Nicklaus golf courses (only if you like his work)

Roadking2003Roadking2003 AustinMembers Posts: 5,576 ✭✭
Jack has been designing golf courses for about fifty years all over the world. His first, co designed with Pete Dye, was Harbour Town. Personally, I love his courses and think his body of work is better than any architect in history. I've now played 38 of his courses.

But I know some don't like his designs. I've even heard silly statements like "his courses are built for a fade" and other inaccurate generalizations.

So, for those of us who like his work, let's have fun with our favorite Nicklaus course lists. Here are my top ten among the ones I have played;

Cabo Del Sol

Castle Pines Golf Club

The Challenge at Manele

Shoal Creek


Desert Mountain Chiricahua


Kauai Lagoons


Reflection Bay


  • jmtbkrjmtbkr Palm Beach GardensMembers Posts: 780 ✭✭
    I’ve played these locally:

    Champions course at PGA

    Bear Lakes

    Ibis CC

    Loxahatchee Club
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  • raynorfan1raynorfan1 Members Posts: 3,580 ✭✭
    Not sure I'm allowed to comment, because I don't per se "like" his work. Nicklaus Design has done 400+ courses, some are great, most are above average, and a few are meh.

    For me, Muirfield Village and Sebonack stand out as far and away his best work. MV in particular, because you know that he is personally involved and has had the opportunity over 40 years to tweak and improve the design. There are only a few courses where an architect has had the ability to gradually evolve their work over a long period of time - Oakmont; Pinehurst; Myopia; etc. - and that evolution to a near ideal state really comes through at Muirfield.

    Hualalai is a perfect course for its setting (four seasons resort course), but not as good a pure golf course as could have been built on the site (see Nanea).

    Generally, I look at Nicklaus' design career a little bit like his playing career: he had 595 career starts; won 73 times, including 18 majors. Showed up, did his job, collected a check a couple hundred times. Missed the cut 89 times.

    He's built a few "great" courses, but there are also plenty in the portfolio where he just showed up, did his thing, and collected a check.
  • mckennwamckennwa Members Posts: 645 ✭✭
    Coyote springs in Vegas is my favorite Nicklaus track.
  • Matt JMatt J Members Posts: 8,735 ✭✭
    I think I've only played the Grand Cypress and Pronghorn. Really enjoyed the Grand Cypress.
  • mikpgamikpga Members Posts: 7,376 ✭✭
    I’ve only played a few, but I think Muirfield Village is very nice...
  • az2auaz2au Members Posts: 1,809 ✭✭
    Desert Mountain Outlaw is by far the best Nicklaus course I’ve played. Many of the others roadking lists are somewhere in the “next tier”. I agree with Raynorfan1 pretty much 100%. The only thing I would add is that Nicklaus often gets too much credit for “nice” or money courses. I also think that’s why he gets a lot of the pushback you see. Lots of sizzle without substance.
  • Manbearpig13Manbearpig13 Members Posts: 70 ✭✭

    Coyote Springs

    Kauai Lagoons

    Bull at Pinehurst Farms

    Club at Snoqualmie Ridge

    Only Nicklaus courses I have played but I can say that I have enjoyed them all, with Pronghorn & Coyote Springs being ahead of the pack.
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  • deadsolid...shankdeadsolid...shank ClubWRX Posts: 14,685 ClubWRX
    Not too many of them that I’m aware of (admittedly I don’t normally pay much attention to who designed).

    But I really like Coyote Springs and the Nicklaus course at Dismal River. The Nicklaus Tournament course in Palm Springs wasn’t especially memorable, but I enjoyed it (if he even designed it).
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  • BNGLBNGL Members Posts: 1,687 ✭✭
    Admittedly I don’t know who designed a lot of golf courses other than the ones I worked and designers I’ve worked with/for but Bear’s Club is perfection to me. Just absolutely flawless I fully expect Muirfield Village to meet the same standards of Bears when I trek up there late next spring.
  • burritos4breakfastburritos4breakfast hawai'iMembers Posts: 272 ✭✭
  • CMCSGolfCMCSGolf Members Posts: 516 ✭✭
    edited Nov 4, 2018 #12
    I've found Nicklaus to be hit and miss. I really loved the Bull in WI, but did not care for Pronghorn at all. MV is on a whole other level. I've read a few reviews about Pronghorn since I've been there and they were very positive, which honestly surprised me because I thought the Fazio course was far superior. Perhaps I missed something. I just thought the shots weren't that interesting and found the course unmemorable. Compare that to the Bull, which is a real challenge. A lot of interesting and difficult shots are required to get around there. There is a real benefit to hitting the correct shape a hole calls for.

