We have reached the time of year when people look back on the past 365 days and do some reflection. I always like to take this opportunity to summarize my year in golf. In review, I have been lucky enough to play some truly outstanding golf courses this year. 2015 was probably the most adventurous golfing year of my life. I played golf in 3 countries and I am currently at 145 rounds and counting. I met numerous new friends, shared hundreds of laughs, and 3 putted way too many times.
In typical New Year's fashion, I have decided to count down this year's greatest hits. I have selected the top 5 favorite golf courses that I have played in 2015. Each day as we count down to New Year's Eve, I will reveal another member of my top 5. The suspense is sure to be obscenely great as the courses are slowly revealed.
Starting our list off in style is Erin Hills. The course will host the 2017 US Open and I had an absolute blast approving the course for Open Play. Erin Hills pulled off a squeaker with so many hot tracks in the running for the 5 slot.
In the end, the variety and interest from tee to green pushed it over the edge. The course challenged just about every aspect of my game and there wasn't a single hole that didn't reach out and grab my attention. "Oh man, this shot is going to be fun" was a common phrase.
The Golf Club at Black Rock roars into the 4th position as we continue the countdown to 2016. Designed by Jim Engh in 2003, the course sits next to the beautiful Lake Coeur D'Alene.
Black Rock is a course that has about 5 signature holes and some of the most unique approach shots that I have ever played. The 11th hole pictured on the right features an uphill approach over several waterfalls. The 13th features more waterfalls and is immediately followed by another great par 3 over a canyon with a rocky backdrop that can generated some interesting bounces.
Although many of the features are clearly man made, Black Rock quickly grabs your attention and does not let go until you finish up on 18.
The home town favorite comes into our countdown at #3. The course was designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr and opened for play in 2007. A mere 8 years later it would host the US Open.
Chambers Bay was heavily criticized for the consistency of its greens and it's appearance on television during the US Open. While, the color of the course and the greens where not as perfect as tour players are used too, Chambers Bay is a first rate golf course and experience. Each green complexes provides the player with a lot of options for creativity and unique short game options. Chambers Bay never lets me down!
While Cabot Cliffs will open for general play in 2016, I was able to get a sneak preview in 2015! Golf Digest's Ashley Mayo did a great job of setting up the fantastic trip.
Cabot Cliffs has already earned high praise as the Best New Course of 2015 and it certainly did not disappoint. The course starts out strong and features plenty of oceanside golf early. By the time you get to 15, you are already having the time of your life. Things go into overdrive as Cabot Cliffs delivers 4 of the best finishing golf holes that I have ever seen. If you can make it out to Cabot Links/Cliffs you will be very glad you did.
Winning a squeaker over Cabot Cliffs, Whistling Straits is my favorite course played in 2015! Designed by Pete Dye, Whistling Straits is a bonafide championship venue, most recently playing host to the 2015 PGA Championship. I would take on the course only a couple of weeks after Jason Day's recording setting victory.
Whistling straits was a thrill from the beginning to the end, there was not a hole that I wasn't thrilled to play. The course makes excellent use of it's lakeside property with 8 holes directly on Lake Michigan. Whistling Straits provides plenty of challenge while still allowing the golfer to make some creative and fun recovery shots. This course is one of the best in the country.