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America's 10 Greatest Public Courses

1- PEBBLE BEACH G. LINKS
6,828 Yards, Par 72 / Points: 67.5261
Pebble Beach has been the No. 1 course ever since we introduced the 100 Greatest Public in 2003. It's not just the greatest meeting of land and sea in American golf, but the most extensive one, too, with nine holes perched immediately above the crashing Pacific surf -- the fourth through the 10th plus the 17th and 18th. Pebble's sixth through eighth are golf's real Amen Corner, with a few Hail Marys thrown in over a ocean cove on eight from atop a 75-foot-high bluff. Pebble will host another U.S. Amateur in 2018, and its sixth U.S. Open in 2019.
 
2- PACIFIC DUNES
6,633 Yards, Par 71 / Points: 64.9775
The second course built at Bandon Dunes Resort. To best utilize ocean frontage, Tom Doak came up with a unorthodox routing that includes four par 3s on the back nine. Holes seem to emerge from the landscape rather than being superimposed onto it. The rolling greens and rumpled fairways are framed by rugged sand dunes and marvelously grotesque bunkers. The secret is Doak moved a lot of earth to make it look like he moved very little.
 
3- WHISTLING STRAITS (STRAITS)
7,790 Yards, Par 72 / Points: 64.6465
Pete Dye transformed a dead flat abandoned army air base along a two-mile stretch of Lake Michigan into an imitation Ballybunion at Whistling Straits, peppering his rugged fairways and windswept greens with 1,012 (at last count) bunkers. There are no rakes at Whistling Straits, in keeping with the notion that this is a transplanted Irish links. It has too much rub-of-the-green for the comfort levels of many tour pros, two dozen of whom will tackle the Straits again in the 2020 Ryder Cup.
 
4- THE OCEAN COURSE
7,356 Yards, Par 72 / Points: 64.5348
The first course designed for a specific event -- the 1991 Ryder Cup -- this manufactured linksland-meets-lagoons layout might well be Pete Dye's most diabolical creation. Every hole is edged by sawgrass, every green has tricky slopes, every bunker merges into bordering sand dunes. Strung along nearly three miles of ocean coast, Dye took his wife's advice and perched fairways and greens so golfers can actually view the Atlantic surf. That also exposes shots and putts to ever-present and sometimes fierce coastal winds.
 
5- SHADOW CREEK
7,560 Yards, Par 72 / Points: 64.2344
One of a kind, and maybe Tom Fazio's finest work ever. Shadow Creek plays like a musical composition in three movements, with alternating heavy beats and light moments, building to an resounding crescendo. Every golfer should experience Shadow Creek at least once. Few remember Shadow Creek started out as a private course. It was Golf Digest's Best New Private Course of 1990.
 
6- PINEHURST RESORT (No. 2)
7,588 Yards, Par 72 / Points: 63.8172
In 2010, Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw led a team that descended on Pinehurst No. 2 and killed out all the Bermuda grass rough that had been foolishly planted in the 1970s. Between fairways and tree lines, they established vast bands of native hardpan sand dotted with clumps of wiregrass and scattered pine needles. They reduced the irrigation to mere single rows in fairways to prevent grass from ever returning to the new sandy wastelands. Playing firm and fast, it was a wildly successful fortnight when the 2014 Men's and Women's U.S. Opens were played on consecutive weeks at No. 2. Because of its water reduction, the course was recently awarded a Green Star environmental award by Golf Digest. It will host the 2024 U.S. Open.
 
7- BANDON DUNES
6,732 Yards, Par 72 / Points: 63.3655
Maybe not as visually mesmerizing as Whistling Straits (which it beat for Best New Upscale Public Course of 1999), but talented golfers consider Bandon Dunes to be the consummate shotmaker's course, as good a total examination of one's game as there is in America. What's more, the holes are a more natural fit into the windswept terrain than the mammoth-mounded Straits Course. Bandon Dunes is also ranked sixth among our 50 Most Fun Public Courses.
 
8- BETHPAGE STATE PARK (BLACK)
7,468 Yards, Par 71 / Points: 63.2976
Gone are its rock hard tees, gravely bunkers, patchy fairways and thatchy greens. Bethpage Black now has the conditioning of a U.S. Open or PGA Tour stop, both of which it has been in recent years. No need to sleep in the parking lot just to get a tee time anymore (just go online), but you may still have to verify your handicap. As a sign on the first tee states, Bethpage Black is an extremely difficult course recommended only for highly skilled players. The Black will host its first PGA Championship in 2019.
 
9- ERIN HILLS G. CSE.
7,812 Yards, Par 72 / Points: 62.7609
Despite the legend spread by many, Erin Hills wasn't designed specifically to host a U.S. Open. Its original concept was to be a simple, affordable, lay-of-the-land layout that proved Mother Nature is indeed the best golf architect. The concept changed – some greens moved, one blind par 3 eliminated – as the quest for a U.S. Open grew. After trial runs hosting the 2008 U.S. Women's Publinks and the 2011 U.S. Amateur, Erin Hills hosted the 2017 U.S. Open, the first time the event was ever played in Wisconsin.
 
10- SPYGLASS HILL G. CSE.
6,960 Yards, Par 72 / Points: 62.6761
Given the task of designing a course just up 17 Mile Drive from Pebble Beach and Cypress Point, Robert Trent Jones responded with a combination of Pine Valley and Augusta National. The five opening holes, in Pine Valley-like sand dunes, are an all-too-brief encounter with the Pacific seacoast. The remaining holes are a stern hike through hills covered with majestic Monterey pines (which, sad to say, may someday disappear to pitch canker, but are being replaced in some areas with cypress trees). Add several water hazards that hearken back to the 16th at Augusta (a hole which Trent Jones designed, by the way), and you have what some panelists consider to be Trent's finest work. Others say it's the best course never to have hosted a major event. After all, even Pine Valley and Cypress Point have hosted Walker Cups.