Snowstorm during the Accenture Match Play Championship

"Misplaced" Golf Courses and Where to Find Them

This article originally appeared on

I'm sure you saw the bizarre snowstorm that hit the Accenture Match Play Tucson, Arizona.

Boy, did that look out of place.

It got me thinking about golf courses that are also seemingly "out of place."

I don't mean inferior -- some of them are fantastic.

They are, however, very unusual given their surroundings, and you'd be quite surprised -- and often pleased -- to find such a different experience in a given location.

For example, the best desert course I played last year was in Canada.

Called Tobiano (photo below), it's a Thomas McBroom masterpiece near Kamloops in British Columbia's Okanagan Valley.

Tobiano in Canada looks more like the desert in Arizona.

Likewise, I certainly didn't expect Vail Golf Club -- amid Colorado's Rocky Mountains -- to be almost completely flat...

...or to find 100-foot elevation changes near Orlando, Fla., at Mission Inn Resort's El Campeon course (and the temporarily closed Sugarloaf Mountain Golf Club).

Speaking of Florida, two new examples are the courses at Streamsong Resort near Lakeland. If you didn't know it, you might think you're playing golf in the Nebraska sandhills (see below).

The golf courses at Florida's Streamsong Resort resemble those in the sandhills of Nebraska.

Of course, today's advancements in technology and architecture (not to mention big budgets) have allowed developers to build virtually any type of golf course any place they want.

That's how we have the ultra-lush, parkland-style Shadow Creek Golf Club rising up like an oasis from the Las Vegas desert and the soaring, Ireland-like dunes of Bayonne Golf New Jersey overlooking downtown New York City.

Have you come across any "out of place" golf courses in your travels? Any worth playing?

Please share your thoughts or read what others are saying below.

Feb 26, 2013

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Michael's avatar
Michael wrote at 2013-03-06 10:27:34+00:00:

Rochelle Ranch, out in the middle of Wyoming, but fortunately near an I-80 exit. Cut through the existing terrain with views for miles, superb find in the middle of nowhere

Hollis Wineland's avatar
Hollis Wineland wrote at 2013-03-02 14:49:30+00:00:

MT.Massive golf course,in Leadville CO> North America's highest elevation at 9950 feet. The course in completely flat. It sets down in between all the mountain tops. When you look out from the first tee all you see is the mountains all around. only a nine hole course, but great and picturesque.

Gil Fuld's avatar
Gil Fuld wrote at 2013-02-28 18:38:23+00:00:

Some years ago I played the Amana Colony course in Iowa. I guess it was placed on the only land that couldn't easily be farmed, because I don't remember a flat lie on the entire course.

Bob Marshall's avatar
Bob Marshall wrote at 2013-02-28 16:44:21+00:00:

Last summer I played Arcadia Bluffs near Arcadia, Michigan. A fabulous links-style course on the shores of Lake Michigan. Not much nearby - no hotels, restaurants, etc., but it is listed as the number 1 public course in Michigan and number 10 on the 2012 list of top public courses in the USA. The best links course I have played since Scotland. I haven't played Bandon Dunes, but I think Arcadia Bluffs would give it a run for its money!

Dave B's avatar
Dave B wrote at 2013-02-28 02:47:54+00:00:

Tobacco Road in Sanford, NC. 180 acres of sand!

Brian Neville's avatar
Brian Neville wrote at 2013-02-27 16:02:08+00:00:

I played Streamsong Blue on February 5th with friend visiting from Connecticut. Be prepared to bring a lot of money. We rode in a cart which ran $200 + $14 sales tax for a total of $214. The fore caddy was $60 including a tip for a total of $274. We are going to play the Red course year. If going to the end of the world is on your bucket list, driving to Streamsong, will allow you to check it off the list. It is in the middle of no where in Polk County.

Marc's avatar
Marc wrote at 2013-02-27 12:33:58+00:00:

The rawls Couse @ Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. A Tom Doak designed course rated in the top 2 in Texas by Golf Digest. It truly is a masterpiece of design, turning flat farmland into an undulating landscape on the High Plains by moving 1.3m yards of dirt. It's a fun course to play, challenging all levels of golfers.

