Golfweek magazine released Thursday its highly anticipated 2011 Best Courses lists, including its ranking of the top 100 Best Modern Courses (opened 1960 or later) and a state-by-state listing of the country’s best public-access courses. Nicklaus Design placed nine courses on the Best Modern list and had 27 courses recognized in the best-of-state ranking.
Leading the way for Nicklaus in the Best Modern survey was Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y., at No. 8, followed by Jack Nicklaus’ Ohio home club of Muirfield Village Golf Club at No. 12. Whispering Pines Golf Club in Trinity, Texas—the only Nicklaus Design company course in the 100—was ranked No. 32. Castle Pines Golf Club in Castle Rock, Colo., came in at No. 38, followed closely at No. 40 by Mayacama Golf Club in Santa Rosa, Calif., and Jack’s first career design, Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head Island, S.C., at No. 42. The Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Fla. was at No. 60, followed at No. 84 by Shoal Creek Country Club in Birmingham, Ala., site of The Regions Tradition, a senior major being played in early May. Ryder Cup and major championship staple, Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky., finished out the Nicklaus courses at No. 93.
In Golfweek’s annual ranking of the best public courses in each state, 27 Nicklaus Design courses made the list, including four that took top honors in their respective states and 15 that were ranked among the top six. The courses that took No. 1 honors: Cougar Canyon Golf Links (Colorado); Bayside (Delaware); Old Works (Montana); and Ross Creek Landing (Tennessee). All four courses are repeat winners, with Old Works and Ross Creek Landing owning the top spot for nine straight years. Arizona had the largest number of Nicklaus Design courses recognized with five.
In other recent Golfweek surveys, Nicklaus Design again dominated. Nicklaus had nine courses represented on Golfweek’s Best Courses of the Caribbean and Mexico, with Punta Espada Golf Club at Cap Cana in the Dominican Republic at No. 1 for the third year in a row. The Best Residential Courses list had 17 Nicklaus Design courses, with two in the top 10. Castle Pines in Castle Rock, Colo. came in at No. 7, and Mayacama Golf Club in Santa Rosa, Calif. came in at No. 8.
To produce Golfweek’s Best Courses lists, a qualified team of 675 course raters annually identifies the best layouts from two distinctly different eras: pre- and post-1960. The exclusive system acknowledges that prior to 1960—the year that separates Classic from Modern—most course designers relied on native contours for course features. After 1960, as the game became more popular, designers began to utilize high-tech engineering and advanced mechanical means to transform the landscape to suit their design.