Golf Blog

Goat Caddies!

When I first heard that there was a magical place in Oregon where goats carry your golf clubs, I stopped everything that I was doing and booked my trip immediately. Yes, that’s right, they have goat caddies in Oregon. In case I don’t have your attention I will type it in capital letters…. GOAT CADDIES. The good news is that these goat caddies do not come alone. At Silvies Valley Ranch you have first class hospitality, a massive cattle ranch, and 4 different golf courses. Oh and also, caddies that are goats… GOAT CADDIES.

Bruce the goat caddie gives me the stink eye after a missed short putt.

Bruce the goat caddie gives me the stink eye after a missed short putt.

To fully understand the story of the goat caddies, we must first go back to the 1880’s when a French Trapper named Silvie entered the land that would later become Silvies Valley Ranch. He had come not for goats, but to trap the go to commodity of the 1880’s… beaver. The removal of these beaver would shape the landscape over the next 120 years eventually making way for the Campbell family to purchase the property in 2007. Over the last dozen years or so, the 60 square mile ranch has been ecologically restored and countless improvements have been made.

One of those improvements is the establishment of a very unique golf resort. Located in the remote town of Seneca, Oregon, Silvies has created a wildly fun an interesting place to play golf. Unfortunately, the ranch is not an easy place to get to, but once you arrive on the property, you will be instantly glad that you and your friends made the voyage. The staff immediately welcomes you to the property and makes you feel like you are part of the family.

With a dining lodge, spa, and spacious rooms, the golfer has everything that they need for several days of golf and related shenanigans. Each guest has their own personal golf cart to drive around the property and since there is no cell phone coverage, they give you walkie talkies to request anything that you might need from the staff during your visit. We used it to broadcast movie quotes and have conversations like this classic exchange from the movie Airplane. I am not joking.

Now, when I mentioned four different golf courses at the beginning of this post, I was serious. Not only are the golf courses different from each other but they are different from most of the other golf courses in the United States. Here are the vital stats on the courses at Silvies Valley Ranch.

  • Hankins Course

    • Dan Hixon Championship 18 hole course

    • 7075 yards

    • Played odd # days

  • Craddock Course

    • Dan Hixon Championship 18 hole course

    • 7035 yards

    • Played even # days

  • Chief Egan Course

    • Par 3 golf course

    • 9 holes, 875 yards

    • Goat Caddies available

  • McVeigh’s Gauntlet

    • Challenging executive course (par 2’s 3’s and 4’s)

    • 7 holes, 1177 yards

    • Goat Caddies available

The opening hole on the par 3 Chief Egan Course

The opening hole on the par 3 Chief Egan Course

Sunset on the Egan.

Sunset on the Egan.

On the drive up into Oregon from California I phoned my friend Sean, from BreakingEighty. I hadn’t talked to Sean in a while and I wanted to get the latest on his adventures.

  • Sean: “Hey Patrick, what’s up?”

  • Me: “Ah, not much man, just driving up to Silvies Ranch in Oregon.”

  • Sean: “You’re driving to Silvies Ranch in Oregon? I am driving to Silvies Ranch in Oregon!!”

That is the story of how Sean and I found out that we were on the same Silvies’ agenda for the week. We had no idea that we were scheduled to visit at the same time, but it was a welcome surprise. If there is one thing that I love more than golf it is beating Sean Ogle at golf.

Since we arrived in the afternoon, we started off the fun on the Chief Egan par 3 course. Sean had brought his friend Jamie and we decided to go with a 2 on 1 skins death match. After Sean and Jamie took the first two skins, I decided to get serious and stormed back to win the match with some clutch putting. Sean and Jamie would get used to this sort of devastation.

The 2nd on on the Egan course

The 2nd on on the Egan course

Up next we took on the heart of the Silvies Golf Resort, the Hankins and Craddock courses. Both of these 18 hole championship golf courses were designed by Dan Hixon. Named after the early pioneers of Silvies Ranch, they are also the most similar of the four golf courses on the property. That is because they are played on the exact same piece of land.

Yes, that’s right, I am talking about a reversible golf course. The Craddock course is played on even numbered days and then the routing is reversed and the Hankins course is played on the odd numbered days.

The 15th hole on the Craddock course is the 3rd hole on the Hankins course. It is my favorite green on the property.

The 15th hole on the Craddock course is the 3rd hole on the Hankins course. It is my favorite green on the property.

