Ranking the 9 premier public golf courses that finished No. 1 in the first decade of Golfers' Choice

Some of golf's most famous courses have finished first in the 10 different editions of Golfers' Choice since 2014.
The first tee at Yocha Dehe Golf Club overlooks the scenic Capay Valley.

It's a tough climb to the top of the Golfers' Choice rankings, but these 9 courses have accomplished the feat over the past decade.

In some years, they've conquered more famous courses like Pebble Beach Golf Links or Pasatiempo. That's the beauty of the Golfers' Choice rankings: Virtually every course has a shot at the top. The secret formula is to make sure every aspect of the golf course operation is clicking - the service, the pace of play, the amenities, the course conditions. Golfers need to walk away feeling like their got their money's worth. Golfers' Choice is not a ranking of the best golf courses architecturally as it is an examination of what golf clubs are doing everything right by their customers.

Golfers' Choice, which launched in 2014, now has a decade under its belt. To celebrate the best of the best, we're ranking the 9 courses that ended each year No. 1 in order to claim a true champion:

  1. 2016 and 2021 Golfers' Choice: Yocha Dehe Golf Club

    Comment: We love that Yocha Dehe has finished in the top spot twice. It validates what Golfers' Choice is all about: rewarding courses that over-deliver on expectations. Most golfers have no idea that a tribal casino course hidden in the hills north of San Francisco and east of Sacramento could be this good. After being pampered by the excellent service of this Troon Golf-run facility - coupled with the beauty of the Capay Valley's vineyards, water hazards and lack of homes - they often leave starstruck and can't wait to return.

  2. 2018 Golfers' Choice: TPC Sawgrass - PLAYERS Stadium Course
    Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

    Comment: Playing the PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass was probably half the cost when it finished No. 1 in Golfers' Choice in 2017 compared to the $900 peak green fees being charged today. That might help explain why it's so hard for the famous Pete Dye course to make a second run to No. 1. The higher the cost, the harder it is to please every golfer who leaves a review.

  3. 2019 Golfers' Choice: Bethpage Black
    Farmingdale, New York

    Comment: It was a great day when Bethpage Black won Golfers' Choice in 2018. The New York state-run municipal course is a true "People's Country Club." It's a rare major championship venue that anyone can afford, costing less than $200 for visitors and much less for locals. Of course, that bargain makes it hard to get a tee time. Playing Bethpage Black is all about survival; the walk is almost as demanding as the golf.

  4. 2020 Golfers' Choice: Streamsong Red
    Fort Meade, Florida

    Comment: What's interesting about Streamsong's run to No. 1 is which course won the highly competitive battle against its siblings. Coore & Crenshaw's Red Course beat out Tom Doak's Streamsong Blue and Gil Hanse's Streamsong Black. Ask 100 golfers who've played all three about which is their favorite and you're sure to get a wide variety of answers.

  5. 2023 Golfers' Choice: Mauna Lani Resort - South Course
    Kohala Coast, Hawaii

    Comment: Anybody who's played Mauna Lani South wouldn't be surprised of its rise to the top of Golfers' Choice. Its ocean holes are some of the most dramatic in golf. The inland holes are just as good, all lined with the Big Island's signature black lava rock.

  6. 2017 Golfers' Choice: Rams Hill Golf Club
    Borrego Springs, California

    Comment: Rams Hill's strong run in the Golfers' Choice Top 50 culminated with the top spot in 2016, an incredible rise considering the course was shuttered just a few years earlier. Today, Rams Hill delivers a luxurious 'country club for a day' experience for SoCal golfers who make the 90-minute drive into the desert to play it. It's well worth it to discover one of golf's most scenic outposts.

  7. 2024 Golfers' Choice: Tiburon Golf Club - Gold Course
    Naples, Florida

    Comment: It's always impressive that a golf course as pricey as Tiburon's Gold Course makes the Golfers' Choice Top 50, let alone earn that coveted no. 1 spot. Golfers who fork out up to $350 for a tee time and still rate the experience five stars were surely impressed with the course's history as an annual host of PGA Tour and LPGA Tour events, and the world-class amenities of a Ritz-Carlton resort.

  8. 2022 Golfers' Choice: Commander Course at Lakewood National
    Lakewood Ranch, Florida

    Comment: Lakewood's Commander Course barely edged out its sister course to finish first, as the Piper course ranked fourth that same year. Too bad both went fully private in 2022, leaving public golfers to either pony up for a membership or find somewhere else to play.

  9. 2015 Golfers' Choice: Spring Creek Golf Club
    Gordonsville, Virginia

    Comment: You could argue that our first Golfers' Choice rankings were not quite ready for prime time. Spring Creek is, by far, our least heralded No. 1. That's okay, though, because our ranking system doesn't care about other Top 100 lists or who designed the course. Rock walls, bridges and rolling hills still charm everyone who plays Spring Creek, which boasts a stellar 4.9 star rating.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed and photographed more than 1,100 courses and written about golf destinations in 25 countries for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Instagram at @jasondeegangolfpass and Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
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Ranking the 9 premier public golf courses that finished No. 1 in the first decade of Golfers' Choice