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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 5)

Winged Foot is certainly the busiest of the clubs in our Top 10. Its members are devoted and hardy, the most avid of which will play on the snow-free but frostbitten days of winter. More than 25 percent of Winged Foot's members are single-digit handicappers--a real accomplishment considering the difficulty of these Tillinghast courses, which feature troublesome greens and tough sand bunkering as well as a bountiful collection of trees. Its challenge is why U.S. Opens and PGA Championships have been contested on the West Course.  

Everything about Winged Foot speaks of golf, even if a swimming pool was added a few years ago for family considerations. The Grill Room is a dark, wooden place, with plaques for all the club's major competitions lining the walls. The stone terrace in front of the Grill is filled during the warm months with members settling up their bets and guests on corporate outings, or in charity tournaments which outnumber the business outings 7 to 1. Winged Foot just might be too busy for some, but there is no denying the charm of the clubhouse nor the challenge of the golf courses.    

NO. 10 LOS ANGELES COUNTRY CLUB  

An avid New York golfer once told me that there was only one good thing about Los Angeles--the Los Angeles Country Club. While many will consider his a narrow view of L.A., few would question that this 36-hole club, traversed by Wilshire Boulevard, is the best club in town.  

These courses, designed by George Thomas, sit smack in the middle of an urban metroplex, with Century City to the south, Sunset Boulevard to the north and Wilshire running right through it. The club makes every effort to remain low-key, and Hollywood celebrities are not courted for the membership roll, which is generally made up of prominent businesspeople and the best players in the city.  

Los Angeles Country Club has a surprisingly long history, going back to 1897 when its first course was crudely built. On its present site are some superb holes and an elegant clubhouse with guest facilities. The long par-3 11th hole of the North Course has the Los Angeles skyline as its backdrop. The club maintains a small herd of Colombian black-tailed deer on the property. Members regularly catalogue the various species of birds that pass through.  

Once the site for the Los Angeles Open golf tournament, the club now maintains a low profile. A persistent rumor is that the USGA has inquired about holding a U.S. Open on the North Course, but the club prefers to retain its status as the perfect urban retreat. Neither the club nor USGA officials will go on record about this issue.  

There you have it, 10 clubs that are the most desirable and difficult to join in the United States. They are perfect specimens of what a golf club should be, for at the center of their clubby souls, the game reigns supreme.  

Jeff Williams writes on golf for Newsday.


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