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The 6 Most American Golf Courses In America

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As we head into Independence Day, a quick question for you:

What’s as American than freedom, fireworks and apple pie?

That’s right: golf.

Consider this – since 1900, only four American presidents have been non-golfers: Theodore Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, Harry Truman and Jimmy Carter. Our last three Commanders-in-Chief have been arguably the most avid players since Eisenhower.

Now, our Founding Fathers may not have had the chance to hit the links, but we’d like to think they would approve of the way in which the game tends to treat everyone the same, with hard work being rewarded but the pursuit of improvement never finished…

Clearly the developers of a number of golf courses and resorts have felt this way over the years. As a result, we have a number of one-off courses and large resorts across the country where names, locations and iconography come together to nod to or express a deep connection to America and American history. If you’re wanting to feel that surge of American pride while you stride to the first tee, here are seven courses and resorts that come highly recommended:

The One-Offs

1. Cowboys Golf Club

One of the most American courses you can find lies deep in the heart of Texas. (Cowboys Golf Club)

One of the most American courses you can find lies deep in the heart of Texas. (Cowboys Golf Club)

Since the Dallas Cowboys fancy themselves “America’s Team” in the NFL, this list cannot be complete without us mentioning their namesake golf course. And even if you’re not a fan of the team, we recommend a visit should you find yourself in Dallas. The Jeff Brauer-designed course is open to the public, and this being an extension of the flash of “Jerry World,” one does not so much pay a green fee as play the course as part of a “VIP Package,” which includes the day’s golf, cart fee, range balls, as well as food and non-alcoholic beverage service.

2. Old American Golf Club – The Colony, Texas

Located about a half hour north of DFW Airport is Old American Golf Club. That name reflects a somewhat quirky but nonetheless charming embrace of Americana on the part of the club’s founders and designers Tripp Davis and Justin Leonard. Davis and Leonard, for their part, patterned the 18 holes after the work of such American “Golden Age” golf course architects as A.W. Tillinghast, Seth Raynor, Donald Ross and Perry Maxwell. The result is a course ranked fifth among all public courses in the Lone Star State. To accentuate the rustic bent of the course, there is a refurbished livestock barn on the property that was built in Michigan in the 1920s and subsequently relocated to the course. Golfers pass over an iron bridge made in Pennsylvania in 1900 and previously used as a passageway from Texas to Oklahoma, on the front nine. A 48-star American flag hangs in the restaurant. Much like the country where it resides, Old American Golf Club is a patchwork of sorts.

3. The Links at Gettysburg – Gettysburg, Penn.

It takes about 20 minutes to drive from the Gettysburg National Military Park battlefield site to this Lindsay Ervin-designed course, or about ten recitals of the Gettysburg address. The course itself is a good one – garnering 4 1/2 stars on Golf Digest‘s “Places to Play” list, but we wouldn’t recommend you schedule a trip to see it. That said, it is a nice addition to any tour of Civil War battlefield sites, a summer activity we recommend. The par-5 18th hole is memorable, with its green backed by a large red rock ledge, with the clubhouse perched up above.

The Resorts

4. The Greenbrier – White Sulphur Springs, W.V.

As far as American resorts with golf go, The Greenbrier, host to this week’s PGA Tour event, wins our compliments as being the “most American golf resort in America,” less for its three golf courses than for what lies beneath its stately Old White Hotel. There, an underground bunker meant to house the U.S. government in the event of nuclear war was built in 1958 and maintained in secret until 1995, when it was decommissioned. Tours of the “Bunker,” as its called, are available to Greenbrier guests and the general public.

5. Bedford Springs Resort – Bedford, Penn.

Historic Bedford Springs Resort has hosted presidents spanning nearly two centuries. Its golf course is a stunner, too. (Bedford Springs Resort)

Historic Bedford Springs Resort has hosted presidents spanning nearly two centuries. Its golf course is a stunner, too. (Bedford Springs Resort)

Bedford Springs dates to 1796, when Dr. John Anderson purchased the property after learning of the healing and calming powers of the nearby natural springs. But its major role in American history is as a host of numerous presidents. James Polk began the tradition in 1848, and the likes of Taylor, Buchanan, Taft, Harding and Eisenhower continued it into the 20th century. The later visitors among them, particularly the golf-mad Taft and Eisenhower, had the opportunity to play the course, which Spencer Oldham laid out in 1895 and over whose design both A.W. Tillinghast and Donald Ross exerted heavy influence.

6. The American Club Resort – Kohler, Wisc.

This resort – one of our favorites for striking a balance between excellent golf and accommodations – has the name to be on this list, but it also has a thoroughly American origin story. The early American Club served as a lodging for new immigrants who had come to America to work for the burgeoning Kohler company, which for decades has made some of the finest home fixtures money can buy. Kohler – company, town, destination – in many ways represents the realized American Dream. Where better to play golf and appreciate one of the sources of America’s greatness?