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The 4th hole on the Craddock Course

The 4th hole on the Craddock Course

The two courses share a majority of the green sites with 27 green complexes in total. The 9 additional greens provide completely unique golf holes for each of the two courses and adds great variety to both the Hankins and Craddock golfing experiences.

The most important aspect of the two designs is that you absolutely do not feel like you are just replaying some of the same green sites. You approach the greens from completely different angles and usually from a different length, making each approach feel like something brand new. It’s also pretty fun to uncover the routing and see just how different the course unfolds playing the other way.

The 12th hole on the Hankins course is also the 5th hole on the Craddock course.

The 12th hole on the Hankins course is also the 5th hole on the Craddock course.

#16 on Hankins or #2 on Craddock

#16 on Hankins or #2 on Craddock

The sun sets over #16 on the Craddock course.

The sun sets over #16 on the Craddock course.

The par 5 5th hole on the Hankins golf course

The par 5 5th hole on the Hankins golf course

The fine folks at Silvies Valley Ranch believe that golf should be fun. The best part about this belief is that they just don’t sit around believing it, they actually do something about it. In addition to the varied golf courses at the Ranch, they also offer a number of fun challenges that golfers can take part in. You can win prizes in the golf shop by accomplishing these challenges. It is a shining example of how to make golf fun.

Nailed It

The 18th hole on the Hankins course is at 5000 feet elevation, it is downhill, downwind, and very dry. If you know anything about golf ball aerodynamics, you know that this is the perfect setting for bombing a huge freaking drive. The hole has been designed to inspire the long ball and if you manage to hit the longest drive of your life they will provide you with a Silvies Valley Ranch “Nailed it” flask filled with whiskey. Since this is golf, Silvies goes on the honor system.

As was expected, both Sean and I swung like a couple of madmen on the tee box and actually made some pretty solid contact. Sean’s drive measure 358 yards and mine came in at…… 366 yards. Neither of us could remember a time when we hit one further so the flasks were gifted upon us.

If you complete any of these challenges, you also get to sign the “Book of Winners.” I signed my name right next to tour player Graham DeLaet… who hit his drive 390 yards.

The “Nailed It” flask on display.

The “Nailed It” flask on display.

One-Putt Challenge

The final four holes on the Hankins course offer a similar challenge in terms of putting. If you manage to one-putt all 4 of these holes, you will earn a round of the course’s signature drink, “The Horseshoe Nail,” for your foursome. We immediately managed to 3 putt like a bunch of fools and spoiled our chances.

Fortunately, the challenge also allows the golfer to one-putt the 18th green to earn their own personal drink. I decided to hole out from off of the green and Sean hit the flagstick to tap in for his drink. I donated my “Horseshoe Nail” to Jamie and continued my journey of sobriety for another day.

One putt the 18th and you are drinking for free in the clubhouse.

One putt the 18th and you are drinking for free in the clubhouse.

Lucky 7

The final challenge takes place on the McVeigh course. Complete all of the challenges below and you get to play for free golf at Silvies Ranch for an entire year. Good luck with #7.

  1. Complete score on all 7 holes

  2. Use less than 7 clubs

  3. Use less than 7 balls

  4. Drink less than 7 beers

  5. Complete the course in under 77 minutes

  6. Birdie the par 2 Bonus Beer hole, (which has a 7.7 inch cup)

  7. Have a score of under 17

No one in our group even came close to finishing within 17 strokes. I don’t think we even kept score. We were too excited about our new friend Bruce... THE GOAT CADDY.

Bruce the goat caddy arrives to the first tee with his goat handler, Hadley.

Bruce the goat caddy arrives to the first tee with his goat handler, Hadley.

From the moment our group set eyes on Bruce, he was immediately part of the team. He strode right up onto the first tee and all of the appropriate introductions were made. This was by far the most excited that I have even been about a caddy (sorry, Shuster). You could tell that Bruce was eager as well, but I got the feeling that he would have been just as content to sit there and eat the bushes for an hour.

By the second hole, Bruce would get into the flow of the round and easily keep pace with our group. In no time, he was handing out clubs left and right while dispensing golf balls like the veteran goat caddy that he is.

