Monday, March 12, 2007

Golfweek's Top Courses

Golfweek's latest ranking of Best Courses is out and it's clear to me I've got some work to do and some golf courses to play.

Of the magazine's Top 10 courses open to the public in Pennsylvania, I have not played half of them -- and I'm a course rater for Golfweek, for crying out loud.
Chief among the courses whose pro shop doorways I have yet to darken are No. 1, Olde Stonewall, out in in Ellwood City, and No. 2., Nemacolin Woodlands (Mystic Rock Course) in Farmington, way out west.

I also haven't played No. 4, Great Bear, a Jack Nicklaus design up in the Poconos in East Stroudsburg; No. 7, Wren Dale, out west in Hummelstown; and No. 10., The Links at Gettysburg.

Of the courses on the list I have played, I'm not exactly down with where Golfweek ranks them. I do like where No. 3, the Golf Course at Glen Mills, ranks. I'm also a big fan of Hershey Country Club (Old Course), in 5th.

Personally, I'm a big fan of No. 6 on the list, the Club at Morgan Hill, in Easton, a Kelly Blake Moran layout that has escaped the notice of many golfers in Philadelphia. From the people I've talked to who've played it, Morgan Hill, hilly and quirky, is one of those courses that golfers tend to really like or dismiss.
I'm definitely not a huge fan of No. 8-ranked Lederach, in Harleysville, another Moran course, that I found a little over the top. But Lederach has now been recognized by two magazines, so I'm going to return to in the spring for another look.
I also believe No. 9 Raven's Claw, in Limerick, Ed Shearon's best work to date, is a good course that is only going to get better as it matures.
That brings us to Golfweek's ranking of New Jersey courses you can play. For my money, it's a better bunch of coures than Pennsylvania's.
For starters, Atlantic City Country Club, ranked No. 1, is a true treat, even if the prime-time, in-season rate ($206) is enough to gag most golfers.
As for the rest:
No. 2, Ballyowen. Haven't played it.
3. Pine Barrens. I'm fine with it being on the list, but not this high.
4. Twisted Dune. Love it, or loved it the last time I played three years ago. Unique course.
5. Sand Barrens. More visually intimidating than it really is.
6. Neshanic Valley. Haven't played it.
7. Pine Hill. One of my fave modern courses around Philadelphia. Should be higher on the list.
8. Blue Heron Pines (East). It's closed to make way for a residential development, so it shouldn't even be on the list. But the fact that is is closed is a crime against golf.
9. Royce Books (East). Terrific course that gets little attention in Philadelphia.
10. Vineyards at Renault Winery. Getting better with age.

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