They're the unsung heroes of any golf course, and I don't mean the beverage cart gals. It's the superintendents. No, extensive books aren't written about them like Pete Dye or Donald Ross, but on a day-to-day basis, no one knows a golf course more intimately, and the satisfaction of the customers coming off the course can be traced to their efforts more closely than anything else.
In 2014, we found the 25 U.S. courses that received the highest ratings for conditions on Golf Advisor by golfers who played the courses.
Checking in at No. 1 shouldn't be much surprise to anyone who has ever played it: Michigan's Forest Dunes Golf Club. Thanks in part to sandy soil in the heart of Michigan, playing conditions here rarely stray from perfection.
And the excitement continues at Forest Dunes in 2015, as construction for a second 18 holes is well underway. The Tom Doak design will be a reversible routing, which should put some new wrinkles in the daily course set-up procedures by the greens staff, from where to begin mowing in the morning to tee and pin locations.
It's interesting to note that in the top 25, the vast majority of courses are located in the north. Perhaps golfers prefer the northern climes' softer, greener bent grass. Or maybe southern courses' ratings suffer a bit from a longer season full of aerations, over-seeding and brown, dormant turf.
Long known as a great state for value, Michigan makes a strong case as the best-conditioned state, according to GolfAdvisor. Not only the top two courses, but also five facilities total are in the mitten.
You can view the top 25 here, and the next time you play a course whose conditioning is aces, be sure to let the greens staff hear about it.
Top 25 conditioned golf courses in the U.S.
1. Forest Dunes Golf Club, Roscommon, Mich.
2. Eagle Eye Golf Club, Bath, Mich.
3. Chariot Run Golf Club, Laconia, Ind.
4. Spring Creek Golf Club, Gordonsville, Va.
5. Royal Hylands Golf Club, Knightstown, Ind.
6. Little Traverse Bay Golf Club, Harbor Springs, Mich.
7. Conklin Players Club, Conklin, N.Y.
8. Coyote Crossing Golf Course, West Lafayette, Ind.
9. Running Y Ranch, Klamath Falls, Ore.
10. Championship Course at Wild Rock Golf Club, Wisconsin Dells, Wis.
11. Harbor Links Golf Club at Sagamore Resort, Liberty, Ind.
12. Gaylord Country Club, Gaylord, Mich.
13. Timber Banks Golf Club, Baldwinsville, N.Y.
14. Albion Ridges Golf Course, Annandale, Minn.
15. LaTour Golf Club, Mathews, La.
16. The Hideaway Country Club, Fort Myers, Fla.
17. Stonehedge North and South Courses at Gull Lake View*, Augusta, Mich.
18. Woodstock Inn Resort & Golf Club, Woodstock, Vt.
19. 7 Lakes Country Club, West End, N.C.
20. Apple Valley Golf Club, Howard, Ohio
21. Shadow Hills North Par 3, Indio, Calif.
22. Players and Celebrity Courses at Indian Wells Golf Resort*, Indian Wells, Calif.
23. Maryland National Golf Club, Middletown, Md.
24. Jack Frost National Golf Club, Blakeslee, Pa.
25. Shale Creek Golf Club, Medina, Ohio
*Denotes 36-hole facility