The great thing about ranking golf courses? There are endless ways to do it

cypress point

Cypress Point, an American classic.

jon cavalier

Looking at GOLF’s newly released U.S. Top 100 list, early on this Election Day morn, leaves me with a couple of thoughts. One is, I need to play more golf, because there are courses on it I have not played. Also: only a great country could produce so many good courses. And, two, top is a broad word. At other times of the year, we have all manner of substrata: top courses in the Southeast; top golf resorts, top public courses, top courses by Donald Ross, by Gil Hanse, by Coore and Crenshaw.

And then my mind started to drift, far from Election Day. A series of course lists came to me, as if in a vision, or a dream. With this caveat — this is how I feel today — they are:


My Top 10 culled from our Top 100.

1. National Golf Links of America, Southampton, N.Y.
2. Pine Valley Golf Club, Pine Valley, N.J.
3. Cypress Point Club, Pebble Beach, Calif. (below)

Cypress Point in Pebble Beach, Calif.
Christian Hafer

4. Los Angeles Country Club, Los Angeles, Ca.
5. San Francisco Golf Club, San Francisco, Ca.
6. Winged Foot Golf Club, Mamaroneck, N.Y. (below)

winged foot west
Christian Hafer

7. Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, Ga.
8. Merion Golf Club, Ardmore, Pa.
9. Oakmont Country Club, Oakmont, Pa.
10. Newport Country Club, Newport, R.I.


My top-10 courses, not already cited, where the Tour visits annually, or once did.

1. Pebble Beach Golf Links, Pebble Beach, Calif.
2. Shore Course, Monterey Peninsula Country Club, Pebble Beach, Calif.
3. Westchester Country Club, Harrison, N.Y.
4. Waialae Country Club, Honolulu, Hawaii
5. Colonial Country Club, Fort Worth, Texas (below)


6. Riviera Country Club, Pacific Palisades, Calif.
7. South Course at Torrey Pines, San Diego, Calif.
8. Harbour Town Golf Links, Hilton Head, S.C.
9. The Old White course at The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, W. Va.
10. Quail Hollow Club, Charlotte, N.C.


My top-10 U.S. Open courses, not already cited, in or out of rotation.

1. Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, Southampton, N.Y.
2. Myopia Hunt Club, South Hamilton, Ma.
3. Oak Hill, Rochester, N.Y. (below)

oak hill
Evan Schiller

4. The Country Club, Brookline, Mass.
5. Bethpage Black, Bethpage, N.Y.
6. Oakland Hills, Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
7. Philadelphia Country Club, Gladwyne, Pa.
8. Medinah No. 3, Medinah, Ill.
9. Congressional Country Club, Potomac, Md.
10. Pinehurst No. 2. Pinehurst, N.C.


Can’t use a numbering system or full names for these artworks/golfing homes in the old country.

The Old Course
The Golf House Club, Elie
Dornoch (below)

David Cannon/Getty Images

North Berwick
Cruden Bay


A random list of some of my favorite American courses, not already cited. Again, can’t number them, just as you can’t number your children.
Bellport Country Club, Bellport, N.Y.
Philadelphia Cricket Club, the Tillinghast course
Philadelphia Cricket Club, St. Martins course
Pacific Grove, Pacific Grove, Calif. (below)

Pacific Grove
Alan Bastable

North Palm Beach Country Club, North Palm Beach, Fla.
Maidstone Club, East Hampton, N.Y.
Jeffersonville Golf Club, Jeffersonville, Pa.
Aiken Golf Club, Aiken, S.C.
Rolling Green Golf Club, Springfield, Pa.
Whatever U.S. course I have played most recently.*
*My friend John Garrity kept the most singular, top-50 course ever, and on the list, always, was whatever course he had most recently played. One night, some years ago, we were playing the public Southport course, in England, ranked somewhere as the worst links course in the British Isles. We could not contain our laughter, it was so good.
Michael Bamberger welcomes your comments at

Michael Bamberger

Michael Bamberger Contributor

Michael Bamberger writes for GOLF Magazine and Before that, he spent nearly 23 years as senior writer for Sports Illustrated. After college, he worked as a newspaper reporter, first for the (Martha’s) Vineyard Gazette, later for The Philadelphia Inquirer. He has written a variety of books about golf and other subjects, the most recent of which is The Second Life of Tiger Woods. His magazine work has been featured in multiple editions of The Best American Sports Writing. He holds a U.S. patent on The E-Club, a utility golf club. In 2016, he was given the Donald Ross Award by the American Society of Golf Course Architects, the organization’s highest honor.