In 2007, we raved about Circling Raven Golf Club in Worley, Idaho. We described the Gene Bates design as "...appealing to the eyes, the ears, the nose, the spirit.." Then, we read more positive reviews from the likes of Golf Digest. And, they're still coming in. Now, Circling Raven has received yet another honor from GolfWorld magazine readers, who cast more than 46,000 votes and ranked it second, nationally, for "Overall Value" and in the top five for "Quality of Course".
Only Kiawah Island scored higher in the all-important "Value" category. Kiawah, Bandon Dunes, Whistling Straits, and TPC Sawgrass were the only four properties to score higher than Circling Raven in "Quality of Course." And, those courses have hosted a Ryder Cup, USGA, or PGA Championships. Circling Raven, by contrast, is just a great place to play, over and over.
Earlier this year, we positively glowed in our evaluation of Fallen Oak Golf Club in Saucier, Mississippi. It comes from a good pedigree. Tom Fazio designed Fallen Oak. He is the architect of Shadow Creek outside Las Vegas, Martis Camp in the Sierra, and fourteen others on the Golf Digest lists. And, again, the critics agreed. The Golf Digest panel, on which I serve, it as the 19th best public course in America.
Closer to home, but still a long weekend swim away, the Hawaiian island of Kauai continues to gain stature and merit. We reviewed several courses, there, in 2006, and note that they appear to be improving with time.
GolfWorld readers cast so many votes for Kauai's courses and resorts that that the island emerged as perhaps the nation's favorite golf destination. Readers gave particular distinction to The Prince and Makai courses at the St. Regis Princeville Resort , Poipu Bay at the Grand Hyatt Kaua'i Resort & Spa, and Kua'i Lagoons at Kaua'i Marriott Resort & Beach Club.
In our review from several years ago, we deemed the Makai to be a near-perfect resort course. It is closed for renovation, but should open by late this year, or early 2010.
In the "Top 50 Resort Courses" category Princeville ranked No.11 nationally, Poipu Bay No. 17, and Kauai Lagoons No. 50.
A fourth Kauai course, Puakea Golf Course in Lihue, was recognized alongside its sister courses on the island for earning among the highest point totals in golf-rich Hawaii.
GolfWorld readers rated the Kaua'i courses so well that several earned Top 10 distinction in various criteria, with Princeville coming in No. 1 in Off-Course Amenities and Poipu Bay at No. 7, underscoring the resort destination attributes Kauai visitors can enjoy after golf.
In short, Kauai is a long way to go for a short weekend, but you'll be hard pressed to find a bad golf course there. If only they could export courses as easily as coconuts.