The 50 best courses in the Southeast: Ranking the region’s best designs

Augusta National is the top-ranked course in the Southeast U.S.

Joann Dost

GOLF Magazine recently unveiled its 2020/2021 Top 100 Courses in the United States, and to showcase the country’s geographic diversity, GOLF has, for the first time, broken the country into four regions and ranked the top 50 in each. Each region is shockingly diverse — and overflowing with exquisite golf. To introduce each region, we called upon a star architect to help.

The Appeal of Golf in the Southeast | By Dana Fry

When I think of the quality of courses in the Southeast, the word that comes to mind is diversity. The variety of landscape is staggering, from Florida, which has arguably the best weather in the United States in the winter, to the Appalachian Mountains, to the Lowcountry courses along the Carolina coast, to the Sand Hills of North Carolina, to the amazing topographical sites with towering pines in Alabama and Georgia. 

Just imagine a quick trip to play Seminole and Calusa Pines, both in the South Florida. Then fly up to Augusta National, Pinehurst No. 2, Wade Hampton, Harbour Town and Shoal Creek. Pretty great trip, right? But point is, it’s amazing how different each of those courses is from the others.

As you browse the list below, you’ll see far more examples of the Southeast’s diverse golfing riches.

The top 50 courses in the Southeast U.S.

1 Augusta National — Augusta, Ga. (Bobby Jones/Alister Mackenzie, 1933)

augusta national no. 11
Augusta National’s timeless design and playability make it the clear cut top course in the Southeast. Getty Images

2. Pinehurst (No. 2) — Pinehurst, N.C. (Donald Ross, 1907)

pinehurst no. 2
Donald Ross’ timeless design at Pinehurst No. 2 leaves the resort in the heart of the conversation for the home of American golf. Christian Hafer

3. Seminole — Juno Beach, Fla. (Donald Ross, 1929)

Seminole is one of North American golf’s purest (and most exclusive) destinations. Patrick Koenig

4. Kiawah Island (Ocean Course) — Kiawah Island, S.C. (Pete Dye, 1991)

kiawah island
Kiawah Island’s gorgeous, seaside scenery will be visible for the world to see at the 2021 PGA Championship. Getty Images

5. Ohoopee Match Club — Cobbtown, Ga. (Gil Hanse, 2018)

6 Peachtree — Atlanta, Ga. (Robert Trent Jones Sr./Bobby Jones, 1947)

7. Old Town — Winston-Salem, N.C. (Perry Maxwell, 1939)

8. TPC Sawgrass (Players Stadium) ­— Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. (Pete Dye, 1981)

9. Yeamans Hall — Hanahan, S.C. (Seth Raynor, 1925)

yeamans hall
Yeamans Hall is a Seth Raynor classic, through and through. Larry Lambrecht

10. Wade Hampton — Cashiers, N.C. (Tom Fazio, 1987)

11. Honors Course — Ooltewah, Tenn. (Pete Dye, 1983)

12 Congaree — Ridgeland, S.C. (Tom Fazio, 2017)

13. Harbour Town — Hilton Head, S.C. (Pete Dye/Jack Nicklaus, 1969)

14. Streamsong (Red) — Streamsong, Fla. (Bill Coore/Ben Crenshaw, 2012)

streamsong red
The Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw-designed Red Course at Streamsong — one of the United States’ hottest new public tracks. Getty Images

15 Pinehurst (No. 4) — Pinehurst, N.C. (Donald Ross, 1919/Gil Hanse, 2017)

pinehurst no. 2
Gil Hanse’s deft touch on Pinehurst No. 4 helped to restore its original Ross brilliance. Chip Henderson

16. Palmetto – Aiken, S.C. (H.C. Leeds, 1897/Alister Mackenzie, 1933)

17. Streamsong (Blue) — Streamsong, Fla. (Tom Doak, 2012)

18. Calusa Pines — Naples, Fla. (Michael Hurdzan/Dana Fry, 2001)

calusa pines
Calusa Pines’ impeccable bunkering and complex design form a true Florida test. Courtesy Calusa Pines

19. Shoal Creek — Shoal Creek, Ala.

20. McArthur  — Hobe Sound, Fla.

21. Tobacco Road — Sanford, N.C.

The 13th hole at Tobacco Road Golf Club.
Mike Strantz’s brilliant Tobacco Road is as sudden as it is penal, and as gorgeous as it is authentically Carolinian. Martha Hudson/Tobacco Road

22. Mountain Lake — Lake Wales, Fla.

23. Roaring Gap — Roaring Gap, N.C.

24. Quail Hollow — Charlotte, N.C.

25. Long Cove — Hilton Head Island, S.C.

26. Streamsong (Black) — Streamsong, Fla.

27. Charlotte — Charlotte, N.C.

28. Holston Hills — Knoxville, Tenn.

29. Olde Farm — Bristol, Va.

30 Cascades (Upper) — Hot Springs, Va.

31. Mid Pines — Southern Pines, N.C.

32. East Lake — Atlanta, Ga.

33. Golf Club of Tennessee — Kingston Springs, Tenn.

34. Capital City (Crabapple) — Woodstock, Ga.

35. Grove XXIII — Hobe Sound, Fla.

36. Jupiter Hills (Hills) — Tequesta, Fla.

37. Dormie Club — West End, N.C.

38. Indian Creek — Indian Creek, Fla.

39. Mossy Oak — West Point, Miss.

40. Pine Needles — Southern Pines, N.C.

Pine Needles was designed by Donald Ross in 1927 and recently renovated in 2017 by Kyle Franz.

41. Country Club of Charleston — Charleston, S.C.

42. Chechessee Creek — Okatie, S.C.

43. Sage Valley — Graniteville, S.C.

44. May River (Palmetto Bluff) — Bluffton, S.C.

45. The Blessings — Fayetteville, Ark.

46. Kinloch — Manakin-Sabot, Va.

47. Ocean Forest — Sea Island, Ga.

48. Sea Island (Seaside) — Sea Island, Ga.

Sea Island Resort
Sea Island’s stunning property and uniquely engaging golf make it a favorite among PGA Tour stops. Courtesy

49. Diamond Creek — Banner Elk, N.C.

50. World Woods (Pine Barrens) — Brooksville, Fla.

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