The 11 best public golf courses and facilities that dominated a decade of Golfers' Choice

These golf clubs have delivered consistent greatness since 2014 when Golfers' Choice first launched.
Snow Mountain is one of three fine Pete Dye courses at Paiute outside Las Vegas.

With a decade of data to analyze, now's the perfect time to celebrate the courses that have dominated Golfers' Choice Top 50 rankings over the years.

A lot has happened since Golfers' Choice first launched in 2014. Hundreds of golf courses were closing every year before a pandemic golf boom flipped the industry on its head.

Some past Golfers' Choice Top 50 honorees have closed - RIP, the Palmer Course at La Cantera - or have changed names (Ohio's Longaberger Golf Club is now called Virtues Golf Club). Others have gone entirely private, making them ineligible for this story and future rankings. The most noteworthy example would be the Wickenburg Ranch Golf & Social Club, which was a staple of the Top 50 from 2017-2022 before closing its doors to the public last year.

Many of bucket-list golf's biggest names have graced the Top 50 over the years, too. Tobacco Road, TPC Scottsdale's Stadium Course and Harbour Town Golf Links have all qualified three times. Pebble Beach Golf Links and Pasatiempo have each made it twice, as have both courses at TPC Sawgrass.

But the staying power of these 11 golf courses and facilities is what's most impressive. Each one of them has qualified for the Top 50 at least five times, and some of them have had multiple courses qualify, the ultimate stamp of approval of how that particular facility is run, from conditioning to pace of play to service and more. Here are the best of the best from the first decade of the Golfers' Choice Top 50.

  1. Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort

    Top 50 selections: Sun Mountain 2022 #36, 2021 #19, 2018 #20, 2016 #34, 2015 #4; Snow Mountain 2021 #5, 2020 #5, 2018 #8, 2016 #35, 2015 #23; Wolf Creek 2021 #25, 2020 #7, 2019 #34, 2017 #34, 2015 #11, 2014 #16.
    Comment: When it comes to the Golfers' Choice Top 50, nobody can compete with Las Vegas Paiute. All three of its courses have qualified for the Top 50 at least five times apiece. That's mind-blowing. I won my legendary sequin green jacket at Pauite, so I can vouch for its seamless operation. It's a golf factory like Bandon Dunes, and I mean that in a good way. There's carts and courses everywhere, but it all works. Its site on the outskirts of the Las Vegas Strip can get windy, so be prepared to come battle Pete Dye architecture whichever course you play.

    Which of these Golfers' Choice Top 50 stalwarts is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.

  2. Yocha Dehe Golf Club

    Top 50 selections: 2022 #31, 2021 #48, 2020 #1, 2019 #3, 2018 #7, 2017 #8, 2016 #12, 2015 #1.
    Comment: I was actually kind of bummed to see Yocha Dehe's run of eight consecutive years in the Top 50 come to an end this year. If it were closer to San Francisco, I have no doubt it would be even more popular than places like Half Moon Bay or TPC Harding Park. Tucked away in a valley next to a vineyard, it gives off the quintessential California vibe.

  3. Royal Hylands Golf Club
    Knightstown, Indiana
    Public
    4.8220352941
    239

    Top 50 selections: 2021 #30, 2020 #50, 2019 #23, 2018 #31, 2016 #24, 2015 #12, 2014 #15.
    Comment: A seven-time Top-50 qualifier from 2014-2021, Royal Hylands proved to be a sort of 'little engine that could.' It doesn't have the longest course and it wasn't designed by a well-known architect, but everybody who shows up leaves satisfied. GolfPass reviewer 'DrOldSchool' sums it up better than I could in his 2023 review: "Hylands has the friendliest staff you'll find at any course anywhere. But they also take great pride in having a wonderful, fun course. Parkland style with some really tough holes at the outset, and some really tough greens on the back. As golf continues to get more and more expensive this course is an incredible value. I recommend to anyone in Indiana, and if you are traveling on I-70 between Indianapolis and Dayton."

  4. Indian Wells Golf Resort
    Indian Wells, California
    Resort
    4.5416647059
    346

    Top 50 selections: Celebrity 2022 #28, 2021 #27, 2018 #27; Players 2020 #27, 2019 #30, 2017 #27, 2014 #10.
    Comment: Like Pinehills, the two courses at Indian Wells have appeared in the Top 50 a combined seven times with the Players Course holding a slight edge. With four neighboring hotels to choose from and some nice dining in an extravagant clubhouse, Indian Wells Golf Resort is one of the real anchors of the Coachella Valley. After dark, Shots in the Night keeps the golf party going.