James Wise's avatar
James Wise wrote at 2013-02-27 02:18:50+00:00:

Wolf Creek in Mesquite, NV. Like playing golf on the set of Starship Troopers!

Tim Lehey's avatar
Tim Lehey wrote at 2013-02-27 00:20:12+00:00:

In the vein of "out of place" courses I suggest Mount Juliet in Ireland. It is a wonderful course. Had I travelled to one of the Carolinas I would have been very happy. There isn't a trace of Irish DNA in the whole course, in my opinion. I realize that it is designed as a parkland course, not a links course but I still felt it was too similar to courses I had played up and down the Eastern Seabord. I suggest Portmarnock for the true Irish experience.

Gary S's avatar
Gary S wrote at 2013-02-26 23:51:42+00:00:

Another like Vail GC mentioned, is Nicklaus North in Whistler BC. Surprisingly flat among 8000 foot mountains.

Tom q's avatar
Tom q wrote at 2013-02-26 23:25:11+00:00:

Emerald Canyon below lake Havasu.great track,uncrowded and spectacular views

Charlie Brophy's avatar
Charlie Brophy wrote at 2013-02-26 22:30:58+00:00:

The Mount Washington Golf Course in New Hampshire, a Donald Ross jewel, is virtually flat as a pancake, with only a few (2 or 3) holes that have any elevation. For atrue Mountain course, go to Quechee in Vermont

peter rack's avatar
peter rack wrote at 2013-02-26 21:20:49+00:00:

The "Club du golf du l'ile de Montreal" in Montreal, Quebec has two courses designed by Pat Ruddy who designed and owns the European Club near Dublin. The "Irelande" course which looks and plays much like an Irish links course is a great course, a sometimes stern test but always enjoyable. It's next to a major highway in the industrial east end of Montreal, not an ideal location, but it also borders a nature park so except for the four holes that run parallel to the highway, it's surprisingly quiet. And it's affordable.

TK's avatar
TK wrote at 2013-02-26 20:48:35+00:00:

Hi guys,

I was traveling to Breckenridge from Tulsa and I happen to stumble across Cougar Canyon GC - a Jack Nicklaus design in little town called Trinidad, CO. This is a spectacular course, 7200+ yards, awesome scenery, wildlife, great staff and the few times I have played it, it felt like it was deserted. Best thing was I played it in early March with 55* weather.

steve buckman's avatar
steve buckman wrote at 2013-02-26 20:18:28+00:00:

incredible views and surprisingly lush fairways and greens surrounded by and amidst the unbelievable red rock desert formations of northern Arizona at Lake Powell National Golf Course in Page. I have often played 18 holes in less than 3 hours at this very underutilized gem... but a warning, if you miss the above fairways and greens the desert is very much in play and the red sandstone is not very forgiving

Hans Berntson's avatar
Hans Berntson wrote at 2013-02-26 19:50:44+00:00:

One that could be considered somewhat out of place due to its refusal to sell out its soul to accomodate today's technology is Swinley Forest. It is an absolutely lovely course!

Larry Torrence's avatar
Larry Torrence wrote at 2013-02-26 19:42:49+00:00:

Great idea for a feature. I "discovered" the Currahee Club ( a little less than a year ago and it quickly made it's way into my Top 10 of courses that I have ever played - in 50 year's of playing.

Mike Sidener's avatar
Mike Sidener wrote at 2013-02-26 19:35:39+00:00:

When you talk about great "out of the way" golf courses, the Links of North Dakota fits the bill. What a beautiful setting in western ND about 35 miles east of Williston on the north shore of Lake Sakakawea. Seniors play Mon-Thurs mornings for $50--great value-check it out. Some mornings you might be the only one there.

Craig Better

Staff Writer

Craig Better is one of the founding editors of Golf Vacation Insider. In addition to traveling to 15 foreign countries, he has twice traveled across America to play golf courses in all 50 United States. Prior to joining Golf Vacation Insider, Craig was a freelance writer who contributed to GOLF Magazine, Travel + Leisure Golf, Maxim Magazine,, and co-authored Zagat Survey’s book, America’s Top Golf Courses.