Courses, Destinations & Lifestyles

GolfStyles Competition

GolfStyles Spotlight

Elite 80

Only seven hours separate our southernmost course in Williamsburg, Virginia, to the northernmost in Ringoes, New Jersey. In between are 78 venues that we believe have stayed true to the “upscale daily-fee” concept. Yes, some are getting a bit scrubby and are barely hanging on, but their stout designs have again earned a spot on our annual Must-Play list. In the days of the upscale onslaught, we’d think nothing of driving a couple of hours to experience the latest, greatest. Today, maybe it’s just an hour, but that still gives most players access to a couple dozen darn good courses. As the dust settles on the industry’s attrition, the following courses have survived, and even thrived, amidst the winnowing. It’s time to revisit them, hopefully with the same anticipation we felt when new upscales arrived, or check off those that are outstanding but still unplayed.

ARCHITECTS CLUB
Lopatacong, New Jersey, $$$
Stephen Kay/Ron Whitten, 2001
6,532 yards, 71.5/129, par 71
– An homage to and history lesson of the game’s most influential designers.

ATLANTIC CITY COUNTRY CLUB
Atlantic City, New Jersey, $$$$
William Flynn/Tom Doak, 1897
6,157 yards, 69.6/124, par 70
– One of the region’s oldest, one of it most scenic and a very long “short” course.

BALLAMOR
Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, $$$$
Ault/Clark & Associates/Dan Schlegel, 2001
6,681 yards, 72.7/132, par 72
– Formerly private, it’s big, manicured and secluded with wide fairways and fast greens.

BALLYOWEN
Hamburg, New Jersey, $$$$
Roger Rulewich, 1998
6,508 yards, 71.5/130, par 72
– Nationally renowned, the heathland-style layout is the gem of Crystal Springs Resort.

BAY CREEK RESORT
Cape Charles, Virginia, $$$$
Arnold Palmer, 2001
6,832 yards, 73.2/132, par 72
– One of Palmer’s best, maybe the best, a pretty and peaceful King-sized treat.
Jack Nicklaus, 2006
6,789 yards, 73.0/140, par 72
– Spectacular bayside holes and acres of waste area amid classic Golden Bear holes.

BAYSIDE RESORT
Selbyville, Delaware, $$$$
Jack Nicklaus, 2005
6,835 yards, 72.7/137, par 72
– Three courses in one: the Assawoman Bay coastline, parkland and marshland.

BAYWOOD GREENS
Long Neck, Delaware, $$$$
Ault, Clark & Associates, 1998
6,491 yards, 70.5/129, par 72
– A strong layout, for sure, but meticulous and detailed landscaping second to none.

BEAR TRAP DUNES
Ocean View, Delaware, $$$$
Rick Jacobson, 1999
6,377 yards, 70.4/126, par 72
– Windswept native grasses and, of course, stunning dunes, but player friendly.

BEDFORD SPRINGS
Bedford, Pennsylvania, $$$$
A.W. Tillinghast/Donald Ross, 1895
­6,446 yards, 71.9/136, par 72
– Amidst a breathtaking setting, recently restored to its vintage greatness.

BELLA VISTA
Gilbertsville, Pennsylvania, $
Jim Blaukovitch, 2002
6,056 yards, 68.4/126, par 70
– What makes most lists: strong, straightforward test with great conditions.

BLUE MASH
Olney, Maryland, $$$
Arthur Hills/Joe Hills, 2001
6,502 yards, 71.2/126, par 71
– Ball-busting start gives way to diverse, interesting but still challenging holes.

BLUE RIDGE TRAIL
Mountaintop Pennsylvania, $
Dan Schlegel, 2005
6,602 yards, 72.2/129, par 72
– Three nines, all offering classic well-conditioned parkland challenges.

BROAD RUN
West Chester, Pennsylvania, $$$
Rees Jones, 2000
6,380 yards, 71.5/137, par 72
– Built on a historic, rolling farm, the course offers stunning, over-the-cliff elevations.

BULL RUN
Haymarket, Virginia, $$$
Rick Jacobson, 1999
6,540 yards, 71.1/133, par 72
– The public formula: good layout, easy on the eyes and easy on the handicap.

BULLE ROCK
Havre de Grace, Maryland, $$$$
Pete Dye, 1998
6,907 yards, 74.2/142, par 72
– Holding its spot at or near the top since Day One, has mastered the upscale concept.

CARROLL VALLEY
Carroll Valley, Pennsylvania, $$
William Cobb, 1968
­6,335 yards, 70.7/127, par 72
– A mountain valley course with the rare, but fun, combo of five par 5s, and six par 3s.

