VINEYARD GOLF AT RENAULT, GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP, NJ
The par threes are exceptional at this breezy, somewhat linksy layout near Atlantic City, which skirts vineyards, fruit orchards, blueberry patches and tall trees planted years ago as windbreaks. Pete Fazio, Tom's cousin and Ed Shearon's shaper, expertly contoured the course, which was constructed beside one of the nation's oldest continuously operated wineries (established in 1864). Classic design elements, including diagonal hazards, false-front greens and deceptive "mirage bunkers," are in evidence throughout. Ponds, waste areas and an old sand quarry also frequently come into play.
Architect: Ed Shearon. Yardage: 7,213. Slope: 132. Greens Fees: $69-$89. Tee Times: 609-965-2111, renaultwinery.com.
THE WILDERNESS AT FORTUNE BAY, TOWER, MN
Thirty minutes up the road from his twin triumphs at Giants Ridge, Jeffrey Brauer has given birth to a Bunyanesque course on the pastoral shores of Lake Vermilion. Built by the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa Indians to augment their casino resort, this rugged, rolling track, framed by towering pines and granite outcrops, skirts one of the continent's prettiest lakes, a body of water that brims with trophy walleyes. The layout itself brims with watery carries, strategic cross-bunkers and risk-reward split fairways—for those who like to take their gambling ways onto the golf course.
Architect: Jeffrey Brauer. Yardage: 7,207. Slope: 144. Greens Fees: $50-$75. Tee Times: 800-992-4680, thewildernessgolf.com.
THE ALOTIAN CLUB, ROLAND, AR
Built by Little Rock banker Warren Stephens on a vast tract of hilly land west of town, this estimated $18 million, invitation-only club boasts temperature-control systems beneath each green and scenic views of the Ouachita Mountains. Tom Fazio moved 1.5 million cubic yards of dirt to soften the rugged site and bring a bit of Augusta National to Arkansas.
Architect: Tom Fazio. Yardage: 7,405. Slope: Not yet established. Memberships: 501-379-2568.
THE BLESSINGS GOLF CLUB, FAYETTEVILLE, AR
This dramatic spread, conceived by John Tyson (think chicken), is home of the golf teams of the University of Arkansas. Clear Creek, a lazy river, bisects this demanding shot-maker's course. Trees sprout from cliffs, drops exceed 140 feet. Rock blasting was kept to a minimum— except at the jaw-dropping par threes.
Architect: Robert Trent Jones Jr. Yardage: 7,527. Slope: Not yet established. Memberships: 479-444-6330.
BULL'S BRIDGE GOLF CLUB, KENT, CT
Tucked in the foothills of the Berkshires, this gorgeous layout, occupying 391 acres, glides across ridges and drops into pocket valleys. Reconstructed stone walls, wetlands and diverse vegetation—mountain laurel, yellow birch, oaks and maples—line the roller-coaster fairways. Fall brings a blaze of russet and gold.
Architect: Tom Fazio. Yardage: 6,992. Slope: 134.Memberships: 860-927-7135, bullsbridgegc.org.
HAMMOCK BAY GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB, NAPLES, FL
The design team of Jacobsen-Hardy (Redstone Golf Club, Moorpark Country Club) has again constructed a modern classic, this one a desert-meets-Florida design with island-style fairways awash in coquina shell-filled waste areas. On the fringes of the Ten Thousand Islands, south of Naples, Hammock Bay features one of the highest golf course elevations in the region, parading players past marshes and mangroves along McIlvane Bay, an estuary of the Gulf of Mexico that usually produces a pleasant breeze.
Architects: Peter Jacobsen and Jim Hardy. Yardage: 6,912. Slope: 134. Memberships: 239-394-4811.
HUALALAI GOLF CLUB, KA'UPULEHU-KONA, HI
After 120,000 tons of topsoil were spread over a Big Island lava flow, Tom Weiskopf crafted a stark, links-style design with staggered island tees adrift in the licoriceblack lava, the fairways staked out by flashed-face bunkers filled with silica sand from China. This sleight-of-hand design looks next to impossible but plays only slightly tougher than Hualalai's preexisting semi-private course laid out by Tom's old rival, Jack Nicklaus.
Architect: Tom Weiskopf. Yardage: 7,250. Slope: Not yet established. Memberships: 808-325-8480.
JACK NICKLAUS SIGNATURE COURSE, THE CLUB AT PRONGHORN, BEND, OR
Nine peaks in the Cascades, including the frosted cone of Mount Bachelor, loom into view from this high-desert links paved through lava-rock outcrops and flanked by the nation's largest juniper forest. The variety of green shapes is exceptional. Well-placed bunkers, many trimmed with rock and sagebrush, appear to have emerged on their own.
Architect: Jack Nicklaus Signature. Yardage: 7,381. Slope: 144. Memberships: 800-541-9424, pronghornclub.com.
OLD GREENWOOD, TRUCKEE, CA
Blazing a new trail in the High Sierras, the Golden Bear has fashioned a mountain masterpiece in the historic North Lake Tahoe town of Truckee. Set at 6,200 feet, the course—the centerpiece of a 600-acre, four-season community—winds through towering pines and firs and slaloms through narrow valleys. The short par fours are clever, the risk-reward par fives are textbook. The par-four sixteenth, overlooking the Truckee River and Northstar ski resort, is one of the prettiest holes in the American West.
Architect: Jack Nicklaus Signature. Yardage: 7,518. Slope: 146. Memberships: 530-550-7010, ddgreenwood.com.
THE PINE CANYON CLUB, FLAGSTAFF, AZ
This picturesque, player-friendly layout boasts broad fairways, open-entry greens and a pleasant year-round climate. Located seven thousand feet above sea level in Flagstaff, two hours north of Phoenix, it's a versatile test with stellar views of the San Francisco Peaks. Although woven through the elevated ponderosa-pine forest, the routing remains eminently walkable.
Architect: Jay Morrish. Yardage: 7,223. Slope: 132. Memberships: 866-779-5700, pinecanyon.net.
TRUE NORTH GOLF CLUB, HARBOR SPRINGS, MI
Set among glacier-carved hills and deep-cut valleys minutes from Little Traverse Bay, True North is a giddy, rollicking ride through the north woods. Dramatic elevation changes and Jim Engh's recessed bunkers mark the layout, which careers through a thick forest of pines and hardwoods. Views from the skybox tees are a match for the challenge. With only seventy-two homesites sprinkled among the club's 320 acres, the experience at this Audobon International Silver Signature course is pure.
Designer: Jim Engh. Yardage: 7,003. Slope: 142. Memberships: 800-878-3667, truenorthgolf.com.
TURNER HILL GOLF CLUB, IPSWICH, MA
Situated on a magnificent 300-acre estate on Boston's North Shore, Turner Hill is like a beefy Brookline Country Club. Sheltered on three sides by a state forest, the layout rambles across heaving terrain dotted with hardwoods. Bunkers are forbidding; greens, lightning-fast. Of the six landmark buildings on-site, most impressive is the large brick mansion that rises behind the seventeenth green. Architects: Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry. Yardage: 7,021. Slope: 138. Memberships: 978-256-7070, turnerhill.com.