Pebble Beach Golf Links
© Pebble Beach Golf Links®

Other than some jockeying for position, the 2012 golf edition of the Platinum List looks like a rock-steady putting stance. Three newcomers debuted, one on the U.S. and two on the International side, but old favorites otherwise prevailed.

As I write this, I’m watching a foursome putt out on the 18th green of perennial U.S. favorite, Pebble Beach Golf Links. The wife or girlfriend of one of the players is standing behind the green, camera in hand, ready to record a moment from a day on the storied course.


Top 20 U.S.
1. Pebble Beach Golf Links, California(800) 654-9300, pebblebeach.com

2. Cuscowilla on Lake Oconee,Eatonton, Georgia(800) 458-5351, cuscowilla.com

3. Mauna Kea Golf Course at Mauna KeaBeach Hotel, Kohala Coast, Hawaii
(888) 977-4623,princeresortshawaii.com

4. Harbour Town Golf Links at Sea PinesResort, Hilton Head Island,South Carolina (866) 561-8802,seapines.com

5. Fazio Canyons at Barton Creek,Austin, Texas
(866) 572-7369, bartoncreek.com

6. Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge,Orlando, Florida (tie)
(888) 422-9445, bayhill.com

6. Bethpage State Park Black Course,Farmingdale, New York (tie)
(516) 249-4040, nysparks.com

8. Torrey Pines (South Course),La Jolla, California
(877) 581-7171,torreypinesgolfcourse.com

9. Course 4 at Cog Hill Golf & CountryClub, Lemont, Illinois
(866) 264-4455, coghillgolf.com

10. Monarch Beach Golf Links,Dana Point, California
(949) 234-3200, stregismb.com

11. The Challenge at Manele at FourSeasons Resort Lana'i at Manele Bay,Lana'i, Hawaii (tie)
(808) 565-2000,fourseasons.com/manelebay

11. Spyglass Hill Golf Course,Pebble Beach, California (tie)
(800) 654-9300, pebblebeach.com

13. The Ocean Course at Kiawah IslandGolf Resort, South Carolina
(800) 576-1570, kiawahresort.com

14. Ocean Course at Half Moon BayGolf Links, California
(650) 726-1800, halfmoonbaygolf.com

15. Blackwolf Run (Original ChampionshipCourse), Kohler, Wisconsin
(800) 344-2838,destinationkohler.com

16. Pinehurst No. 2, North Carolina
(855) 235-8507, pinehurst.com

17. Bandon Dunes at Bandon DunesGolf Resort, Oregon
(888) 345-6008,bandondunesgolf.com

18. The Dunes Golf & Beach Club, MyrtleBeach, South Carolina
(843) 449-5236, thedunesclub.net

19. Black Mesa Golf Club, La Mesilla,New Mexico (tie)
(505) 747-8946,blackmesagolfclub.com

19. Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort,Maui, Hawaii (tie)
(877) 527-2582, kapaluamaui.com
She’ll surely include the iconic cypress tree hard by the green — which was actually moved there 10 years ago after a century-old Monterey pine succumbed to disease and lightning and had to be removed.

I’m not in California, though; I’m home at my desk in Vermont, viewing all this through one of five live high-definition golf cams trained on the course. It is golf voyeurism of the highest order; at 10 o’clock Eastern time I can tune into this tranquil yet moving landscape, still infused with the golden hues of dawn, the green and fairway still coated by dew, as the Pacific silently laps onto the rocky shoreline.

It’s paradisiacal, meditative, and easy to see why readers are so ardent about the course, as well as its sister track Spyglass Hill, and the abundant resort amenities on hand.

Beauty and challenge are the combined hallmarks of the Platinum List courses, and the challenge will be tuned up particularly high this year at Blackwolf Run at The American Club in Kohler, Wisconsin. The U.S. Women’s Open will be played on the Original Championship course (parts of the refurbished River and Meadow Valleys courses) on July 5 to 8.

A month later (August 9 to 12), the men will show up at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort to have at The Ocean Course, hoping to take away the Wanamaker Trophy as winner of the 94th PGA Championship. It won’t be easy. Stretched to 7,676 yards, the route will become the longest course in major championship history.

Two-time U.S. Open site Bethpage State Park Black Course may seem like a breeze in comparison during The Barclays, August 23 to 26. (But I doubt it.)

A tip of the golf cap to the Bill Coore/Ben Crenshaw design at the Cuscowilla On lake oconee in Georgia, which vaulted to runner-up status on the U.S. List this year, and to the Black Mesa Golf Club for its debut. The latter, a Baxter Spann design, is about as close as a course can be to a links-style when it’s located in the scenic high-desert hills of New Mexico.