The 5 best golf courses in Kentucky (2022/2023)

A view from the 18th hole at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky.

Gary Kellner/PGA of America

As part of GOLF’s course rating process for 2022-23, our fleet of 100-plus expert panelists identified the best golf courses in Kentucky. Browse the links below to check out all of our course rankings, or scroll down to see the best courses in Kentucky.

GOLF’s other course rankings: Top 100 Courses in the World | Top 100 Courses in the U.S. | Top 100 Courses You Can Play | Top 100 Value Courses in the U.S. | America’s Best Municipal Courses | The 100 Best Short Courses in the World

SYMBOL GUIDE
1 = Top 100 Course in the U.S.
P = Public/Resort Course
V = Top 100 Value Course in the U.S.
M = Top 30 Municipal Course in the U.S.

Ed. note: Some courses were omitted from our rankings because they did not receive enough votes.

The best golf courses in Kentucky (2022/2023)

1. Idle Hour (Lexington)

2. Valhalla (Louisville)

Jack Nicklaus includes the double-fairway par-5 7th as one of his favorite hole designs. He gives the player choices, with the left shorter fairway having a more challenging approach with a forced carry over water to the green. The green complexes are challenging, but not as devious as some other Nicklaus designs. Valhalla strikes the perfect balance: capable of hosting the PGA Championship and Ryder Cup while still being fun for the average golfer to enjoy as well.

3. Olde Stone (Bowling Green)

4. University of Louisville GC (Louisville)

5. Park Mammoth Golf Club (Park City) [P]

How we rank our courses

For GOLF’s course rankings lists, each panelist is provided a list of hundreds of courses and “buckets,” or groupings. If they believe the course to be among the best in its category (World, U.S. Value, etc.), they check the corresponding box to place it in a specific bucket. Panelists are also free to write in courses they felt should have been included on the ballot. 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.

The key to the process is the experience and expertise of our panel. Hailing from 15 nations and all the worldwide golf meccas, each of our 115 handpicked panelists has a keen eye for architecture, both regionally and globally. Many of our panelists have played more than 1,000 courses in 20-plus countries.

Because we don’t prescribe a set method to assess courses as other ranks do, no one opinion carries the day — our rank is a democracy. Some panelists believe that enjoyment is the ultimate goal, and thus prioritize design attributes such as width and playing angles, while frowning on upon having to constantly hunt for balls in thick rough. Other panelists value challenge and the demands of hitting every club in the bag. Still others consider a course’s surroundings and overall environment of paramount importance, thereby emphasizing the setting and naturalness of the course. In the end, allowing raters to freely express their tastes is what produces the desired eclecticism in our Top 100 lists.

Panelist integrity is vital. Voters with any ties or associations to eligible courses must flag such conflicts. Panelists also know not to let the quality of their play influence their ballot — same for a luxe experience or clubhouse. While opulence may make for a more a memorable outing, it’s not what GOLF’s course lists are about. Our focus is on design and architecture. We study the course, not the trappings around it.

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