Best Course You've Ever Played That Nobody's Heard Of


#1

This may be a rather subjective topic, given everyone’s varying degrees of architecture nerd-dom, but…

What is your favorite course you’ve ever played that flies wayyyyyyy under the radar and doesn’t pop up on any best-of lists? Junky-level stuff.


#2

Cedarbrook Country Club - Elkin, NC. Caveat: It is starting to get some love on “best-of: public” lists through Golf Advisor and on the Golf Channel, but this is a recent development. It has flown way under the radar for years.

This was the course where I learned the game, and I was incredibly lucky to have it be my home course as a kid. It’s not overly artistic or photogenic, but the routing is really good and suits the rolling terrain incredibly well, the greens have plenty of contour and are usually lightning fast, and the fun factor is off the charts. Some good elevation changes, a couple reachable par 5s, and really good collection of par 3s.

They’ve made it better in the last few years by going through a multi-phase tree removal program. They also toned down some of the ancillary difficulty by removing/rerouting a couple of water hazards that were overly penal in front of greens on 11 and bisecting the fairway on 5–two sharp dogleg 4s. At first I was skeptical, but they really improve the playability for the mid and high handicappers.

Highly recommend, and not just because I have a sentimental tie to it. It’s a really solid golf course that keeps getting better and I believe the weekend green fees/cart are still under $45.


#3

Wolf Point - Port Lavaca, TX

@MatthewM and others here may be familiar but most aren’t.


#4

Good nomination @DoakScale ! Australia wise I’d be tempted to say Sun City north of Perth. It has recently been worked on by Mike Clayton and co. Sandy undulating site with a good set of greens. It is such a long way from the rest of the country that few ever get to see it. Probably should come in somewhere in Australia’s Top was 30 by the time it is finished. Closer to Melbourne, the best nominations would be either Healesville or Port Fairy.


#5

Heard rumors WP was for sale - any update there?


#6

Many rumors - none are positive at present. I’m holding out hope the golf course makes it.


#7

The “nobody’s heard of” part is always tough. Maybe this place is better known than I’m aware of, but what came to mind for me was Silloth on Solway. @HashtagChad and I squeezed this place in on our way down to Southport from Glasgow last summer ahead of the Open Championship. Idealic setting in Northwest England, a classic links course with some archaic architectural elements (they literally (essentially) apologize and explain the blind shots on on the scorecard, and those greens end up being the coolest on the whole course. It’s a top rated course in England, but not any top 100 lists, and it’s remote location makes it pretty unknown to a lot of people (including myself before playing it). Would love to go back there.


#8

Silloth is high on the list for me as my experience with English golf is currently nil. I’m always interested in logistics when planning trips. Do you think an Ayshire start down to Silloth and ending in the area of Southport, West Lancashire and Liverpool area something worthy of consideration?

For the record, I’m thinking England might just be the most underrated GB&I country for golf courses. Happy to start another thread if there is interest…


#9

Fire up that new thread!


#10

Going to stan here for one of the courses I grew up playing on Lake Wawasee in Indiana, South Shore. (There’s a Langford-designed course on the other side of the lake, too, but I’ve never liked it as much, and certainly not in the tree-infested state it’s in now.)

South Shore’s front nine, specifically, is excellent, and if for some reason you’re ever there I might advise just playing it twice. Evenly split with 3 par-3s, 3 par-4s, and 3 par-5s, it goes further than that in terms of variety. There’s a short/medium/long version of each length. Par 3 yardages of 130, 150 (the site of my only hole-in-one), and either 190 or 225 (uphill!) depending on where the tees are. The opener is a protected-but-drivable 275-yard par-4, and there’s also a 375-yard par-4 and a closing 410-yard par-4.