I asked Bruce for advice several times during our round and both times he just kind of glared at me. I could read it all over his face. “You know what club to hit Koenig, just step up and pull the trigger, you pansy.” Bruce is a no nonsense type of goat caddie and has little tolerance for indecisiveness. I stepped into line quickly.

Front view: Bruce The Goat Caddy

Front view: Bruce The Goat Caddy

Rear view: Bruce The Goat Caddy.

Rear view: Bruce The Goat Caddy.

Bruce is outfitted with a custom made double bag goat saddle from Seamus Golf. It has got all of the pouches and accessories that one would want from their caddy. We only put 6 clubs in each of Bruce’s bags and they fit nicely. Bruce carried it with ease.

Even though Bruce was stealing the show, McVeigh’s Gauntlet was certainly holding our attention as well. The course is designed to be so difficult that it’s fun. The greens are sloped, tiny, and elevated onto hill tops. If you miss your target even slightly, you will face a tough up and down from a potentially precarious situation.

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The wildly difficult 3rd hole on the McVeigh Challenge Course.

The wildly difficult 3rd hole on the McVeigh Challenge Course.

The view from the tee box on the 1st hole.

The view from the tee box on the 1st hole.

Bruce keeps his eye on the paparazzi as I hunt down flagsticks.

Bruce keeps his eye on the paparazzi as I hunt down flagsticks.

Bruce the Goat Caddy Facts:

  • Bruce has done 4 loops in one day.

  • Bruce does not accept cash tips, he only accepts peanut tips.

  • Bruce has appeared on Good Morning America.

  • Bruce is not easily impressed.

  • Bruce’s selfie game is strong to very strong.

  • Bruce has a goat caddy buddy named Mike.

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Silvies Valley Ranch ranks as one of the most unique and fun golf destinations that I have visited. While the emphasis is on the goat caddies, the golf and the entire experience is first class. As my friend Evan Schiller would say, “Go for the goat caddies, the golf is not baaahhd either.”

I will leave you with the link to my Instagram story on the goat caddy experience. You will want to click on it..

Top 20 Golf Destinations in America

This is the first official pjkoenig ranking of America’s best public golf destinations. I urge you not to take this lightly. All of the spots listed here MUST be considered when planning any proper golf buddies trip. Maybe your brother is getting married, or maybe your best friend from college just got divorced. Perhaps you just want to get weird with your golf buddies. In all of these situations, a golf trip is required and it is a big deal.

For this ranking, only public destinations are considered and all private golf clubs will be completely ignored. When planning a trip for 8 or more golf buddies, It would be foolish to assume that greater than 1% of the golfing population can put together a day of 36 holes at Shinnecock Hills and National Golf Links on Long Island. As you can imagine, this caveat eliminated a lot of great golf destinations.

This list is much more than a quick slideshow of the traditional destinations. This list has been carefully calculated and avoids bias as much as humanly possible. I even managed to overlook the food poisoning that I received at Pinehurst in 2018.

I simply filled in the numbers and let the destinations fall where they may. The list below takes the following 5 criteria into consideration and they are weighted accordingly. The full matrix is at the end of this post.

  • Golf (50%) - As it should be, the actual golf is the most important criteria on this list. Quantity and quality of golf are both of premier importance.

  • Entertainment (20%) - From live music to local dive bars, you gotta find something to do after the sun goes down. A wide variety of options is also important. Not everyone likes to get blacked out drunk and line dance to country music.

  • Value (15%) - Most large groups of golfers span across a pretty good income range. A destination is going to move up the list if you can bring your hilarious, but homeless buddy Steve and still manage some good golf.

  • Convenience (10%) - Getting to the destination and getting from course to course is considered in this criteria. Nobody wants to ride with your buddy Bill while he farts in the car for 7 hours. A lot of big cities were eliminated given the difficulty of keeping the trip golf centric.

  • Golf Experience (5%) - How cool are the overall golf vibes? Does the destination have a fun short course? Are there goat caddies? It is the unique and fun aspect of the game that is measured here..


#20 - Michigan

It could actually be a crime to put an entire state this good at the bottom of any list. However, it is important to keep in mind that even making a list this exclusive is a massive accomplishment. When it comes covering the state of Michigan, you have a handful of great golfing areas. Here are the hotspots.

  • Arcadia Bluffs - perhaps the most scenic golf course in Michigan has a new friend with the new south course opening in 2018.

  • Boyne Highlands - The Heather & Arthur Hills both deliver some heat.

