Contrary to what you might expect, the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic actually produced a boom in the golf world. With green, open spaces in hot demand, more players played more golf in 2020 than they had in years. At GOLF.com, we tried to meet that interest by providing golfers of all stripes with the most interesting, helpful information about golf courses we could find.
In terms of golf course coverage, “Travel” took on a new meaning for us and our fellow golfers. Sure, less people were jet-setting to faraway golf resorts, but more people than ever were re-discovering the unique pleasures of golf road trips and exploring public courses in their home regions — our writers included.
But classic course coverage also remained popular in 2020 according a review of our readership. Augusta National remained a sought-after topic, especially when photos were released of a browned-out, dormant Augusta in January, and then again just a month before the rescheduled November Masters.
Readers also enjoyed our latest ranking of the best courses in every state, and this report about the safety changes some courses put in place in order to carefully reopen back in April.
While all of these stories proved popular, it was another that took top honors, and one that is probably not surprising to fans of golf and this website. In November, we released our latest edition of the ever-popular GOLF Top 100 Courses in the U.S. ranking, which was determined based on a new-and-improved methodology.
For this year’s ranking, our 97 hand-picked course experts were 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.
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.
As a result, the new ranking featured 17 courses making their Top 100 debut, along with plenty of movement up-and-down the line. You can check out the top 10-ranked courses below, and you can check out the full 2020-21 ranking of the Top 100 Courses in the U.S here.
GOLF’s Top 100 Courses in the U.S. 2020/21
1. Pine Valley, Pine Valley, N.J.
2. Cypress Point, Pebble Beach, Calif.
3. Shinnecock Hills, Southampton, N.Y.
4. National Golf Links of America, Southampton, N.Y.
5. Oakmont, Oakmont, Pa.
6. Augusta National, Augusta, Ga.
7. Sand Hills, Mullen, Neb.
8. Merion (East), Ardmore, Pa.
9. Fishers Island, Fishers Island, N.Y.
10. Pebble Beach, Pebble Beach, Calif.