Top 25 courses in the U.S. as rated by Course Layout in 2016

We have a brand new subcategory ranking to reveal in our best-of lists this year: The top-rated golf courses according to their Course Layout subcategory ratings on Golf Advisor. We added this subcategory to our six star ratings in the review form at the beginning of 2016 and have received over 100,000 reviews from golfers since.

It's important to note that reviewers on Golf Advisor can be any age, handicap, gender and play any tee they wish. So beauty here is truly in the eye of the golfer. A reviewer can be critical of the course design, or simply rate the course based on the routing or the scenery or the playability.

The result is that in this ranking, you'll see courses from around the country and designed by some of the top architecture firms, including Pete Dye, Tom Fazio, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Jay Morrish & Tom Weiskopf, and even some classic names in design like George Thomas and Robert Trent Jones Sr. There are also a few courses in this Top 25 designed by lesser-known architects.

We've included a quote with each course to reflect what reviewers tend to be saying about the layout. You can click on each course guide page to see more details and what golfers are saying. Let us know your favorite course layouts by writing your own golf course review.

Top 25 courses as rated by course layout

Sylacauga, Ala.
Architect: Michael Hurdzan, Dana Fry
What they're saying: "Played in the spring with the dogwoods and azaleas in bloom; looked like Masters in Augusta week."


Southwick, Mass.
Architect: Damian Pascuzzo
What they're saying: "Combination feel of a links course on early and finishing holes and a Mountain course on the interior."


Ojai, Calif.
Architect: George Thomas
What they're saying: "George Thomas is an all-time great course architect and this course is a testament to that."


Lancaster, S.C.
Architect: Bruce Brodsky
What they're saying: "Cut in the woods surrounded by water. Very thoughtful and well laid out."


Architect: Arnold Palmer
What they're saying: "Plenty of traps around the greens and water throughout the course."


Chesterland, Ohio

Architect: Pete Dye
What they're saying: "Will challenge the entire realm of shot making skills and the beauty and scenery will take your breath away."


Merry Hill, N.C.
Architect: Arnold Palmer
What they're saying: "Rewards shot making while not overly punishing an errant shot. Beautiful setting."


Kansas City, Mo.
Architect: Steve Wolfard
What they're saying: Mixing short, narrow holes with long, wide ones."


Elgin, Ill.
Architect: Rick Jacobson
What they're saying: "Lots of visual challenges with water and highly grown natural wetlands."


Lebanon, Ind.
Architect: Tim Liddy
What they're saying: "The links-style layout was fantastic: open, yet challenging with great views and elevation changes."


Bernardston, Mass.
Architect: Robert Trent Jones Sr., Roger Rulewich
What they're saying: "Elevated tees, water hazards, interesting greens complex and a variety of doglegs."


Canton Texas
Architect: Robert Hay
What they're saying: "A good mixture of challenging water holes, long par fives, soft greens, and East Texas beauty."


Elberton, Ga.
Architect: Robert Walker
What they're saying: "Beautiful lake views, greens, and moderate elevation changes, peaceful,only surrounded by woods and lake."


Hilton Head Island
Architect: Pete Dye, Jack Nicklaus
What they're saying: "A premium on ball striking, accuracy, and short game."


Sunset Beach, N.C.
Architect: Tim Cate
What they're saying: "Quite a few of the green complexes are well bunkered and elevated enough to make club selection far from simple."


San Antonio, Texas
Architect:Jay Morrish, Tom Weiskopf
What they're saying:"Appreciated most that each hole was very different and no hole was boring."


Howey in the Hills, Fla.
Architect: George O'Neill
What they're saying: "Has the best scenic holes anywhere. The designer was genius. It is my favorite course in Florida."


Queensbury, N.Y.
Architect: Stephen Kay
What they're saying: "A variety of shots and you get to use most, if not all of the clubs in the bag!"


Bath, Mich.
Architect: Chris Lutzke, Pete Dye
What they're saying: "Layout has nice variety with a high score on shot values."


Snow Hill, N.C.
Architect: Bob Moore
What they're saying: "A course that will give you a challenge from each tee box."


Peoria, Ariz.
Architect: Rees Jones
What they're saying: "The views are breathtaking. The course is laid out to enhance the experience."


Maricopa, Ariz.
Architect: Lee Schmidt, Brian Curley
What they're saying: "It's beautifully designed for both avid and recreational players."


Borrego Springs, Calif.
Architect: Tom Fazio
What they're saying: "Fairways allow ample landing, but be careful of all the fairway bunkers."


Saucier, Miss.
Architect: Jack Nicklaus
What they're saying: "No tricked up holes but the course will test your skills."


Wisconsin Dells, Wisc.
Architect: Michael Hurdzan, Dana Fry
What they're saying: "Holes are framed beautifully by woods and natural areas, especially in the fall with the colors."


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.
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Top 25 courses in the U.S. as rated by Course Layout in 2016