New courses we’re playing in 2023

Raindance National Golf Course is located just southeast of Fort Collins in Windsor off I-25 at Crossroads to the east sited with 180 degree views of the Front Range.

The layout, opened in 2022, is on a large, 300 acre tract of land with over 250 feet of elevation change from the top of the ridge to the Cache la Poudre River bottom. It’s routed along broad fescue fairway corridors bordered by arroyos generally devoid of trees but with with massive green complexes. It’s pricey when compared to most other public access tracks in the area and is part of a master planned community with a planned 2,500 homes. It’s possibly the second longest golf course in the world yardage-wise, but mitigated by the 5,000 feet above sea level. There’s six sets of tees from 4,919 yards to 8,463 yards off the Tour tees, the White tees are 6,273 yards, 68.6/126, course/slope ratings, designed by Fred Funk/Harrison Minchew, a former Arnold Palmer Golf Design architect. There’s also a 65,000 square foot putting green and short games area, the G.O.A.T. Ranch.

Durand Eastman Golf Course, a classic pedigree

Not sure why Durand Eastman hasn’t made it on @Bestgolfcourses till now, but thankfully one of our users suggested it, and once we looked into it, the course is a shoe-in to be included. Technically, the course is a Monroe County Parks municipal located on the north side of Rochester and Irondequoit near Lake Ontario on Lakeshore Blvd in Durand Eastman Park. It was donated to the County by Henry Durand and George Eastman (Kodak founder) in 1909 and contains almost 1,000 acres.

It’s an historic layout originating in 1918 with the second nine in 1923 by Donald Ross and Robert Trent Jones, Sr. redesigning the entire layout in 1934.

The layout is carved through a mature forest of hardwoods along a blend of narrow and broad fairway corridors with a variety of green complexes sans bunkers. It’s a gently rolling walk in the proverbial park with streams bisecting both layouts on either side of King’s Highway. There’s four sets of tees from 5,198 yards to 6,033 at the tips where it’s 70.2/122, course/slope ratings.

New golf courses for 2023 we’ll be visiting this year

Another Nebraska golf course, new in 2022 is garnering widespread and appropriate attention. Problem is, it’s located on the far northeastern corner of Nebraska, a good 6 hours from Mullen in the Sandhills. Landmand Golf Course is 20 miles southwest of Sioux City on the north side of Homer, NE surrounded by rolling farmland. It’s situated on 550-acre tract of silty soil in the Loess Hills 200 feet above Homer providing views over thousands of acres of farms and on to the Missouri River.

The layout is characterized by broad, 80 yard wide and undulating fairways through towering dunes. It boasts massive green complexes, and gigantic, blowout and pot bunkers while it traverses over 150 feet of elevation change. It features a Punchbowl green on steroids and a sand bunker named “The Milk Carton”-we’ll leave that to the imagination. There’s five sets of tees at Landmand from 5,420 yards to 7,200 yards, the middle tees play to 6,440 yards, 71.3/130, course/slope ratings, designed by Rob Collins and Tad King (Sweetens Cove, Inness), their first original 18 hole layout.

Bully Pulpit Golf Course

Bully Pulpit Golf Course

Bully Pulpit Golf Course is located on the far western border of North Dakota. It’s located near the town of Medora home to less than 200 people, but a major tourist destination. It’s near the Little Missouri National Grassland and Theodore Roosevelt National Park on the northwestern border of the Badlands.

Medora is located 330 miles west of Fargo and 280 miles east of Billings without much significance in between. Fortunately, if you’re on I-94 and want to make a day of golf and sightseeing in the area, there’s plenty of lodging choices.

The course was built using the existing land over a roomy 900+ acres. It’s routed along a mile or more of Little Missouri riverside and the Badlands. The Badland’s, described as “hell with the fires gone out,” is a rugged land. On course, there’s frequent sightings of wild bison and horses, bighorn sheep, antelope, mountain cats, coyotes, turkeys, prairie dogs, and snakes, so it’s prudent to keep your ball in the fairway! The holes offer endless variety with those laid into open prairie lands, along the River, into the cottonwood forest with the finishing holes in the Badlands through the gorge and from butte-top tee boxes. There’s five sets of tees from 4,750 to 7,166 yards, the middle tees play to 6,000 yards, 70.4/123, course/slope ratings, designed by Dr. Michael Hurdzan.

