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 Oregon.
Oregon golf by the numbers:
Number of courses and U.S. rank: 201 (28)*
Number of golfers per capita rank: 39*
Average public-course greens fees: $$ out of $$$*
Average daily temp and rank: 48.4 (33)
Annual precipitation and rank: 27.4 in. (36)
*Source: National Golf Foundation
Best Oregon golf courses (2020/2021)
1. Pacific Dunes (Bandon) [1, 2, 3, P]
This unconventional Doak delight catapulted him into the spotlight. A slew of par-4s on the first nine gives way to a peculiar 3-3-5-4-3-5 start to the second nine. Only Mike Keiser would have approved of such an unusual sequence and this course helped modern architecture break free from some certain design shackles that had constrained designers over the past five decades. Scattered blow-out bunkers, gigantic natural dunes, smartly contoured greens and Pacific panoramas complete Doak’s first masterpiece.
2. Bandon Trails (Bandon) [1, 2, 3, P]
Several of Coore & Crenshaw’s finest designs are located at hard-to-access private clubs but many of their works thankfully are available to the public, often courtesy of Mike Keiser. This is one of their best — public or private. The routing works its way over and across heaving dunes and through an enchanting coastal forest, and the fact that you don’t miss the sight of the water for most of the round speaks volumes to its design quality.
3. Bandon Dunes (Bandon) [1, 2, 3, P]
Bandon’s original course is a David McLay Kidd design draped atop craggy headlands above the Pacific. Ocean views stun the senses, along with bluff-top sand dunes sprinkled with Scotch broom and gorse bushes, coastal pines, crashing surf, wind-whipped tall native grasses and stacked sod bunkers. The most memorable seaside tests are the par-4 4th and 5th, the par-3 12th and the drivable par-4 16th, each with eye-popping scenery and enjoyable risk/rewards. No surprise, the 2020 U.S. Amateur telecast from here was captivating.
4. Old Macdonald (Bandon) [1, 3, P]
True to its name, this Tom Doak-Jim Urbina collaboration pays tribute to the Golden Age giant, Charles Blair Macdonald, who himself was famed for paying tribute through his portfolio of template holes. The Redan. The Short. The Long. The Eden. Nods to all of these are on display here, along with cap-tips to the Road Hole at St. Andrews and the Double Plateau green that Macdonald first employed at National Golf Links. Yet for all its emulation, Old MacDonald leaves a unique impression, with deep, riveted bunkers and firm fescue turf that make for as faithful an Old World links experience as any public-access course in the United States.
5. Sheep Ranch (Bandon) [1, 3, P]
A masterpiece of routing, the newest addition at Bandon Dunes occupies the smallest plot of the property’s five 18-hole courses but boasts the longest stretch of coastline, with nine greens set on the seaside bluffs. Another striking feature is the absence of bunkers. Holes are framed instead by gorse, native grasses and a smattering of dead trees known as “snags.” Several of these ghostly sentinels stand astride the par-5 1st hole, which bends over a ridge and toward the water for one of the game’s most stirring ocean reveals.
6. Eugene (Eugene)
7. Waverley (Portland)
8. Crosswater (Bend)
9. Silvies Valley Ranch – Craddock/Hankins (Seneca) [P]
10. Pumpkin Ridge – Witch Hollow (North Plains)
11. Pronghorn – Fazio (Bend) [3, P]
12. Pronghorn – Nicklaus (Bend) [3, P]
13. Portland (Portland)
14. Astoria (Warrenton)
15. Tetherow (Bend) [P]
Ed. note: Some courses were omitted from our rankings because they did not receive enough votes.
Course spotlight: Waverley Country Club (Portland), ranked 7th in Oregon. At 6,668 yards, Waverley doesn’t test the golfer as much by length as by crafty architecture, courtesy of Chandler Egan. Shockingly, this course possesses one of the best sets of par-3s of any course on the list, including the 130-yard 9th over a deep fronting bunker and the sharply downhill 220-yard 16th with the rushing Willamette River as the backdrop. Like Baltusrol Lower, the course finishes with two cracking par-5s, each completely different from the other. — 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.