The Empire State certainly lives up to that billing in golf.
From a vast collection of elite private clubs – the best collection in the country – to the public-access Black Course at Bethpage State Park, New York delivers one of the most highly acclaimed golfing landscapes in the United States.
So says the Golfweek’s Best rankings, compiled by the average ratings – on a points basis of 1 to 10 – of its more than 750 raters to create several industry-leading lists of courses. Of particular interest are the Golfweek’s Best list for best private courses by state and the Best Courses You Can Play list for courses that allow non-member tee times – generally defined as courses accessible to resort guests or regular daily-fee players.
The lineup of top-ranked courses on the 2020 Private list has a top five of Shinnecock Hills in Southampton, National Golf Links of America (also in Southampton), Fishers Island Club, Friar’s Head in Baiting Hollow and Winged Foot’s West Course in Mamaroneck, site of the 2020 U.S. Open won by Bryson DeChambeau.
Golfweek took the average rating of those elite clubs – each of which ranks in the top 16 on either the Golfweek’s Best Modern or Classic lists for the entire U.S., with 1960 as the break point between those categories – and compared them to the top five private courses in each state. On the scale of 1 to 10, New York’s top five courses averaged a whopping 8.82 rating, placing it ahead of No. 2 California, No. 3 New Jersey and every other state.
At the opposite end of the spectrum from the private retreats is Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, which is tops on Golfweek’s Best Courses You Can Play list for New York. Built by famed course designer A.W. Tillinghast in 1935 and an “extremely difficult” track as noted by a famous sign at the first tee, the Black has been revamped from a somewhat ragged layout to a major destination. It played host for the 2002 (won by Tiger Woods) and ’09 (Lucas Glover) U.S. Opens as well as the 2019 PGA Championship (Brooks Koepka). It also hosted two PGA Tour FedEx Cup Playoff events and will be the site of the 2024 Ryder Cup, giving New Yorkers plenty to weigh in on as an American team takes on the Europeans.
And the Black isn’t the only course at Bethpage, which also is home to the Red, Green, Blue and Yellow courses. The Red ranks second on the property behind the Black at No. 8 in New York on Golfweek’s Best Courses You Can Play list.
Rounding out the top five on Golfweek’s Best ranking of top public-access courses in the state are Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point in New York City, Turning Stone Resort’s Atunyote course in Verona, Leatherstocking in Cooperstown and Sagamore in Bolton Landing.
As a whole, New York’s top five public courses – with an average rating of 6.76 – are no match for the elite private courses. While the top five private courses are the best lineup in the country, the top five public-access courses rank a still-strong 11th when compared to the elite public courses of other states. Oregon is No. 1 on that list, and New York falls between No. 10 Virginia and No. 12 Nevada.
New York continues to shine on Golfweek’s Best Classic list for courses built before 1960, with a best of 32 courses among the country’s top 200 old-school layouts. Pennsylvania is No. 2 in that comparison with 19 classic gems, and California is No. 3 with 18 such layouts.
Golfweek’s Best Courses You Can Play 2020 in New York
Farmingdale (No. 27 c)
New York (m)
Bolton Landing (c)
6. Pound Ridge GC
Pound Ridge (m)
7. Montauk Downs State Park
Montauk Point (m)
8. Bethpage State Park (Red)
9. Turning Stone Resort (Shenendoah)
10. Conklin Players Club
11. Turning Stone Resort (Kaluhyat)
12. Saratoga National
13. *Links at Union Vale
15. Seneca Hickory Stick
Golfweek’s Best Private Courses 2020 in New York
* New or returning to the list; c: Classic, built before 1960. m: Modern, built in 1960 or after
1. Shinnecock Hills
Southampton (No. 4 c)
2. National Golf Links of America
Southampton (No. 5 c)
3. Fishers Island Club
Fishers Island (No. 10 c)
4. Friar’s Head
Baiting Hollow (No. 3 m)
5. Winged Foot (West)
Mamaroneck (No. 16 c)
Southampton (No. 6 m)
7. Quaker Ridge
Scarsdale (No. 28 c)
8. Garden City GC
Garden City (No. 29 c)
9. Maidstone Club
East Hampton (No. 30 c)
10. Winged Foot (East)
Mamaroneck (No. 35 c)
Golfweek’s Best 2020: Top 50 Casino Courses
The rankings below reflect where these courses fall among the top 50 Casino Courses in the United States.
13. Turning Stone Resort (Atunyote), 6.26
Verona, N.Y.; Tom Fazio; 2004
T-27. Turning Stone Resort (Shenendoah), 5.81
Verona, N.Y.; Rick Smith; 2000
T-35. Turning Stone Resort (Kaluhyat), 5.72
Verona, N.Y.; Robert Trent Jones Jr. 2003
Golfweek’s Best 2020
How we rate them
The members of our course-ratings panel continually evaluate courses and rate them based on our 10 criteria. They also file a single, overall rating on each course. Those overall ratings on each course are averaged together to produce a final rating for each course. Then each course is ranked against other courses in its state, or nationally, to produce the final rankings.