both clockwise and counterclockwise. The result: two distinct golf courses on one piece of ground. Will you prefer the Black (clockwise) or Red (counterclockwise) routing?
Mossy Oak Golf Club - West Point, Miss.
Designer: Gil Hanse
Okay, so Mossy Oak officially opened in 2016, but since the first batch of rounds weren't played until September, we're counting it on this list because 2017 will be its first year in operation. Built on a rolling, open site near the entrenched and well-regarded Old Waverly Golf Club, Hanse applied a number of the spectacular, classic sensibilities he employed at the Olympic Golf Course in Brazil in southern Mississippi. Visiting golfers are already raving about the course, which will also serve as the home of the Mississippi State University golf teams. Nice recruiting tool.
Black Course at Streamsong Resort - Streamsong, Fla.
Designer: Gil Hanse
Streamsong's original two courses, the Red (Coore & Crenshaw) and Blue (Tom Doak) already stir heated debate among the golfers who visit them and love their openness, ruggedness and Florida-stereotype-fleeing aesthetics. The Black Course will complicate matters further when it opens in fall 2017, because as he has done at Mossy Oak in Mississippi, Gil Hanse is applying his own classic flair to the mine-created sand hills that make Streamsong special. From what we've seen of the Black Course, we get a distinct Melbourne Sandbelt vibe. And with such famed courses as those at Royal Melbourne, Kingston Heath and Metropolitan Golf Clubs representing the best of Down Under, any comparisons Streamsong's newest layout draws should be seen as very, very good signs.
Stoatin Brae at Gull Lake View Golf Club & Resort - Augusta, Mich.
Designers: Renaissance Golf Design
You may know Renaissance Golf Design firm as the firm headed up by Tom Doak, but Doak is far from the only architect working there. A talented band of his associates - Eric Iverson, Brian Schneider, Brian Slawnik and Don Placek - took on the task of building a fifth golf course at the venerable Gull Lake View Club & Resort a little more than two hours west of Detroit. Early returns have been very positive, as Stoatin Brae reflects the minimalistic, classic sensibilities Doak and other minimalist architects have brought back to golf design in the last couple decades. A dozen holes saw preview play in the fall, and the entire course should open on time this spring.
Shepherd's Rock Course at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort - Farmington, Pa.
Designers: Pete Dye and Tim Liddy
Nemacolin, one of our favorite resorts in the northeast, will double its Dye golf in 2017 when its Shepherd's Rock Course opens. The Mystic Rock Course has a justifiably excellent reputation, and early whispers from folks who have seen the new course, laid out on land formerly occupied by a somewhat disappointing 18 holes, seem to indicate that Shepherd's Rock might just become the favorite course on property. Here, Dye, dean of modern golf architecture and nonagenarian, leaves his mark along with long-time collaborator Tim Liddy.
Silvies Valley Ranch - Seneca, Ore.
If you thought Bandon was remote, then Silvies Valley Ranch, located in the middle-eastern wilderness of Oregon, three hours east of Bend and nearly an hour from Burns, the nearest town of consequence, might as well be on another planet. But that is its appeal: it is a wilderness retreat where architect Dan Hixson was given free reign to be creative with the layout. The result: two reversible routings called the Grant and Harney courses, plus a nine-hole par 3 layout called Chief Egan. It will not be easy to get to Silvies Valley Ranch, but that's half the fun.
Unnamed Course at Big Cedar Lodge - Branson, Mo.
Designer: Gary Player
Big Cedar Lodge, owned by Bass Pro Shops tycoon Johnny Morris, is one of the American Heartland's most fascinating spots for golf, and the next years will only raise its profile. In addition to its Tom Fazio-designed Buffalo Ridge Springs Course and the ultra-premium, nine-hole par-3 Top of the Rock layout, it will be welcoming two new golf courses in the next few years. A little ways off is an 18-hole layout by Coore & Crenshaw, but ready for play in 2017 will be a 12-hole, family-oriented layout designed by Gary Player. We look forward to returning to Branson to see it.
Victory Course at Verrado Golf Club - Buckeye, Ariz.
