A Quick Nine: The Hills are Alive

Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma
Photo courtesy of The PGA of America
The Tulsa skyline serves as a picturesque backdrop to the opening tee shot of this historic layout.
By
John Kim
PGA.com

Series: A Quick Nine

Published: Tuesday, June 15, 2010 | 12:29 a.m.

I think it's a fairly popular reality show (I promise I do not watch that stuff), but to true golfers -- "The Hills" mean a collection of some of the greatest course layouts in the country. They have no relation to each other but the members of the PGA.com Facebook Fan page relate them all to some of the most scenic, most challenging and most impressive moments in the golf lives. So we asked this week in our "A Quick Nine" feature, what is your favorite 'Hill?'

The answers were varied and a plenty. Some gave great rationale for why they should make the list, others made no sense at all (Faith Hill? Benny Hill? Okay, kind of funny). We got plenty of votes but not as many quotes/testimonials as we'd want -- (we're going to have a talk about that.)

But a quick tally of the answers thus far show great insight by our Facebook fans and a huge diversity of awesome courses. I'll also state up front that there were some TREMENDOUS courses that did not make the list. More than one, in fact, that had this been my list, would have made it. But it's your list...and the readers have spoken. But before we get to the NINE, I'd like to submit one course for honorable mention:

9.) Warwick Hills -- Grand Blanc Township, Michigan

A long time host of the PGA Tour, Warwick Hills has consistently been rated as a top layout in the golf-crazy state of Michigan. Even more, the 17th hole is a long par three that is not only a great challenge for golfers but during the long-running Buick Open, was home to some of the loudest and most knowledgeable galleries in golf.

Facebook Fan Quote: Tim Skorupski Warwick Hills -- "Nothing better than the 17th green during the Buick Open!!"

8.) Cherry Hills Country Club -- Cherry Hills Village, Colorado

This Rocky Mountain beauty has hosted several major championships including the famous 1960 U.S. Open where Arnold Palmer made his furious Sunday charge including driving the green on the first hole (par 4) to take the title, and the 1985 PGA Championship won by Hubert Green. Also claiming important championships at Cherry Hills are Phil Mickelson and Jack Nickalus.

Facebook Fan Quote: (Votes, no quotes)

7.) Shinnecock Hills Golf Club -- Southhampton, New York

Exclusive, pristine and historic. Hard combination to beat. Shinnecock Hills has hosted four different U.S. Opens in three different centuries.

(again, votes but no quotes!)

6.) Cog Hill Golf and Country Club -- LeMont, Illinois

The home of the BMW Championship, Cog Hill actually is comprised of four courses -- all of which are highly-awarded and available for public play. But it's the newly-renovated Dubsdread course that is renowned as one of the best in the world. A contender to host a U.S. Open at some point, it combines a great challenge with impeccable conditions and a top facility. Golfers from weekend hackers to Tiger Woods have praised the course as one they love.

Facebook Fan Quote: (Many votes, no quotes - come on guys, get quoted here!)

5.) Oakland Hills Golf Club -- Bloomfield Township, Michigan

The first head professional at this course was Walter Hagen. How's that for setting a high bar? The South Course, famously nicknamed "The Monster" by none other than Ben Hogan, has hosted 16 major championships, including Padraig Harrington's famous win at the 2008 PGA Championship, and the 35th Ryder Cup in 2004.

Facebook Fan Quote: Dan Perry Oakland Hills-- "Getting a par on 18 with tournament conditions was almost like a birdie for the pro's. Would love to play there."

4.) Spyglass Hill Golf Club -- Pebble Beach, California

If this Robert Trent Jones treasure wasn't a five iron shot away from a couple of other courses named Pebble Beach and Cypress Point, it would generate a great deal more attention than it already does. Some refer to it as a combination of Pine Valley and Augusta National -- with a great view of the Pacific Ocean thrown in. How's that for high praise?

Facebook Fan Quote: Bobby Bray-- "It's awesome golf, you have ocean holes then back into the pines and hills ... a great course-- love playing there."

3.) Southern Hills Country Club -- Tulsa, Oklahoma

This Oklahoma gem boasts a history that is elite and impressive. Three U.S. Opens and four PGA Championships have been played here as has seven other major championships. The course is noted for its demanding layout and is consistently named as one of the top courses in the nation by a number of course ranking golf publications.

Facebook Fan Quote: John White Southern hills-- "Only not as hot as it was during the PGA Championship!"

2.) Oak Hill Country club -- Rochester, New York

"The hardest, fairest course we've ever played." -- Tiger Woods. Kind of hard to top that, eh? Well how abou t this. There has been one course that has hosted six major men's championships including the U.S. Open, the U.S. Senior Open, the U.S. Amateur, the Senior PGA Championship, the PGA Championship and The Ryder Cup. I think that kind of says it all.

Facebook Fan Quote: T.C. Pellett-- "Oak Hill is the only Hill you'll ever need. The day I golfed the East Course was one of the best experiences I've ever had."

1.) Bay Hill Golf Club -- Orlando, Florida

It's never hosted a major championship. It has no ocean views. It does host a PGA Tour event, but that's not even the main attraction. Nope, not here. Two words: Arnold Palmer. On a list that generated a number of different venues, one certainly stood out in quantity of votes and passion of opinions. I'll let you guys explain why Bay Hill is your favorite "Hill" of a course.

Facebook Fan Quotes:

Michael Bills-- "Bay Hill! Mr. Palmer took the time out of his day to spend some with me! Thank you MR Palmer! Also not to mention his staff is amazing and they Truely love working for the king!"

Brian Tomey-- "Bay Hill... The average Joe rarely get's a chance to play with a legand and the last two times I've played there Mr. Palmer was either in the foursome in front of us or directly behind us. To play that course and watch a legend at the same time...PRICELESS! Not to mention that Mr. Palmer also takes the time to say hi and thank you every time he's in the clubhouse. Total class act!"

Jim Curley-- "Bay Hill is the best golf experience. Arnold is a gracious host and always takes time to say hi to anyone in the locker room bar after a round. I've stayed and played there many times."

Thomas Talbert-- "Have to go with Arnie---Bay Hill."

Honorable Mention:

Goat Hill - Oceanside, CA

Does this course really belong on the list? Maybe not, but it had to be included to represent hundreds of courses just like it that are so important to millions of golfers. I found very little information on this course, but what I did find said that from the tips, it measured less than 4800 yards for 18 holes and its most expensive rate was a weekend rate of $20.50.

Facebook Fan Quote:

Gregory S Hagen-- "Goat hill in Oceanside CA, It's a dilapitated Muni Track where you can lose your ball in the middle of the fairway! Weed patches abound....But it's cheap and a fun place to play and have a few beers! Geez, place has been there for decades...My granfather used to play there back in the day."

Yes, the Hills are indeed alive and doing better than any dumb reality show. Just sayin'