For the transformation, Pete Dye needed 13,000 truckloads of sand and countless bulldozers to shape this homage to Irish golf along the flat shore. The result is a stunning 7,790 yard par-72 course that’ll test the best in the game. The course has hosted three PGA Championships and is due to host the Ryder Cup in September 2021.
The course is walking-only, so you’ll want a caddy to not only tote your bag, but also help you navigate Dye’s signature visual deceptions. During a round you’ll need to skirt more than 1,000 bunkers that pepper the course, as well as a flock of Scottish Blackface sheep. Though the herd poses less of a hazard than the sand.
6. Southwest: Paako Ridge Golf Club, New Mexico
This New Mexico gem sits at 6,500 feet above sea level, so golfers need to take elevation into account. The ball will fly much farther than when playing in less lofty environments. A scant half-hour drive from Albuquerque, the course is a collection of three sets of nine holes designed by Ken Dye (though he only built the first 18), so plan on a longer-than-usual round. Many of the holes at Paako also feature major elevation changes that’ll add extra calculus to club selection. But the views are sublime, and you’ll want to remember to bring your camera along. Jaw-dropping green complexes and near-perfect conditions set along the Sandia Mountains make Paako Ridge imperative for any player within range.
7. South: Ozarks National, Missouri
The folks at Branson Tourism estimate the Missouri destination is within a day’s drive for 50 percent of the U.S. population, which is part of why it’s a hot spot for family vacations. For golfers headed to Branson, Bass Pro Shops billionaire Johnny Morris has created a slice of paradise. His ode to rustic luxury, Big Cedar Lodge boasts three 18-hole courses, the Tom Fazio-designed Buffalo Ridge; Payne’s Valley, Tiger Woods’ first public track; and Ozarks National.