When considering the thousands of wonderful golf courses in the United States you can play, narrowing them down to just 50 is a daunting task. But it's one that Golf Channel travel expert and Golf Advisor Special Contributor Matt Ginella was tasked with, and he's delivered an epic list of the nation's best golf experiences open to the public.
While Ginella's Top 50 ( 50-41 | 40-31 | 30-21 | 20-11 | 10-1 ) are all special experiences in their own way, the rest of the Golf Advisor staff and myself thought we'd select our own courses we believe are most deserving of sneaking their way into the Top 50.
Surely, there are some courses of your own that are deserving. You can tweet about the list using #MattsTop50 on Twitter, or be sure to rate your favorite courses right here on Golf Advisor.
Brandon Tucker's five favorite courses not on Ginella's list
Ak-Chin Southern Dunes : First-timers visiting Phoenix-Scottsdale head to the spectacular scenery of north Scottsdale, and rightfully so. But area golfers know that shot-for-shot, Ak-Chin Southern Dunes, molded in the style of the Aussie Sandhills out of a nondescript piece of land south of Phoenix, is the best layout in town, and priced far below Scottsdale's top shelf.
Full Cry at Keswick Hall : I'm smitten with this playable new Pete Dye design near Charlottesville, Va. for the walkability and three drivable par 4s. It helps I played this course three times amid Virginia's beautiful fall foliage.
Edgewood Tahoe : The perfect resort course, Edgewood boasts fabulous Lake Tahoe scenery, hole variety and walkability. It's only fallen out of Top 100 ratings because raters get that "shiny new toy" syndrome when the flashier new stuff comes, but don't act like this throwback, player-friendly George and Tom Fazio design isn't a hoot every time you play it.
Nicklaus Course at Pronghorn: I prefer the Nicklaus Course over Crosswater and the rest of the high desert courses around Bend and central Oregon. The back nine is particularly fun to play with back-to-back short par 4s and par 5s. The sunny and dry climate, plus carpet-like conditions and excellent facilities certainly leave a lasting impression.
Makai Golf Club at St. Regis Princeville : I curry favor to Makai over the more dramatic Prince Course and Plantation Course at Kapalua because it's walkable, with a wonderful routing that flows inland, out to thrilling oceanfront holes and back in, on each nine.
Jason Scott Deegan's five favorite courses left off Ginella's Top 50
Shadow Creek Golf Club : Ginella left Shadow Creek off his list because its tee times policy is too exclusive. But that's why setting foot on the property feels so special. The cost -- $500 plus a night's stay at an MGM property -- is exorbitant, but it keeps the riffraff out of paradise. Only those serious about golf are willing to pay up to get spoiled inside the gates.
Cascata : Cascata is a more forgiving (and exclusive) version of Wolf Creek . It's got similar red-rock canyons and wild swings in elevation, plus a 416-foot waterfall flowing from the top of the mountain, ending in an extravagant clubhouse. It's a day to remember.
Great Waters at Reynolds Plantation : Jack Nicklaus used Lake Oconee to create a handful of cool holes over coves and inlets along the lakeshore. Great Waters is a scenic test that's spectacular in the fall.
The Golf Club at Redlands Mesa : Dollar for dollar, Redlands Mesa might be the prettiest course on the planet, sporting views of the Colorado National Monument, the Book Cliffs mountains and the Grand Mesa. Jim Engh enhances the stirring setting with an equally compelling layout. The only caveat is its remote locale in western Colorado.
Makai Golf Club at St. Regis Princeville : It's too bad more of Hawaii's golf courses aren't like Makai, which is kept in prime shape. The ocean holes set on the cliffs are off the charts. A few of the inland ones are hardly filler, either.
Mike Bailey's five favorite courses left off Ginella's Top 50
Edgewood Tahoe : Laid out in one of the most stunning settings in the world, this George and Tom Fazio design is one of my all-time favorites. Sometimes criticized for not having enough variety, I respectively disagree. To me, every hole is memorable and the 16th, which plays toward Lake Tahoe, is one of the best par 5s in the world.
Bay Harbor Golf Club : Arthur Hills-designed golf courses seem to be hit and miss, and while there are some quirky holes on the Quarry Nine of this 27-hole layout near Petoskey in northern Michigan, there's just too much good to ignore. The Links Nine truly is Pebble Beach-like, even though it's on Lake Michigan. I never grow tired of playing Bay Harbor.
University of Georgia : This Robert Trent Jones-designed hilly layout is the closest thing I've ever played to Augusta National. Crazy greens, lots of elevation change and very memorable holes at a bargain price make this one a must-play if you're in the Athens area.
Black Mesa Golf Club : Simply put, Black Mesa, just north of Santa Fe, N.M., is one of the most fun courses you can play in the Southwest. Designed by Baxter Spann , it's one cool hole after another, one great view after another, set in the shadows of Black Mesa between the Sangre de Cristos and Jemez mountain ranges. One of my favorite holes is the par-5 16th, dubbed "Stairway to Seven," because of its risk-reward tantalizing temptation that often leads to double bogey or worse if you don't pull it off.
Fallen Oak Golf Club
: You have to stay at the Beau Rivage Casino Resort on the Mississippi Gulf Coast to play it, but if you have the chance, this Tom Fazio design near Saucier is well worth it. A favorite stop on the Champions Tour (Mississippi Gulf Resorts Classic), the course has water on half its holes, gently undulating, large greens, and a design takes advantage of the natural terrain and mature oaks and pines that are found in the region. Recent renovations make it even better.