Best public golf courses you can play in Truckee, CA

Coyote Moon Golf Course

Truckee, California is 90 miles east of Sacramento, 30 miles west of Reno, and 21 miles north of Lake Tahoe. It serves as the northern gateway to Lake Tahoe and temperature-wise is 10-25 degrees cooler than Reno and 10 degrees warmer than the Lake Tahoe area. There’s plenty of lodging and restaurants, a very active, western-style downtown area, and an assortment of outdoor, summer activities including rafting, mountain biking, and river rafting, in addition to miles of trails for hiking.

For golf, it’s a tempting base for five high-profile golf clubs which are open to public play. Yes, it will set you back north of $150/round, but for a week of golf without a lot of travel and in a unique, small community environment with moderate temps it’s hard to beat.

Here’s the five in no particular order. Tahoe Donner is a Certified Audubon Sanctuary and challenging as it moves along narrow, pine tree corridors over a significant change in elevation. The front nine was designed by Roy Williams, the back by Billy Bell with a redesign by Cary Bickler.

Coyote Moon marches through a natural setting along towering pines, granite outcroppings, and Trout Creek bordering the fairways, and a true shotmaker’s layout where course management is rewarded over distance. The layout has wide open landing areas with only a few forced carries where approach shots funnel down to greens protected by trees, sand traps, and water hazards.

Gray’s Crossing is a Peter Jacobsen/Jim Hardy design which climbs through a scenic setting along Lodgepole and Jeffrey pine tree lined fairways and over mountainous terrain bordered by native wetlands with Mt. Rose as a backdrop. It’s challenging with 70+ sand bunkers in various configurations, narrow driving corridors, and sloping, quick green complexes.

Old Greenwood is the only Jack Nicklaus design in this part of Northern California. The golf course lumbers through pine tree lined fairways over rugged terrain featuring broad landing areas along isolated, unique fairways. There’s the requisite, Nicklaus doglegs, water hazards, and pot, conventional, and long waste area sand bunkers along the fairways and defending the greens. 

Northstar at Tahoe is below the Northstar ski slopes with two contrasting nines in a setting surrounded by the Sierras. The front is more open and links-like journeying through a valley meadow with lakes and wetlands while the backside is carved through the pine tree forests over rolling, tumbling terrain. 

Basing in the Truckee area has its advantages in the cost of lodging, proximity to quality golf courses, and within 30 minutes of either Lake Tahoe or Reno.

The best public golf courses in Saratoga Springs

The Saratoga race season starts this year on July 14 and runs for seven weeks ending September 5. Horse racing and golf go perfectly together in this Upstate region in the lower Adirondack foothills. Consequentially, finding the best public golf courses in Saratoga Springs is essential to making the most out of your visit.

First off, Saratoga National might be the feature golf attraction in the area. It’s on the north side of Lake Lonely and if you only have time for one game, this is it. Saratoga Spa Golf Course is a full 18 hole layout and a 9-hole executive course in the state park just south of town.

The Saratoga Lake Golf Course on the south side of Saratoga Lake is a challenging layout where every hole seemingly plays uphill!

McGregor Links was designed by Devereaux Emmet who apprenticed under C.B. Macdonald and designed over 150 courses in the early 1900s. It’s a more reasonable alternative to the higher end courses in the area and certainly a classic. Ballston Spa is another classic on the south side of town carved through the woods with Gordon Creek slicing through the middle.

Airways Meadows is between Saratoga Springs and Glen Falls. There’s a bit of entertainment when playing Airways as there’s a general aviation airport in the middle of the course. In addition to the occasional Cessna taking off or landing there’s also a skydiving center!

