Top 50 U.S. courses on Golf Advisor in 2015: Nos. 50-26

Off the backs of more than 121,000 reviews from more than 75,000 golfers over the course of the year, we're excited to announce the top 50 golf courses on Golf Advisor in 2015.

Below, you can view the full list, as well as our methodology in selecting these courses. The Golf Advisor top 50, based on your reviews, is meant to bring a new perspective compared to the top-100 rankings you're used to seeing from well known golf publications. Their annual rankings are comprised of bucket-list experiences, geared towards golf course architecture and history and are rated by expert industry panelists assessing courses with a strict criteria.

Consumer reviews provided on Golf Advisor present an entirely different assessment. Raters' age, handicaps and budgets run the gamut. Over the years, as over 450,000 reviews have been filed, we've learned that most reviewers for Golf Advisor tend to rate the course based on their expectation.

You'll find our top 50 list features a handful of courses you're used to seeing on a top 100 public ranking, while many others you may have never heard of. That's precisely what we hope makes our list useful. In fact, the no. 1 course in 2015, located in northern California, most certainly qualifies as a hidden gem compared to the many bucket-list courses in the area. An affordable, over-achieving municipal in rural Texas like Delaware Springs G.C. has as much of a chance of receiving a strong review as a $300 resort course in Arizona like the Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale. In our top 50, those two courses are neck-and-neck.

Both perspectives -- consumers and experts -- are valuable, which is why at Golf Advisor we celebrate both, with articles and rankings from staff, like Matt Ginella's top 50 courses, but also provide plenty of room to promote the best ratings from paying golfers like you.

The Golf Advisor top 50 U.S. courses methodology

Our 2015 methodology is a bit more complex than the inaugural top 50 U.S. rankings in 2014. Courses still need a minimum of 20 reviews on Golf Advisor between Jan. 1 and Dec. 27 of 2015. But instead of simply taking the overall score, we've created a four-pronged formula aimed at identifying what were truly the best courses year round. A course's score is comprised of the following:

• 50 percent of the overall rating in 2015
• 50 percent of its subcategory ratings in 2015
• We rewarded courses that had many reviews throughout the year by dropping their lowest review for every 10 reviews after 20 in 2015. We determined this was more fair to Southern courses open year round compared to Northern courses only open in the summer that don't deal with as many shoulder seasons and maintenance periods.
• Lastly, we are evaluating the Reviewer Strength of each course, so it benefits a course to have not only 5-star reviews, but input from reviewers who are active on our platform. The course's total score is adjusted, either up or down, based on their Reviewer Strength score.

Course reviews often come through reviews from our booking partners such as GolfNow.com and others, but all U.S. courses with at least limited public or stay-and-play access were eligible. Nearly 2,000 courses received 20 or more reviews in 2015, making them eligible for this year's top 50.

Golf Advisor's top 50 courses in the U.S.: Nos. 50-26

Lost Pines, Texas
Architects: Arthur Hills, Steve Forrest & Associates
Price: $89-$179
What they're saying: "These are literally the best greens in central Texas." -- clay120


Twin Lake, Mich.
Architect: Pat Grelak
Price: $29-$57
What they're saying: "Love the elevation ... love the wide open fairways." -- jycbc


Young Harris, Ga.
Architect: Denis Griffiths
Price: $69-$89
What they're saying: "The mountain views are unparalleled." -- Tom4438484


Youngstown, N.Y.
Architect: Doug Carrick
Price: $42-65
What they're saying: "Rolling hills and blind shots make for some fun but challenging golf." -- BStange


Tabernash, Colo.
Architect: Denis Griffiths
Price: $48-$58
What they're saying: "Beautiful scenery, wonderful layout, sooo much fun." -- dalekinzler


Seaside, Calif.
Architect: Gene Bates
Price: $40-$150
What they're saying: "The greens are spectacular in design and condition." -- welchagnew


Sedona, Ariz.
Architects: Robert Trent Jones, Sr., Robert Trent Jones, Jr.
Price: $64-$99
What they're saying: "Great layout ... the greens were awesome." -- jlewis1


Carrabelle, Fla.
Architect: Robert Walker
Price: $40-$65
What they're saying: "The course continues to challenge and remarkably remains in excellent shape." -- u000003739165


Carlsbad, Calif.
Architects: Arnold Palmer, Ed Seay
Price: $149-$250
What they're saying: "You can't miss this place if you are in San Diego." -- ndesantiago


Lake Jackson, Texas
Architect: Jeff Brauer
Price: $49-$60
What they're saying: "This is a course that I could play everyday.." -- jc1980us


Video: The best buddies trips within the Golf Advisor Top 50


Buckeye, Ariz.
Architects: Lee Schmidt, Brian Curley
Price: $59-$80
What they're saying: "It's off the beaten path but worth the extra drive.." -- ro3erto


Grayslake, Ill.
Architect: Arthur Hills
Price: $41-$77
What they're saying: "My favorite public course in Chicago.." -- u000007927579


Middletown, Md.
Architect: Arthur Hills
Price: $49-$94
What they're saying: "I dont know how you could layout a more fun 18 holes.." -- bucklewbob


Buckeye, Ariz.
Architects: Tom Lehman, John Fought
Price: $39-$129
What they're saying: "Verrado is in fabulous condition and is extremely playable.." -- matt3285104


