The 2015 US Amateur is coming to Olympia Fields (North course), a south Chicago track with a solid pedigree of 2 US Opens and 2 PGA Championships. And a striking clubhouse with a 80' clock tower and a spot on the National Registry of Historic Places. Its parkland setting is accented by several rivers, crossed by bridges of a similar curved, simple and tasteful design, and surprising elevation changes. More Long Island than Midwest prairie. It annually hosts a premier college golf tournament, which likely earned it the upcoming Amateur, in hopes of earning another US Open.
Sitting above and behind the famed 16th green at Cypress Point is Boney's Pulpit, the name coming from a member's nickname whose quote of admiration and gratitude is on a plaque next to the 17th tee. Only a stone wouldn't feel something in this incredible setting. Almost completely surrounded by ocean, the rest of the field of vision are sublime golf holes. And wildlife - sea lions, pelicans (a whole colony on the backside), and the occasional whale. Since these holes (including the 15th) are completely hidden from the rest of the course, surprise and exclamations are magnified. And heads naturally bow.
National Golf Links may define the term unique. And incredible. 18 holes based on the greatest holes in golf. Perhaps the best finishing hole and clubhouse setting there is. Rolling terrain with ocean views. And a windmill. CB Macdonald made bold claims about this course. His brashness has been forgotten, but the claims have held up well.
The son of a famous golfer and living next to a course, Young Tom Morris naturally also became an accomplished player. But how good? Was he better than his father Old Tom? How many times did he win the Open? And what is he wearing around his waist? Was he a boxer too?
Alister MacKenzie, Cypress Point's famed architect, actually had a tough decision when building the course. How could he satisfy the critics? And why was that a worry with such an incredible setting? Possible answers with my photos of Cypress Point. Music is Prelude no. 10 by Chris Zabriskie .
A public course in greater Seattle getting a US Open 8 years after opening? Feels like some money changed hands. Until you see it. Rees Jones created a very un-Rees-like layout on an old mining site on Puget Sound. You swear this is a new course at Bandon Dunes, which makes you think you're in Ireland. It sits down in a bowl with no trees on the interior of the course, so there are great views from above, and from anywhere on the course. And did I mention the train? It runs right by the course, and frequently. It could be the most interesting man-made non-golf addition to a course since the windmill at National.
A stunning course on the shores of Lake Michigan in northwest Michigan. Opened just a year after Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, this course also brings links style golf to the Great Lakes. However, the terrain is natural (after tree removal), there is 225 feet of elevation change, and there are sunsets, not sunrises. While remote from Chicago and Detroit, it is also a little ways from the beach and resort towns south and north of it along the lake, making the area and water wonderfully free of others. Having played several of the courses ranked ahead of it, it is very underrated. Water views on every hole.
Ireland in the Sunshine State. This dramatic, exotic landscape is an old phosphate mine about midway between Orlando and Tampa in flat, central Florida whose dirt piles were left untouched for decades. Last photos show the very modern, elegant, Euro-style clubhouse and hotel. Coore & Crenshaw architects.
Built in perhaps the most unique and unusual setting of any course, Wolf Creek is as much fun to play as see. It won Golf Digest's Fans' Choice award in 2011, probably for both reasons. In Mesquite, Nevada, about 90 minutes from Vegas and 30 from St. George.
The feathery ball had replaced the wooden ball, bringing longer distance and better feel. But they were very expensive and wore out quickly, so golf was becoming a game for just the very wealthy (unlike for just the wealthy today). How does a new ball save the day? And who invents it?
With a location between 2 famous and beautiful SoCal Beaches - Newport and Laguna, Pelican Hill in Newport Coast has superior genetics. Add in 2 Tom Fazio courses that have been significantly spruced up and a 5 star resort, and you have a place right at home in an area full of celebrities and glamour. The South course shown here lays closer to the shore, but both North and South provide sweeping ocean views.
In the middle of Pebble Beach, this point sticks out into the ocean, dividing Stillwater Cove on the north from Carmel Bay on the south. It is home to 3 of golf's most famous and picturesque holes. Its scale and elevation change are impressive, as are its views. A long shoreline in both directions is visible from its top.