Finally, there’s the Fairways of Halfmoon located southeast of Saratoga Springs on the west side of the Hudson River. It’s a bit more recent design partially routed through a residential community along broad and narrow fairways over rolling topography.

As always, should we have missed one of those best golf courses you can play in the immediate area or we have one in the guide which doesn’t belong, please let us know here. Also, we’re pleased to announce that we’ve been selected as one of the Top 100 Best Golf Blogs and Websites to follow in 2022 and are honored to be included.

Fairways for Warriors and PTSD

Fairways for Warriors serves our nation’s combat veterans from all conflicts through golf. The organization uses golf outings, instruction, and therapy to assist combat vets in addressing post traumatic stress injury (PTSD) recovery. It also assists combat vets in the general assimilation back into civilian life.

Every single day 22 of our veterans of the armed services commit suicide. The US lost 58,000 lives during the Vietnam War, but over 60,000 lives through suicide since 2010.

What is PTSD. From Psychiatry.org

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, or rape or who have been threatened with death, sexual violence or serious injury.

Many in authority are today challenging the notion that PTSD is a disorder. Instead, they argue that it’s an injury suffered as a result of a tragic, unimaginable event. An injury definition elevates the condition to one that can be resolved vs. a disorder which may continue indefinitely. It seems clear that “injury” is a proper classification since there are promising new therapeutic strategies that are making great strides in curing this injury. Many of these same approaches Fairways for Warriors has been providing for its members for over 10 years.

As a society, most of us are far removed from war as well as those who have fought those wars and served our country. A Fairways for Warriors volunteer hosted a couple of 20 year combat vets at The Masters this year. As they toured the golf course he’d regale them with where many of the iconic shots over the years had taken place. Phil Mickelson’s shot from the pine straw on 13; Bubba Watson’s snap hook wedge around the trees to win in sudden death; Fred Couples ball hanging up on #12’s slope, etc.

As he pointed out these areas and described the shots and their implications, he was met by blank stares. Was this most significant of all golf tournaments of no meaning or consequence to these guys, were they bored with his storytelling, or were they just not up to or care enough about the history of the game??? Later, while pausing and reconsidering their responses, he came to this conclusion. While he was lounging comfortably in an easy chair sipping a glass of wine or beer enjoying watching golf tournaments, these gents have been in the Gates of Hell’s risking their lives for our country. What say you?

Fairways is a 501-3c charitable organization with an extremely light administrative cost below 10% and is recognized as Top Rated by Great Non Profits. The funds are utilized to hold instruction clinics, golf outings, and provide therapy to effectively deal with and resolve PTSD and assist in the general acclimation from military to civilian life.

How can you help? Fairways has chapters in Orlando, Jacksonville, Richmond, Raleigh, Charlotte, San Antonio, and Phoenix, Tampa, and Tidewater. Generally, they hold several golf tournament/fund raising events per year in each chapter. There are numerous sponsorship opportunities from purchasing a tee box sign to becoming a major sponsor.

You can also put a threesome together and be paired with a combat vet which tends to be therapeutic for all involved. You can find their various chapters though their main website link or from their Facebook page. Also, if you’re a combat veteran, you can join the organization here and participate in the free clinics, golf, and therapy while enjoying the fellowship of other combat veterans.

There’s also many other fine organizations out there to assist with our veterans. K9s for Warriors provides service dogs for combat veterans. The Wounded Warrior Project has recovered nicely from their top-heavy administrative cost debacle to help all wounded combat vets and advocate on their behalf. The Gary Sinise Foundation provides programs and services to wounded service members and is one of the highest rated charities devoted to veterans. The Folds of Honor provides educational scholarships for military families. There’s are literally hundreds of organizations out there, here’s a list of those vetted by Charity Navigator.

The Maine Islands Golf Courses

The Atlantic coast of Maine measures straight-line of 228 miles, but the total coastline including all inlets and bays is 3,478 miles. Furthermore, there’s 4,600, give or take, islands along this coastline yielding a number of opportunities to find a golf course in a scenic setting for summer vacationers. There’s a total of nine Maine Island golf courses that provide an interesting golf trip by your own personal watercraft or using the ferry system of Maine.

