The 10 best golf courses designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw (as ranked by Golf Digest’s course-ranking panelists)
By Stephen Hennessey
The partnership of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, the men behind new Byron Nelson home Trinity Forest, has been one golf’s most respected architectural teams for quite some time. And it all started back in the late 1980s, when the pair visited a site for a course that was never built. This came soon after Coore’s first course opened at Rockport Country Club in Texas, and Crenshaw—who had just won the 1984 Masters—was so impressed with Coore’s work, Crenshaw signed up to partner with the former Pete Dye associate. The talented duo has worked together for more than 30 years, producing some of the game’s most revered designs.
Here’s a look at those courses—ranked in the order our Golf Digest course-ranking panelists scored them based on our most recent America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses ranking and Golf Digest’s Complete 200 Greatest International Golf Courses ranking.
10 . Kapalua (Plantation), Maui, Hawaii
Though their partnership started in 1991, this was Coore and Crenshaw’s first completed design. No. 21 on Golf Digest’s most recent 100 Greatest Public Courses and No. 112 on our latest Second 100 Greatest, the Plantation course hosts the annual Tournament of Champions that kicks off the year on the PGA Tour. The course is set to undergo an extensive renovation after next year’s tournament, with Coore and Crenshaw overseeing most of the work.
9 . Colorado Golf Club, Parker, Colo.
Named Golf Digest’s sixth Best New private course in 2007, this Colorado layout is currently No. 111 on our latest Second 100 Greatest ranking. The venue for the 2013 Solheim Cup will also host the 2019 U.S. Mid Amateur.
8 . Streamsong (Red), Bowling Green, Fla.
This Everglades-meets-Ballybunion layout, which is how Ron Whitten used to describe the Red course at Streamsong after it opened in 2013, is the highest ranked of the three courses at central Florida’s new Streamsong Resort. Coore and Crenshaw worked with Tom Doak on which land each would use for their routings at Streamsong, a rare collaboration among competitors, but not surprising given their friendship. The Red course, which debuted inside the 100 Greatest in its first appearance, is ranked No. 102 on Golf Digest’s most recent rankings.
7 . Bandon Trails (Ore.)
Carved mostly out of wooded land though it starts and finishes among massive sand dunes, the facility’s third course, which opened in 2005, is the fourth-highest ranked course at Bandon Dunes—sitting at No. 70 on our latest ranking.
6 . Old Sandwich Golf Club, Plymouth, Mass.
Old Sandwich’s 56th-place spot is the highest place it has held on our 100 Greatest ranking. Carved out of the brush and sand just two miles from the ocean, Coore and Crenshaw utilised some rolling terrain and beautiful landscapes to create another minimalist design (see Sand Hills, below).
5 . Barnbougle Lost Farm, Bridport, Australia
Sitting among towering Tasmanian sandscapes is this links course that was built to be the sister course of Tom Doak’s Barnbougle Dunes, No. 11 on our World 100. Lost Farm is currently No. 26 on our World 100.
4 . Friar’s Head, Baiting’s Hollow, N.Y.
Built on sandy bluffs along the North Shore of Long Island, Friar’s Head is another minimalist success by Coore and Crenshaw, which despite losing out on Golf Digest’s 2003 Best New Private survey to the Club at Black Rock in Idaho and Dallas National, Friar’s Head ranks far above those designs, continuing to rise in our 100 Greatest rankings—up to No. 19, its highest-ever position.
3 . Sand Hills Golf Club, Mullen, Neb.
Perhaps most architecturally significant out of this group of courses, Sand Hills is regarded as one of the most natural golf courses ever built. As Golf Digest’s Whitten writes: “The golf course wasn’t so much designed as discovered,” and helped guide the later works of Coore and Crenshaw.
2 . Cabot Cliffs, Inverness, Nova Scotia, Canada
On Cabot Cliffs, Golf Digest’s 2015 Best New honoree, Whitten wrote: “This is the second coming of Cypress Point, which in my mind was previously unmatched in its beauty, variety and thrills.” For a man not known for hyperbole, that is the highest praise. Cabot Cliffs was No. 9 on our most recent World 100 ranking.
1 . Shanqin Bay, Hainan Island, China
Probably unknown by most casual American golfers, Shanqin Bay has been called by some the best course in Asia. Built on seaside sand dunes on China’s Hainan Island, Shanqin Bay sits at No. 8 on Golf Digest’s most recent World 100 ranking.
Other notable Coore and Crenshaw courses:
Sand Valley Golf Course was named the Best New golf course in 2017 by Golf Digest. It will be a candidate for our next 100 Greatest/Second 100 Greatest rankings, to be published in January 2019.
Trinity Forest Golf Club, site of the 2018 AT&T Bryon Nelson, will be a candidate for Golf Digest’s 2018 survey of Best New courses.
Ozarks National at Big Cedar Lodge—same as Sand Valley—has not yet been included on a published set of Golf Digest rankings.
Dormie Club: Narrowly missed making Golf Digest’s latest Second 100 Greatest ranking, and ranking 185th on Golf Digest’s 2015-2016 ranking, Dormie Club is No. 49 on our most recent 100 Greatest Public ranking.
Chechessee Creek in Okatie, S.C.: Like Dormie Club, made Golf Digest’s 2015-2016 ranking at No. 197, and narrowly missed in 2017-2018.
The Golf Club at Cuscowilla in Eatonton, Ga. — No. 11 on Golf Digest’s most recent Best in State rankings, the G.C. at Cuscowilla recently went full-private, previously being a 100 Greatest Public course.
East Hampton Golf Club: No. 28 on Golf Digest’s 2015-2016 Best in State rankings. Did not make the 2017-2018 rankings.
We-Ko-Pa’s Saguaro Course in Fort McDowell, Ariz.: No. 98 on Golf Digest’s 2017-2018 100 Greatest Public courses ranking,
Austin Golf Club: Ben Crenshaw enjoyed his layout so much in his hometown that he actually lives on property.
Bandon Preserve — The fun 13-hole par-3 course at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort has become one of the most popular rounds to book at the resort.