Our Top 10 Courses of 2015 set the bar extremely high, but 2016 was no slouch. We started and ended the year in Hawaii by visiting Maui in January and Kauai in December. Both islands have spectacular golf and are strongly represented on this list.
Despite what some major publications want you to think, ranking golf courses is always subjective (and sometimes political). A combination of architecture, value, routing (is it walkable?), course conditions, prestige/history, customer service and overall experience are factored into this particular list, but it’s important to remember that each individual golfer out there may weight these factors differently.
After much contemplation, here are my top 10 golf courses played in 2016 (ones which I haven’t already played in previous years):
10. Ka’anapali Royal Course, Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii, USA (click here for full review)
The Royal Course at Ka’anapali was a nice surprise. A good resort course which provides plenty of room off the tee, but requires precise approach shots and a good short game to have a chance at scoring well.
9. Glencoe Golf and Country Club (Forest Course), Calgary, Alberta, Canada (click here for full review)
The Forest Course at the Glencoe may be one of the most difficult courses around Calgary. If you’re lucky enough to play at this private club, you’ll have access to their amazing practice facility before your round, which I highly recommend utilizing before you face a course that will challenge every faucet of your game.
8. Priddis Greens Golf and Country Club – Hawk and Raven courses, Priddis, Alberta, Canada (click here for the Raven Course review. Hawk course review coming soon)
Having played both courses at Priddis Greens just once, I can’t decide which one I like better, so I lumped them together. They have a similar feel but are both unique, scenic, fun, and challenging. The Raven Course has also proved to be a worthy host of the LPGA.
7. Wailua Golf Course, Wailua, Kauai, Hawaii, USA (click here for full review)
There may be better golf courses on this list, but there is no better value. It is easily the best course I have ever played for under $50, giving this muni a well-deserved spot on this list.
6. The Ocean Course at Hokuala, Kauai, Hawaii, USA (click here for full review)
This Jack Nicklaus layout isn’t your classic “resort course”. It is a stern and sometimes tricky test. A layout which I’m sure would continue to grow on you the more familiar you become with it.
5. Kukui’ula Golf Course, Koloa, Kauai, Hawaii, USA (click here for full review)
Kukui’ula Golf Course is nothing short of a treat to visit and play. Everything about this mostly private course spoils you, and the Tom Weiskopf design is no slouch either. If you like free beer and great golf you’ll want to keep on eye out for my full review to be published soon.
4. Makai Golf Club, Princeville, Kauai, Hawaii, USA (click here for full review)
Robert Trent Jones Jr. outdid himself at Makai Golf Club. Everything about this course is fun, and the scenery will fill up your camera. Easily bucket-list material here.
3. Kapalua Golf – Plantation Course, Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii, USA (click here for full review)
Host of the Tournament of Champions every year, and possibly the best pure golf layout on this list, the only thing holding the Plantation Course back from being ranked higher was the lackluster customer service we received which slightly tainted the overall experience for our group. Some people may not care about that, and maybe it was an off day for them, but a course of this stature, charging the amount they do, should never have an off day.
2. Jasper Park Lodge Golf Club, Jasper, Alberta, Canada (click here for full review)
Not the most grueling course on this list, but probably the most fun. I couldn’t help but have a smirk on my face the entire way around. A very walkable and clever layout set among the mountains makes for something special. I would love to make this an annual trip. Thank you Stanley Thompson.
1. Manele Golf Course, Lanai, Hawaii, USA (click here for full review)
This Jack Nicklaus layout is almost a surreal golf experience. Set among the volcanic cliffs of Lanai, it truly feels like you’re on the edge of the world. Throw in the best customer service we’ve ever experienced, a challenging layout in pristine conditions, and it all adds up to #1.