The 15 best golf courses in New Jersey (2022/2023)
As part of GOLF’s course rating process for 2022-23, our fleet of 100-plus expert panelists identified the best golf courses in New Jersey. Browse the links below to check out all of our course rankings, or scroll down to see the best courses in New Jersey.
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
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 New Jersey (2022/2023)
1. Pine Valley (Pine Valley) 
Analyzing a golf course need not be complicated. One simple but effective way to judge a design is by the quality of the course’s property, its hazards and greens. Pine Valley excels at all three, with many contending it has the most formidable hazards and sophisticated green complexes in golf. Throw in a wonderful routing that hopscotches from one island of turf to the next across the rolling, sandy landscape, and you have a course that hasn’t budged from the No. 1 spot for decades, meaning Pine Valley’s only benchmark is itself.
2. Somerset Hills (Bernardsville) 
Thanks to a 25-year restoration effort with meticulous attention to detail, Somerset Hills has reached the point where some trumpet it as A.W. Tillinghast’s finest design for regular play. Its two nines are diverse — the first is on more open land while the second jumps into the woods where Tillinghast incorporated natural water features to perfection. Tillinghast’s time in Scotland manifests itself at such holes as the Redan 2nd and the par-5 9th with its attractive cross hazard. A die-hard New Yorker remarked, “It’s enough to make one want to live in New Jersey.”
3. Baltusrol — Lower (Springfield) 
Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner’s 2020 restoration showcases Tillinghast’s immense talent for innovative bunker patterns and fascinating greens. Central hazards once again abound here, most famously at the 2nd and 17th holes, where large bunker complexes bisect the fairways. Just as impressive is the diagonal bunker scheme that slashes into the 5th fairway, making it one of the best 400-yarders in the country. Though the middle of the property is pretty tame topographically, that’s precisely where Tillinghast created some of the best greens. Take the time to study both green pads of the par 3s on the second nine, as each is a master class in creating something from nothing.
4. Plainfield (Plainfield) 
Designed by Donald Ross and expertly restored by Gil Hanse, the course features blind shots, challenging hazards and some of Ross’s finest holes. The first nine features several stellar two-shotters, including the 1st and 7th, while the second nine highlights Ross’ range of holes. The 145-yard 11th may be his best all-time short par-3, while the 12th and 16th are epic par-5s. Plainfield oozes history — a Revolutionary War battle was fought on the site and Leighton Calkins’ created the modern handicap system here — but the course is in no way stuck in the past.
5. Ridgewood — E/W (Paramus) 
This northern New Jersey classic isn’t as well-known as Tillinghast’s other great tri-state designs (Winged Foot, Bethpage Black and Baltusrol), but it’s just as challenging and offers a superb variety of holes. Both nines feature terrific green complexes and play from the stunning Norman Revival clubhouse, where Byron Nelson once worked as an assistant pro. After building Ridgewood, Tillinghast played it regularly as a member, and his granddaughters said it was his favorite course of all he designed. The contestants at the 2022 U.S. Amateur seemed to agree with him.
6. Hollywood (Deal) 
Walter Travis would be thrilled if he could see his course today. Some of the best hazards and greens on any inland course are found here once again, thanks to recent restoration work by Renaissance Golf Design’s Brian Schneider. The relatively modest topography and Travis’ tight green-to-tee routing makes it a walker’s delight while the manmade features (i.e., greens and bunkers) lend the course special playing qualities. A good stance and easy swing are far from guaranteed in some of these pit-like bunkers, which is the way it should be. Let hazards be hazardous! The par-3 4th and 12th are its most famous holes, but no education on Travis is complete without studying the 6th, 7th, 9th and 16th green complexes.
7. Mountain Ridge (West Caldwell)
8. Baltusrol — Lower (Springfield)
9. Essex County (West Orange)
10. Hidden Creek (Egg Harbor Township)
11. Trump National Bedminster — Old (Bedminster)
12. Bayonne (Bayonne)
13. Galloway National (Galloway Township)
14. Forsgate — Banks (Monroe Township)
15. Morris County GC (Morristown)
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 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 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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