This week, Golfweek released some brand new rankings for their “Best of 2020” series: their Top 200 Resort Courses; the Top 200 Residential Courses; and the Top 50 Casino Courses.

The number of Northeast Ohio golf courses that made these three new lists?


Granted, since that Great Lake to our north makes for 4-5 months of gray skies and icy temps every year, Northeast Ohio doesn’t really set up well for any of the three market categories that make up those latest lists. Understood.

But the fact that NEOH went oh-for made me wonder: how well does our region stack up on ALL of the major ranking lists put out by big golf media?

Back in June, Golfweek released their annual “Top 200 Classic Courses” list, focusing on courses in America built before 1960. (They also have an annual “Top 200 Modern Courses” list.) Northeast Ohio does pretty well on the Classic list:

Golfweek Top 200 Classic Courses:

60 Brookside Canton, Ohio Donald Ross 1922
63 Canterbury Beachwood, Ohio Herbert Strong 1922
93 Kirtland CC Willoughby, Ohio Charles H. Alison 1922
122 The Country Club Pepper Pike, Ohio Howard C. Toomey and William S. Flynn
163 Firestone CC South Akron, Ohio W.H. Way and Robert Trent Jones Sr.

Obviously, the national list is 99% made up of private clubs, and NEOH has always had a strong batch of those.

Golfweek has another big list published yearly, “Best Courses You Can Play“, which came out last May. They don’t compile this list for the USA in total, just state-by-state. So there isn’t much of a “rankings fight” nationwide, just intra-state. Here are the six NEOH public-access courses that made the list of 10 for the state of Ohio:

Golfweek Best Courses You Can Play:

1. Manakiki, Willoughby (c)
2. Fowler’s Mill (Lake & River), Chesterland (m)
4. Boulder Creek, Streetsboro (m)
5. Sleepy Hollow, Brecksville (c)
7. The Quarry, Canton (m)
8. Little Mountain, Painesville (m)

Again, that’s a strong list.

Golf Advisor Top 50:

Grey Hawk Golf Club in LaGrange gets a lot of love from the “community of golf course reviewers” at Golf Advisor. On the 2019 GolfAdvisor Top 50 Golfer’s Choice list, Grey Hawk earned the #9 ranking for the entire USA. They also rank on the site’s lists for Top Courses in Ohio 2019 (#1), Top 25 USA Courses for Layout (#5), Top 25 USA Course for Conditions (#11), and Top 25 USA Value Courses (#1). That’s a LOT of love.

That Empty Feeling

But here’s where it gets frustrating.

Obviously, both of the lists above are made up of pretty solid courses that stack up to the best courses across the rest of the nation. Especially on the private club side.

But when you look at the most recent lists from Golf Digest, / Golf Magazine and the user rankings of Golf Channel’s Golf Advisor, Northeast Ohio is shut out COMPLETELY from EVERY ONE of those lists!

Go ahead, read ’em and weep:

Golfweek Top 200 Classic Courses

Golf Digest America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses

Golf Digest America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses Top 100 Resorts Top 100 Courses in the World


What adds a bit more to the frustration is that other Ohio courses do crack those lists: Muirfield Village, Scioto, Inverness, The Golf Club, Double Eagle, a handful of others. But even those Ohio courses appear willy-nilly, with different courses on different lists.

Sure, maybe NEOH doesn’t have a superhero course that slides onto the “Top 100 in the World” list. That’s a tough roster to crack. Fair enough.

But not even one of the five courses that made the “Golfweek Top 200 Classic Courses” merits a space on, say, the “Golf Digest America’s 100 Greatest Courses” list? Really?

To me, that means the compiling of those lists is not so much about the greatness of any particular golf course.

Perhaps it’s more about the perception of the region.

Or marketing.

Or reaching out to the raters.

So maybe we golfers have to stand up for the courses in NEOH just a little bit more.

Boast to the golf world with a little more swagger.

Talk a little “great courses” smack.

Because Northeast Ohio deserves a better ranking when it comes to The Best, The Top and The Greatest…



  1. January 26, 2020

    It always looked to me that he Golf Week’s lists are either bought and paid for, or a popularity contest with no regard to what makes a great course.
    Greyhawk, in Lagrange, Eagle Creek in Norwalk are two courses that come to mind that are better than a few on this list.

  2. January 23, 2020

    In years past, Firestone South would crack some of the top 100 lists, but now that the Tour is gone, it will be “out of sight, out of mind”. At the rate courses are closing in our area, we may never have another course make it on a list. Very sad state of affairs.

  3. January 18, 2020

    I’ve played around 90 courses in Northeastern Ohio in the last 8 years. Have avoided Manakiki because of slow play. I will have to get there

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