Golfweek's 'Best Resort' list includes 14 Carolinas courses

Golfweek's 'Best Resort' list includes 14 Carolinas courses

Reid Nelson Editor
image Photo courtesy of Mid Pines Resort
Mid Pines jumped 46 spots in Golfweek's rankings of America's 100 Best Resort Courses after architect Kyle Franz brought back the natural Sandhills look.

Golfweek Magazine has announced its latest rankings of the best resort golf courses in America and 14 of the top 100 are in the Carolinas.

Eight courses in North Carolina and six in South Carolina are included on the weekly golf news magazine’s list of the 100 Best Resort Courses in America for 2015, led by the famed No. 2 course at Pinehurst Country Club, which made history in 2014 by becoming the first course to host the U.S. Men’s and Women’s Open championships in the same year.

Pinehurst No. 2 remained third on the overall top 100 list, behind only Pacific Dunes at Bandon Dunes in Bandon, Ore., and Pebble Beach Golf Links on California’s Monterrey Peninsula. The Straits course at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wis., which will host this year’s PGA Championship in August, and the Old Macdonald course, also at Bandon Dunes, rounded out a top five that saw no changes from Golfweek’s 2014 rankings.

The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, which hosted the 1991 Ryder Cup Matches, the 2012 PGA and two World Cups, held fast at No. 8 in the 2015 poll, giving the Carolinas three courses in the top 10.

Other courses from North and South Carolina to make the list of the 100 best resort course in America, in order, were (2014 ranking in parentheses):

·         13 - Harbour Town Golf Links, Hilton Head Island, S.C. (13)

·         18 – Mid Pines Club, Southern Pines, N.C. (64)

·         22 – Pine Needles, Southern Pines, N.C. (20)

·         24 – Caledonia Golf & Fish Club, Pawleys Island, S.C. (25)

·         25 – May River at Palmetto Bluff, Bluffton, S.C. (30)

·         26 – Dunes Golf & Beach Club, Myrtle Beach, S.C. (33)

·         47 – Tobacco Road, Sanford, N.C. (50)

·         52 – Pinehurst No. 8, Pinehurst, N.C. (70)

·         76 – Bald Head Island Club, Bald Head Island, N.C. (Not Rated)

·         85 – Moorland course at The Legends, Myrtle Beach, S.C. (NR)

·         86 – Pinehurst No. 4, Pinehurst, N.C. (79)

With its Nos. 2, 4 and 8 courses making the top 100, Pinehurst Hotel and Country Club joined Bandon Dunes in landing landing three layouts on Golfweek’s elite list. Bandon’s original Bandon Dunes course was sixth on this year’s rankings.

Pine Needles and Mid Pines, sister properties located directly across Midland Road from one another in Southern Pines, joined several properties in placing two courses on the list.  Others to do so included Pebble Beach, Whistling Straits and Streamsong, in central Florida near Fort Meade.

With its move from No. 64 to inside the top 20, Mid Pines would have easily won “most improved” honors in 2015, had there been such an award given by the magazine. Unequivocally, the jump can be attributed to a recent and highly acclaimed restoration that was, notably, the very first solo assignment for a budding young Oregon-based architect, Kyle Franz.  It is also worth noting that Franz’ restoration of Mid Pines earned recognition as the best resort course renovation of the year in 2013 by Golf Magazine.

Coincidentally, Franz, still just 33, got his start in the golf design business when he coaxed Tom Doak to hire him as a 19-year-old to work on the Pacific Dunes course that tops the magazine’s list of America’s Best Resort Courses again this year, just as it has almost since the day it opened. Franz also assisted Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw in their recent restoration of Pinehurst No. 2, a project that gained worldwide exposure, not to mention the praise of men and women professionals alike, when the two 2014 U.S. Opens were staged on back-to-back weeks at Pinehurst’s most revered layout.

Both Mid Pines and Pine Needles were originally designed by the legendary Donald Ross, who was responsible for five of the eight North Carolina courses making the top 100 list. Pinehurst Nos. 2 and 4, as well as Linville Golf Club, are also Ross masterpieces.

Pete Dye (The Ocean Course and Harbour Town) and Mike Strantz (Caledonia and Tobacco Road) each designed two courses to make the list from the Carolinas. Tom Fazio designed Pinehurst No. 8 and did some re-design work on the No. 4 course. Other architects responsible for the Carolinas courses on the 2015 top 100 list include Jack Nicklaus (May River), Robert Trent Jones Sr. (Dunes Club), George Cobb and Tim Cate (Bald Head Island) and P.B. Dye (Moorland at Legends).

To be eligible for the top 100 resort courses list, a facility can host its own membership component but must be accessible to the traveling golfer.  A nationwide panel of Golfweek raters evaluates candidate courses on a variety of criteria including routing, shaping, variety and memorability, conditioning, landscape management and more.  The annual resort rankings are just one of a number of top 100 lists published by Golfweek, including America’s 100 Best Classic and 100 Best Modern Courses.
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