Everybody gets all excited when Golf Digest comes out with its golf course rankings, and with good reason. Golf Digest is the unofficial bible of golf and its rankings are well-researched and reliable.
That doesn't mean the magazine is infallible, though. It ranked only five Florida courses in its top 100 public courses. The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass is ninth on the list, same as last time. The Ocean Course at Hammock Beach moved up from 44th to 38th and World Woods dropped from 46th to No. 55. Camp Creek, in a tie for 48th, was ranked for the first time as was the Copperhead at Innisbrook, at 93rd. Copperhead, which has been praised by PGA Tour pros for years, should have been included much earlier, and at a higher position.
And there should have been more Florida courses. I've played many of Golf Digest's top 100 public courses across the country and there are a dozen or more in Florida that are better. Do I say that because I live in Florida? No. Well, maybe. In any case, I don't mean to demean the courses that are included, but these Florida courses are better.
I would have included at the least these Florida courses in the top 100 public courses in the country:
- Bay Hill. Arnold Palmer's PGA Tour-worthy layout is certainly one of the best in the country.
- Orange County National, Crooked Cat. The back nine here is as exciting as any nine in Florida.
- Southern Dunes. A work of art, one of Steve Smyer's best designs.
- PGA National, Champion Course. One of the most challenging courses anywhere, especially the renowned Bear Trap.
- Victoria Hills. Every hole on this beauty stands out.
- Sandestin, Raven. Wide landing areas, undulating greens and a beautiful collection of par-3 holes.
- Doral, Blue Monster. Classic, Florida golf that has been toned down somewhat, but still challenges the pros every year.
Please see the slide show below of these exceptional tracks: