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10 American Beauties

All golf clubs claim prestige, but these are the 10 american beauties. The clubhouses ooze tradition and the courses challenge anyone lucky enough to play them
Jeff Williams
From the Print Edition:
J.P. Morgan, Mar/Apr 00

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Pine Valley's fame and formidability have drawn a truly national membership over the years, and it may number as many as 1,000 now, with a huge waiting list. You have to be able to play the game to have any hope of membership. Hackers need not apply. The president is Gordon Brewer, a USGA Senior Amateur champion. Former amateur great and current Senior PGA Tour player Jay Sigel is a member.  

Like Augusta National, Pine Valley is self-contained, with cottages on the grounds and all meals served on the premises. Like Augusta, it also has a beautiful short course. Unlike Augusta, it doesn't host a major professional golf tournament, but an invitation to the Crump Cup, a mid-amateur event, is highly prized. Pine Valley can feel a little too corporate at times, but the course feels mighty special.    


The funny thing about the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club is that by the 1960s it was nearly forgotten, a relic from the beginnings of the game in America. Now, it is again one of the most desirable of all clubs.  

Its rediscovery came in 1986 when it hosted its second United States Open Golf Championship, 90 years after it hosted its first. What was rediscovered was a magnificent links-style course overlooked from a magnificent Stanford White clubhouse. Shinnecock has two of the greatest vistas in the game--one looking from the porch over the course, the other from the course facing the clubhouse.  

Shinnecock Hills was one of the five founding members of the U.S. Golf Association, in 1894. Despite that instant prestige it was known for decades only to the cognoscenti of the game because of its relatively remote location on the eastern end of Long Island and its decidedly low profile.  

This is a real family golf club, a club in which women hold equal membership rights. For the most part its membership is drawn from wealthy New Yorkers who summer in the Hamptons and from locally prominent businesspeople. The club was looking for members in the 1970s but now has a substantial waiting list.    


Sandy Tatum, a Cypress member and former president of the U.S. Golf Association, calls Cypress Point the Sistine Chapel of golf. He has good reason.  

This rocky headland just north of the Pebble Beach Resort is one of the most beautiful sites in the world for a golf course, and Augusta National designer MacKenzie did a superb job of finding the holes rather than creating them. The massive par-3 16th, played across a chasm with the roiling Pacific below, is one of the most famous holes in golf. Little known is that the preceding 15th is another par 3 across a chasm and an exceptional hole in its own right.  

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