Golfweek's Best 2020: Top 30 Campus Courses

There was much anxiety for many golf architecture fans during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, as Yale Golf Course remained closed for an extended period. Rumors and speculation took hold that the famed course in New Haven, Connecticut, was destined for closure as reports surfaced that maintenance had lapsed during the closure. 

Much of the angst was eased in late September when Yale Golf Course, designed by Charles Blair MacDonald and Seth Raynor and the perennial No. 1 on Golfweek’s Campus Courses, reopened with a new general manager and plans to reinvigorate the turf conditions and attract more students, who now can play for free after noon on weekdays.

“The goal is to number one, restore the golf course to its original design and bring the golf course playability conditions back up to championship-caliber level in order to host NCAA tournaments and other big events,” new general manager Peter Palacios Jr. told “Even though we are three miles apart [from campus], apparently there is a big disconnect between the university and the golf course, and one of the main goals is to try and reconnect that.”

Just as Yale held onto that No. 1 spot among Campus Courses for another year, the rest of the top three courses on that list remained static from 2019. Culver Academies Golf Course in Indiana – a prep academy nine-holer by William B. Langford and Theodore Moreau – retains the No. 2 spot, and Williams College’s Taconic Golf Club in Williamstown, Massachusetts, remains third. 

The biggest mover on this year’s list is the Pfau Course at Indiana University, a new layout by Steve Smyers and Fuzzy Zoeller that opened in 2020 on the site of the university’s previous course. With zoysia fairways and bluegrass rough stretching into fescue beyond, the layout was built to handle everyday play but can be stretched beyond 7,900 yards to accommodate championships. It debuts at No. 4 on the 2020 Golfweek’s Best Campus Courses list.

Courses are rated by Golfweek’s national group of players, with ratings based on multiple criteria such as memorability of the holes and the “walk in the park test.” The raters then give each course an overall rating, which is shown on the list on these pages. Included are the 2019 ranking in parenthesis, the operating school in parenthesis if not obvious by the name, the average rating on the top line for each course, location, designers (and sometimes renovators) and year opened.

Golfweek's Best Campus Courses: 1-15

The Pfau Golf Course in Bloomington, Indiana (Andrew Brown/Indiana Athletics)

1. (1. in 2019) Yale Golf Course, 7.41

New Haven, Conn.; Charles Blair MacDonald, Seth Raynor, 1926

2. (2.) Culver Academies GC, 7.13

Culver, Ind.; William B. Langford, Theodore Moreau, 1920

3. (3.) Taconic (Williams College), 6.84

Williamstown, Mass.; Wayne Stiles, John Van Kleek, Gil Hanse, 1927

4.* PFAU Course at Indiana University, 6.76

Bloomington, Ind.; Steve Smyers, Fuzzy Zoeller, 2020

5. (4.) Rawls Course at Texas Tech, 6.53

Lubbock, Texas; Tom Doak, 2003

6. (5.) University Ridge (Wisconsin), 6.48

Madison, Wis.; Robert Trent Jones Jr., 1991

7. (6.) Jimmie Austin GC (Oklahoma), 6.39

Norman, Okla.; Perry Maxwell, Bob Cupp, Tripp Davis, 1951

8. (7.) Ohio State University GC Scarlet, 6.23

Columbus, Ohio; Alister MacKenzie, Jack Nicklaus, 1938

9. (9.) Pete Dye River Course of Virginia Tech, 6.23

Radford, Va.; Pete Dye, 2006

10. (8.) Palouse Ridge (Washington State), 6.18

Pullman, Wash.; John Harbottle III, 2008

11. (12.) University of Michigan, 6.12

Ann Arbor, Mich.; Alister MacKenzie, 1931

12. (16.) Warren Golf Course at Notre Dame, 6.10

Notre Dame, Ind.; Bill Coore, Ben Crenshaw, 2000

13. (20.) Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex Ackerman-Allen (Purdue), 6.08

West Lafayette, Ind.; Pete Dye, 2016

T-14. (10.) Stanford Golf Course, 6.07

Stanford, Calif.; William P. Bell, George C. Thomas Jr., John Harbottle III, 1930

T-14. (17.) Course at Sewanee, 6.07

Sewanee, Tenn.; Gil Hanse, 2013

Golfweek's Best Campus Courses: 16-30

The University of Georgia Golf Course in Athens, Georgia (Courtesy of the University of Georgia)

16. (13.) Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex Kampen (Purdue), 6.06

West Lafayette, Ind.; Pete Dye, 1998

17. (15.) University of New Mexico (Championship), 6.03

Albuquerque, N.M.; Red Lawrence, 1967

18. (14.) University of Georgia GC, 6.02

Athens, Ga.; Robert Trent Jones Sr., Davis Love III, 1968

19. (11.) The Orchards (Mount Holyoke), 6.00

South Hadley, Mass.; Donald Ross, 1922

20. (18.) Duke University GC, 5.95

Durham, N.C.; Robert Trent Jones Sr., Rees Jones, 1957

21. (19.) UNC Finley GC, 5.91

Chapel Hill, N.C.; Tom Fazio, 1999

22. (25.) Eisenhower GC Blue (U.S. Air Force Academy), 5.86

Colorado Springs, Colo.; Robert Trent Jones Sr., 1959

23. (21.) The Walker Course at Clemson, 5.83

Clemson, S.C.; DJ DeVictor, 1995

24. (24.) Mark Bostick GC (Florida), 5.82

Gainesville, Fla.; Donald Ross, Bobby Weed, 1921

25. (22.) Radrick Farms (Michigan), 5.81

Ann Arbor, Mich.; Pete Dye, 1965

26. (23.) Forest Akers Michigan State (West), 5.77

Lansing, Mich.; Bruce Matthews, Arthur Hills, 1958

27. (26.) Vanderbilt Legends Club (North) (26.), 5.73

Franklin, Tenn.; Bob Cupp, Tom Kite, 1992

28. (29.) Lonnie Poole GC (N.C. State), 5.67

Raleigh, N.C.; Arnold Palmer, 2009

29. (27.) Furman GC, 5.64

Greenville, S.C.; R.K. Webel, Walter Cosby, Kris Spence, Scot Sherman, 1955

T-30.* University of Virginia GC (Birdwood), 5.61

Charlottesville, Va.; Lindsay Ervin, Davis Love III, 1984

T-30.* University of Maryland GC, 5.61

College Park, Md.; George Cobb, William Love, 1958

* New or returning to the list

More Stories

Chambers Bay

Architect Jay Blasi: USGA has plenty of options with Chambers Bay for U.S. Women's Amateur

Chambers Bay architect Jay Blasi walks us through how several key holes should be set up.

Read the full article

From The Web Ads by Zergnet

USGA spends millions to tackle sustainability issues, especially concerning water

As water demands grow in the West, the USGA supports studies that help keep golf afloat.

Read the full article
Westchester Hills

Photos: Westchester Hills Golf Club in New York completes renovation by Rees Jones

Rees Jones completes facelift of the 109-year-old layout just north of New York City.

Read the full article
More Architecture