April 17, 2009

Best casino golf courses

15 best casino golf courses3. Turning Stone Resort, Verona, N.Y.

Few golfers know offhand what is the largest golf resort in New York State. The answer, Turning Stone, smack in the middle of the state, appeared so quickly that it remains an enigma. But it is hard to argue with the Oneida Nation’s golf courses here.

4. Dancing Rabbit, Philadelphia, Miss.

This Mississippi casino resort is tops in the nation for combining superlative golf with stellar bargains. The 36-hole facility is part of the Choctaw Indians’ Pearl River Resort.

7. Circling Raven, Coeur D'Alene, Idaho

Another real-estate-free course, this is a perfect example of casino resources: It covers an unheard of 620 acres, carved from the best of the nearly 350,000-acre Coeur D’Alene tribe reservation, featuring wetlands, grasslands and woodlands, all framed by mountains.

9. We-Ko-Pa Golf Club, Scottsdale, Ariz.

In 2002, the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation opened the Cholla course here, and it immediately set new standards for public course quality in the golf-mad Phoenix/Scottsdale “Valley of the Sun.” Cholla is currently ranked in the nation’s Top 50 by Golf Magazine and five years after it opened, We-Ko-Pa’s second course lived up to the hype of the original.

10. Hyatt Regency Tamaya, Albuquerque, N.M.

This surprisingly deluxe Hyatt resort, with 45-holes of golf, a casino and several other facilities, is owned by the Santa Ana Pueblo. The two golf facilities are schizophrenic: The older 27-hole Santa Ana Golf Club is much less polished, and feels like a municipal course compared to the newer Twin Warriors.

11. Lake of Isles/Foxwoods Casino, Ledyard, Conn.

This 36-hole facility by Rees Jones would rank much higher on our list, but only one of the two courses is open to casino guests and the public, while the other is very private. Both are equally impressive, and exemplify everything good about casino golf, from huge expanses of otherwise untouched wilderness to money-is-no-object design, construction and maintenance, to a wonderful clubhouse with first rate food and gear.

12. The Wilderness at Fortune Bay, Tower, Minn.

This layout in northern Minnesota would top the list of most remote casino courses, but it is worth seeking out, for both its quality and bargain basement prices. It was the work of Jeffrey Brauer, a little-known designer whose most notable works are the very good 36-holes at Giant’s Ridge ski resort, 25 minutes away. Brauer obviously understands the rocky, rugged terrain in these parts, and Bois Forte Band of Chippewa Indians made the right choice.

14. Barona Creek Golf Club, Lakeside, Calif.

The Barona band of Mission Indians took a long shot on little known architect Todd Eckenrode, but the bet paid off. In the hotbed of southern California golf, many pundits claim this is the best choice among heavyweights like Aviara, and even Torrey Pines. In fact, Golfweek ranked it the fifth best public course in all of California, along with super-heavyweights Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Best Indian Golf Course.

Below:  Turning Stone Resort.

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