Donald Ross has his fingerprints all over the Golfweek’s Best rankings of courses in the United States. Pinehurst No. 2, Seminole Golf Club, Inverness, Oakland Hills. … the list goes on and on.
Count New Hampshire among the states as home to one of Ross’s historical layouts, with his design at Omni Mount Washington in Bretton Woods ranking No. 1 on Golfweek’s Best list for public-access courses in the state.
The par-72 course in eastern New Hampshire’s mountains plays 7,004 yards off the tips. It was restored by architect Brian Silva in 2008.
Golfweek ranks courses by compiling the average ratings – on a points basis of 1 to 10 – of its more than 750 raters to create several industry-leading lists of courses, including the popular Best Courses You Can Play list for courses that allow non-member tee times. These generally are defined as courses accessible to resort guests or regular daily-fee players.
But while Omni Mount Washington has been a consistent No. 1 for years on the state’s list, it was the second-ranked course that made news this year, and not for a good reason.
Hanover Country Club, operated by Dartmouth College, closed its doors in 2020. The course had been shut since the fall of 2019 and never reopened in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The college announced in July that it was shuttering both the men’s and women’s golf programs as well as the course because of financial challenges.
The first nine holes of Hanover opened in 1899, and it was the oldest athletic facility at the college. School officials hope to maintain the open areas for community recreational use.
The Golfweek’s Best rankings for 2020 were solidified in March before the announcement, so Hanover still sits at No. 2 on the annual list this year. That leaves Country Club of New Hampshire in North Sutton at No. 3, Portsmouth Country Club in Greenland at No. 4 and Breakfast Hill in Greenland as No. 5. The 2021 rankings will reflect Hanover’s closure.
If Hanover had not been included on this year’s list before its closing, Atkinson Resort and Country Club would have been No. 5 behind Breakfast Hill.
Also this year, Golfweek compared the elite public-access golf in each state. We averaged the ratings of the top five courses in each state to determine which states were the strongest. Oregon was No. 1 on that list based on the strength of Bandon Dunes Golf Resort’s four courses, and New Hampshire came in at No. 45 on that list, ahead of nearby states No. 47 Rhode Island and No. 49 Delaware but trailing No. 32 Maine and No. 37 Vermont. Massachusetts was No. 26 on that list.
New Hampshire faired a little better on a similar analysis of elite private clubs based on Golfweek’s Best ranking. The Granite State was No. 39 on that list, ahead of No. 44 Vermont, No. 45 Delaware and No. 48 Maine. Massachusetts, which is full of historic private clubs, was No. 9 in the U.S. in that comparison.
Each year we publish three lists that are the foundation of our course-ratings program: Golfweek’s Best Modern Courses, Golfweek’s Best Classic Courses, Golfweek’s Best Courses You Can Play, state by state. We also have Golfweek’s Best 2020: Top 100 Best Courses You Can Play.
Golfweek’s Best Courses You Can Play 2020 in New Hampshire
1. Omni Mount Washington
Bretton Woods (c)
2. Hanover CC
3. CC of New Hampshire
5. Breakfast Hill
Golfweek’s Best Private Courses 2020 in New Hampshire
1. Golf Club of New England
2. Bald Peak Colony Club
Melvin Village (c)
3. Baker Hill
5. Lake Winnipesaukee
New Durham (m)
* New or returning to the list; c: Classic, built before 1960. m: Modern, built in 1960 or after
Golfweek’s Best 2020
How we rate them
The members of our course-ratings panel continually evaluate courses and rate them based on our 10 criteria. They also file a single, overall rating on each course. Those overall ratings on each course are averaged together to produce a final rating for each course. Then each course is ranked against other courses in its state, or nationally, to produce the final rankings.
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