Golf Magazine's biennial list of the best public courses is out, and Travelin' Joe Passov answered all your questions in a live chat on Friday.
Category: Top 100 You Can Play
Hammock Beach Resort (Ocean)
Palm Coast, Florida
7,201 yards, par 72
Green fee: $159-$189
Worthwhile, accessible golf on the ocean in Florida? Not as easy to find as you'd think. The best option is the Hammock Beach Resort, where you will see, feel and hear the Atlantic, especially on each nine's closing hole.
Located in Northeast Florida, about an hour from both Jacksonville and Orlando, the Ocean course at Hammock Beach ranks No. 78 on Golf Magazine's Top 100 You Can Play.
The Jack Nicklaus design hosted a Champions Tour event in 2007 and '08, and the seniors loved it, both for the friendly layout and the short walk from the nearby hotel, which features three restaurants and an ultra-luxe cigar bar.
Wind can place a high premium on accurate driving, while sharply sloping greens demand deft chipping skills. A pair of oceanside greens—the 185-yard 8th and 174-yard 17th—highlight a fine quartet of par 3s.
(Photo: Hammock Beach Resort)
Arnold Palmer may have learned the game from his father in Latrobe, Pa., but Minnesota is where he built a course named for the man. Opened in 1999, the Deacon's Lodge course is the most demanding and popular layout at the Grand View Lodge resort, two hours north of Minneapolis. Built on 499 secluded acres, the almost completely wooded layout feels more like a private club. Extremely wide fairways lead to larger than average greens, and waste bunkers are prevalent throughout. Swirling winds provide another obstacle, as do a handful of wilderness lakes that some tee shots are required to carry.
Accommodations include 198 rooms, ranging from those at the log cabin that serves as the main Grand View lodge (located 15 miles from the course) to 10 multiple-bedroom deluxe cabins on-site. Be sure to try the chili blanco, a favorite of locals in the clubhouse, and don't forget to check out the Palmer photos and memorabilia on the walls. For a son who made a life out of golf, Arnie couldn't have picked a better place than Deacon's Lodge as a tribute to the man who introduced him to the game.
(Photo: Grandview Lodge)
Make fun of his hair, his endless supply of outrageous statements about multiple topics, or even his potential Presidential ambitions. But Donald J. Trump's growing golf course portfolio deserves more praise than snickers.
For example, take the only public-access course in his empire so far: Trump National Los Angeles, good enough that our course-ranking panelists have it placed at No. 31 in our Top 100 Courses You Can Play.
Sitting atop bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean in the exclusive, rolling horse country of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, the layout is located roughly 25 miles south of LAX. Admittedly, much of the front nine is shoehorned into a fairly cramped parcel of land, with fairway shelves stairstepping one after the other down toward the ocean, separated only by dense, environmentally sensitive shrubbery.
However, the spectacular, watery opener, three par 3s that stretch at least 225 yards and the stunning two-shot brutes that close each nine help make Trump L.A. a scenic yet altogether stern test. Donald Trump as President might seem far-fetched, but his Southern California layout more than stands up to the hype.
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For some reason, our course ranking panelists prop up Torrey Pines South in the U.S. Top 100, but I'm not drinking the Kool-Aid. To me, the South is simply a slog — and from a design standpoint, a depressingly dull one.
Don't (entirely) blame Rees Jones: he didn't route the course. In fact, his 2001 renovation upped the drama quotient, even if he did add totally superfluous length.
It's really a relic of the late 1950s, terribly long and open, with few run-up possibilities. Add vapid, mostly elevated greens and a dearth of risk/reward options and you've got a real snoozer.
You'll never forget the experience, but you won't remember many of the holes — making it overrated in my book.
What's the most overrated course you've played? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
(Photo Credit: Larry Lambrecht)
Our 2010 list of the best public-access courses in the United States has the same No. 1 as the 2008 list, seven new courses, and a range of price tags from $50 bargains to once-in-a-lifetime splurges. What did you think of the ranking? Let us know in the comments field below.