My 5 Forever Golf Courses

5 Courses for the Rest of Your Life

After playing a truly unbelievable slate in 2018, I’ve been asked many times, “What are your favorite courses?”

Favorite feels too hard and too definitive, so in homage to one of my favorite movies, I’m modifying the question.  If I had only five golf courses to play for the rest of my life (removing location/travel as a factor), what would they be.  Here’s my list, and I encourage you to share yours in the comments section.

Honorable Mentions

Quivira Golf Club – Unbelievably gorgeous and a lot of fun.  Was disqualified because the comfort stations would have me up to 300 pounds if I played there regularly.

Winter Park – If this was a list of courses I admire most or wish were in my neighborhood, Winter Park would be #1.  This is everything that municipal golf should be.

Streamsong – If you told me that I had to play Red, Blue, and Black for the rest of my days, I wouldn’t be mad.

Old MacDonald – Lost a coin flip to Pacific Dunes for the fifth spot.

Mammoth Dunes

The round of golf I played at Mammoth Dunes this past year may have been the most fun I’ve ever had on a golf course.  David McLay-Kidd provides so many opportunities to play bold, aggressive shots that you can’t help but have a good time.  There’s ample challenge along the way, but also plenty of chances to recover.  This choice was never in doubt.

Pinehurst No. 2

The other easy choice on this list was Pinehurst No. 2.  This is a course where it feels like immense thought was put into every inch of the design.  I love it even more for its contrast with Mammoth Dunes – one course welcomes naked aggression on every shot, one demands constant careful shotmaking.

Spyglass Hill

Spyglass was the first big name course I ever played, and it’s a round I’ll never forget.  The course was way over my head at the time (and probably still is), but it has a special place in my heart.

The Sandbox

If I only get five courses for the rest of my days, one of them is going to be a short course, and I haven’t found one better than The Sandbox.  Over 17 holes, you see virtually every type of green in existence, and Coore and Crenshaw designed it so that you could play the whole course with just a putter.

Pacific Dunes

The fifth spot is always the hardest, but it goes to Pacific Dunes for the beauty, the routing, and all the fun shots that Tom Doak created.  Plus, this midwesterner has discovered a love for playing in the wind, so my rotation needed a track that regularly sees serious breeze.

What are your 5 forever courses?

Share them below!

Matt Saternus
Latest posts by Matt Saternus (see all)


  1. Nice list Matt, I love that you chose only public access courses. I haven’t played many private courses and find it over-rated for the most part, so I’m going to stick to public access only also.

    1. Ocean Course Kiawah Island – just incredible location on the firmest fairways ever. Incredible bunkers and greens.
    2. Forest Dunes – natural northern michigan inland beauty with incredible super fast greens and treacherous waste bunkers.
    3. Arcadia Bluffs – incredible coastal michigan beauty with fun driving and green areas that are so tricky, yet fun. Then add up the amazing views of lake Michigan from every hole from on top of a hundred foot sand bluff. Yes the whole course is on top of the bluff.
    4. Candler Hills – this immaculate central florida course is my favorite course for what I like to call a “right there in front of you” course nothing hidden – just straight-forward shotmaking.
    5. Springfield Oaks – this is my muni inclusion. This Oakland county beauty has great shot values, tricky greens and a back nine that is tight as a drum.

  2. 1. Mauna Kea – Fun as well as challenging with amazing views.
    2. Sea Island – Sea Side Course – Always in perfect shape and the views are pretty darn good as well.
    3. East Lake Country Club – Great course with a lot of history.
    4. Sea Island – Plantation Course – Again, always in perfect shape and just a lot of fun to play.
    5. Atlanta Athletic Club – Highlands Course – Another course that is beautiful and always in great shape.

  3. Bob Forberg

    My top 5 are as follows.
    1. Kapalua Plantation. Amazing sights
    2 . Wolf Creek. Wow factor is #1
    3. Greywalls. Toughest course I ever played. In Michigan’s U.P.
    4. Tidewater. Favorite in M.B.
    5. We Ko Pa . Arizona’s #1

  4. Valderama in Spain – the conditioning is always superb.
    Les Bordes in France for its sheer tranquility and golfing challenge. Just try and keep to one ball for the round!
    Pennard in Wales – the views are spectacular and the unusual condition of being a Links course 200 ft above sea level means it’s playable every day of the year.
    Fancourt Links in South Africa is a gem of surrealism.
    Ocean Course Kiawah Island in USA. Some of the best firm fairways I have ever hit off. You don’t want an iron with lots of bounce here!

  5. Gerald Barton

    1 Wolf Creek, Mesquite, Nev.
    2 Black Jack Crossing, Lajitas, Tex
    3 Black Mesa, Santa Fe, NM
    4 Sand Dunes, Neb (middle of nowhere)
    5 Royal County Down, No. Ireland

  6. Tom Stripling

    1. Spyglass Hill
    2. Bayonet
    3. Pacific Dunes
    4. Bandon Dunes
    5. Lake Shastina

  7. Fishers Island
    Friars Head
    Bethpage Red Gotta go public….
    Garden city.

  8. 5. Indian Creek, South Beach FL
    4. Pinehurst #2, Pinehurst, NC
    3. Fishers Island, Fishers Island, NY
    2. Winged Foot East, Mamaraneck, NY
    1. Royal Dornach, Dornach, Scotland

  9. Zack Buechner

    Im a little late to this article Matt but wanted to give my current 5 courses to play forever.

    1. Caledonia (This is my sanctuary, low country and serene right on the marsh)
    2. Sheep Ranch (I guess I could list all 5 bandon courses but the views particularly at SR would never get boring)
    3. Kiawah Ocean (So many ways to play each hole and it all depends on wind)
    4. Sea Island Seaside (There isnt anything better than coastal Georgia golf, such a challenge to play)
    5. Echelon (local Atlanta public course that is long and wide with dramatic elevation changes, a personal fav)

  10. Patrick Patterson

    1 tobacco road 2 arcadia bluffs 3 Sequoyah national ( best hilly course ever awesome views) 4 Forrest dunes 5 south course at arcadia bluffs ( links golf is my favorite)


    1. National Golf Links – incredible
    2. Streamsong Blue
    3. Shinnecock Hills
    4. Ocean Course, Half Moon Bay California
    5. Pebble Beach

  12. 5. Essex County, MA (where Donald Ross started in the US)
    4. Fishers Island, Long Island Sound
    3. Pebble Beach
    2. Eastward Ho (cape cod, beautiful roll are a seaside course and ocean views EVERYWHERE)
    1. Pasatiempo (coolest traps I’ve played, elevation changes all over the place, great contours on greens and can only imagine what Augusta National must have once looked like).

  13. gary l finn

    1. Kapalua
    2. Mauna Lani (either course)
    3. Terra Lago (Palm Springs)
    4. Hammock Bay (Naples)
    5. The Ranch (San Jose)
    Honorable Mention !!
    Chardonnay (Napa)
    The Ridge (Auburn Ca.)
    Black Horse (Monterey)

  14. Cypress point.
    Maidstone GC.
    Fishers Island GC.
    Bethpage Black.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *