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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

(continued from page 3)

For many years Cypress Point was, like Augusta, publicly known for one week a year when it was one of the three courses that hosted the Pebble Beach AT&T (née Crosby) National Pro-Am. But when the PGA Tour demanded that Cypress Point diversify its membership in 1990, the club refused to honor the PGA's timetable and withdrew as a host site. Now, its public viewing is limited to tourists, who can still cruise through the property on 17-Mile Drive. There are golfers who even jump out of their cars and hit balls off the 16th tee just to say that they did it.  

Even if the holes weren't so good, the views would be outstanding. Black-tailed deer walk the fairways, casually chomping on the rough. A seal may bark during your backswing as you play the ocean holes. Seabirds may trill as you sacrifice another ball to the Pacific. The old California colonial clubhouse is appropriately worn, aged like a prime steak. Like Tatum, you occasionally may feel like genuflecting when you play Cypress Point.    

NO. 6 CHICAGO GOLF CLUB, WHEATON, ILLINOIS  

About 25 miles west of Chicago's bustling Loop is the Chicago Golf Club, a windswept prairie of old-fashioned golf with an old-fashioned clubhouse and a generally older membership. Chicago has the feel of the old inland courses of the British Isles, always has, and probably always will. That's exactly what the members want.  

Chicago is another one of the founding members of the U.S. Golf Association, and contends that on its original site in 1890 it constructed the first 18-hole course in America, edging out Shinnecock Hills. Charles Blair Macdonald and his right-hand man, Seth Raynor, laid out old and new (1922) Chicago Golf Club courses. While the property is mostly flat, odd mounds, deep sand bunkers and tall fescue rough combine to give the course a links feel even though it is about as far from the sea as you can get.  

Macdonald learned about golf when he attended St. Andrews University in Scotland, and many holes are tributes to holes found on Scottish courses. The 207-yard par-3 seventh hole, known as Redan, is Macdonald's version of the Redan Hole at North Berwick, outside of Edinburgh. The sixth hole has a pair of bunkers shaped like nostrils, Macdonald's ode to the Principal's Nose bunker at St. Andrews.  

The clubhouse has a reverential quality. All around are pictures and scorecards from the greats of the game. If some great golf clubs have a single thread, it's that the immortal amateur Bobby Jones played them, and Jones played the Chicago Golf Club. If it was good enough for Bobby Jones, it has to be good enough for you.    

NO. 7 SAN FRANCISCO GOLF CLUB, SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA  

Just down the road from the San Francisco Golf Club is the Olympic Club, a sprawling 36-hole complex with a sprawling clubhouse. Olympic garners all the glory of San Francisco golf, having been host to U.S. Open Championships. And that's exactly the way the members of the San Francisco Golf Club want it.  

San Francisco is one of A. W. Tillinghast's first courses, and many say that it is his best. On a delightfully rolling piece of property close to downtown San Francisco, Tillinghast created a memorable golf experience. The seventh hole is one of the best par 3s in the country. It's known as the Duel Hole. Its location, in a small valley, was the site, in 1859, of a pistol duel between a U.S. Senator and a California Supreme Court Justice. (The Justice won the duel.)  


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