    I've never really felt that Nicklaus courses require a fade, but I do think they require an aerial game. I'm a decent player so this isn't something I think about much and it's a lot of fun to hit irons into some beautiful looking greens surrounded by deep bunkers. However, the Bull looks tough for your average lady or senior.
  • ceejay81ceejay81 Love that chicken from Popeyes! Washington, DCMembers Posts: 1,764 ✭✭
    Pinehurst #9 is a pretty good course. I really like it.
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  • razor_1razor_1 Members Posts: 77 ✭✭
    I've played about 5 of his courses. Bring your air game and let the links ground game ride for another day. Loves false fronts and multi-tiered and multi-sectioned greens.

    Two that stand out-

    -Achasta in Dahlonega, GA- I shot -4 on the back so any course that gives me a 32 is going to stand out. Conditions were perfect.

    -Old Corkscrew, Ft Myers, Fl- very long and difficult golf course. Played it in the rain with a west coast player who was going to try and qualify for the Sr. Tour. This has been about 3 years ago and still don't see his name. Kudos for trying but I didn't feel he had the game. Granted only 1 round, but I have played with a few tour pros and usually can tell.
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  • mckennwamckennwa Members Posts: 645 ✭✭
    edited Nov 4, 2018 #15
    I had the exact same experience at Old Corkscrew. Last day of a golf trip and only two of us left before a late flight. They paired us wjth a guy playing a senior tour qualifier in a few days. He hit it well off the tee and had a great (and I mean great) short game, but his iron play and putting were only ok at best. I think I know why his short game was so good. Lots of practice from missing greens. I checked the scores a week or so later and he WD’d after a 79.

    I liked a few of the holes there, but it wasn’t my favorite course. Conditions weren’t that great when I was there, especially for the price.
  • dpb5031dpb5031 Members Posts: 5,263 ✭✭
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  • ode1ode1 Members Posts: 2,857 ✭✭
    I've only played The Bull and it is very tough, demanding, yet fun course. I don't find it extremely difficult off the tee, there are places to miss, but at the expense of having a really tough approach.

    There is very little let up on approach shots and you need to be precise. And a very scenic and beautiful property. I really enjoy #5 and #16, as being good examples of visually stunning and demanding off the tee, but ince you've played them a few times, realize there is more room than what appears. A few pics of 16, from tee then getting closer to the green and the last two are a peek back from front of green-

  • troublelovetroublelove Members Posts: 357 ✭✭
    edited Nov 4, 2018 #18
    Great resort courses and lots of fun to play. However, seems to have been left behind over the last 20 years with the minimalist style of Crenwshaw, Doak etc.....

    Monte Rei is one of the very best courses you can play.
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  • NoCautionNoCaution Members Posts: 150 ✭✭
    I've played two Nicklaus courses, and I have strong opinions on both.

    Reflection Bay is my favorite golf course of all time. I could go on and on about how perfect it is. It's by no means "easy", but it's still quite playable for all levels. To ME, it's the perfect combination of scenic, strategic, and fun course design. I've played a bunch of courses that "rate" higher to most people, but for whatever reason, none have topped the Bay yet.

    On the other end of the spectrum is Coyote Springs. I actually like the routing of CS quite a lot, but it suffers from one big issue... It the BY FAR the most penal course I've ever played. There's barely a single flat lie in the entire place, and if there are any "safe" misses, I have yet to find them. I get why better players love it, but for a guy who shoots in the 90s most rounds, it just feels like a punishment when I play there. They have a great practice area though.
    I'd certainly hate to be left out of the "WITB signature" thingy, so...

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  • Roadking2003Roadking2003 AustinMembers Posts: 5,576 ✭✭
    Here is my entire list. I would love to play Muirfield Village some day. I expect to play Punta Espada some day too.

