Pacific Dunes opened in 2001, and is considered by many to rival Pebble Beach as the finest public access course in the country. At 6,633 yards, Tom Doak's layout is a bantamweight by modern standards, and there are some quirks -- two greens at No. 9 and consecutive par 3s at Nos. 10 and 11 -- but the entire package falls together seamlessly. There are many superb holes -- like No. 13, a long par 4 teetering atop the dunes, and the 208-yard 17th, where the heaving green will either funnel your ball to the hole or kick it into a chipping area off the back.
But the strength of Pacific Dunes doesn't lie in single holes; it is in the dizzying array of options you face at every turn. Navigating the route less traveled is the joy of a course like this. That's why numbers are as irrelevant here as at the Old Course in St. Andrews. It's just man against course (and weather). And golf really doesn't get much purer than that.