  • Forest Dunes - Tom Doak’s reversible golf course, The Loop, and Tom Weiskopf’s classic design.

  • Grand Traverse - Jack Nicklaus’ The Bear

Depending on how you set up the trip, there can be a decent amount of traveling involved on a buddies trip to Michigan. I scoured the entire state over two weeks on the RGV Tour. Check out the recap here.

The aptly named Arcadia Bluffs in Michigan.

The aptly named Arcadia Bluffs in Michigan.

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#19 - Coer D’Alene, ID

I told myself, I wasn’t gonna do it. Don’t use the floating island green as the poster boy for this destination. But I did it anyways. It’s just such a cool thing that everyone should experience. It’s not just the floating island green that will get your attention, all of the par 3’s at Coeur D’Alene Resort are top notch. A round at nearby Circling Raven makes this a serious destination. Aside from the golf, you have a casino nearby and one of the country’s most beautiful lakes available for water sports. There is also a quaint little downtown for eating and shenanigans. We rocked the karaoke scene pretty hard. You can read about the full experience on the blog recap here.

The floating 14th at the Coeur D’Alene Resort Course.

The floating 14th at the Coeur D’Alene Resort Course.

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#18 - Streamsong Resort, FL

Although this little slice of golf heaven is rather difficult to get to, it holds everything that a group of golf buds could desire. Most importantly, it has some seriously good golf. The new Black course by Gil Hanse adds to an already impressive lineup of the Red and Blue courses designed by Coore & Crenshaw and Tom Doak, respectively. With on course lodging, Streamsong ups the convenience factor with stay and play options for booking.

Gil Hanse’s Black course at Streamsong

Gil Hanse’s Black course at Streamsong

The red course shines.

The red course shines.

The Blue course’s signature 7th hole.

The Blue course’s signature 7th hole.

#17 - Myrtle Beach, SC

For good reason, Myrtle Beach has been on the golfer’s map for decades. With options for beach activities and summer time goodness, you will have a swinging good time in Myrtle Beach without playing any golf at all. Fortunately, there is plenty of good golf to find in the area. Here are my go to courses in one of my favorite states.

  • Caledonia and True Blue - Two outstanding Mike Strantz designs. If you can only play one, play Caledonia.

  • Barefoot Resort - Fazio, Dye, Norman, and Love designs await your golf party.

  • The Dunes Golf & Beach Club - One of RTJ’s finest designs. Private club that allows unaccompanied play through www.myrtlebeachgolf.com.

You can read about these courses and more on my RGV Tour journey through South Carolina.

Mike Strantz’s Caledonia.

Mike Strantz’s Caledonia.

#16 - Kiawah Island Resort - SC

Number 16 on the list is a personal favorite of mine. Ever since I first played the Pete Dye designed Ocean Course as a kid, I have been smitten with the bold oceanside layout. If you only play the Ocean Course itself, your group is guaranteed to have an experience that they will remember for years. Fortunately, the resort has 4 other great options to round out your golf experience with Cougar Point, Osprey Point, Turtle Point, and Oak Point. The point is… there is plenty of good golf to play at Kiawah Island.

Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course.

Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course.

The front nine of the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island.

The front nine of the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island.

Alligators are plentiful at Kiawah Island

Alligators are plentiful at Kiawah Island

#15 - Big Cedar Lodge - Branson, MO

The Big Cedar Lodge in Branson, MO is an up and comer on the list of golf destinations. With a lot of the construction coming in the last several years, the finished product will be a serious golf force on the golf trip list. Check out this hot fire course lineup.

  • Ozarks National - Coore & Crenshaw design

  • Payne’s Valley - Tiger Woods design

  • Buffalo Ridge Springs - Tom Fazio Design

  • Top of the Rock - Jack Nicklaus designed par 3 course

  • Mountain Top - Gary Player designed short course

Since Big Cedar Lodge is technically a Wilderness lodge, golf is not the main focus. A quick scan of the “things to do” section revealed about 20 non golf related activities.

A giant sinkhole has been excavated in front of the range at The Top of The Rock.

A giant sinkhole has been excavated in front of the range at The Top of The Rock.

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#14 - Palm Springs, CA

When you look at Palm Springs from an airplane, you see a desert landscape punctuated with seas of green. As you examine those green seas closer, it becomes very clear what the city’s priorities are. Hundreds of golf courses tell you that Palm Springs love it’s golf. With so many options to chose from, how do you decide? Here are my top 5 public Palm Springs golf courses.