CAVERNS COUNTRY CLUB
Luray, Virginia, $$
Malcom Purdy, 1976
­6,304 yards, 69.8/131, par 72
– Traditional mountain layout along the Blue Ridge range is one of the list’s best values.

CHARLESTON SPRINGS
Millstone, New Jersey, $$
Mark Mungeam, 1999
6,374 yards, 70.8/121, par 72
– A park system course, the North layout is a solid sum-of-its parts (holes) success.

DEERFIELD
Newark, Delaware, $
William Gordon, 1955
6,005 yards, 70.1/130, par 70
– The little course that can, this old-school beauty punches above its weight class.

EAGLE’S LANDING
Berlin, Maryland, $$$
Michael Hurdzan, 1991
6,306 yards, 70.5/124, par 72
– An Ocean City star with bay and seashore views laid out by a star designer.

FULL CRY AT KESWICK
Charlottesville, Virginia, $$$$
Arnold Palmer/Pete Dye redesign, 2015
6,382 yards, 70.5/131, par 72
– A bland original transformed into a Dye masterpiece in stately hunt country.

GLEN MILLS
Glen Mills Pennsylvania, $$$
Bobby Weed, 2000
6,646 yards, 71.7/141, par 71
– Awesome layout gives wayward students a path forward with hands-on education.

GOLDEN HORSESHOE
Williamsburg, Virginia, $$$$
Robert Trent Jones Sr., 1963
6,522 yards, 72.1/136, par 72
– Big-time Gold Course on a small piece of land with arguably the best set of par 3s.

GREYSTONE
White Hall, Maryland, $$
Joe Lee, 1997
6,600 yards, 72.0/134, par 72
– Doral’s Blue Monster designer imparted similar themes here, but with elevation.

HARBOR PINES
Egg Harbor Township, $$
Stephen Kay, 1996
6,503 yards, 70.9/127, par 70
– A boardwalk favorite, you don’t have to gamble on excellent conditions.

HERON GLEN
Ringoes, New Jersey, $$$
Dan Schlegel, 2002
6,531 yards, 71.6/130, par 72
– An upscale muni that focuses on only two things: excellent golf and excellent service.

HERSHEY COUNTRY CLUB
Hershey, Pennsylvania, $$$$
Maurice McCarthy, 1930
6,632 yards, 72.0/135, par 73
– Classy and usually impeccably manicured old-school design hits the sweet spot.

THE HOMESTEAD
Hot Springs, Virginia, $$$$
Wiliam Flynn, 1923
6,256 yards, 70.9/130 ,par 70
– Cascades Course is mountain majesty,
a perennial national award-winner.

 

 

 

HOMINY HILL GOLF COURSE
Colts Neck, New Jersey, $$
Robert Trent Jones Sr., 1965
6,456 yards, 71.5/126, par 72
– One of Jersey’s best, traditional RTJ design is part of the Monmouth County park system.

INDEPENDENCE GOLF CLUB
Midlothian, Virginia, $$$
Tom Fazio, 2001
6,687 yards, 72.2/134, par 72
– Standard Fazio: straightforward, tough, fair and beautiful looking. Recently renovated.

INNISCRONE GOLF CLUB
Avondale, Pennsylvania, $$
Gil Hanse, 1998
6,210 yards, 70.3/136, par 70
– This one put Hanse on the map. It’s quirky, short and maddeningly good.

KINGSMILL RIVER COURSE
Williamsburg, Virginia, $$$$
Pete Dye, 1975
6,326 yards, 70.9/129, par 71
– Where railroad ties became part of golf, a gem along the James River.

LAKE PRESIDENTIAL
Upper Marlboro, Maryland, $$$
Landmark Design, 2008
6,725 yards, 72.1/137, par 72
– Big and beautiful with one of the region’s best diversity of holes.

LANSDOWNE RESORT
Leesburg, Virginia, $$$$
Greg Norman, 2005
6,901 yards, 73.5/138, par 72
– Cut through hardwood near the Potomac River, favored by single-digit handicappers.
Robert Trent Jones Jr., 1992
6,560 yards, 72.3/139, par 72
– Once a standout in the region, now an overlooked second course but still top-tier.

LAUREL HILL GOLF CLUB
Lorton, Virginia, $$$
Bill Love, 2005
6,730 yards, 72.1/141, par 72
– Fashioned alongside a defunct jail, a muni that holds its own against the nation’s best.

LEDERACH GOLF CLUB
Harleysville, Pennsylvania, $$
Kelly Blake Moran, 2006
6,624 yards, 71.8/134, par 71
– Classic Philadelphia-area design with peaks, valleys, ridges and defining bunkers.

