There are lots of rating systems out there, and they obviously change each year as new courses open, etc. So I won’t reference specific ratings, but just mention that these courses generally are ranked in or near the top 100 in the US or similar rankings.
Pinehurst #2 and #8
Totally difference courses, design style, one old and one new, etc. But I group them because Pinehurst as a whole is just an amazing place. The resort and town are so cool, great service and amenities. I have never felt so comfortable. And it’s incredibly reasonably priced for a high0end golf resort experience.
The #2 course is fabulous because it’s the kind of difficult course I like, not tricked up just hard. I played with one ball the entire round there once, and shot 100. Never out of play, just challenging. Fazio’s #8 is classic Fazio, feels just like Shadow Creek to me, each hole feels luxurious with swooping curves and great foliage.
Torrey Pines South Course
Played most recently, and I loved it. Similar to Pinehurst #2, nothing tricky, it’s right there in front of you but good luck hitting in the narrow fairways and the greens are full of subtle breaks. Can’t beat the views.
PGA West Stadium Course
Kind of the opposite, this course is really tricked up but that’s what made it famous. And at least on each hole there is a way to play it safely. Great photo ops for sure.
PGA West Nicklaus Course
For some reason you don’t see this course ranked in most overall rankings, but I love it, probably like it better than the stadium course. Devilish table-top fairways will grind you down through the day.
La Quinta Resort Mountain Course
Finishing off the Palm Springs route, this is one of the older courses at La Quinta, but it’s a great solid test of golf. The resort at La Quinta is really well done also, huge spa, grass tennis courts, and great villa-style rooms.
Cabo del Sol Ocean Course
A great course, with several holes right on the water (watch out for folks walking the beach). But this one for me is a winner due to the best on course amenity I’ve ever seen – a taco stand at the bend of the dogleg on the 11th hole.
A rare treat if you can get in, it could be the perfect golf course. Tom Fazio is pure genius when you give him an unlimited budget! Picturesque doesn’t even begin to describe it, and the course is always in pristine shape.
Totally different than Shadow Creek, this one uses the mountains and desert with lots of elevation changes and great views. Lucky for me that I work at MGM Resorts that owns Shadow Creek an it’s rated higher than Caesars-owned Cascata. 🙂
Played this with some of our MGM Resorts sponsored golfers. I’d never really played with pros before so that was a treat and the course is unbelievable. As is the tie-breaker green after 18, and the skip shot on the way back to the over-the-top clubhouse.
Got to play for my friend’s 40th birthday weekend. Fun track, narrow and really small greens. No cell phones allowed and better take your hat off in the clubhouse. The soup is worth taking your hat off for.
I’m surprised the three courses at Pauite in Las Vegas don’t get rated – three Pete Dye courses that are everything you can handle with the constant winds. Also there are several fantastic golf courses in St. George, Utah.
I’ve also played these course that the pros play: TPC Scottsdale, TPC Las Vegas, Innisbrook Copperhead, the old Desert Inn.
Courses I should really have played and will hopefully get added: Pebble Beach, Spyglass, Spanish Bay; Bandon Dunes; Wolf Creek in Mesquite, NV; Wynn Las Vegas; Troon North (though I’ve played the Boulders and loved it).