Golf Advisor's Top 100 courses thru the first five years of ratings

Golf Advisor officially launched in February of 2014, but we began receiving reviews as early as September, 2012. So with five full years of golfer input under our belt —over 650,000 reviews and counting — we thought we'd look back and see which courses have fared the best during this time frame.

We compiled this all-time Top 100 list in a similar fashion to our yearly Top 50 best-of list, but with a few wrinkles. For starters, we included non-U.S. courses that had enough review data. Also, a big part of our yearly Top 50 is that courses need a certain threshold of reviews in that calendar year to qualify, but for this list, far more were eligible given their all-time review count from trustworthy accounts. To gather a more granular, complete rating from a review, we scored a course with a combination of the overall star rating and subcategory star ratings average (subcategories aren't required in our reviews but an overwhelming majority of our reviewers rate all six subcategories. They also include text and title, which also isn't required).

And as we continue to grow the amount of reviews and number of reviewers, we can apply more and more weight to those golfers who are the most prolific and trustworthy, like our growing list of Local Golf Advisors and our Top 1000 merit-badged golfers. Ratings by reviewers with a small sample of reviews were filtered out.

We know our yearly best-of lists and state lists look a lot different than top magazine lists. Ours have a mix of true "bucket list" courses and overachieving affordable destination courses. Our users, while not given the strict ratings criteria of a more expert, uniform panel, tend to rate their golf experience relative to the price they paid to play. We didn't begin tracking "Course layout" ratings until 2015, and our scores have less emphasis on course design and more so on the total experience from staff to facilities to value to conditions. There is a good chunk of courses on our Top 100 you might not expect to see on other Top 100s, and that's precisely the beauty of a more crowd-sourced list like ours — or should we say, yours?

In 2017, we're on pace to receive a record number of reviews and users, so we're excited to dig into the data at year's end to determine which courses came out on top.

Some other notes as we sorted through this five-year list:

- Not all courses received had enough reviews to be considered for this list. In our first five years, over 6,000 golf courses have received over ten reviews and over 2,000 courses have received over 100. As our user base continues to grow, we're optimistic we'll soon have a list where virtually all publicly-accessible courses receive enough reviews to be considered for our yearly lists.

- Since we began revealing yearly U.S. Top 50 lists, only one course has made the list all three years: Indiana's Royal Hylands Golf Club, which is also one of our top courses for staff friendliness as well as in our best courses under $50.

- You may have noticed that earlier this year we launched our new "Golf Advisor Index" which applies weight to a course's more recent reviews to give the golfer a clearer picture of what the experience is like now. But in the spirit of this all-time rating, reviews carry equal weight year-to-year.

- We've been receiving more and more international reviews in the last year or so, particularly in the U.K. and Mexico. While this Top 100 is light on non-U.S. entries, in another five years, far more courses around the globe should have enough reviews to be considered.