Another resort that comes to mind is The Balsams, located in Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, where the nearby townspeople have the distinction of being the first to cast in-person ballots in presidential primary and election years. However, the resort is currently closed and reportedly awaiting more than $140 million in renovations which are set to begin this fall. If and when the Balsams reopens, it will belong on this list as well.

Finally, in honor of Independence Day, we’d be remiss not to mention Independence Golf Club, a public course on the outskirts of Richmond. Independence was originally designed by Tom Fazio, but in 2014 Lester George and his design team completed a significant renovation project that breathed new life into the layout, which had been criticized for being unfriendly to the higher-handicap, senior and female player. Now, Independence is a little less heavily bunkered and its greens are more open in front, which gives all visitors a little bit fairer shot. Best of all, green fees peak at only $70 on weekends. And for younger or beginning golfers, there’s a nine-hole par three course on property. The name is really the whole connection here, but the facility’s approach is noteworthy and a good model for future public golf development in the U.S.

Have any other suggestions for extra-American golf courses and resorts? Let us know in the comments!

29 Comments

  1. Patrick Henry

    July 3, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    Great list, but I am a little surprised you missed Patriot Hills, which is right in your backyard, Craig!

    “Give me 4 hour rounds, or give me death!”

  2. Stilltrying

    July 3, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    Marine Corp Medal of Honor course @ Quantico, Virginia

  3. albert griffin

    July 3, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    The Eisenhower at The Air Force Academy and The Fort at Indianapolis,In.

  4. David Stone

    July 3, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    Old American is a great track. Unfortunately, with all the rain we have had in the last few months, the course is under water. It is really tragic. Not sure it will recover. Hopefully, they can “rebuild” once Lewisville Lake recedes.

  5. Brian Furey

    July 3, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    Winter Park Country Club – Winter Park, FL

    WPCC is a 9 hole municipal course, located in beautiful residential Winter Park, Florida. This 100 year old course has hosted legendary golfers such as Sam Snead, Ben Hogan and Winter Park resident Nick Faldo.
    It’s very affordable, and player friendly to all age and skill levels.
    “Come for a Walk in the Park”!

  6. Steve

    July 3, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    I would add the Powder Horn in Sheridan WY, 27 Holes with great views of the Big Horn Mountains. 3 very playable and challenging nines. The Mountain nine is my favorite. The town itself is a classic old western town. Golf in the frontier. I play it every time my work brings me to Sheridan.

  7. Ryan

    July 3, 2015 at 2:06 pm

    Boston Golf Club. They sport the Sons of Liberty logo.

  8. Dave Cox

    July 3, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    I notice you didn’t want to be helpful enough to quote price range, even though you’re sending this ‘cheaply distributed email’ ad to golfers who are most in the disappearing middle class and lucky there’s a public course for the average ‘old guy who couldn’t to play when he was young and healthy, and certainly didn’t want to deny his kids tuition money for overpriced education.
    Yours truly,
    Progressive Democrat

  9. Adam

    July 3, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    If you include Kohler, WI, you would be remiss not to include Hershey, PA.

    And no mention of military golf courses? Where else will people halt play at sunset in order to observe colors (i.e. the lowering of the flag)?

  10. Eric M

    July 3, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    Teeing it up at the Naval Academy on the 4th. God Bless America!!

  11. Roy P

    July 3, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    Any nine hole course as long as you play 27 holes. Nine each from the red, white and blue tees. You might be surprised at how little your scores change from each set of tees!

  12. Barbara W.

    July 3, 2015 at 8:16 pm

    If you want a golf course that’s great for ALL golfers, always in great shape, super friendly people, and really reasonably-priced, you really need to play Tanglewood Golf Course in Quarryville, Pa. A beautifully landscaped interesting course.

  13. Barbara W.

    July 3, 2015 at 8:21 pm

    If you want to play a great course for ALL golfers,always in great shape, the most friendly employees, and reasonably-priced, you really need to visit Tanglewood Golf Course in Quarryville, Pa. Beautifully landscaped and each hole is different. 2 thumbs up.

  14. Pasaplayer

    July 3, 2015 at 10:14 pm

    Two rounds in the middle of America tomorrow: Dismal River, Nicklaus and Doak.

  15. Slivvy

    July 4, 2015 at 6:13 am

    The Patriot GC in Ninety Six, South Carolina was built on a Revolutionary War Fort and battle site. Clubhouse and starting holes on top of fort mounds. U.S. flag always flies proudly atop battlement walls. Great conditions with fast undulating greens.