LIGHTHOUSE SOUND
Bishopville, Maryland, $$$$
Arthur Hills, 2000
6,556 yards, 72.2/133, par 72
– The Ocean City skyline, pristine marshland and perfection from one of Hills’ best.

LINKS AT GETTYSBURG
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, $$$
Lindsay Ervin/Rick Klein, 1999
6,666 yards, 72.4/141, par 72
– Red-rock cliffs, water hazards, hardwood and a back-nine gauntlet to run.

LINKS AT PERRY CABIN
St. Michaels, Maryland, $$$$
Pete Dye/Alice Dye/P.B. Dye, 2018
6,240 yards, 69.5/125, par 70
– Formerly Harbourtowne, the Dye family turned ordinary into an open, instant success.

LODESTONE
McHenry, Maryland, $$$
Hale Irwin/Todd Schoeder, 2009
6,899 yards, 73.3/137,par 72
– An expansive, up-and-down (110 foot drop-shot par 3) mountain-range test.

LULU
Glenside, Pennsylvania, $$
Donald Ross, 1912
6,032 yards, 69.5/129, par 71
– Everybody loves Ross, except for his tight fairways and sloping greens.

MARYLAND NATIONAL
Middletown, Maryland, $$$
Arthur Hills, 2002
6,474 yards, 71.8/135, par 72
– Dramatic elevation changes (mostly downhill), wetlands, water and unique design.

MATTAPONI SPRINGS
Ruther Glen, Virginia, $$
Bob Lohmann, 2004
6,403 yards, 72.4/138, par 72
– Starts tough, stays tough and ends tougher, but all on perfect-lie zoysia fairways.

MOUNTAIN BRANCH
Joppa, Maryland $$$
Jeff Matthai/Davis Sezna, 2006
6,570 yards, 72.8/137, par 72
– Views, vistas, split fairways and darn good holes, not to mention darn good restaurant.

MUSKET RIDGE
Myersville, Maryland, $$$
Joe Lee, 2001
6,450 yards, 71.1/130, par 72
– Devoid of houses but full of elevation change, native grass and fast play.

NESHANIC VALLEY
Neshanic Station, New Jersey, $$
Michael Hurdzan/Dana Fry, 2004
6,655 yards, 71.3/125, par 72
– Well protected greens and pedigree design on a humongous piece of land.

NEWPORT BAY
Berlin, Maryland, $$
Lester George, 1996
6,267 yards, 69.9/119, par 72
– Helped make Ocean City a golf destination, good mix of easy and hard.

OLD TRAIL
Crozet, Virginia, $
Jerry Kamis, 2005
6,176 yards, 69.9/125, par 72
– Perhaps the best bargain on the list, another theater of zoysia and bentgrass.

PENDLETON
Ruther Glen Virginia, $$
Tom Walker, 2006
6,635 yards, 72.8/135, par 70
– Not an easy trek, but no homes, unique holes and the perfect zoysia lies.

PENN NATIONAL
Fayetteville, Pennsylvania, $$
Bill Love, 1997
6,602 yards, 71.6/130, par 72
– The better of two courses, Iron Forge is open and treeless with fantastic vistas.

POTOMAC SHORES
Dumfries, Virginia, $$$$
Jack Nicklaus, 2014
6,355 yards, 71.6/137, par 72
– D.C. area’s only Nicklaus Signature course, very big and very challenging.

QUEENSTOWN HARBOR
Queenstown, Maryland, $$$$
Lindsay Ervin, 1991
6,568 yards, 71.7/132, par 72
– The pioneer in the upscale wave, the River Course is an environmental beauty.

RASPBERRY FALLS
Leesburg, Virginia, $$$
Gary Player, 1996
6,765 yards, 72.7/132, par 72
– Heavily bunkered rolling terrain in hunt country with several truly exceptional holes.

RAVEN’S CLAW
Limerick, Pennsylvania, $$
Ed Shearon, 2005
6,566 yards, 69.5/130, par 71
– With nuclear power-plant views, a tight, mounded and uniquely designed challenge.

RIVER MARSH
Cambridge, Maryland, $$$
Keith Foster, 2002
6,391 yards, 70.5/125, par 71
– Strong Hyatt Regency course finishes with par-5 beauty along Choptank River.

ROCK HARBOR
Winchester, Virginia, $$
Denny Perry, 2016
6,891 yards, 73.4/137, par 72
–The one-of-a-kind Rock Course is a years-in-the-making mix of ecclectic holes.