Top 100 golf courses from 2012-2017 on Golf Advisor

TPC Las VegasTPC Las Vegas

100.Woodhaven Course at the Resort at Glade Springs

Daniels, West Virginia

99. El Cameleon at Mayakoba

Quintana Roo, Mexico

98. Atlantic Dunes at Sea Pines Resort

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

97. Highlands Course at Deerhurst Highlands Resort

Huntsville, Ontario

96. Running Y Ranch

Klamath Falls, Oregon

95. Olympic Course at Gold Mountain

Bremerton, Washington

94. Port Royal Golf Course

Southampton, Bermuda

93. TPC Las Vegas

Las Vegas, Nevada

92. Kiva Dunes Golf Course

Gulf Shores, Alabama

91. Maderas Golf Club

Poway, California

Baywood GreensBaywood Greens

90. Forest Glen Golf & Country Club

Naples, Florida

89. Bowes Creek Country Club

Elgin, Illinois

88. GreyStone Golf Club

Dickson, Tennessee

87. Lodestone Golf Club

McHenry, Maryland

86. Rum Pointe Seaside Golf Links

Berlin, Maryland

85. Arrowhead Pointe at Lake Richard B. Russell

Elberton, Georgia

84. Baywood Greens

Longneck, Delaware

83. St. James Bay Golf Club

Carrabelle, Florida

82. Trillium Wood

Corbyville, Ontario, Canada

81. Southern Hills Golf Club

Brooksville, Florida

SaguaroWe-Ko-Pa Saguaro Course

80. Cobblestone Park Golf Club

Blythewood, South Carolina

79. Hidden River Golf & Casting Club

Brutus, Michigan

78. Saguaro Course at We-Ko-Pa

Scottsdale, Arizona

77. Oakcreek Country Club

Sedona, Arizona

76. Grand Bear Golf Course

Saucier, Mississippi

75. Black Lake Golf Club

Onaway, Michigan

74. Starr Pass Golf Club

Tucson, Arizona

73. Woodloch Springs Country Club

Hawley, Pennsylvania

72. Riviera Cancun Golf & Resorts

Quintana Roo, Mexico

71. Grand Niagara Golf Club

Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

French LickRoss Course at French Lick

70. Quintero Golf Club

Peoria, Arizona

69. King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort

St. Simons Island, Georgia

68. Barnsley Resort

Adairsville, Georgia

67. Ojai Valley Inn & Spa

Ojai, California

66. The Classic Club

Palm Desert, California

65. Tobacco Road Golf Course

Sanford, North Carolina

64. Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club

Maricopa, Arizona

63. Virtues Golf Club

Nashport, Ohio

62. Ross Course at French Lick Resort

French Lick, Indiana

61. The Club at Savannah Harbor

Savannah, Georgia

French LickPrinceville Makai Golf Club

60. Old Works

Anaconda, Montana

59. Pine Barrens at World Woods Golf Club

Brooksville, Florida

58. Pine Dunes Golf Club

Frankston, Texas

57. Wyncote Golf Club

Oxford, Pennsylvania

56. Makai Course at Princeville Makai Golf Club

Princeville, Hawaii

55. Blackstone Golf Club

Marengo, Illinois

54. Tranquilo Golf Club at Four Seasons

Lake Buena Vista, Florida

53. The Georgia Club

Statham, Georgia

52. Kampen Course at Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex

West Lafayette, Indiana

51. Caledonia Golf & Fish Club

Pawleys Island, South Carolina

PasatiempoPasatiempo Golf Club

50. Iberostar Playa Paraiso

Quintana Roo, Mexico

49. Sand Creek Station

Newton, Kansas

48. Pasatiempo Golf Club

Santa Cruz, California

47. Black at Bethpage State Park

Farmingdale, New York

46. Bayonet at Bayonet/BlackHorse Golf Club

Seaside, California

45. University Ridge Golf Course

Verona, Wisconsin

44. Palmer Course at La Cantera Hill Country Resort

San Antonio, Texas

43. Royal Hylands Golf Club

Knightstown, Indiana

42. Forest Dunes Golf Club

Roscommon, Michigan

41. Sun Mountain at Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort

Las Vegas, Nevada

Pinehurst No. 2Pinehurst No. 2

40. Players Course at Indian Wells Golf Resort

Indian Wells, California

39. The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Ross Bridge

Birmingham, Alabama

38. Chariot Run Golf Course

Laconia, Indiana

37. Cedar River at Shanty Creek Resorts

Bellaire, Michigan

36. Bandon Dunes at Bandon Dunes Resort

Bandon, Oregon

35. Annbriar Golf Course

Waterloo, Illinois

34. Stonelick Hills Golf Course

Batavia, Ohio

33. Nicklaus Course at Vidanta Puerto Penasco

Sonora, Mexico

32. Pinehurst No. 2

Pinehurst, North Carolina

