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Great Nine-Hole Golf Courses: Reader Picks

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Last week, we published a list of 13 notable nine-hole golf courses in the U.S.

The response was tremendous. And because Golf Vacation Insider readers are the most well-traveled and best-informed golfers on the planet, dozens of them weighed in to let us know their own favorites, which didn’t get mentioned.

Of these, the most popular unlisted course?

Northwood Golf Club in Monte Rio, California.

Northwood occupies a doubly unique setting, as golf courses go.

The layout, which Alister Mackenzie influenced, winds through a forest of redwood trees along the Russian River about 40 minutes west of Santa Rosa. You know the aphorism among golfers that “trees are 90% air”? Not true here. The narrow corridors are mitigated by the fact that the par-36 course tips out at just under 2,900 yards.

Northwood Golf Club's redwood-lined corridors are majestic. (Northwood Golf Club)

Northwood Golf Club’s redwood-lined corridors are majestic. (Northwood Golf Club)

The other interesting geographical feature? Across the river from the golf course is the secluded, secretive Bohemian Grove encampment, where the titans of business and art who comprise San Francisco’s prestigious Bohemian Club gather each year to socialize.

Another observation from our readers?

Here are some other suggestions, per our loyal readers:

From reader Norman Davis…

Your selection of 9 hole courses appears very parochial. We have a great many in the U.K which stand comparison with any 9 hole course anywhere.

Norman nominated his own home course, Sutton Bridge in South Lincolnshire, England. Another notable British nine is Royal Worlington and Newmarket, known as “The Sacred Nine” by its acolytes, which include the University of Cambridge golf team.

(Cruit Island Golf Club)

(Cruit Island Golf Club)

Other courses we’d include with these:

  • Musselburgh Links – Edinburgh, Scotland, U.K. One of the ancient early sites of the Open Championship (hosted 1874 and 1889) plays both inside and outside the oval of an even more venerable racetrack.
  • Isle of Harris Golf Club – Isle of Harris, Scotland, U.K. As tough to get to as most any course on the planet, this little nine in the Outer Hebrides, known as “Scarista” to locals, rewards visitors with some spectacular views of the northern Atlantic.
  • Cruit Island Golf Club – Cruit Island, County Donegal, Ireland. This links occupies a windy, stunning tract of land off the Emerald Isle’s northwest coast. FYI, “Cruit” is pronounced “crooch.”
  • Golfclub Nordeney – Nordeney, Germany. This southward-facing course on the island for which its named is regarded as the country’s only true links.
  • Royal Krakow Golf & Country Club – Krakow, Poland. Poland is not known as a golf hotbed, but this course located on former royal hunting grounds comes highly recommended by reader Constant Thunnissen.
  • King’s Cove Club – Metung, Victoria, Australia. This seaside course, about four hours east of the golf-rich Melbourne area, is reputed to be one of Australia’s best nine-holers.
Scarista's rough-and-tumble links is a joy to play...just not on Sundays (Wikimedia Commons)

Scarista’s rough-and-tumble links is a joy to play…just not on Sundays (Wikimedia Commons)

If you have other international nine-holer nominations, please leave them below in the comments!

Back stateside, a couple of our readers brought up Whitinsville Golf Club in Northbridge, Massachusetts. This superb Donald Ross nine-holer didn’t make our list because it’s private, but I have heard reports that it may be publicly accessible at certain times. If you’re a member of a private club and find yourself in the Boston area, it certainly may be worth asking your pro to place a call to arrange a round on your behalf.

Here are some other private nine-hole courses in the U.S.

Waupaca Country Club's finisher is a fun, through-the-chute short par four.

Waupaca Country Club’s finisher is a fun, through-the-chute short par four.

  • The Dunes Club – New Buffalo, Mich. Every avid golfer is familiar with Bandon Dunes, the sublime Oregon coast resort developed by Mike Keiser. But The Dunes Club was Keiser’s first foray into golf. It’s a quiet club devoted totally to golf, and a rare nine-holer where variety abounds. Not only are there alternate sets of tees for one’s second loop, but the maintenance staff is known to change hole locations in between groups rounds in order to offer a different look.
  • Waupaca Country Club – Waupaca, Wisc. I can personally vouch for the charm of this quiet club in central Wisconsin. I played it last summer on the way to Sand Valley and consider my 90-minute stroll there one of my golf highlights of 2016. A river winds through the course, and the finishing hole is a fun driveable par four. It was laid out in the 1920s by Jack Burns, who worked for Donald Ross.
  • Hooper Golf Club – Walpole, N.H. New Hampshire is not blessed with an abundance of knockout golf, but Hooper is one of its bright spots. It was designed by Wayne Stiles and John Van Kleek, a pair of classic architects known for their work in New England and New York.
  • North Haven Golf Club – North Haven, Maine. One does not get to this island in the Penobscot Bay by accident. But if you’re heading there with your golf clubs, you can expect to be welcomed to play this nominally private, century-old nine-hole club designed by the aforementioned Wayne Stiles.
  • Sunnylands Golf Club – Rancho Mirage, Calif. Unless you’re extremely well-connected – like Presidents Drwight Eisenhower and Barack Obama – you’re not likely to be invited to play this course on the former estate of the late magazine magnate Walter Annenberg. But you can catch glimpses of it while visiting the estate and its lavish gardens.
  • Gibson Island Club – Gibson Island, Mary. This summer retreat is beloved of well-heeled Washingtonians and Baltimoreans, who enjoy its nine-hole Seth Raynor-designed course.

Finally, here are some recommendations for other public-accessible nine-hole golf courses, in the words of your fellow readers:

Reader Jim M. says…

[Sinnissippi] Golf Couse in Rockford, IL is a great course. 3200 yards 35.6 course with 119 slope. 3 holes have challenging hills, ost of the others have length challenges.

Reader Peter Cazzolla says…

You missed a gem in ” Old Brockway” Golf Course, Kings Beach, California. It was built in 1924, on Lake Tahoe, by a noted architect, and was the sight of the first 2 Bing Crosby hosted events, attended by the ” Rat Pack” in 1935 and 1936. Crosby moved his event San Diego in 1937 then eventually to Pebble Beach. A beautiful track cut through the tall Sierra pines with views of Lake Tahoe…

Reader Dalton Tong says…

May I suggest another “gem” of a great nine hole course? It’s Carroll Park in Baltimore Md. Has a rich tradition of having attracted a variety of celebs when it was a “12 hole” course, and has since reorganized into a popular 9 hole track in downtown Baltimore. It attracts professionals from all over, and boasts convenient hours,easy access, well kept greens, affordable pricing, and a consumer sensitive staff. Would highly recommend adding it to your list.

Reader David Rafus says…

I would include Highlands on Cape Cod with its timelessness and the National Seashore…[t]he second is Great Dunes on [Jekyll] Island, GA with some of the smallest greens you’ll find. So much history, personality, and enjoyment

Reader Buzz Reinhart says…

Somewhat surprised Wawashkamo on Mackinac Island, Michigan was not mentioned. Located off of British Landing Road, virtually in the center of the Island – this links style 9 hole golf course has many holes with hilly terrain, tight fairways, and rather small greens. If you are a golf enthusiast or a even history buff type, you may want to consider teeing it up for a round here…

To see more of these suggestions and comments, check out last week’s tip. And if you’ve got a favorite nine-hole golf course you haven’t seen mentioned, let us know below!

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