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 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

50. Wolfdancer Golf Club

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

49. Stonegate Golf Club

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

48. Brasstown Valley Resort Golf Course

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

47. Niagara Frontier Country Club

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

46. Pole Creek Golf Club

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

45. Bayonet at Bayonet/Black Horse Golf Course

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

44. Oakcreek Country Club

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

43. St. James Bay Golf Club

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

42. Aviara Golf Club

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

41. Wilderness Golf Course

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

40. Copper Canyon Golf Club

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

39. Stonewall Orchard Golf Club

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

38. Maryland National Golf Club

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

37. Verrado Golf Club

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

36. The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort

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

35. Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale

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

34. Delaware Springs Golf Course

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

33. Twin Lakes Golf Course

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

32. Ojai Valley Inn & Spa

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

31. TPC Las Vegas

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

30. The Grand Bear Golf Course

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

29. The Trophy Club

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

28. New Course at Grand Cypress Resort

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

27. The Hideaway Country Club

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

26. Blackstone Golf Club

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

Click here to see the rest of the top 50 courses on Golf Advisor in 2015

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.

Jan 25, 2016

Join the conversation

Post a comment 

glav24's avatar
glav24 wrote at 2016-10-03 02:35:51+00:00:

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

mk8q16ophx7400231's avatar
mk8q16ophx7400231 wrote at 2016-02-17 19:19:26+00:00:

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

TerryF's avatar
TerryF wrote at 2016-02-08 00:17:13+00:00:

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!

MikeBaileyGA's avatar
MikeBaileyGA Staff wrote at 2016-02-08 17:09:33+00:00:

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

TerryF's avatar
TerryF wrote at 2016-02-12 01:12:30+00:00:

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.

Joel Goodman's avatar
Joel Goodman wrote at 2016-02-04 22:31:04+00:00:


Joel Goodman's avatar
Joel Goodman wrote at 2016-02-04 15:27:13+00:00:


BrandonTuckerGA's avatar
BrandonTuckerGA Staff wrote at 2016-02-11 18:35:59+00:00:

The methodology is explained in the introduction. 

BMHDMH's avatar
BMHDMH wrote at 2016-01-28 16:00:51+00:00:

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"

BrandonTuckerGA's avatar
BrandonTuckerGA Staff wrote at 2016-02-03 14:55:21+00:00:

Pebble Beach is No. 1 on our Monterey Destination Guide, but it didn't receive enough votes to qualify for 2015 specifically. 

ridgewaylori's avatar
ridgewaylori wrote at 2016-01-26 03:29:34+00:00:

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

BrandonTuckerGA's avatar
BrandonTuckerGA Staff wrote at 2016-01-27 15:12:10+00:00:

Oakcreek CC is located 7.5 miles south of Sedona. 

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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.