ROCKY GAP
Flintstone, Maryland, $$$
Jack Nicklaus, 1999
6,563 yards, 72.2/140, par 72
– Heavy duty forested mountain terrain yields to a level but not quite benign back.

ROYAL NEW KENT
Providence Forge, Virginia, $$
Mike Strantz, 1997
6,560 yards, 74.2/144, par 72
– Once teetering on extinction, the monstrous ode to Ireland is love-it-or-hate-it.

ROYCE BROOK
Hillsborough, New Jersey, $$$
Steve Smyers, 1998
6,447 yards, 71.5/130, par 72
– A parkland beauty, complex featues one of state’s best practice facilities.

RUM POINTE
Berlin, Maryland, $$$
P.B. Dye, 2006
6,523 yards, 70.4/118, par 72
– With help from Dad, rebellious P.B. produced a linksy seaside gem.

RUNNING DEER
Pittsgrove, New Jersey, $$$
Ed Carman, 2000
6,758 yards, 72.1/126, par 72
– Maybe the toughest greens in the region, an oversized, rollicking test.

SCOTLAND RUN
Williamstown, New Jersey, $$$
Stephen Kay, 1999
6,516 yards, 72.0/132, par 72
– A links-style course around a quarry with huge waste areas and hang gliders above.

SEA OAKS
Little Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, $$$
Ray Hearn, 2000
6,635 yards, 71.4/139, par 72
– Pine barren holes framed by marsh, native grasses. Massive clubhouse complex.

SEAVIEW
Galloway, New Jersey, $$$$
Hugh Wilson/Donald Ross, 1903
6,011 yards, 69.5/120, par 70
– The original Atlantic City sensation, the short length is protected by Ross’ vision.

SHORE GATE
Ocean View, New Jersey, $$$$
Ron Fream/David Dale, 2002
6,794 yards, 72.8/138, par 72
– On rugged N.J. sandscape, visually intimidating with lots of bunkers and water.

SPRING CREEK
Gordonsville, Virginia, $$$$
Ed Carton, 2006
6,673 yards, 73.2/145, par 72
– Classic championship layout cut through and around hardwood, 18 very good holes.

STONEWALL
Gainesville, Virginia, $$$$
Tom Jackson, 2001
6,582 yards, 72.1/141, par 72
– Lots of houses and lots of outstanding holes, 15th is prettieset approach in region.

SWAN POINT
Issue, Maryland, $$
Robert Cupp, 1988
6,454 yards, 71.2/127, par 72
– Close your eyes and show up in Lowcountry, S.C. Marsh, water and quality.

TWISTED DUNE
Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, $$$
Archie Struthers, 2001
6,721 yards, 72.1/126, par 72
– A twisted designer moved tons of dirt to produce a wind-blown, links-like marvel.

VINITERRA
Providence Forge, Virginia, $$
Rees Jones, 2009
7,087 yards, 73.3/145, par 72
– Note the vineyard on No. 1, then proceed to a very large, isolated challenge.

WAVERLY WOODS
Marriottsville Maryland, $$$
Arthur Hills, 1998
6,640 yards, 72.2/132, par 72
– A rolling romp with twists, turns and tricky greens that often run front to back.

WESTFIELDS
Clifton, Virginia, $$$$
Fred Couples/Gene Bates, 1998
6,496 yards, 71.6/137, par 71
– Still honoring “upscale” with service, conditions and serenity amidst suburban.

WHISKEY CREEK
Ijamsville, Maryland, $$$
Ernie Els/Michael Poellot, 2000
6,525 yards, 72.1/136, par 72
– Despite, or in addition to, the castle, the rest of the design is top-notch.

WHITE CLAY CREEK
Wilmington, Delaware, $$
Arthur Hills, 2005
6,467 yards, 71.7/134, par 72
– Hills made good work of his bad mood; affiliated casino might provide better luck.

WINTERGREEN
Nellysford, Virginia, $$$
Rees Jones, 1988
6,740 yards, 73.0/133, par 72
– Three solid nines at the foot of the Blue Ridge mountains with the resort above.

THE WOODS
Hedgesville, West Virginia, $
Ray Johnston, 1993
6,041 yards, 68.3/113, par 72
– The owner designed the mountain resort course to be fun and fair, and it is.

WORTHINGTON MANOR
Urbana, Maryland, $$$
Ault, Clark & Associates, 1998
6,525 yards, 72.4/137, par 72
– Requires precise approaches from slanted fairways to well groomed and fast greens.

WYNCOTE
Avondale, Pennsylvania, $$$
Ault, Clark & Associates, 1993
6,690 yards, 72.2/128, par 72
– One of a thousand Scottish links impressions and one of a few to get it right.


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