We received a record number of reviews at Golf Advisor in 2017, and we're pleased to reveal the 50 golf courses in the United States that scored highest based on your ratings.
Our annual best-of lists are determined by the community of Golf Advisor members, the vast majority of which paid their own money to play and received no special access or treatment. Golfers can review just about any course in the world on Golf Advisor, and we also have various tee time affiliates that allow us to send post-round emails asking for a review. Any golf course can also embed a ratings widget on their site to encourage reviews.
The result is a list that features a wide variety of courses, including a lot of very affordable courses. There are over-achieving municipal and value courses alongside some of the most coveted public rounds in the U.S. — but those high-end facilities nevertheless managed to meet and exceed their golfers' expectations.
Because we only factor in reviews received during the calendar year, and because anyone can rate a golf course according to their personal expectations using our five-star rating and six subcategory ratings, our lists generate a very high level of turnover year-over-year.
How we scored your Top 50
We received over 150,000 reviews from 92,000 golfers in 2017. 3,400 U.S. golf courses received 10 or more reviews and were eligible for this year's list (fewer reviews were required to qualify for our state lists). A course's score was generated using 50% overall and 50% of their six subcategory average star rating (1 thru 5). While other rankings are primarily focused on architecture, history or prestige, our golfers score everything from "Conditions" to "Layout" to "Staff Friendliness."
Another key stat we are scoring is how a golf course's review compares to that reviewer's average. Our No. 1 course this year, for example, had a stellar +.78 higher score than its reviewers' average. That was the best of any course.
As our platform continues to mature and more reviews come in, we are continuing to give active and trusted reviewers more weight in our Top 50 lists, and reviews by inactive reviewers were filtered out. Courses must have reviews from active and trusted accounts (including Staff, Top 1000-badged members and our growing roster of Local Golf Advisors).
Our Best of lists landing page also features our Top 25 courses in each subcategory for the year, as well as our Most Improved courses based on your ratings year-over-year.
In each course listing, we've provided a brief snapshot of the course's green fee, architect, and a quote that sums up what golfers are saying stands out about the experience. You can click on the course page to see more details. If you don't see your favorite course here, we encourage you to set up an account and write a review.
Top 50 U.S. golf courses according to your ratings
Architect: Denis Griffiths
Green fee: $95-109
What they're saying: "I've played many mountain courses in Colorado and this is head and shoulders one of the best." - mpatrick1964
Architect: John Sanford
Green fee: $55-75
What they're saying: "I moved to the area so I could get closer to this course. " - timk18
Architect: Tom Fazio, Lester George
Green fee: $75-85
What they're saying: "This rivals many private courses we have played... can't wait to come back." - Schaffer1994
Fort Meade, Fla.
Architect: Tom Doak
Green fee: $210-260
What they're saying: "Look for Doak items like creative bunkering and strategic elevation change." - EthanZimman, Virginia Local Golf Advisor
Architect: Robert Trent Jones Jr.
Green fee: $39-69
What they're saying: "Set up to play tournament golf at just about the highest level there is." - sorenj, Idaho Local Golf Advisor
Architect: Gene Bates
Green fee: $90-170
What they're saying: "I've played Congressional and Torrey Pines, this is in that category." - Timothyobrien
San Antonio, Texas.
Architect: Arnold Palmer
Green fee: $100-150
What they're saying: "With the views and the course condition, this is a must play!" - TheOBchef
Architect: Tom Weiskopf, Jay Morrish
Green fee: $250-349
What they're saying: "A wonderful experience playing a course that the best players in the world have played" - MastersChamp2
Architect: Mike Strantz
Green fee: $100-130
What they're saying: "A course that could be interesting for a lifetime." - JeffArenson, Colorado Local Golf Advisor
Fort Meade, Fla.
Architect: Bill Coore, Ben Crenshaw
Green fee: $210-260
What they're saying: "Mixes the scenery, elevation changes and just good solid golf hole design." - RavensGolfer
Architect: Jack Nicklaus
Green fee: $89-119
What they're saying: "Could not have been treated better; felt like a member." - GaryWatt
Palm Desert, Calif.
Architect: Michael Hurdzan, Dana Fry, John Cook
Green fee: $185
What they're saying: "Firecliff gets my vote for best course in Palm Desert area!" - JPratty
Gulf Shores, Ala.
Architect: Jerry Pate
Green fee: $59-86
What they're saying: "Great layout. Always challenging… If it’s windy, don’t expect to go low." - LanceGilliland
Architect: Tom Weiskopf
Green fee: $85-160
What they're saying: "Run, don't walk to Forest Dunes; no surprise that this course in on all of the lists. " - Birdieboy1962
Port Charlotte, Fla.
Architect: Gene Bates
Green fee: $50-100
What they're saying: "I had a friend visiting from New York and wanted him to play an impressive course. Riverwood was the perfect choice. " - john8898949
Architect: Jeff Osterfeld
Green fee: $55-85
What they're saying: "Everything is in perfect condition and they spare no expense." - Sundayspectator
Las Vegas, Nev.
Architect: Pete Dye, Perry Dye
Green fee: $109-159
What they're saying: "Just right, great design, amazing greens, and million dollar views!" - u597446542
Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Architect: Davis Love III
Green fee: $135-185
What they're saying: "Gorgeous and a lot of fun to play! This place is first-class inside and out. " - Filthy20
Architect: Rees Jones, Steve Weisser
Green fee: $135-180
What they're saying: "Beautiful course, scenic views. Staff is very friendly and goes out of their way to make your experience 5 star." - Karen0528
Architect: Bob Lohmann
Green fee: $59-78
What they're saying: "I almost hate to review this course because I'm afraid too many people will show up and clog the course or take over a great deal. " - kbrewner