by Jeff Skinner
The fine people at Golf Digest have come up with their “Greatest Courses” list in their May issue. At the top of the list is Augusta National. After watching the Masters this week I can understand how Augusta is ranked number one. It supplanted perennial number one, Pine Valley by a fraction. Pebble Beach is the only public course in the top ten. Since I’ll never have a chance to play any of the exclusive private courses, I stuck to the “America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses” list. I wondered what it would take to get me and a few of my buddies on some of those “public” layouts. I came to this conclusion. These “public” courses aren’t as public as you think and it will take a bunch of cash to play most of these high end courses. Here is a breakdown of the cost of the top ten “Greatest Public Courses in America.” Bethpage Black is the least expensive, but getting out on that baby isn’t an easy task. After I win the lottery I’ll put together a real dream golf trip and hit every one of these.
Pebble Beach Golf Links: Greens Fees are $495 and you have to stay on site at $595 per night, with a two night minimum (2 per room). That’s $1090 per round. One time before I die!
Pacific Dunes: A non-guest can get on for $275, plus $55 for caddie and tip. So that’s about $365 for those ocean-side links.
Whistling Straits, Straits Course: Its $340 to start and a caddie for $60 plus $35 tip, $435 total for a Wisconsin summer.
The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island: Have to stay on site with a package. Cheapest I could get on the website is $374 per person and $120 surcharge for the Ocean Course. That’s $494 and carts are on the paths, always!
Bethpage Black: This is the best bargain of the bunch. Non residents of New York State will spend $125 to play this year’s US Open course (New Yorkers=$65). You can’t beat that!
Pinehurst #2: I could only find Pinehurst Packages where you stay at the resort. Cheapest package is a two night minimum at $393 per person, per night and a $175 surcharge for good old #2. Total = $961, ouch.
Bandon Dunes: Same as Pacific Dunes: A non-guest can get on for $275, plus $55 for caddie and tip. So that’s about $365.
Shadow Creek, Las Vegas: This course is owned by MGM Mirage Properties, the Steve Wynn casinos. The only chance of getting on this is if you are a high roller staying at a MGM property. They don’t have any prices on the website either. If you have to ask how much it costs, you can’t afford it.
TPC Sawgrass, Stadium Course: $375 gets you on “The Players Championship” course. Bring some cheap balls for seventeen.
Arcadia Bluffs, Arcadia Michigan: $180 sounds like a steal after all the others on this list. Not as big a bargain as Bethpage but at least your don’t have to sleep in the parking lot.
I think I’ll start my own list,” The Best Courses For $50 Bucks.” I’ll take the “The Early Bird Special” please.