Top 25 'short courses' in the United States, according to your reviews

Short courses -- whether they are executive or par-3 golf courses -- often times go largely unheralded. They are a small-but-critical piece of the golf industry, however. They rarely receive much in the form of press or awards (except when it's a signature, premium experience like Top of the Rock), but their affordability and accessibility are a huge part of introducing new and junior golfers to the game in a welcoming and low-key environment.

I practically grew up on a short course in Ann Arbor, Mich.: Huron Hills, a 5,000-yard course that dates back to the 1920s. It was usually a little scruffy, but I could play all day for $6, often times walking 36 holes. It was challenging enough from the time I began playing through my competitive high school golf days. (There was a time during the most recent economic downturn where a private business wanted to develop the land, but fortunately residents' pitchforks came out against the plan and the lovely layout along the Huron River remains.)

Sometimes short courses are munis, like Huron Hills. They can also be an amenity at a golf resort, or they may be squeezed into a small parcel of valuable urban property, helping city dwellers scratch their itch without having to trek into the 'burbs.

Golf Advisor receives ratings of not just regulation, 18-hole courses, but courses of all shapes and sizes. We've combed through the data to find a sampling of short golf courses in the United States that are consistently highly rated by golfers.

What defines a "short course," by the way? It's an arbitrary term. But for this list, we looked at 18-hole courses under 5,500 yards or nine-hole courses under 2,700 yards. We filtered out "pitch 'n putts" under 500 yards.

We also know that many championship courses go out of their way to promote "Tee It Forward" or provide forward and even "super-forward" or junior tees. But what we like about short courses specifically is the fact that everyone in the group is playing from the same or nearly-same spot. It makes for quick rounds with little space from the green to the next tee. Short courses are also almost always walkable (with the exception of mountain par 3s such as Threetops in Gaylord, Mich.) and almost always affordable.

Short courses, like standalone driving ranges, can have a tough time making ends meet given today's soaring property values and saturated golf course environment. They also have the not-so-glorious task of managing unpredictable novice golfers. So be sure to support them when you can, and if you have a great experience with a new or junior golfer, tell us all about it in a review.

Here are the top 25 short courses on Golf Advisor since we began gathering review data in 2012:

Top 25 short courses according to Golf Advisor ratings and reviews

25. Winding Hills Golf Club

Montgomery, N.Y.
2,595 yards | 18 holes | Par 57

24. Par-3 Course at Hollybrook Golf & Tennis Club

Pembroke Pines, Fla.
1,599 yards | 18 holes | Par 54

23. Oasis Country Club

Palm Desert, Calif.
3,489 yards | 18 holes | Par 60

22. Mountain Course at Incline Village

Incline Village, Calif.
3,527 yards | 18 holes | Par 58

21. Portland Golf Course West

Portland, Conn.
4,012 yards | 18 holes | Par 60

20. Tooth Course at Orange County National

Winter Garden, Fla.
1,563 yards | 9 holes | Par 29

19. Canyon Mesa Country Club

Sedona, Ariz.
1,450 yards | 9 holes | Par 28

18. Audubon Park Golf Course

New Orleans
4,220 yards | 18 holes | Par 62

17. Heritage of Hawk Ridge

Lake St. Louis, Mo.
1,526 yards | 9 holes | 1,526 yards

16. Huron Shores Golf Course

Port Sanilac, Mich.
5,428 yards | 18 holes | Par 72

15. Challenge Course at Eagle Crest Resort

Redmond, Ore.
4,175 yards | 18 holes | Par 63

14. Williams Creek Golf Course

Knoxville, Tenn.
2,718 yards | Par 54 | 18 holes

13. Squirrel Run Country Club

Plymouth, Mass.
2,809 yards | 18 holes | Par 57

12. Palm Royale Country Club

La Quinta, Calif.
1,992 yards | 18 holes | Par 54

11. Little Harbor Country Club

Wareham, Mass.
3,038 yards | 18 holes | Par 56

10. Crane Lakes Golf & Country Club

Port Orange, Fla.
5,025 yards | 18 holes | Par 72

9. Colina Park Golf Course

San Diego
1,250 yards | 18 holes | Par 54

8. Par-3 Course at Mill Creek Golf Club

Churchville, N.Y.
1,535 yards | 9 holes | Par 27

7. Threetops at Treetops Resort

Gaylord, Mich.
1,435 yards | 9 holes | Par 27

6. The Club at Yarmouth Port at Kings Way

Yarmouth Port, Mass.
3,911 yards | 18 holes | Par 60

5. Terranea Golf Club

Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.
1,239 yards | 9 holes | Par 27

4. Louisquisset Golf Club

North Providence, R.I.
2,606 yards | Par 34

3. Palm Beach Par 3

Palm Beach, Fla.
2,572 yards | 18 holes | Par 54

2. Barn Hollow at Hawk's View Golf Club

Lake Geneva, Wis.
2,708 yards | 18 holes | Par 54

1. Hideaway Country Club

Fort Myers, Fla.
5,146 yards | 18 holes | Par 67

Oct 20, 2016

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Ron Sendre's avatar
Ron Sendre wrote at 2018-05-08 10:16:37+00:00:

We have the opportunity to play the #1 rated course in the country and what a terrific course it is everyday. The HIDEAWAY CC is just a great track and the PAR 67 is a challenge everyday.

ShanksJr's avatar
ShanksJr wrote at 2016-11-30 15:45:52+00:00:

How is it even possible that none of the wonderful par 3 courses from the RTJ Trail are not on this list? Reviewers need to get on the stick!

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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.