  • The Classic Club - An Arnold Palmer design that has hosted the Bob Hope classic numerous times.

  • Escena Golf Club - A high quality Jack Nicklaus design

  • Desert Willow Golf Club - The Firecliff course is one of my favorites in the area.

  • Silver Rock Golf Club - An Arnold Palmer design set right up against the mountainside.

  • Indian Wells Golf Club - The Celebrity and Players course. You know which one you are.

Silver Rock is one of my favorite picks for Palm Springs golf.

Silver Rock is one of my favorite picks for Palm Springs golf.

#13 - Sand Valley, WI

Sand Valley is a part of the Dream Golf umbrella that includes places like Bandon Dunes and Cabot Cliffs. So it is safe to say that the formula for success is alive and well at Sand Valley. With 2 championship layouts and a short course already in place, this destination will only improve as time moves forward and new golf is added. The lodging is also deliciously close to the golf courses and the dining is just as tasty. On my last visit, I had the cheese curds for three consecutive meals. Check out my full recap from my latest visit here.

Coore and Crenshaw’s Sand Valley

Coore and Crenshaw’s Sand Valley

#12 - St George, UT

Some of the most visually striking golf courses in America are in the St George, UT area. With amazing National Parks nearby, you’ve got a pretty cool opportunity for an all world golf destination.

  • Sand Hollow - The top of my list. The back nine is like nothing else in the country.

  • Wolf Creek - If there is such a thing as a golf roller coaster, this course would be it.

  • Sky Mountain - Sleeper pick alert!! Views this good do not come under $50. I walked it for $32.

  • Coral Canyon - Another good looking gem.

The 14th hole at Sand Hollow

The 14th hole at Sand Hollow

The golf roller coaster, Wolf Creek

The golf roller coaster, Wolf Creek

VALUE ALERT: Sky Mountain.

VALUE ALERT: Sky Mountain.

#11 - Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail - AL

Throughout the fine state of Alabama you will find a sprinkling of high quality golf courses all designed by Robert Trent Jones. It is the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail and It is without a doubt, the greatest value for golf in the entire country. There are 10 golf courses in total and you probably won’t have time to play them all, so you will need to plan your route accordingly. You can read about my selections and the time we spent on the trail here.

We decided to parlay our golf trip with an Auburn v Clemson football game. It was tailgates, Motel 6’s, and too many visits to the Waffle House. It was a slammin’ Alabama good time.

The opening hole on Capitol Hill’s Judge course. One of my RTJ favorites.

The opening hole on Capitol Hill’s Judge course. One of my RTJ favorites.

#10 - The Greenbrier - White Sulphur Springs, WV

The Greenbrier is the oldest resort on this list and it’s a great place to soak up some golf history ambiance with your golf bros. The Greenbrier is the site of the 1979 Ryder Cup and is the old stomping grounds of Mr. Sam Snead. It’s also one of the few places that the public can play an original Seth Raynor design. For the golf architecture fanatics in your group, this should be a big deal.

Head on out to Slamming Sammy’s after your round on the Old White TPC or the Meadows course.

The Old White TPC course at The Greenbrier.

The Old White TPC course at The Greenbrier.

#9 - Silvies Valley Ranch, OR

At Silvies Valley Ranch they have caddies that are goats. That is right I am talking about goat caddies. This fact alone should be enough for you to start planning your trip. But Silvies takes it a step further by providing some incredible golf to go along with those goats. Dan Hixson has designed a reversible championship course that plays wildly different depending on the day. There is also a challenge course and a 9 hole par 3 course. The only bad news is that this destination earns the honor of the most difficult destination to get to. You can read the entire story on the resort here.

Bruce the goat caddy eyes and assesses the golf action.

Bruce the goat caddy eyes and assesses the golf action.

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#8 - Bend, OR

It’s the second destination in Oregon on this list and if you know anything about golf destinations, you know that it won’t be the last. There is a ton of really good golf packed into the Bend area. The top hits are below.

  • Pronghorn Resort - Nicklaus has designed a real beauty in the high desert.

  • Brasada Ranch - When golfing with your bros at Brasada, It’s customary to say “Hey nice shot, Brosado!”

