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Coore & Crenshaw’s Must-Play Courses

The partnership of Americans Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw is one of golf’s most respected architectural teams. Their shared philosophy of combining artistry with traditional, strategic golf has produced some of the game’s most revered designs over the last 30 years.

All Square reviews five of their greatest golf courses.

Cabot Cliffs, Canada

Ranked by All Square as the 9th best course in Canada, this links layout was carved out of the breathtaking Cape Breton landscape near Inverness in Nova Scotia. It’s perched on cliff tops looking over the dramatic windswept Gulf of St. Lawrence. It has 8 oceanside holes and 10 inland holes, all of great variety which will have you thinking and plotting. Typical of Coore and Crenshaw, you’ll be challenged with creative shot making. While this course has echoes of the world famous venues of Ballybunion in Ireland, Turnberry in Scotland and Pebble Beach in America, it still achieves its own spectacular identity. The par-3 16th, with its tee shot carrying over rocky crags 100 feet above the ocean resembles the cliff top holes at Cape Kidnappers in New Zealand

Sand Valley Golf Resort, US

Built on the rolling sand hills of central Wisconsin, Coore and Crenshaw routed their course naturally with great respect for the existing environment. It’s laid across a series of ridges and valleys with one prominent dune, known as ‘The Volcano’, providing the start point for each nine from where players can see the landscape stretch out before them. The heavily contoured front nine finishes with a brilliant par 4, while the back nine is bookended with terrific par 5s at the 10th and 18th. You’ll need to use you imagination here, as the course is dictated by the undulations of the land and the design duo have inserted surprising angles into several greens. It’s an entertaining course with the split fairway at the 12th and the punchbowl green at the 17th particularly memorable. 

Barnbougle Golf Club – Lost Farm, Tasmania

Rated by All Square as the world’s 58th best course, this is a tremendous layout built on the sand dunes of Bass Strait, the sea that separates Tasmania from Melbourne. It’s probably more playable than the nearby and highly revered Tom Doak-designed Barnbougle Dunes. Whereas the Dunes course plays along classic seaside links, Lost Farm sits inside huge perimeter dunes. The signature hole is probably the 480-yard, par-4 5th, which features a duneside green overlooking the river that separates Lost Farm from the Dunes. “It’s one of several holes at Lost Farm where people might say, ‘I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a hole like this before,’” Coore said. As you would expect from Coore and Crenshaw, the best route to the pin is rarely the most direct one.

Talking Stick Golf Club, US

Coore and Crenshaw created both courses at this club near Scottsdale, Arizona. Both the North Course and South Course blend with their tranquil desert surroundings to provide a serene yet challenging day of golf. The North is styled to resemble an undulating Scottish links, and with a noticeable lack of real estate you’ll have stunning views of the mountains and rugged desert landscape. There’s generous fairways but you’ll need accurate approach shots to the small greens which are usually defended by plenty of deep bunkering. The South, with wider fairways and larger greens, is slightly easier to play. Small trees create good definition on many holes and water comes into play on the back-nine. A great golfing venue. 

Kapalua – Plantation Course, US

This gem is located at the resort of Kapalua on the Hawaiian island of Maui. Coore and Crenshaw overcame the obstacles posed by the mountainous, rugged landscape here to produce a layout that makes the most of the marked changes in elevation and the winds off the Pacific. Ranked by All Square as the 86th best course in the US, it features wide fairways and generous greens that will please both professional and average golfers. The course unfurls across island canyons, native vegetation and panoramic oceanfront plateaus. It’s a shotmaker’s dream and players will need their imagination and feel, and probably every club in the bag. This course has hosted the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions tournament since 1999 and will do so again in January 2020.

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Éric Destarac
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Éric Destarac

I have seen Bill COORE taking a Caterpillar D4 to reshape a green at Sunset, flattening a one inch bump on his huge machine. An incredible job which made my home course Always ranked in the top five courses in France. Thirty years after, I’m still in love with his design. The course is the Château course, in Bordeaux France, at golf du Médoc resort. Great architect…

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