““[Bill Gates] has been historically one of my best supporters…One of my favorite e-mails he ever sent me…I proposed this crazy project. And he sent back this two-line response: ‘This has got to be the craziest thing you’ve ever suggested. Please proceed.’” ”
The best modern golf courses in the western U.S.
Our series on America's best golf courses continues with a look at three of the best modern fairways in the West, as determined by Golfweek magazine's handpicked panel of 385 course raters. The raters, who are students of architecture, attend national workshops and each evaluate 15 to 20 courses per year.
Here's what distinguishes these modern western courses. We've also included information on the most convenient places to land your business jet near each course.
Bandon Trails, Bandon, Ore.
This is not a links course, despite being part of the famed Bandon Dunes resort. But Bandon Trails, the latest (2005) addition to the property, offers a sophisticated walk through three distinct landforms, including dunes, maritime heathlands and traditional Pacific Northwest conifer forest. Designs by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw make the 6,765-yard, par-71 layout an engaging test, with endlessly compelling greens and recovery areas. The most interesting hole is the downhill, 325-yard par-4 14th-the kind of hole you can reach in one but whose green you can't hold in two. Bandon Trails ranks No. 12 on Golfweek's best-modern-courses list.
Bandon State (S05)
3,600-ft runway, 10-mi drive
FBO: Bandon Aero Club (541-347-2022)
Sutton Bay, Onida, S.D.
Build it and they will come, but only if they can find it. Just head to central South Dakota, 40 miles north of Pierre. Along the Missouri River lies a spectacular hunting, fishing and golf retreat called Sutton Bay. The course, designed by Graham Marsh, opened in 2003 and now sits at No. 17 on Golfweek's best-modern-courses list. Offering a windswept journey amid the wide open spaces of the great western frontier, it's simply a joy to walk and play.
Gettysburg Municipal (0D8)
3,800-ft runway, 31-mi drive
FBO: Nauman Flying Service (605-765-9197)
Desert Forest Golf Club, Carefree, Ariz.
Here's an Arizona original-the first true desert course. Red Lawrence's pioneering design from 1962, ranked No. 20 on Golfweek's best-modern-courses list, doesn't have a single fairway bunker-except for the entire desert floor, which lines each hole. The fairways twist and roll so much you have to read them for break from the tee as if you were putting. This private club north of Scottsdale is also a pilot's dream; it's part of a visionary real estate planner's community, which has its own airport (adjoining the 11th fairway), replete with homes with hangars along the runway.
8,249-ft runway, 12-mi drive
FBOs: Corporate Jets, Inc. (480-948-2400; 800-995-5387); Scottsdale Air Center (480-951-2525); Scottsdale FBO (480-607-6894)
Sky Ranch at Carefree (18AZ)
4,037-ft runway, private facility adjacent to golf course