There was much anxiety for many golf architecture fans during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, as Yale Golf Course remained closed for an extended period. Rumors and speculation took hold that the famed course in New Haven, Connecticut, was destined for closure as reports surfaced that maintenance had lapsed during the closure.
Much of the angst was eased in late September when Yale Golf Course, designed by Charles Blair MacDonald and Seth Raynor and the perennial No. 1 on Golfweek’s Campus Courses, reopened with a new general manager and plans to reinvigorate the turf conditions and attract more students, who now can play for free after noon on weekdays.
“The goal is to number one, restore the golf course to its original design and bring the golf course playability conditions back up to championship-caliber level in order to host NCAA tournaments and other big events,” new general manager Peter Palacios Jr. told yaledailynews.com. “Even though we are three miles apart [from campus], apparently there is a big disconnect between the university and the golf course, and one of the main goals is to try and reconnect that.”
Just as Yale held onto that No. 1 spot among Campus Courses for another year, the rest of the top three courses on that list remained static from 2019. Culver Academies Golf Course in Indiana – a prep academy nine-holer by William B. Langford and Theodore Moreau – retains the No. 2 spot, and Williams College’s Taconic Golf Club in Williamstown, Massachusetts, remains third.
The biggest mover on this year’s list is the Pfau Course at Indiana University, a new layout by Steve Smyers and Fuzzy Zoeller that opened in 2020 on the site of the university’s previous course. With zoysia fairways and bluegrass rough stretching into fescue beyond, the layout was built to handle everyday play but can be stretched beyond 7,900 yards to accommodate championships. It debuts at No. 4 on the 2020 Golfweek’s Best Campus Courses list.
Courses are rated by Golfweek’s national group of players, with ratings based on multiple criteria such as memorability of the holes and the “walk in the park test.” The raters then give each course an overall rating, which is shown on the list on these pages. Included are the 2019 ranking in parenthesis, the operating school in parenthesis if not obvious by the name, the average rating on the top line for each course, location, designers (and sometimes renovators) and year opened.