Designer: Tom Lehman
The Lehman-designed Victory Course will double the golf offerings at Verrado Golf Club, bringing a forward-thinking approach to golf course design to the property. Lehman and Verado's overseers are targeting the Baby Boomer generation with the Victory Course, which will be part of a 55-and-over district of the 7,600-acre community (Note: The course will still be open to golfers of all ages). The layout features wide fairways, open approaches to greens and little in the way of forced carries, meaning that players of all skill levels will enjoy the course without feeling beat up by the experience. In addition, Lehman has incorporated a "golf playground" into the course's practice facility, encouraging golfers to work on their games in a fun, communal setting.
Bayou Oaks Golf Course at City Park - New Orleans, La.
Designer: Rees Jones
The devastation wrought in the Crescent City by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 reached City Park and its complement of four golf courses. More than a decade later, golf in the park has been reduced to the North Course, with the South Course's land having been left to become general park space. Over the last year, the land for the former East and West courses has been used to build a totally new, championship-style course called Bayou Oaks, which will open next month with an eye toward becoming the new host of the PGA Tour's Zurich Classic in the near future. We have written about the municipal golf renaissance and will have more examples of this phenomenon in a couple weeks when we discuss recent renovations of existing golf courses.
Trinity Forest Golf Club - Dallas, Texas
Designers: Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw
Trinity Forest is another course with professional golf in its near future, as it will take over the PGA Tour's AT&T Byron Nelson Championship in 2018, and has become the home course of the Southern Methodist University golf teams, as well as the First Tee of Greater Dallas. The Coore/Crenshaw design has something of a misnomer, as the course itself enjoys a very open setting, with trees ringing the property. The green complexes echo the raised, elusive targets at Pinehurst No. 2, restored a few years ago by the duo. Trinity Forest will be a high-end private club but will host charity events throughout the year with spots open for the general public.
The Club at Chatham Hills - Westfield, Ind.
Designer: Pete Dye
This brand-new Dye effort is only a few miles from his famed Crooked Stick, and has drawn favorable comparisons from the fortunate few to preview it. It will hit the ground running this spring. The club is private, but all reports point toward the course being one well worth trying to access if possible.
Rest Of The World
Danzante Bay Golf Club at Villa Palmar Resort - Loreto, Mexico
Designer: Rees Jones
Golfers know Baja California for one destination: Los Cabos, the large system of resort areas on the peninsula's southern tip. Loreto, a few hundred miles to the north, is much quieter but no less spectacular. Danzante Bay will be the second golf course in the area when its remaining seven holes are completed sometime around November, but its first 11 holes have garnered considerable attention already, with the cliffhanging par-3 17th stealing the spotlight.
Westin Cairo Golf Resort & Spa Katemaya Dunes - Cairo, Egypt
Designers: Brian Curley and Nick Faldo
The global economic recession may have slowed things down, but the Middle East continues to be a nursery for new golf courses. This brand-new facility has 27 holes at the center of a combined resort/residential community south and east of the Egyptian capital city. It includes the bold, expansive bunkering for which both Faldo's and Curley's (as well as usual design partner Lee Schmidt) are known.
Panorama Golf Resort - Kácov, Czech Republic
Designers: Libor Jirásek and Michael Terech
Far from household names in the United States,Libor Jirásek and Michael Terech are mostly known for work on the European continent. Their newest effort is Panorama, which will formally open in the spring and comprises 27 holes at an upscale resort about a half hour outside Prague. General travelers rave about the beauty of Prague, so the avid golfers among them now have somewhere new and convenient to combine sightseeing with their favorite pastime.
Norman Signature Course at Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta - Nayarit, Mexico
Designer: Greg Norman
The opening of 18 holes by The Shark compliments the existing 18 by Jack Nicklaus at this luxury super-resort in Puerto Vallarta. The par-73 course uses wall-to-wall paspalum grass, an increasingly popular surface on warm-weather seaside courses for its salt-tolerance. Another interesting feature is a quarter-mile-long suspension golf cart bridge, which connects parts of both of the resort's courses.
Are you planning to visit any of these brand-new golf courses soon? Any other notable newbies you've heard about? Let us know in the comments below!