  • Tetherow - You will either enjoy the challenge of this David Mclay Kidd design or you will curse his name and throw your clubs in the lake.

  • Crosswater - A big and bold Cupp and Fought design.

  • Sunriver - Two beauty’s with the Meadows & Woodland Course

You can view the full list of Oregon courses here. I got em all covered.

The Nicklaus Course at Pronghorn.

The Nicklaus Course at Pronghorn.

Brasada Ranch

Brasada Ranch

The finishing hole at Crosswater.

The finishing hole at Crosswater.

#7 - Las Vegas, NV

As much as you might want to ignore Las Vegas as a serious golf destination, you simply cannot do it. Aside from the neon lined fairway called Las Vegas Blvd, there is a lot of high quality golf to be played in the area. Here is my quick list of the places that should be considered on your Vegas golf blowout. I would also recommend throwing your hungover buddies into a rental car and driving the hour out to Wolf Creek. If you can’t find some fun afterwards on the boulevard, then I don’t know what to tell you.

  • Coyote Springs - Underrated Nicklaus course but worth the hour drive.

  • Shadow Creek - $500 green fee and must stay at an MGM property. Time to cash in your blackjack winnings.

  • Cascata - The nearly $300 green fee will set you back, but at least it’s not $500

  • Paiute Golf Resort - The Wolf, The Sun, and The Snow: 3 Pete Dye designs worthy of the 30 minute drive.

  • Bal Hai - Close enough to see the strip but not close enough to slice your drive onto it.

Tom Fazio’s Shadow Creek

Tom Fazio’s Shadow Creek

Paiute’s Wolf Course

Paiute’s Wolf Course

Nicklaus’ Coyote Springs

Nicklaus’ Coyote Springs

#6 - Pinehurst, NC

Even at #6, I was surprised that Pinehurst didn’t finish higher than it did. With the resort recently making improvements to course #2 and the opening of a great little par 3 course called The Cradle, the resort has really brought itself up to speed with the modern golfer. In addition to the resort, which has 9 golf courses, there is also a wealth of other options that I would list as must plays.

  • The Dormie Club - Coore & Crenshaw design. Never heard one bad word about it.

  • Tobacco Road - A bold and fun Mike Strantz design. Might be the most fun golf course in the world.

  • Mid Pines - Donald Ross masterpiece.

  • Pine Needles - Another Donald Ross masterpiece.

Pinehurst gives you a nice little carry bag to use for your round at The Cradle par 3 course.

Pinehurst gives you a nice little carry bag to use for your round at The Cradle par 3 course.

Pinehurst #2 has been returned to its sandy Ross roots.

Pinehurst #2 has been returned to its sandy Ross roots.

The golf in and around Pinehurst will get you excited.

The golf in and around Pinehurst will get you excited.

#5 - Scottsdale, AZ

Golfers like to visit Scottsdale for the PGA Tour’s Waste Management Open in January or Baseball’s Spring Training in March. Either way, Scottsdale is an obvious destination of choice for those stuck in the doldrums of winter across the rest of the country. With so many courses to decide from, I am here to make things easy.

  • We-Ko-Pa - Two of the best public golf courses in the desert await. This is my top of the list.

  • Troon North - The Pinnacle & Monument courses are often referred to as the best public options for golf in Scottsdale. Troon doesn’t disappoint.

  • Wickenburg Ranch - Don’t forget to play the short course, Little Wick as well.

  • Ak Chin Southern Dunes - This one is worth the 30 minute drive.

  • TPC Scottsdale - Go for the final four holes. You won’t remember the first 14.

  • Quintero Golf Club - Some seriously fun and scenic golf holes from Rees Jones

4 years ago, I wrote one of my first blog posts about a golf bros trip to Scottsdale. Read it here.

A double rainbow over the 11th hole at Southern Dunes

A double rainbow over the 11th hole at Southern Dunes

Wickenburg Ranch

Wickenburg Ranch

We-Ko-Pa is my go to option for public golf in Scottsdale

We-Ko-Pa is my go to option for public golf in Scottsdale

#4 - Lake Tahoe, NV

Scoring high in the value and entertainment categories is the stunningly blue Lake Tahoe. However, the location is perfectly suited for a serious golf buddy blowout. Just rent a house in the area on VRBO or AirBNB and golf your little heart out. With casinos in the south lake area and a more reserved, quiet vibe up north, Tahoe works for just about everyone. Lake Tahoe is a serious powerhouse destination. You can read about my latest visit to Tahoe here.

