The best (and best value) Jack Nicklaus-designed golf courses you can play

We analyzed your 20,000-plus reviews within the Golden Bear's worldwide portfolio to see which of his courses rank among our community's favorite and best values.
On the Hawaiian Island of Lanai, Manele Golf Course is one of Hawaii's most spectacular rounds.

Not only is Jack Nicklaus the most decorated major champion in golf history, he has amassed a global golf course design portfolio that is among the world's most prestigious as well. He began as a consultant to Pete Dye at Harbour Town, and soon enough was out on his own. Nicklaus and his peers Arnold Palmer and Gary Player each spread the game globally with their play, also creating their own golf business empires that included golf course design around the world.

If you travel much for golf, you've encountered a Nicklaus design, whether it's in Myrtle Beach, Las Vegas or Cabo San Lucas. His firm has courses in 40 states and 45 countries. His company is far from done, as they'll reveal American Dunes, a military-inspired course in southwest Michigan that will benefit the Folds of Honor, this summer.

Jack's designs that are fixtures on the PGA Tour schedule get a lot of exposure and notoriety. His design at Concession in the recent WGC caused some big numbers from flummoxed pros. Other longstanding venues like Muirfield Village in Ohio are lauded as being among the schedule's purest tests.

But his courses that make your TV screen or top 100 ranking only scratch the surface. We thought we'd find out which of his designs are the most popular according to our review community. We've received over 22,000 reviews of his portfolio's courses around the world.

I'm fairly certain of my favorite Nicklaus course. It's in the Dominican Republic at Punta Espada. And I'm not alone. Those of you who have made the trip to Cap Cana savored the scenic and exciting layout yourselves. I also really like his layout at Pronghorn that blends nicely into the Central Oregon's rugged high desert.

Check out our full top 10 courses based on the course's overall rating dating back to 2013, and below that, the best value Nicklaus courses based on your ratings.

Jack Nicklaus designs by the numbers

Average overall Nicklaus Design rating on GolfPass: 4.4
Nicklaus designs in the Golfers' Choice Top 50 for 2021: Nicklaus Course at Pinehills Golf Club (No. 4)
Nicklaus design with the most reviews: The Golf Club at Dove Mountain (1,262)
Lowest rated Nicklaus design: Bear Trace at Cumberland Mountain State Park

Top 10 Nicklaus Design courses by Overall Rating

1. Punta Espada
Cap Cana, Dominican Republic
What they're saying: "Nothing better in the Caribbean. Played great courses in Jamaica, Cancun, Bermuda and none compares to this. About 1/2 the holes are on the Caribbean, the other have are beautifully carved out of the sandstone and hills making this course visually incredible." - rayalfonso

2. Manele Golf Course
Lanai City, Hawaii
What they're saying: "So beautiful that you'll see it in your head for the rest of your life. You can hardly believe that your where you are. You feel lucky to be on this isolated spot on earth and have that much beauty and amazing layout for a golf course." - Beeline

3. Harbour Town Golf Links
Hilton Head Island, S.C.
*Player consultant with Pete Dye
What they're saying: "The course is incredibly difficult, but it's hard not to enjoy playing such a beautiful and well-kept course." - agwade8

4. Puerto Los Cabos
San Jose del Cabo, Mexico
*18 of 27 holes designed by Nicklaus
What they're saying: "We played this as the last of 4 games while in Cabo; saying we kept the best for last would be an understatement. The layout, the conditions, the views, this course has everything." - GolfLeo, Quebec Local Golf Advisor

4. Nicklaus Course at Pinehills Golf Club
Plymouth, Mass.
What they're saying: "I was blown away by the status of this course. Gorgeous layout with challenging but entertaining holes. Amenities were top of the line, and the staff was great." - u179059102

5. Achasta Golf Club
Dahlonega, Ga.
What they're saying: "The Achasta course design makes you want to play it over and over! The holes are challenging, have great views, are not frustrating, and you can always tell when the Golden Bear has designed a course." - WCH80

6. Mount Juliet Golf Club
County Kilkenny, Ireland
What they're saying: "The course is very straight forward but in pristine conditions. The feel of a Georgia course in the middle of Ireland." - RPG00

7. Killeen Castle
County Meath, Ireland
What they're saying: "One of the best in Ireland, it is a stunning course that is very well appointed. Every hold packs a challenge, with numerous fairway bunkers ready to punish what could be a normally solid drive." - u514051920

8. Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort
Palm Coast, Fla.
What they're saying: "The ocean holes were well done, and not jammed in there as some ocean courses are to get the most out of the ocean views, and the rest of the course meandered through a very nice neighborhood." - AlexByrd

9. Cove Club at Cabo Del Sol
San Jose del Cabo, Mexico
What they're saying: "You won’t be disappointed by this course or it’s staff in any way. Views are second to none, layout is fun and will allow you to keep score and still enjoy your round." - Elijahpearson360

10. Riviera Cancun Golf & Resorts
Cancun, Mexico
What they're saying: "I have played many Yucatan courses and this is the Top of my list. Amenities, layout, etc.Spectacular." - 1200fuller

Top 10 Nicklaus designs by Value

The 14th tee provides the signature view on The Highlands at Grand Geneva.

A Jack Nicklaus experience typically comes with a high premium, and a green fee under $100 is rare. But these 10 courses received strong value marks from our community:

1. Achasta Golf Club

Dahlonega, Ga.
Green fees: $68-83

2. Old Works Golf Course

Anaconda, Mont.
Green fees: $44-89

3. The Bull at Pinehurst Farms

Sheboygan Falls, Wis.
Green fees: $89-135

4. Nicklaus Course at Pinehills Golf Club

Plymouth, Mass.
Green fees: $130-150

5. Killeen Castle Golf Resort

Co. Meath, Ireland
Green fees: €50-80

6. Owl's Nest Golf Club

Thornton, N.H.
Green fees: $67-104

7. Grand Bear Golf Course

Saucier, Miss.
Green fees: $85-105

8. Great Bear Golf Club

Stroudsburg, Pa.
Green fees: $55-89

9. Highlands at Grand Geneva

Lake Geneva, Wisc.
Green fees: $75-90

10. Aston Oaks Golf Club

North Bend, Ohio
Green fees: $49-65


Updated 3/19/21, 12:01 AM: This article originally appeared in 2016 and has been updated with new data and information.
Brandon Tucker is the Sr. Managing Editor for GolfPass and was the founding editor of Golf Advisor in 2014, he was the managing editor for Golf Channel Digital's Courses & Travel. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and nearly 600 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker and on Instagram at @btuck34.
1 Comments
Commented on

A couple more to look at would be Vidanta Penasco which is under $50 on Golfnow and Nicklaus North in Whistler for $79cdn.Both courses could fit into both categories with more reviews.

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The best (and best value) Jack Nicklaus-designed golf courses you can play