    Bears Best

    Breckenridge Golf Club

    Cabo Del Sol - Ocean

    Castle Pines Country Club

    Castle Pines Golf Club

    Club Campestre San Jose

    Country Club of the South

    Desert Mountain Apache

    Desert Mountain Chiricahua

    Desert Mountain Cochise

    Desert Mountain Geronimo

    Desert Mountain Outlaw

    Desert Mountain Renegade

    Eagle Bend


    English Turn

    Flintrock Falls

    Glen Abbey

    Grand Cypress New Course

    Hills of Lakeway


    Kauai Lagoons Kiele

    La Paloma

    Las Campanas - Sunset

    Monte Rei

    Old Greenwood


    PGA National - Champion

    PGA West - Nicklaus


    Puerto Los Cabos

    Reflection Bay

    Sherwood Country Club

    Shoal Creek

    Summit Rock

    The Bull

    The Challenge at Manele

    The Eagles, Forest Course

    Vista Vallarta - Nicklaus
  • LithovtLithovt LithoVT Bristol, TNMembers Posts: 98 ✭✭
    Have played a number of his courses and have not thought that any of them were bad or poorly designed. Whenever I am in the Atlanta area I always try to play Bears Best. I really enjoy that course and think it is one of the best public courses in/around Atlanta.
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  • BUCKEYERBALL88BUCKEYERBALL88 Members Posts: 960 ✭✭
    I’m usually into minimalist design but I also have enjoyed most of the Nicklaus courses that I’ve played. I hit a slice, Jack hit a fade and we are both Buckeyes.

    My rankings:

    Reflection Bay

    Dove Mountain

    Coyote Springs

    Old Corkscrew

    PGA West-Nicklaus Tournament


    The Bull at Pinehurst Farms
  • toothysaw2toothysaw2 Members Posts: 79 ✭✭
    I’ve only played 4, but am quite a fan of all of them:

    - harbour town

    - angeles national

    - pronghorn

    - potomac shores

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  • mckennwamckennwa Members Posts: 645 ✭✭
    Dove Mountain! I forgot that one. Some of the most severe greens I’ve ever putted.
  • az2auaz2au Members Posts: 1,809 ✭✭
    I should have mentioned Monte Rei. Awesome course and it doesn't seem like most other Nicklaus courses I've played (not a good or bad thing, just what I thought).
  • mallratmallrat Members Posts: 2,958 ✭✭
    I’ve played a couple and work on one that has been mentioned here quite a few times. That said I have very mixed feelings on his courses because once I learned how he wants his courses played it changed the way I look at them. Most of his courses i’ve Played are a good challenge but personally I am not a huge fan of his style of golf. I like options and most of his courses i’ve Played there is really one way he wants a hole played.

    But to say he designs his courses for a fade is wrong, he seems to design his courses for specific shots.
  • DandyDonDandyDon Members Posts: 198 ✭✭
    1. Challenge at Manele is simply awesome

    2. Bull at Pinehurst Farms, Fantastic

    3. Coyote Springs, pretty nice

    4. Dove Mountain, very overrated

    5. Really liked his course at Diablo Grande in Patterson Ca, but it was closed down about 4 years ago or so.
  • FairwayFredFairwayFred Sponsors Posts: 4,041 ✭✭
    My top 5

    Dismal River White

    Muirfield Village

    Great Waters

    Desert Mouinatin Outlaw

    Harbour Town (if you count that as a JN)

    To me Jack doesn't design top tier amazing courses but he also has very few duds.
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  • SMcGavin1SMcGavin1 Members Posts: 119 ✭✭
    Nicklaus courses are usually underwhelming to say the least, however, the newly renovated Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort is outstanding.
  • AlmostscratchonceAlmostscratchonce Members Posts: 187 ✭✭
    Desert Mountain Outlaw

    Dalhousie G.C.

    Great Waters
  • BUCKEYERBALL88BUCKEYERBALL88 Members Posts: 960 ✭✭
    az2au wrote:

    Desert Mountain Outlaw is by far the best Nicklaus course I’ve played. Many of the others roadking lists are somewhere in the “next tier”. I agree with Raynorfan1 pretty much 100%. The only thing I would add is that Nicklaus often gets too much credit for “nice” or money courses. I also think that’s why he gets a lot of the pushback you see. Lots of sizzle without substance.

    Do they get dm outlaw firm & fast? That’s my issue with we ko pa saguaro. The design calls for links like shots but the grass is too soft
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