In an age of golf, when the doors are trying to open and the game is making itself more accessible, Nicklaus Design is making a strong case to the public. In Golf Digest’s just-released biennial rankings of America’s 100 Greatest Courses, Jack Nicklaus and Nicklaus Design had a high of 11 courses make the list of America’s Greatest Public Courses, including seven layouts making their debut or return to the top 100.
In America’s 100 Greatest, which includes all private and public courses, Nicklaus was involved in nine that made the list, led by Jack’s Ohio jewel of Muirfield Village at No. 19.
In addition to the two top-100 surveys, Golf Digest also released its “Best In State” ranking of the top private and public courses in each state. Nicklaus Design had 69 courses recognized, including 23 that made the top five. Nicklaus Design had five courses take top billing in their respective states: Shoal Creek (Alabama); Castle Pines (Colorado); Valhalla (Kentucky); Annandale (Mississippi); and Muirfield Village (Ohio).
Jack’s first design—his 1969 debut at Harbour Town Golf Links in South Carolina—remains a mainstay in both lists, including No. 21 in the survey of the nation’s top public-access and resort courses. Harbour Town was followed at No. 22 by May River Golf Club at Palmetto Bluff in Bluffton, S.C., and at No. 23 by The Club at Pronghorn, which was making its 100 Greatest Public debut. The other new Nicklaus entries: No. 72 Old Greenwood in Truckee, Calif.; No. 81 The Bear at Grand Traverse Resort in Acme, Mich.; No. 86 The Bull at Pinehurst Farms in Sheboygan Falls, Wisc.; No. 88 Bayside Resort in Selbyville, Del.; No. 95 The Chase at Coyote Springs in Nevada; and No. 98 The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va.
The others to make America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses were No. 37 The Challenge at Manele in Lanai City, Hawaii, and No. 38 The Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast, Fla.
The two biggest Nicklaus movers in the ranking of America’s 100 Greatest were Sycamore Hills in Fort Wayne, Ind., which jumped from No. 93 in 2009 to No. 69 this year, and Valhalla in Louisville, Ky., which moved from No. 95 to No. 84.
The other courses to make the top 100: No. 29 Castles Pines Golf Club in Caste Rock, Colo.; No. 44 Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y.; No. 66 Scioto Country Club, Jack’s boyhood club in Columbus, Ohio, which he helped redesign a few years ago; No. 72 Shoal Creek in Alabama; and No. 82 Mayacama in Santa Rosa, Calif.