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 Vegas
96. Running Y RanchKlamath Falls, Oregon
93. TPC Las VegasLas Vegas, Nevada
84. Baywood GreensLongneck, Delaware
82. Trillium WoodCorbyville, Ontario, Canada
We-Ko-Pa Saguaro Course
Ross Course at French Lick
68. Barnsley ResortAdairsville, Georgia
66. The Classic ClubPalm Desert, California
Princeville Makai Golf Club
60. Old WorksAnaconda, Montana
53. The Georgia ClubStatham, Georgia
Pasatiempo Golf Club
Pinehurst No. 2
32. Pinehurst No. 2Pinehurst, North Carolina
Las Vegas Paiute
Old Course in St. Andrews