Golf News for Wednesday, December 7, 2005 | Media

Golf Digest survey names year's best new courses

NEW YORK (Dec. 5, 2005) -- For the 23rd consecutive year, Golf Digest unveils the results of its survey of America's Best New Courses. The newest ranking appears in the January 2006 issue (on newsstands Dec. 13). The magazine selected Bully Pulpit Golf Course, in North Dakota, as America's Best New Affordable Public Course; The Wilderness at Fortune Bay, in northern Minnesota, as America's Best New Upscale Public Course; and The Alotian Club, outside of Little Rock, Arkansas as the year's Best New Private Course; and Dakata Dunes in Saskatchewan as the Best New Canadian course.

A new category, America's Best New Remodel, was added this year to recognize courses that underwent such extensive makeovers that the owners and members consider them new. Brookside Country Club in Canton, Ohio is the category's first winner.

The full ranking and feature story on America's Best New Courses, along with additional course photography not appearing in the magazine, can be viewed now at

More than 150 new and remodeled golf courses nationwide were nominated for this year's ranking. Ten courses are included in each category, including Private, Affordable Public (for those with green fees of $50 or less,) Upscale Public (for those with green fees in excess of $50) and Remodel.

Golf Digest has conducted America's Best New Courses rankings since 1982. Its panel of more than 800 low-handicap male and female golfers nationwide played and evaluated (at their own expense) nominated golf courses that opened between May 1, 2004 and April 30, 2005. Golf courses were rated on shot values, design variety, memorability, resistance to scoring and aesthetics. The average scores for each criterion were combined and totaled to determine the winners.

The Alotian Club, the Best New Private Course, is the first Arkansas course to ever win a Best New category. The club was established by Warren Stephens, an Augusta National member and son of the late Masters Chairman Jack Stephens. While the Tom Fazio-designed layout has similar characteristics to Augusta National, Alotian earned the number one spot "because of its incredible design," says Ron Whitten, Golf Digest Senior Editor. "Nearly every green is visible from the tee, and for the few that aren't, bunkers clearly define and guard target areas that must be hit to see the green. In fact, this might be the most strategically-bunkered course by Tom Fazio in years." The Alotian Club marks Fazio's 11th Best New win.

Bully Pulpit Golf Course, America's Best New Affordable Course, marks North Dakota's first Best New win. Sitting just outside the town of Medora, ND, Bully Pulpit was designed by Michael Hurdzan (a three-time Best New winner) who when first seeing the land "called it the best site he'd ever seen without ocean views."

The Wilderness at Fortune Bay, the Best New Upscale Public Course, was designed by Jeff Brauer, a two-time Best New winner-with his first win last year for The Quarry at Giants Ridge (also in Minnesota and in the Upscale category). Adjacent to the Fortune Bay Resort Casino and Lake Vermilion in the town of Tower, The Wilderness "is as beautiful as it is cunning," says Whitten.

Brookside Country Club, America's Best New Remodel, was originally designed by Donald Ross in 1922. Over the years, tree and bunker issues dramatically changed the playability of the course and architect Brian Silva was called-in to reclaim the original Ross design. According to Whitten, through Silva's enormous bunker restoration to his removal of more than 800 trees, "Brookside looks and feels like a state-of-the-art classic, challenging enough, dare we say, to be the site of a major championship." This is Silva's second win in the Best New ranking.

As part of the America's Best New Courses survey, the magazine also recognizes the Best New Canadian courses. Dakota Dunes Golf Links, near Saskatoon, is the first course in Saskatchewan to win Best New Canadian and is the first Best New win for the design team of Wayne Carleton and Graham Cooke (although Cooke has won twice before). Georgian Bay Club, a private course designed by Jason Straka, an associate of renowned architects Mike Hurdzan and Dana Fry, finished runner-up in the Canadian competition.

Source: Golf Digest