The 50 best golf courses in the West: Ranking the region’s best designs

cypress point

Cypress Point isn't only the top course in the West, it's one of the top 5 courses in the United States.

GOLF Magazine recently unveiled its 2020/2021 Top 100 Courses in the United States, and to showcase the country’s geographic diversity, GOLF has, for the first time, broken the country into four regions and ranked the top 50 in each. Each region is shockingly diverse — and overflowing with exquisite golf. To introduce each region, we called upon a star architect to help.

The Appeal of Golf in the West | by David McLay Kidd

I’m biased — I’ve lived in Oregon longer than I have in my native Scotland — but the golf landscape in the West is unrivaled, from mountain ranges (Gozzer Ranch) and lush valleys (Valley Club), to arid deserts (Shadow Creek) and rugged coastline (Cypress Point), and not forgetting the stunning Hawaiian Islands (Nanea). Course designers are often only as good as the canvas they are given, and the West offers a spectacular canvas.

Golfers are nature lovers — they appreciate beauty and diversity. They enjoy the artistry in the courses they play, as well as the challenge, and courses in the West offer the greatest variety in American golf. You’ll find every genre in every climate. I’d argue it’s the strongest of the four regions, but like I said, I’m biased!

The 50 best golf courses in the West

1. Cypress Point — Pebble Beach, Calif. (Alister MacKenzie, 1928)

cypress point drone photo
Cypress Point, in all its awe-inspiring beauty, is the top course in the western U.S. Gary Lisbon

2. Pebble Beach — Pebble Beach, Calif. (Jack Neville/Douglas Grant, 1919)

3. Los Angeles Country Club (North Course) — Los Angeles, Calif. (George C. Thomas Jr., 1921)

4. Riviera Country Club — Pacific Palisades, Calif. (George C. Thomas Jr./Billy Bell Sr., 1926)

5. Pacific Dunes — Bandon, Ore. (Tom Doak, 2001)

pacific dunes drone shot
GOLF’s Course Raters named Pacific Dunes the true gem of the Bandon resort courses. Evan Schiller

6. San Francisco Golf Club — San Francisco, Calif. (A.W. Tillinghast, 1918)

7. California Club of San Francisco — South San Francisco, Calif. (A.V. Macan, 1926/Alister MacKenzie, 1928/Kyle Phillips, 2007)

8. Ballyneal — Holyoke, Colo. (Tom Doak, 2006)

9. Bandon Trails — Bandon, Ore. (Bill Coore/Ben Crenshaw, 2005)

10. Bandon Dunes — Bandon, Ore. (David McLay Kidd, 1999)

11. Rock Creek Cattle Company — Deer Lodge, Mont (Tom Doak, 2008)

drone shot rock creek cattle company
Rock Creek Cattle Company is a Tom Doak gem set into some of the country’s most beautiful scenery. Evan Schiller

12. Olympic Club (Lake Course) — Daly City, Calif. (Sam Whiting, 1924)

13. Valley Club of Montecito — Montecito, Calif. (Alister MacKenzie/Robert Hunter, 1929)

14. Pasatiempo — Santa Cruz, Calif. (Alister MacKenzie, 1929)

15. Gamble Sands — Brewster, Wash. (David McLay Kidd, 2014)

gamble sands drone shot
Gamble Sands, built in 2014 by David McLay Kidd, is one of the newest additions to GOLF’s Top 100 list. Brian Oar

16. Old Macdonald — Bandon, Ore. (Dom Doak/Jim Urbina, 2010)

17. Monterey Peninsula (Shore Course) — Pebble Beach, Calif. (Bob Baldock, 1962/Mike Strantz, 2004)

18. Bel-Air Country Club — Los Angeles, Calif. (George C. Thomas Jr./William F. Bell, 1926)

bel-air country club
An overhead look at the bunkering and superb green complexes at Bel-Air Country Club. Evan Schiller

19. Gozzer Ranch — Harrison, Idaho (Tom Fazio, 2007)

20. Sheep Ranch — Bandon, Ore. (Bill Coore/Ben Crenshaw, 2020)

21. Shadow Creek — Las Vegas, Nev. (Tom Fazio, 1990)

22. Monterey Peninsula (Dunes Course) — Pebble Beach, Calif. (Seth Raynor, 1924/Tom Fazio/Jackson Kahn, 2015)

23. Nanea — Kailua-Kona, Hawaii (David McLay Kidd, 2003)

Nanea golf club overhead
Nanea Golf Club is the highest ranked Hawaiian course on by GOLF’s course raters. Courtesy Nanea Golf Club

24. Cherry Hills — Cherry Hills Village, Colo. (William Flynn, 1923)

25. Spyglass Hill — Pebble Beach, Calif.

26. Sand Hollow — Hurricane, Utah

shadow creek resort no. 15
Sand Hollow in Utah is built for a postcard, but that’s not all. It’s home to some of the finest publicly accessible golf in the United States. Brian G. Oar – Fairways Photography

27. Colorado Golf Club — Parker, Colo.

28. Wilderness Club — Eureka, Mont.

29. Chambers Bay — University Place, Wash.

30. Meadow Club — Fairfax, Calif.

31. Kapalua (Plantation Course) — Lahaina, Hawaii

The Plantation Course at Kapalua rests upon one of golf’s most breathtaking vistas and recently completed a renovation to enhance its playability. Getty Images

32. Forest Highlands (Canyon Course) — Flagstaff, Ariz.

33. Desert Forest — Carefree, Ariz.

34. Clear Creek — Carson City, Nev.

35. Stone Eagle — Palm Desert, Calif.

36. Rustic Canyon — Moorpark, Calif.

Rustic Canyon Golf Course
Rustic Canyon is a true hidden gem in the California golf scene. Courtesy

37. Wilshire Golf Club — Los Angeles, Calif.

38. Madison Club — La Quinta, Calif.

39. Castle Pines – Castle Rock, Colo.

40. Estancia — Scottsdale, Ariz.

41. We-Ko-Pa (Saguaro) — Fort McDowell, Ariz.

we-koo-pa golf club
We-Ko-Pa means “four peaks” in Yavapai, a perfect scene-setter for Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw’s brilliant desert design. Lonna Tucker/We-Ko-Pa Golf Club

42. Eugene Golf Club — Eugene, Ore.

43. Waverley — Portland, Ore.

44. Torrey Pines (South) — La Jolla, Calif.

Torrey Pines
Torrey Pines’ newly renovated South Course will play host to the 2020 U.S. Open. Getty Images

45. Martis Camp Club — Truckee, Calif.

46. Victory Ranch — Kamas, Utah

47. Scottsdale National (The Other Course) — Scottsdale, Ariz.

48. Broadmoor (West Course) — Colorado Springs, Colo.

49. Black Mesa — Española, N.M.

50. Crosswater — Bend, Ore.

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