7 courses our staffers are thankful for this year

There’s lots to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, especially for those golf courses near and dear to our hearts. We asked our staffers to name a few that are important to them. Here are the courses they’re grateful for having this year.

7 courses our staffers are thankful for

Jessica Marksbury, senior editor (@Jess_Marksbury): A new-to-me 9-hole muni, Palo Verde Golf Course, in Phoenix. I played it for the first time with my mom this summer, and really appreciated two things. The first: affordability! For $15 each, we could walk the course. (While that was a nice deal in the summer, you can still play for $25 or so in prime time, too.) And second, the pace! We finished in a little over an hour. These days, you hear a lot about how high costs and the exorbitant amount of time it takes to play is slowly killing the game. I’m happy to report that that’s not the case at Palo Verde, and for that, I’m very thankful.

medley of five top 100 courses
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Ryan Barath, equipment editor (@rdsbarath): Although I’ve had the chance to play some pretty fun spots this year, I am most thankful to the golf course that brings me closer to those I want to play golf with the most, Norfolk Golf Club, in Simcoe, Ontario, Canada. The course itself is only 9 holes and doesn’t even reach 3000 yards, but it offers a quick walk, challenging holes, and unlike a lot of other courses that have tightened up on non-golfers on the course, they’re extremely welcoming to juniors that tag along with a few clubs. It’s because of this simple yet welcoming policy that our oldest enjoys going to the course and asks to play. It’s also the course where my wife decided to try playing as a single for the first time, and after years of trepidation about being a single on the course, she finally realized what she had been missing out on for so many years. So with all that being said, I’m thankful to the course that allows my family access to the game no matter how we play.

Photo of hole at Gleneagles GC at McLaren Park in San Francisco, Calif.
Gleneagles GC at McLaren Park in San Francisco, Calif. Courtesy

Josh Sens, senior writer (@joshsens):  Lee Trevino said Gleneagles was the toughest 9-hole course he ever played. Then again, Lee Trevino said a lot of things. Like any course, this one has its challenges. But I wouldn’t call it difficult so much as I’d describe it as quirky and cool, with lilting greens and tilted fairways, stitched into the hills of South San Francisco, and bay views that give it a distinctive sense of place. More than anything, I think, Gleneagles is a throwback, a holdover from a time before the tech-boom, and a refuge from the city’s crowds and costs. Locals get around for $29; out-of-towners pay $33. In the 30-plus years since I first played it, not much has changed, except for the conditions, which are vastly improved, with greens pure enough to make you think you aren’t at a muni. The clubhouse bar remains a low-slung Hobbit hovel, and the first-tee chatter is often friendly smack-talk among regulars, renegotiating stakes for the millionth time. Recent years have brought a spate of renovations to San Francisco courses, and I’ve met an architect or two who would love to get their hands on Gleneagles. The possibilities are fun to ponder. But this is not the season to wish for what you don’t have. And that’s not how I think of this course, anyway. I’m grateful for Gleneagles just as it is.

Nick Dimengo, senior editor (instruction) (@ndimengo): It might “only” be a par-3 course, but you know what, there’s nothing better than playing a quick round at Interbay Golf Course in Seattle, Wa. — whether it’s early in the morning before work, or for a lunchtime 9 holes during the summer months. Not only is it about a 3-minute drive from my house, but it’s also the most centrally-located golf facility in the city — meaning everyone pretty much gets in where they can fit in (literally). Make a visit on one of those crisp, sunny, warm-ish Pacific Northwest afternoons, and you may find yourself waiting for 45 minutes just to get into a hitting bay at the driving range (despite mats on two different floors!). If that’s the case, good luck trying to snag a tee time. To say this place is popular is an understatement. It’s fun, cheap, convenient, makes for a fast round, and has the best hot dogs this side of the Mississippi. No, for real, there’s something about them that makes them better than any ballpark frank you’ve ever had. The Emerald City’s known to be a walker’s paradise, surrounded by mountains, water, and all sorts of techy stuff. But if you’re ever in the city and have your sticks, I highly suggest making a tee time at this gem of a tiny course. It’s sort of the de facto country club to every Seattle golfer.

Sean Zak, senior writer (@sean_zak): Jackson Park Muni in Chicago. You may recognize the name, as this muni was part of the redesign project Tiger Woods committed to years ago — a revitalization of two Chicago munis in an underserved part of town. That plan… hasn’t exactly proceeded much. But I still adore Jackson Park as Chicago’s muni. It’s where every golf season begins for me, when the bigger, fancier courses are still getting going.

Aerial view of Fortrose and Rosemarkie golf course in Scotland
Fortrose and Rosemarkie golf course in Scotland. Courtesy

Jack Hirsh, assistant editor (@JR_HIRSHey): Last year, I discovered the gem of Fortrose and Rosemarkie in the Scottish Highlands, outside Inverness. This year, I decided to join the club, which I consider one of the most fun places in the sport. At first glance, F and R has an unassuming clubhouse and a 6,100-yard, par 71 layout, but when you walk out the first four holes, you realize it’s something special. The course sits on a peninsula in the Rosemarkie Bay, across from the Inverness Airport and Castle Stuart Golf Links. At the point is a stunning lighthouse. I am proud to call myself a member of the 15th oldest golf club in the world and thankful for the opportunity.

Josh Berhow, managing editor (@Josh_Berhow): Eagle Lake Youth Golf Center, in the northwest suburbs of Minneapolis. Nothing against expensive public courses or fancy private clubs, but it’s places like Eagle Lake that are so crucial to the future of the game. Eagle Lake has a driving range, mini-golf course, nine-hole par-3 course (nothing longer than 90 yards) and par-31 nine-hole short course. Like lots of golf-loving parents, my goal is to get my kids into golf, and it’s convenient, welcoming places like Eagle Lake, not far from my house, that will help me do that. Plus, it has ice cream.

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