Saint Simons Island, Ga.
Architect: Joe Lee
Price: $80-115
What they're saying: "It has beautiful views and the staff is excellent!!." -- bev8125


Scottsdale, Ariz.
Architects: Tom Weiskopf, Jay Morrish
Price: $275-$319
What they're saying: "If you love golf then this is an absolute must experience.." -- Qmikequinn


Burnet, Texas
Architects: Dave Axland, Dan Proctor
Price: $28-$49
What they're saying: "This course was a great course for play any time of the year.." -- sidesr


Canton, Texas
Architect: Robert Hay
Price: $35-$60
What they're saying: "It's a tough course. But I had a great time!." -- David5416928


Ojai, Calif.
Architects: George C. Thomas, Jr., William P. Bell
Price: $89-$180
What they're saying: "Had a great experience from start to end. Only wish we had stayed longer.." -- coffeegirl


Las Vegas
Architects: Bobby Weed, Raymond Floyd
Price: $175-$260
What they're saying: "Just a great course from beginning to end." -- scottoc85


Video: The best value courses in the Golf Advisor Top 50


Saucier, Miss.
Architect: Jack Nicklaus
Price: $65-$109
What they're saying: "A total golf experience. No houses anywhere around. Great value." -- SScottyoung


Lebanon, Ind.
Architect: Tim Liddy
Price: $45-$65
What they're saying: "The conditions are excellent and it is a fun and unique layout." -- jgfyffe


Orlando, Fla.
Architect: Jack Nicklaus
Price: $120-$150
What they're saying: "The New Course was in great condition, tons of room for tee shots." -- eyeadventures


Fort Myers, Fla.
Architect: Ron Garl
Price: $36-$55
What they're saying: "I can see why it's the number one course in SW Fla." -- captconc


Marengo, Ill.
Architect: Bob Lohmann
Price: $44-$74
What they're saying: "Excellent course layout with plenty of water, marsh, sand and trees." -- DavePipitone



Green fees are based on latest peak-season rates and are subject to change. In the case of resort courses, stay-and-play packages and specials often greatly reduce the price of the green fee. Many of these courses also offer dynamic online tee times, off-season and twilight rates that lower the green fee.

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.
12 Comments
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Commented on

I travel to Florida almost every month and have played each of the central Florida courses on the list in the past 45 days.  I’m sorry but The Club at Eaglebrooke should not be in the same conversation as the others.  Tranquilo, Waldorf Astoria and The New Course at Grand Cypress are in a class by themselves (The layout, wildlife and beauty of Tranquilo are insane, the Waldorf has the best greens in the Orlando area and the New Course is the most fun course I have ever played).  Pine Barrens and El Campeon are close behind (Pine Barrens is extremely hard especially from the tips).  There are 5-10 other courses in Central Florida that should be rated higher then Eaglebrooke.  Bella Collina, Orange County Crooked Cat, Champions Gate Country Club, Grand Cyprus North/South/East, Orange County Panther Lake, LPGA Hills Course and even Eagle Creek. The rating for central flordida should be: 1. Tranquilo 2. The New Course 3. Bella Collina 4. Waldorf Astoria 5. El Campeon 6. Orange County Crooked Cat7. Pine Barrens 8. Grand Cyprus North/South/East9. LPGA Hills Course10. Champions Gate Country Club

Commented on

for apublic course look at island west in south carolina has been writen up in golf digest

Commented on

Verrado is a nice course, nowhere near anyone's top 50, not even top 25 in Arizona. Copper Canyon, even less so. TPC is fun, given the notoriety of the tournament, but who rates these courses higher than the Troon courses, We-Ko-Pa courses, Boulders, Quintero, Southern Dunes, on and on?- NO ONE!

Staff
Commented on

Well, please get on there and rate them, TerryF :). These lists are reflective of our readers' opinions, not ours. 

Commented on

I throw in a rating now and then, not that often. Usually only if the experience differs from my expectation, but do people really need a rating on Troon, Boulders, We-Ko-Pa? There are so many resources out there that promote them for the great courses that they are.

Commented on

DUMBEST LIST I HAVE EVER SEEN. MUST BE ALL PUBLINKS PLAYERS WHO DREAMED UP THIS ABORTION.

Commented on

THE MORONS THAT PICKED THESE HAD BETTER STICK TO PICKING THEIR NOSES. HOW CAN A "BEST" LIST NOT INCLUDE COURSES LIKE PEBBLE BEACH, NATIONAL GOLF LINKS, SHINNECOCK,CYPRESS POINT, ETC ETC ETC????? WHAT IS THIS- THE CHEAP CHARLIE LIST OF BETTER SECOND RATE COURSES?

Staff
Commented on

The methodology is explained in the introduction. 

Commented on

A great list....I have played a numer of these courses and would concur with the assessments ! However, I do question why Pebble Beach would not be included in this list of the "Best

Staff
Commented on

Pebble Beach is No. 1 on our Monterey Destination Guide, but it didn't receive enough votes to qualify for 2015 specifically. http://www.golfadvisor.com/destinations/17-monterey-peninsula-ca/

Commented on

Oak creek not even close to Sedona golf course. What are they thinking?

Staff
Commented on

Oakcreek CC is located 7.5 miles south of Sedona.

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