    Indian Wells, California
    Resort
    4.7553176471
    438

  5. Pinehills Golf Club
    Plymouth, Massachusetts
    Semi-Private
    4.6980411765
    264

    Top 50 selections: Nicklaus 2022 #48, 2020 #4, 2019 #6, 2018 #12; Jones 2024 #31, 2021 #20, 2020 #6.
    Comment: The two courses at Pinehills have made the Top 50 seven times between them. The Nicklaus Course holds the lead, but with the Jones Course qualifying this year, it is closing the gap. You can't go wrong playing either one. The whole experience is outstanding. Pinehills sits at the gateway to Cape Cod, so it's ideally located for New Englanders going on or returning from vacation.

    Plymouth, Massachusetts
    Semi-Private
    4.8036352941
    228

  6. Rams Hill Golf Club
    Borrego Springs, California
    Semi-Private/Resort
    4.4632058824
    648

    Top 50 selections: 2020 #34, 2019 #7, 2018 #13, 2017 #4, 2016 #1, 2015 #13.
    Comment: I like to believe that Golfers' Choice introduced Rams Hill to the world. It had a strong six-year run in our Top 50 from 2015-2020, cresting at No. 1 in 2016, just two years after it was completely redesigned and brought back to life from a multi-year closure. It's now a high-end round that's a day trip into the desert for most SoCal golfers.

  7. Annbriar Golf Course
    Waterloo, Illinois
    Public
    4.7953882353
    776

    Top 50 selections: 2024 #8, 2022 #12, 2021 #37, 2020 #35, 2019 #28, 2017 #7.
    Comment: Annbriar has made the Top 50 six times in the last seven years, showing incredible consistency in how golfers perceive the experience. It's a muni outside of St. Louis, Mo., that's priced just right.

  8. Farmlinks at Pursell Farms
    Sylacauga, Alabama
    Public/Resort
    4.8624705882
    264

    Top 50 selections: 2024 #43, 2020 #37, 2019 #42016 #72015 #7.
    Comment: FarmLinks, a top five-time Top 50 selection, had a strong run from 2015-17, finishing in the top 7 each year. Golfers love its immaculate conditions and a drop-shot par 3 that's as dramatic as any in the Southeast, if not America.

  9. Kiva Dunes
    Gulf Shores, Alabama
    Resort
    4.7567117647
    587

    Top 50 selections: 2020 #48, 2019 #262018 #19, 2017 #382016 #4.
    Comment: Kiva Dunes, another five-time Top 50 selection, is the gem of Alabama's Gulf Coast. Jerry Pate used its dunesy palette to perfection, crafting a compact but functional routing.

  10. Quintero Golf Club
    Peoria, Arizona
    Semi-Private
    4.6717823529
    1191

    Top 50 selections: 2020 #47, 2019 #212018 #40, 2017 #26, 2016 #8.
    Comment: Quintero by Rees Jones is also a five-time national top 50 qualifier. Like Chariot Run, it takes some effort to find. That's definitely part of its charm as the desert and mountains are the only backdrop you'll see from start to finish.

  11. Chariot Run
    Laconia, Indiana
    Public/Resort
    4.6217117647
    483

    Top 50 selections: 2020 #30, 2019 #5, 2018 #9, 2016 #20, 2014 #3.
    Comment: This Bill Bergin design, which has qualified for the Golfers' Choice Top 50 five times, is off the beaten path about 45 minutes from Louisville, Ky., but well worth the drive according to our reviewers.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed and photographed more than 1,100 courses and written about golf destinations in 25 countries for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Instagram at @jasondeegangolfpass and Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
2 Comments

The majority of golf in the US is played by retired folks during the week. No way most of us will slap $300+ on a credit card for a 4 or more (ugh) hour experience at any of these overpriced venues and then sweat/regret the bill that comes in later. (And I know some of these public courses (e.g. Tiburon) keep the fees so high on purpose to limit play and still make a profit). We are a different generation with a more conservative view about the value of goods and services for the money spent. So, a list of excellent courses with fees under $100 by region would be a worthwhile read. I enjoy your articles!

We do have a great "Top 100 under $100" article you should check out. Also, I'd argue many of the state by state lists to be published March 1 will have some solid value selections in them. Come back for those. https://www.golfpass.com/travel-advisor/articles/top-100-golf-courses-in-america-under-100-dollars

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The 11 best public golf courses and facilities that dominated a decade of Golfers' Choice