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
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
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)
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
16. Pinehurst No. 2, North Carolina
(855) 235-8507, pinehurst.com
17. Bandon Dunes at Bandon DunesGolf Resort, Oregon
18. The Dunes Golf & Beach Club, MyrtleBeach, South Carolina
(843) 449-5236, thedunesclub.net
19. Black Mesa Golf Club, La Mesilla,New Mexico (tie)
19. Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort,Maui, Hawaii (tie)
(877) 527-2582, kapaluamaui.com
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.