  • Edgewood Tahoe - Home of the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship. A true Tahoe gem.

  • Old Brockway Golf Course - Former hang out of Frank Sinatra & Dean Martin. Scene of the first Crosby. A 9 hole must play.

  • Old Greenwood - A solid Jack Nicklaus design. A local favorite.

  • Grays Crossing - A Peter Jacobsen/Jim Hardy designed championship golf course.

  • Coyote Moon - Some fun holes, some weird ones, great views abound.

The 16th hole at Edgewood Tahoe

The 16th hole at Edgewood Tahoe

#3 - Pebble Beach, CA

With green fees consistently over $300 for the top golf courses on the Monterey Peninsula, this destination does not score high in the value category, but quite frankly it didn’t matter. It’s Pebble freakin’ Beach. Dubbed by many as the greatest meeting of land and sea, Pebble Beach is every bit as good as you have heard it to be. Here are the must plays in the greatest zip code in golf. It’s 93953 in case you were wondering.

  • Pebble Beach Golf Links - Probably worth the $550 green fee.

  • Spyglass Hill Golf Course - I’ve heard many local caddies say that they believe Spyglass is better than Pebble Beach.

  • Pacific Grove Golf Links - The front nine will leave you wondering, the back nine will blow you away. $39 for twilight is a ridiculous deal.

  • Bayonet & Black Horse - Not on the Pacific Ocean, but close enough.

  • Spanish Bay Golf Links - Listen to bagpipers pipe their bags as the sun goes down over the Pacific Ocean.

  • Poppy Hills Golf Course - A renovation in 2013 brought back Poppy Hills into relevance.

The 17th at Pebble Beach Golf Links

The 17th at Pebble Beach Golf Links

The 2nd and 3rd holes at Spyglass Hill

The 2nd and 3rd holes at Spyglass Hill

The 14th hole at Spanish Bay

The 14th hole at Spanish Bay

Pacific Grove Golf Links is on my list of must plays in Monterey.

Pacific Grove Golf Links is on my list of must plays in Monterey.

#2 - Destination Kohler, WI

Wisconsin is the best state for public golf in the United States. It’s got the premier golf courses, the unique courses, and several value courses all in the mix. I just can’t get enough Wisconsin.

Right at the epicenter of the Wisconsin golf storm is Kohler, Wisconsin. You have the Straits and Irish courses at Whistling Straits and the River and Meadows courses at nearby Blackwolf Run. If that’s not enough to satisfy the golfer’s soul, here are 3 other locations that deserve a visit.

  • Erin Hills - US Open stunner

  • Lawsonia Links - It’s gotten some well deserved attention in recent years, but this classic design should not be missed.

  • Sentry World - The world famous flower hole will blow you away.

You can read about my first visit to Wisconsin here.

The flower hole at Sentry World features a new floral design each year.

The flower hole at Sentry World features a new floral design each year.

The 16th hole at Erin Hills

The 16th hole at Erin Hills

The 16th at Whistling Straits

The 16th at Whistling Straits

#1 - Bandon Dunes

At the top of the list it’s Bandon Dunes in a runaway victory. With the anticipated addition of Bally Bandon Sheep Ranch in 2020, Bandon Dunes is only getting better. It’s gonna take a golf miracle to oust this destination from the top of the list any time soon.

Bandon checks all of the boxes and checks them hard. Let’s closely examine the winning performance in our five categories.

  • Golf - Bandon Dunes has outstanding variety mixed with tremendous quality.

    • 4 top 100 golf courses all in the same place.

    • The Punchbowl - A massively fun putting green course

    • Bandon Preserve - The country’s best par 3 golf course.

  • Entertainment

    • The Bunker Bar

    • McKee’s Pub

    • If you are feeling really adventurous you can head into downtown Bandon. Arcade Tavern is where the action is.

    • The fire outside of McKee’s

    • Night golf

  • Value - $250 per round with a replay rate of $125. Your 3rd round of the day is free and Bandon Dunes will give you $100 if you manage to play a fourth round on that same day.

  • Convenience - Not hard, but not easy to get to. Once you are on the property, everything is quick and easy.

  • Golf Experience - Everything about Bandon Dunes is tailored to be about the game of golf. It’s golf as it was meant to be.

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