31. Camp Creek Golf Club

Panama City, Florida

Las Vegas PaiuteLas Vegas Paiute

30. Wickenburg Ranch Golf & Social Club

Wickenburg, Arizona

29. Waldorf Astoria Golf Club

Orlando, Florida

28. Pole Creek Golf Club

Tabernash, Colorado

27. Red Course at Streamsong Resort

Fort Meade, Florida

26. Wolf Course at Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort

Las Vegas, Nevada

25. Olde Stonewall Golf Club

Ellwood City, Pennsylvania

24. Woodstock Country Club

Woodstock, Vermont

23. Eagle Eye Golf Club

Bath, Michigan

22. FarmLinks at Pursell Farms

Sylacauga, Alabama

21. Arcadia Bluffs Golf Course

Arcadia, Michigan

Pebble BeachPebble Beach

20. Pebble Beach Golf Links

Pebble Beach, Calif.

19. Wild Rock Golf Club

Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

18. The Jewel Golf Club

Lake City, Minnesota

17. Scotch Hall Preserve

Merry Hill, North Carolina

16. El Campeon at Mission Inn Resort & Club

Howey in the Hills, Florida

15. Kingsbarns Golf Links

Fife, Scotland

14. Bandon Trails at Bandon Dunes Resort

Bandon, Oregon

13. Harbour Town Golf Links

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

12. Yocha Dehe Golf Club at Cache Creek Casino Resort

Brooks, California

11. Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club

County Antrim, Northern Ireland

10. North Berwick Golf Club

East Lothian, Scotland

St. AndrewsOld Course in St. Andrews

9. Glendarin Hills Golf Club

Angola, Indiana

8. Tobiano Golf Course

Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada

7. Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort

French Lick, Indiana

6. Rams Hill Golf Club

Borrego Springs, California

5. Spring Creek Golf Club

Gordonsville, Virginia

4. Old Course at St. Andrews

St. Andrews, Scotland

3. Ocean Course at Kiawah Island

Kiawah Island, South Carolina

2. The Plantation Course at Kapalua

Lahaina, Hawaii

1. Pacific Dunes at Bandon Dunes Resort

Bandon, Oregon

Pacific Dunes

Sep 15, 2017

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DrOldSchool's avatar
DrOldSchool wrote at 2018-01-30 18:22:48+00:00:

It seems odd to think about it with all the big boys on the list as being the only 3-time member, but Royal Hylands deserves all the accolades it gets. About 30-45 minutes east of Indianapolis it's always in great shape, has great amenities for a country course, and the course itself has all sorts of challenges on it from tight holes to forced water carries to elevation changes to undulating greens. There are a couple greens, 8 and 15 come to mind, that if you hit the wrong side away from the pin, just take a 3-putt and move on, or you could be there a while. It never gets the press as the bigger names closer to Indy, but you never can go wrong by playing there. And if you find a hot deal time on GolfNow, you're flat out robbing them for a chance to play it.

Jennifer Balliet's avatar
Jennifer Balliet wrote at 2017-11-05 14:30:57+00:00:

I have no idea why The Hideaway Country Club in Fort Myers, Florida is not on this list. With an average review score of 4.8 with 128 reviews, The Hideaway's reviews far exceeds most courses on this list.

t9245sw's avatar
t9245sw wrote at 2017-09-19 22:16:49+00:00:

Please stop publishing these lists. If the word continues to get out that that the Bayonet and Blackhorse golf courses are among the nation's best, the people that run those courses might start thinking about raising their prices. Right now, both courses on the old Ford Ord army base near Monterey are the best I have ever played for under $100. If they ever build a resort hotel on the property as has been proposed, those green fees will triple overnight. The same thing happened in Half Moon Bay up the Northern California coast when the Ritz Carlton finished construction on the property. In the meantime, I am counting my lucky stars that I can still play them and have some change in my pocket when I am done.  

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Brandon Tucker

Managing Editor

Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Advisor. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker and on Instagram at BrandonTuckerGC.