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My 10 favorite 36-hole public golf facilities in the U.S.

Stephan GuertlerBy Stephan Guertler,
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Streamsong resort - Blue golf course - 7th
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The seventh hole on Streamsong's Blue Course already ranks as one of the best par 3s in Florida. (Jason Scott Deegan/TravelGolf)

Every avid golfer needs to play at least 36 holes to call it a "great golf day." Ideally, you have two great golf courses located next to each other so you can have lunch between rounds without having to leave the property.

Here are the best 36-hole facilities open to the public. All of them share one clubhouse and offer two exceptional 18-hole golf courses. Thus, a number of great clubs with 36 holes (like French Lick Resort in Indiana and Giants Ridge in Minnesota) are ineligible for this list.

Most of the clubs listed are part of a resort, and in some cases you even stay on site. No matter which of the mentioned clubs you visit, you can't go wrong playing 36 holes at any of them.

Streamsong in Florida

Streamsong officially opened to rave reviews in January 2013 and became an instant classic. Golf Magazine recently ranked both courses in its list of the top 20 American courses you can play. (You can read my blog about the resort here.) The site is a former phosphate mine with towering dunes, wetlands and more sand than the Sahara. Both courses have a "linksy" layout with wide fairways that play firm and fast. Streamsong's Red Course was designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, while Tom Doak laid out the Blue Course. A new luxury lodge opened in January 2014 and possibly makes this the premier golf resort in all of Florida.

World Woods Golf Club in Florida

World Woods Golf Club, located roughly 90 minutes from Orlando, Fla., has already received numerous accolades. Renowned architect Tom Fazio designed both 18-hole layouts on rolling terrain. The Pine Barrens Course has been dubbed Fazio's "homage to Pine Valley," while the Rolling Oaks Course has a few similarities with Augusta National. Both courses offer a unique experience and are different from your stereotypical Florida resort course. In addition, there is also a nine-hole short course (consisting of seven par 3s and two par 4s) and a gargantuan practice facility that is among the biggest and best in the nation. With green fees less than $100 most of the time, World Woods arguably offers one of the best values in the country.

The Broadmoor (East and West) in Colorado

The uber-luxurious Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo. gives guests access to its golf club, located a short walk from the main hotel. The East Course consists of nine holes that were designed by Donald Ross and nine holes that were designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. It has hosted a number of USGA championships, most recently the 2011 U.S. Women's Open. The Golf Channel's Matt Ginella chose the East Course as the third-best public-access Ross design in the U.S. The West Course sits at a higher elevation, plays tighter off the tee and has more tree-lined holes and more doglegs. The Mountain Course, a modern layout that was redone by Nicklaus Design a few years ago, is situated off the resort property and has its own clubhouse.

Whistling Straits in Wisconsin

First-time visitors think they are in Ireland or Scotland when visiting Whistling Straits in rural Wisconsin. The club is home to two "Dye-abolical" layouts, where ubiquitous lake views are abundant. The Straits Course is constantly ranked among the best courses on the planet and already played host to two PGA Championships. Dye created a faux links on a formerly dead-flat airfield that sits right along the edge of Lake Michigan and has too many bunkers to count (allegedly close to 1,000). The Irish Course is a little less penal and boasts a slightly different look and has water hazards on more holes.

Blackwolf Run in Wisconsin

The two courses at Blackwolf Run brought fame to the town of Kohler, Wis. and the American Club. The club was the host of the U.S. Women's Open in 1998 and 2012. On land once shaped by glaciers, Pete Dye put his very best skills into practice. The River Course boasts an intimidating 151 slope rating as well as tight landing areas, countless bunkers, large and undulating putting surfaces, and water or gorges on the majority of holes. The Meadow Valleys Course is more forgiving but still poses a challenge with many ravines and other natural features that come into play.

Troon North Golf Club in Arizona

Scottsdale, Ariz. is lauded as one of America's golf meccas, and Troon North Golf Club is one of the destination's standout facilities. Troon Golf's flagship property is home of two stunning tracks that take advantage of the native desert flora. The configurations of the 18-hole routings were changed a few years ago, so now you are essentially playing a combination of the original designs. Originally, one course -- the Monument -- was a collaboration of Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish, while the other -- the Pinnacle -- was a solo effort of Weiskopf. The layouts offer spectacular views and target-style golf with forced carries, and they are always in immaculate condition.

We-Ko-Pa Golf Club in Arizona

We-Ko-Pa Golf Club is a 36-hole facility in the suburb of Fountain Hills, Ariz., sans houses. We-Ko-Pa's Cholla Course, designed by Scott Miller, opened in 2001. With the effort, the Cholla quickly became one of the best designs in the state. Miller took full advantage of the secluded, undulating property and built a variety of fun, strategic holes. Bill Coore, who lives in Arizona, and Ben Crenshaw designed the Saguaro Course, which opened in 2006. The Saguaro is a walkable, lay-of-the-land course that follows the natural terrain and awes with a great variety of long and short holes.

Sea Island Resort (Plantation and Seaside) in Georgia

It's no surprise a number of PGA Tour stars, including Matt Kuchar, Brandt Snedeker and Davis Love III, call Sea Island home. Guests staying in the elegant 23-room Lodge have two 18-hole courses just outside their door step. The Seaside Course, home of the PGA Tour's RSM Classic, was originally a Harry S. Colt and Charles Alison creation that was updated by Tom Fazio in 1999. The Plantation Course, redesigned by Rees Jones, meanders through a forest with ancient live oak and cedar and is forgiving off of the tees with its wide fairways. The Retreat Course, the resort's third 18-hole course that was redesigned by Love, complements the other two tracks.

The Prairie Club in Nebraska

Sand Hills, located about 90 minutes south of The Prairie Club, put Nebraska on the golf map. While most golfers will never get to set foot on Sand Hills, they are welcomed with open arms at The Prairie Club. The Dunes Course is a links course sculpted by Tom Lehman and Chris Brands. The layout is marked by dramatic elevation changes, mind-boggling views of the Sand Hills, gigantic blowout bunkers and omnipresent wind. The Pines Course, designed by Graham Marsh, offers a different golf experience. The fairways cut through pines and a few run alongside the edge of the canyon rim. After tackling the two 18-hole tracks, golfers should conclude their day by playing a few holes on the short and fun Horse Course. With huge and rolling dunes, The Prairie Club offers a unique golf experience that is not to be missed.

PGA West in California

This community in the California desert created a buzz when the famously infamous Stadium Course, a Pete Dye design, opened. The penal course is famous for its slope rating of 150, rolling fairways, numerous water hazards, a 20-foot-deep bunker (next to the 16th green) and "Alcatraz," the par-3 17th hole with an island green. The Nicklaus Tournament Course is not for the faint of heart, either. While it is fairly forgiving off of the tee, it is extremely demanding around the greens, boasts two island greens and has a slope of 143. Both courses were the biennial home of the PGA Tour's Qualifying School. While PGA West has three public-access courses, only Nicklaus Tournament and TPC Stadium share the same clubhouse. The Norman Course is located a short drive away and has his own clubhouse.

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World Woods Golf Club - Pine BarrensTroon North Golf Club - Pinnacle Course - 2ndStraits golf course at Whistling Straits - 17th
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Stephan Guertler is a golf writer and a member of the Golf Writers Association of America. He is based in Vienna, Austria and travels the world to review golf courses, destinations and resorts.

 
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