We’ll start with the only course not on the Atlantic, the Frye Island Golf Course located in the middle of Sebago Lake and accessible only by ferry at Raymond, which is about 40 minutes north of Portland. It’s a Geoffrey Cornish, 9 hole layout carved through the woods over hilly terrain.

Now on the Atlantic just northeast of Portland is the Great Chebeague Golf Club, another nine holes bordering Casco Bay along salt water inlets and great blue heron nesting grounds. It was designed by a couple of summer residents in the 1920s and the clubhouse is a repurposed 1807 home. It is easily accessible by the ferry from Cousins Island.

In Maine’s Mid-Coast region we find the North Haven Golf Club, a Wayne Stiles original design from the 1932. It’s a 9-holer as well and located on Waterman’s Bay at Fish Point Ledge about about 8 miles off Rockport and accessible by the ferry at Rockland. 

North Haven Golf Club

Mid-Coaster, the Island Country Club, is another Stiles, 9 hole design on Penobscot Bay on Deer Island 21 miles east of Rockport. it’s a test as it moves over hilly birch, spruce, and pine tree lined fairways with the wind off nearby Penobscot Bay always in play.

The Taratine Golf Club  is in Dark Harbor on Islesboro, a small island in Penobscot Bay. It was designed by Alexander Findlay, known for his share of quirky layouts along the east coast and midwest in the early 1900s.

Cadillac Mountain on Mount Desert Island

Now moving further northeast, we find Mount Desert Island, the largest island in Maine home to Bar Harbor and the Acadia National Park, a top 10 most visited U.S. National Park. Mount Desert has its own golf trail of sorts with three fine layouts, The Causeway Club, Northeast Harbor Golf Club, and Kebo Valley Golf Course. At Kebo there’s a bit of golf history. Apparently, President Taft summered here occasionally, and in 1911 and carded a 27 on #17. The hole was then known as the Elbow, but, now to his honor, the hole is called the “Taft”. Donald Ross, after visiting the course, wrote the club and suggested strongly that the 3rd hole should be leveled a bit. It had such an elevation on the approach that a shot that didn’t make it to the top would roll back 100 yards down the hill. The club acquiesced and made the change against many of the members wishes.

Grindstone Neck

While not technically on an island, Grindstone Neck, is mentioned herein for its setting rather than the quality of their rudimentary layout. The golf course’s main attractions are the views of the mountains of the Acadia National Park and Ironbound Island in the background. Looking across the Desert Narrows to the west, and Sand Cove to the east, watching the lobster and recreational boats traversing the straits is simply stunning and a bit distracting.

As always, should we have missed one of Maine’s Island Golf Courses please contact us here and we’ll be pleased to amend the post. Cheers!

The Most Patriotic Golf Courses in the United States

In honor of the 4th of July, we thought we’d profile the most patriotic golf courses in the United States you can play. First off would have to be the Independence Golf Club. It’s a Tom Fazio original design redesigned by Lester George located in a wooded setting on the west side of Richmond. The course is partially routed through a residential community. It’s perennially rated as one of the top public golf courses in Richmond by the leading golf periodicals.

American Dunes, a Jack Nicklaus redesign of the former Grand Haven Golf Club. It’s on the shores of Lake Michigan 30 miles west of Grand Rapids. It makes the list, not only for its name, but also as it why it was build. It supports the Folds of Honor Foundation. This foundation provides scholarships to spouses and children of America’s fallen and disabled service members. It is a highly rated charity by Charity Navigator.

The Marine Memorial Golf Course is appropriately located near Camp Pendleton just north of San Diego. It’s a classic, Billy Bell design located in the foothills of Windmill Canyon.

2,800 miles to the east, the Marine Park Golf Course is a Robert Trent Jones, Sr. design. It’s on the north side of Dead Horse and Jamaica Bay on a narrow sliver of land between the Bay and Floyd Bennett Field which served as a Naval Air Station during WWII.

The Sound of Freedom Golf Course is on Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point. You’ll definitely hear the sound of freedom when one of the Harriers or KC 130 Hercules is taking off. Coincidentally, the golf course was designed by George Cobb, a Marine in WWII. He also designed six other military courses including Paradise Point at Camp LeJune.

The final patriotic golf course is Patriots Point Links located in Mount Pleasant, SC. It’s at the mouth of the Cooper River with commanding views of downtown Charleston, Fort Sumter, and the Harbor. Make sure you take the time to visit the namesake Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum. It’s one of the largest of its kind in the world and home to the USS Yorktown.

As always please let us know here if we’ve missed any of the most patriotic golf courses courses in the United States.

Cape Cod Golf Trail

The Club at New Seabury

The Cape has a bounty of golf clubs open to outside play. Our Cape Cod Golf Trail features the best public accessible Cape Cod golf courses you can play featuring wide range of greens fees suitable to all budgets.

We’ll start on the Outer Cape where Highland Links, a 9 hole relic and one of the true links courses in the United States with faithful adherence to Scottish Links standards.

Chequessett Yacht & Country Club is near Wellfleet and a nine holes as well which provides a parkland setting over some slight change in elevation.

Moving into the Lower Cape now, we find a gaggle of courses in all price ranges and settings. Ocean Edge represents the high end of offerings on the Cape and is available for outside play through on-site accommodations. Then there’s the Cape’s namesake Cape Cod National, an equally exclusive club where access is provided when residing at Wequasett Resort. Literally, right next door is the Captains Golf Course, a Brian Silva design with 36 holes, a tribute to the sea captains who lived in the area. The last of the Lower Cape courses is Cranberry Valley, a Geoffrey Cornish and William Robinson parkland design.

As we now move into the Mid-Cape, we have six courses worthy of a round, a weeks worth of golf in one general area.

Dennis Highlands and Pines are located with a mile of each other offer a good mix of challenging layouts.

The Blue Rock Golf Course is a Geoffrey Cornish design which just might be one of the best par 3 layouts in the United States and conveniently located just off the Grand Army of the Republic Highway in Yarmouth. Just a few miles south you’ll find a Donald Ross classic design from the 1920s, the Bass River Golf Course, a definite shotmaker’s delight. Bayberry Hills in nearby West Yarmouth features 27 holes by Geoffrey Cornish over rolling topography along mature hardwood lined corridors with a generous amount of sand in play. Olde Barnstable Fairgrounds, across the street from Cape Cod Airfield is a Mark Mungeam challenge through the woods over generally level terrain with a couple funky holes. The last of the Mid-Cape features the Hyannis Golf Course just off Highway 6 at Lyannough Road carved through the deep woods.

Now finally, let’s move to the Upper Cape where we find the Quashnet Valley Country Club, another Geoffrey Cornish design over a vast, 330 acre tract of land in Mashpee with water in the form of marsh or ponds in play on half the holes. The balance in the Upper Cape make this a week or longer long destination golf trip without much in the way of travel. The Cape Club, designed by the unlikely duo of Chi Chi Rodriguez and Jim (father to Tom) Fazio. The Cape Cod CC, an ancient layout by Devereux Emmet and Alfred Tull has received zoning approval to scrape the golf course and erect a solar panel farm, so play it soon. The Falmouth Country Club, a veritable classic of Cape Cod golf, is in east Falmouth on Old Barnstable road carved through the deep woods. The Brookside Golf Club in Buzzards Bay is a Dr. Michael Hurdzan design overlooking the Bay and features an interesting and challenging mix of holes and topography. Bringing up the rear, only by geographical location, is the Club at New Seabury, a 36 hole layout featuring 9 holes along Nantucket Sound’s Succonesset Point that’s open to public play through a stay/play program with condos and cottages on site.

As always, should we be missing any Cape Cod public golf courses that belongs in the guide, or one that no longer qualifies as the best golf course in a given area, please let us know here.