For every great course that made GOLF’s 2020-21 ranking of the Top 100 Courses in the U.S., dozens of more must-plays were left on the outside looking in — including at least a handful in your home state. Some of these designs just missed out on a Top 100 nomination, others finished deeper down the ranking, but all are worthy of your time. To shed light on the best courses in every state, we broke out the full results of our Top 100 Courses polling into state-by-state lists. Here’s a closer look at Georgia.
Georgia golf by the numbers:
Number of courses and U.S. rank: 416 (13)*
Number of golfers per capita rank: 44*
Average public-course greens fees: $$ out of $$$*
Average daily temp and rank: 63.5 (5)
Annual precipitation and rank: 50.7 in. (7)
*Source: National Golf Foundation
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Best Georgia golf courses (2020/2021)
1. Augusta National (Augusta) [1, 2]
Augusta National is the vision of Bobby Jones and his chosen architect, Alister MacKenzie. Both intended for Augusta National to reflect the spirit and strategic options of the Old Course at St. Andrews, the course that they admired most. Nearly every hole at St. Andrews and Augusta National provides a safe route to the green and also a riskier one. Recent tree-planting and narrowing of corridors stands in contrast to that shared vision and is at odds with what has transpired at other Golden Age cornerstone designs this century, proving what a tough position ANGC finds itself in continuing to test the world’s best players in golf’s most anticipated event. Regardless, the course’s staggering beauty and Masters tradition remain unlike any other.
2. Ohoopee Match Club (Cobbtown) [1, 2]
With this land on the east side of the Ohoopee River where sand accumulated for centuries, Hanse finally got a dream site upon which to build an original design. His own sense of aesthetics complemented the rustic site’s color palette of browns, rusts and tans. The result is a low-profile design that beguiles. Be careful of its short par-4s: the 4th, 9th and 14th all tempt with driver off the tee — and punish rash tactics.
3. Peachtree (Atlanta) [1, 2]
Though Spyglass Hill just slipped off the list, Robert Trent Jones’s work is still represented by Peachtree’s strong showing. Built in the late 1940s, this design came before Jones had acquired his Oakland Hills “monster” rep. More of Stanley Thompson’s influence is seen in Jones’ early work, highlighted here by his imaginative — and enormous — punchbowl green at the 10th.
4. East Lake (Atlanta)
5. Capital City Club – Crabapple Course (Atlanta)
6. Ocean Forest (Sea Island)
7. Sea Island – Seaside (Sea Island) [3, P]
8. Atlanta Athletic Club – Highlands (Johns Creek)
9. Cuscowilla (Eatonton)
10. Augusta CC (Augusta)
11. Lookout Mountain (Lookout Mountain)
12. Atlanta Athletic Club – Riverside (Johns Creek)
13. Frederica (St. Simons)
14. The Farm (Rocky Face)
15. Ford Plantation (Richmond Hill)
Ed. note: Some courses were omitted from our rankings because they did not receive enough votes.
Course spotlight: Augusta Country Club (Augusta, Ga.), ranked 10th in Georgia. Fascinating setting in which to play a really good, diverse Ross course — I mean, it shares a long boundary with Augusta National. Same terrain. Really fun to see this different sort of take on such weirdly familiar ground. Expertly restored, too, or it was when I played it 12 years ago. — GOLF Top 100 Course Rater
How we rank America’s best golf courses
For the newly released 2020-21 U.S. list, each panelist was provided a list of 489 courses. Beside that list of courses were 11 “buckets,” or groupings. If our panelists considered a course to be among the top three in the country, they ticked that box. If they believed the course to be among Nos. 4-10 in the U.S., they checked that box, followed by 11-25, 26-50, and so on.
Panelists were also free to write in courses that they felt should have been included on the ballot (we had fewer than a handful of such additions in the U.S. vote).
Points were assigned to each bucket; to arrive at an average score for each course, we divide its aggregate score by the number of votes. From those point tallies, the courses are then ranked accordingly. It is an intentionally simple and straightforward process. Why? Because it invariably produces results that are widely lauded. Like the game itself, there’s no need to unnecessarily overcomplicate things.
For much more on how we rate courses, click or tap here.
Meet our course raters
We empower and hold accountable a group of 97 well-traveled — and well-connected — golfers/aficionados, each capable of expressing their own sense of design excellence at the highest level. The group is seasoned and experienced — we look for raters who know what’s out there, what’s changing and what’s coming down the pike. And from judging posts across four continents, our panelists are positioned to place courses from different regions around the globe into proper context, one of the main reasons GOLF’s Top 100 Courses rankings are the most esteemed in the game.
Other ranking outlets employ thousands of raters. Our less-is-more approach creates a more meaningful and thoughtful list. Think about it: When you plan a golf trip, do you call every golfer you know for their take? No. You contact a handful of people whose opinions you value most.