And then there’s a 480-yard par-5 (with water at the bottom of the hill that leads up to the elevated green; lightning unfortunately took down a tree that made for some interesting strategy), a 500-yard par-5 with a risk-reward tee shot over trees and a valley, and a fairly brutal 580-yard uphill par-5 with OB all down the left. It’s generally in decent-to-good shape, but you’re also never paying that much, and it’s always fun; you can hit most of your clubs over just a nine-hole round.

I’m sure there’s some nostalgia clouding my view here, but when I think of playing golf, South Shore is what I think of.


#11

Definitely worthy of a consideration. Having said that, that’s a solid amount of driving considering both Ayrshire and that Southport area aren’t super close to big transit hubs, and there’s a solid drive separating the two of them as well. There’s so many other itineraries you could make that have insane golf that wouldn’t require that travel difficulty, but at the same time, US travelers are used to driving long distances and are typically less deterred by the car time.


#12

I think that the Island just outside of Dublin is worthy of this discussion, the routing is a bit wacky. 8 straight par 4s to open but really some tremendous holes.


#13

Skokie Country Club in Glecoe, IL about 30 min north of Chicago is pretty sweet. Langford/Moreau and Ross with a renovation by superintendent over last few years. Also the links course at Lawsonia in Green Lake, WI is the definition of #width and #angles


#14

Badin Inn Golf Club in Badin, North Carolina. Stumbled upon this while traveling for business in rural North Carolina. For starters, it was only $35 and was able to walk on on a Sunday morning in September. Course was on the short side, designed in the 1920’s (I think 20’s but may have been 30’s). Unfortunately there is not much monetary support for the course and last I read it was randomly closed, even members weren’t alerted. According to the course advertisements, Sam Snead was a frequent guest.

I don’t know what the original design was or if the course had any restorations at any point, again I stumbled upon it while traveling, but a Pinehurst type renovation would make this place really cool.


#15

Lots of wee gems in Scotland:

Ladybank (Fife)
Blairgowrie (Perth)
Barrasie (Troon)
Traigh (Inverness)
Ballater (Aberdeen)
Pitlochry (Perth)
Dunbar (East Lothian)


#16

I’m not sure how under the radar this is, but Grand Cyprus in Orlando has some amazing golf holes. I am not from the area, so I have no idea how popular it is among locals, but our group visits Orlando for a trip every year, and Grand Cyprus is one that is never taken out of the rotation. Some big yardage risk/reward holes, combined with interesting greens. They also have the New Course, which is the Old Course knock-off. Great to through that in the mix for some variety on a trip.


#17

Gotta say Mystic Creek Golf Club in El Dorado, Arkansas. It was our home course in college. Hosts a Symetra Tour event every year and hosts the Duck Commander Intercollegiate. Just don’t ever see enough about this place. It’s one of the hardest courses I have ever played. It doesn’t have a clubhouse, but Murphy USA oil just bought it out and a clubhouse is supposed to start in the next couple of weeks. Unreal place to play. Tons of undulation, tough from any set of tees, not a lot of for sure birdie holes. Each par 5 isn’t necessarily reachable, and the greens are amazing out there.


#18

Clearwater Bay, Hong Kong.

Being from the UK, when you think golf in the far east you immediately think of Mission Hills and China. Scale down the coast a few hours and you are rewarded with what can only be described as an ‘absolute joke / monster of a golf course’ - Honestly, if you haven’t heard of it Google it.
We managed to play it the day after The Clearwater Bay Open 2017, which is part of the reformed PGA Tour China.
The waiting list for membership is a modest 2 years, however the joining fee may put you off your breakfast as it’s $100k.
If you ever find yourself in HK, try and scout out a contact to get you on, it’ll set you back roughly $300USD but note it down as a worthwhile investment as every tee shot is 'gram worthy.


#20

Midway Par 3 in Lewes, Delaware. Shirts optional, then go grab yourself a Bloody Mary from the Starboard afterward.


#21

The Hideaway in La Quinta, CA

2 well designed 18s, incredible maintained and fantastic surroundings.