Top 25 Most-Improved golf courses in the U.S. in 2017

The golf course business in the 21st century has often been defined as oversupplied. But nevertheless, many owners and operators all over the country aren't rolling over.

Running an 18-hole golf operation is rife with potholes, from diseased turf to an ownership short on cash to cataclysmic weather events.

No matter what challenges the facilities below faced in recent history, ownership and staff pressed on, and their efforts are being noticed by their golfers in a big way. In many cases, the turnaround was the result of a reinvestment into course conditions. But golfers are also noticing friendlier staff and improvements to the course setup.

The golf business can be tough, so if you notice your local course improving, be sure to give them thanks. Below, we've uncovered the U.S. courses whose overall star rating improved the most year-over year. One course improved so much it made our Top 50 overall. You can click on each course to read reviews about what golfers have to say about the current experience.

Top 25 most improved courses in 2017

Green Valley, Ariz.
What they're saying: "I've been visiting Green Valley for about 10 years and have seen this course go through some rough times. But it has flourished the past few years and is now a very good golf course."


Clermont, Fla.
What they're saying: "I haven't recommended The Legends for quite some time, but feel great about recommending it after today's round."


San Antonio, Texas
What they're saying: "All I could say was,'The Golf Club of Texas is "all the way back!'"


Palm Desert
What they're saying: "First time back in 6 yrs. Things have only got better. Superb experience from start to finish."


Phoenix, Ariz.
What they're saying: "There's lots of evidence of the ongoing work to improve and maintain the course."


Orlando, Fla.
What they're saying: "Course conditions continue to get better and better."


New Hempstead, N.Y.
What they're saying: "One of the hidden gems of the tristate area. The scenery is unrivaled, staff is amazing."


Winter Garden, Fla.
What they're saying: "Staff doing outstanding job bringing course back. Some of the challenge has been reduced due to the removal and redesign of bunkers."


Wading River, N.Y.
What they're saying: "Great Rock Golf Club has improved. The fairways were in tip top shape. Greens were fast and reading true speed."


Kailua, Hawaii
What they're saying: "The updates made have been great in terms of removing deadfall and other erroneous coverage."


Lemont, Ill.
What they're saying: "They are redoing bunkers to make it much friendlier for the average player and they do all the re-dos very fast."


Murrells Inlet, S.C.
What they're saying: "I didn't think the course could be in any better condition than it was last year, but I was wrong."


Taylor, Mich.
What they're saying: "First time on the course since the improvements made to back nine...the changes make the course better."


Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
What they're saying: "In the past 2-3 years under new ownership the course has improved dramatically."


Newport News, Va.
What they're saying: "It has been at least 15 years since I had played Kiln Creek and I was pleasantly surprised."


Huntersville, N.C.
What they're saying: "The amount of progress they have made as far as the conditioning of the course in the last 18 months is remarkable."


Oakland Township, Mich.
What they're saying: "A beautifully conditioned, gorgeous layout."


Savannah, ga.
What they're saying: "From recovering the tee boxes, to removing penalizing trees and other non-intended course obstacles to recovering 95% of the greens, they've done it all."


Panama City, Fla.
What they're saying: "The conditions of the course were nothing short of immaculate with the greens rolling very fast."


Elsinore, Calif.
What they're saying: "Still a work in progress and with every visit, we are seeing improvements. But as is, it is worth playing and only going to get better."


Punta Gorda, Fla.
What they're saying: "Greens were reconstructed in 2015 and recent improvements (summer of 2017) were appreciated."


Haines City, Fla.
What they're saying: "All greens were replaced and the quality is now much better — and they are still quite fast."


3. The Rock Golf Club & Resort (Formerly Bear Valley)

Pickens, S.C.
What they're saying: "The course has always been scenic, but the greens, tee boxes, and fairways are now first rate."


Kaneohe, Hawaii
What they're saying: "Large investment in cleaning up the course has paid off. Course is much better and drier."


Bonita Springs, Fla.
What they're saying: "New management company has cleaned up much of the neglect of the prior management group.

6 Comments
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Commented on

The Hampton Group has done a great job with MetroWest. I've played this course over the last twenty years in February and it's the best it's been in a long time. Keep up the good work!!!

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Commented on

Well, not sure about this list since Legends closed on April 1st and I played Stoneybrook West two weeks ago and if this was an "improved condition", I'd hate to see what conditions were before. Not to mention the staff couldn't care less that we were there.
MetroWest had no place to go but up after Integrity ruined it.

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Commented on

integrity ruined all the courses they ran, hence they went out of business

Commented on

Good Morning, I have lived in Spanish Wells for over 20 year and am a member of the Golf Club....."all" of Spanish Wells residents joined together and purchased the club last Month....and inserted the Billy Casper Golf Management Company to run and oversee our full Club operations....so far, its been a great experience working with these "professionals", and slowly but surely, we are moving forward to bring us back to a premier "golfing residential community". You are welcome to contact me at anytime for an "onsite" update on the progress of the Billy Casper people....Donald Bordner...bordner2@aol.com

Commented on

A bit of a scary list, Most Improved. One course on here is 5 minutes from where I live. I guess if your score was a zero last year and moves to a 1 out of 10(10 being the best) this year, you made a substantial improvement. But you are still a 1.

Commented on

Played Ko'olau a couple of months ago, and granted, it was a rainy day, but the course was in brutal condition. I had played it years ago and was looking forward to my return, but it was not a pleasant experience. Most fairways were soggy - plugged lies and no roll. The stuff they call rough is some kind of broad-leafed weed. The greens had little dirt mounds from worms all over and clumps of crab-grass. One of my most unpleasant recent golf experiences.

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Top 25 Most-Improved golf courses in the U.S. in 2017