For every great course that made GOLF’s 2020-21 ranking of the Top 100 Courses in the U.S., dozens of more must-plays were left on the outside looking in — including at least a handful in your home state. Some of these designs just missed out on a Top 100 nomination, others finished deeper down the ranking, but all are worthy of your time. To shed light on the best courses in every state, we broke out the full results of our Top 100 Courses polling into state-by-state lists. Here’s a closer look at Colorado.
Colorado golf by the numbers:
Number of courses and U.S. rank: 283 (21)*
Number of golfers per capita rank: 16*
Average public-course greens fees: $$$ out of $$$*
Average daily temp and rank: 45.1 (39)
Annual precipitation and rank: 15.9 in. (44)
*Source: National Golf Foundation
Best Colorado golf courses (2020/2021)
1. Ballyneal (Holyoke) [1, 2]
Founding a private club in a remote destination is not without peril and it is reasonable to expect a club to take some time find its footing. Now in its second decade, and courtesy of a new greenkeeper, Ballyneal enjoys its best playing conditions since opening. With the greens now Stimping in the 10 to 10.5 range, balls are releasing across the rumpled ground and players are delighting in finding creative ways to use banks and punchbowl features to work their shots close. Fescue fairways help the ground-game options flourish.
2. Cherry Hills (Cherry Hills Village) 
When it opened in the early 1920s, Cherry Hills was a ground-breaking design that featured America’s first par-5 island green. Today, the Denver club is best-known for the thrilling 1960 U.S. Open, when Arnie fired a 65 on the final day to take out an aging Hogan and a young Nicklaus. The 2023 U.S. Amateur will likely only further enhance this classic William Flynn layout’s reputation for hosting big events while remaining a joy for its members to play. While much of Flynn’s work is clustered around Philadelphia, this design stands out as one of the few he did west of the Mississippi River.
3. Colorado GC (Parker)
4. Castle Pines (Castle Rock)
5. The Broadmoor – East (Colorado Springs) [3, P]
Ed. note: Some courses were omitted from our rankings because they did not receive enough votes.
Course spotlight: Colorado Golf Club (Parker, Colo.), ranked 3rd in Colorado. Colorado Golf Club is a quintessential Coore/Crenshaw design that melds stunning natural topography into a brilliant collection of golf holes. Generous and gently rippled landing areas offer many options from the tee. Whether through the air or on the ground, proper approach angles are crucial in accessing pins on the large and meandering green complexes, especially when it plays firm & fast as intended. The routing is seamless with effortless transitions from green to tee, making it a most enjoyable walk. — GOLF Top 100 Course Rater
How we rank America’s best golf courses
For the newly released 2020-21 U.S. list, each panelist was provided a list of 489 courses. Beside that list of courses were 11 “buckets,” or groupings. If our panelists considered a course to be among the top three in the country, they ticked that box. If they believed the course to be among Nos. 4-10 in the U.S., they checked that box, followed by 11-25, 26-50, and so on.
Panelists were also free to write in courses that they felt should have been included on the ballot (we had fewer than a handful of such additions in the U.S. vote).
Points were assigned to each bucket; to arrive at an average score for each course, we divide its aggregate score by the number of votes. From those point tallies, the courses are then ranked accordingly. It is an intentionally simple and straightforward process. Why? Because it invariably produces results that are widely lauded. Like the game itself, there’s no need to unnecessarily overcomplicate things.
For much more on how we rate courses, click or tap here.
Meet our course raters
We empower and hold accountable a group of 97 well-traveled — and well-connected — golfers/aficionados, each capable of expressing their own sense of design excellence at the highest level. The group is seasoned and experienced — we look for raters who know what’s out there, what’s changing and what’s coming down the pike. And from judging posts across four continents, our panelists are positioned to place courses from different regions around the globe into proper context, one of the main reasons GOLF’s Top 100 Courses rankings are the most esteemed in the game.
Other ranking outlets employ thousands of raters. Our less-is-more approach creates a more meaningful and thoughtful list. Think about it: When you plan a golf trip, do you call every golfer you know for their take? No. You contact a handful of people whose opinions you value most.