  16. Alan Perrona

    July 4, 2015 at 8:03 am

    Plymouth, MA is known as “America’s Home Town” so if you are visiting the Mayflower also stop by Pinehills to play 36 on the Rees Jones and Nicklaus designed tracks

  17. D Harris

    July 4, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    I think Dave Cox (Progressive Democrat) needs to double up his Xanax meds. What an angry and sour point of view on a article about golf courses. Typical attitude for those who think the world or even worse the government owes them something.

    Back to the golf courses. I agree with albert griffin. The Fort in Indy is excellent track. Affordable, challenging and beautiful scenery!

  18. J Tanner

    July 5, 2015 at 10:40 am

    Andrews AFB has two nice tracks and a continuous air show.

  19. M Schultz

    July 5, 2015 at 6:27 pm

    The Patriot Golf Club in Owasso, OK. Built to honor America’s Military men and women past and present this beautiful Robert T. Jones, Jr./Jay Blasi course has several elevation changes with fantastic views and immaculately conditioned fairways and greens. It will definitely be one of the most memorable and enjoyable courses you will ever play.

  20. k Goldmann

    July 6, 2015 at 7:53 am

    How about Plainfield CC in Edison, NJ? That’s where the battle of Short Hills was fought during the revolutionary war.

  21. Slammin' Steve

    July 6, 2015 at 5:33 pm

    The Omni Homestead Resort’s Old Course was completed in 1892 and is distinguished as home of the nation’s oldest first tee in continuous use. It had the first round of golf played by a sitting US President as well as purportedly the most rounds of presidential golf (over 20 have played).
    The Homestead, in Hot Springs, VA was opened in 1766 with land granted to the owner from George Washington and the ‘Hot Springs’ were frequented by Thomas Jefferson.
    Beyond the deep presidential heritage, the yardage is 6, 667 from the tips, a course/slope ratings of 73.0/137, hilly terrain with phenomenal vistas, it’s great golf with great views!

  22. Wollard

    July 7, 2015 at 9:49 am

    Pelican north and south courses in Newport Beach.
    Incredible incredible …
    Hills mountains scenery all challenges you could ever want.
    It’s a must on your golf bucket list.

  23. Jim J

    July 7, 2015 at 10:50 am

    The five courses that comprise Bethpage State Park were commissioned by golfing (pre-polio) NY’er FDR as part of what he called a “people’s country club” that even included a polo field! 1930’s socialism aside, you can’t argue with a prez who wanted to put golf clubs in all citizens’ hands. I played the Tillinghast-designed Black Course, the first daily-fee course to host a U.S. Open. God bless America!

  24. Don Rose

    July 7, 2015 at 11:27 am

    The Progressive Democrat forgets to state the obvious reason for the disappearing middle class: The policies of the current administration that he helped put in office. Twice. I have no pity on his golf frustrations.

  25. Bernie F

    July 7, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    to continue J&J’s comments on FDR wanting “to put golf clubs in all citizens hands”, check the opening date of your local muni anywhere in the United States and the odds are that it was built by the WPA during FDR’s administration. People know about his make work projects to help get us out of the Great Depression but few know that building golf courses for the public was a large part of that.

  26. Bernie F

    July 7, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    Any list of most American golf courses should include Leather Stocking at Cooperstown New York. James Fenimore Cooper’s novel the Deerslayer takes place in the area with descriptions of locale that can be recognized today. The porch of the Otesaga Hotel affords a view on the golf course, which includes the place of the climax of the book. Cooper’s description of the place where Hawkeye is rescued from being burned at the stake by the Huron Indians is clearly the 17th green today.

  27. Swordfish

    July 7, 2015 at 4:11 pm

    I would nominate The Grove Park Golf Course at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC. A Donald Ross gem from 1926. The Grove Park Inn (opened in 1913) has been host to 10 United States Presidents. Beautiful Blue Ridge Mountain views….

  28. Alabama Snake

    August 3, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    I agree with one other comment.
    Need to know your audience.
    Need Pricing and consider seniors that are not and never have been CEO’s.
    Come back to the real golfers??
    Have a good day and hittum somewhere..

  29. Dennis Grall

    January 7, 2016 at 12:01 pm

    Island Retreat
    Take a big step back in history and play on Mackinac Island, just off Michigan’s golf gem Upper Peninsula. A War of 1812 battle was fought near the site of Wawashkamo Golf Club, which opened in 1898. A fort from that era overlooking the island and the magnificent Grand Hotel is close to The Jewell, a slick 18-hole course that includes a horse-and-carriage ride to and from the back nine that is barely 20 years old and designed by highly acclaimed Jerry Matthews, who renovated a front nine that opened in 1907.

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