The limited number of new course openings in recent years isn’t a reflection on the popularity of golf. Rather, it speaks to the wealth of options—particularly in the U.S., which boasts well over 40 percent of the global supply.
Consider there are more golf courses spread across the 50 U.S. states (over 16,000 in total) than stores for some of the nation’s most popular fast-food franchises; McDonald’s, Burger King, and Taco Bell all have fewer locations, meaning it might be easier for golfers to find somewhere to tee it up than grab a Big Mac.
Given golf’s abundance, not to mention the demand for land in the U.S., more golf courses are closing than opening every year. It’s why new course openings are so celebrated.
In recent years, short courses and destination courses have been a popular trend. For example, Tom Doak is working on a new par-3 course at Bandon Dunes and bringing The Lido back to life at Sand Valley in Wisconsin (with preview play for members beginning this year). While short courses and off-the-beaten-path golf getaways remain in vogue, there’s a notable number of 2022 debuts with a real estate component, particularly as the pandemic stretches on and more Americans look for residential options outside big cities with a community feel and a wide range of family amenities—including golf.
Here’s a look at what’s coming:
Stillwater (St. Johns, Fla.)
The first new 18-hole course constructed in Northeast Florida in almost two decades, this semi-private club designed by Bobby Weed is located in the heart of an active 55+ adult community. Weed’s progressive design features just 70 acres of irrigated turf and can be played in loops of three, six, nine, and 12 holes, plus has 18 acres of shell screenings for cart paths that reduce maintenance in addition to providing terrific visual contrast. Opening in the spring, the course also features vertical sod wall bunkers and a Himalayan-style putting course. stillwatergcc.com
The Highlands (Porter, Texas)
The Highlands Pines Golf Club is central to a 2,300-acre master-planned community north of Houston that will feature more than 4,000 homes. Nestled on a heavily forested tract of land, Highlands Pines winds through tall pine trees before diving down toward the San Jacinto River, all the while offering stunning views of lakes, meadows, and valleys. Scheduled to open in late 2022, it’s set to be the first new semi-private golf course to be added to the Houston landscape in more than a decade. thehighlands.com
Chambers Creek (Willis, Texas)
Also in the Lone Star State, this 9-hole layout designed by Tom Lehman is core to a destination-style, active adult (55-plus) master-planned community set in Houston’s Hill Country. The 3,200-home development along Lake Conroe features resort-style amenities and activities for residents, including a golf course that boasts 30-mile views in some spots as it winds through rolling hills and creeks. chamberscreektx.com
Black Desert Resort at Entrada (Ivins, Utah)
In Southwest Utah, not far from Zion National Park, Tom Weiskopf designed a 19-hole course that winds through spectacular black lava fields. Playability is a priority for this resort course with a real estate component, with fair greens and forgiving fairways—some of which are 100 yards wide in spots—but plenty of risk/reward opportunities. It will also feature a two-acre putting course called The Yard and will welcome some public play when it opens in late 2022 before being limited to resort guests and homeowners. blackdesertresort.com
RainDance National (Windsor, Colo.)
In northern Colorado, this 18-hole high plains course from PGA Tour veteran Fred Funk and architect Harrison Minchew is part of a sprawling master-planned community with several neighborhoods. Golf is among a host of resort-like amenities at RainDance, with the long-planned course scheduled to open for play in July. It was originally announced in 2014, but construction didn’t start until last year to allow for further development of the real estate component. raindancecolorado.com
Bar Run Golf (Roseburg, Ore.)
About 85 miles inland from Bandon Dunes, Bar Run Golf opened its first nine (actually 10) holes this past year in an old sand-and-gravel mine along the South Umpqua River. Thus, Bar Run gets a nod in the top golf course openings of 2021 as well as 2022, with the remaining holes designed by Pacific Northwest native Dan Hixson scheduled to open this summer, giving the property a full 18. The name “Bar Run” is a nod to the mining operations that continue just beyond the fairways and greens, as the land’s river bar was originally mined for round rock, sand, and gravel used in construction, agriculture, landscaping, and other industries, including golf course development. barrungolf.com
— Bar Run Golf + RV Resort (@BarRunGolf) November 16, 2021
Gravel Pit 13 (Brainerd, Minn.)
Just over 120 miles northwest of Minneapolis, course designer Scott Hoffman has transformed a barren gravel pit into a unique 13-hole experience. Scheduled to open in April, the Gravel Pit looks like, well, much more, with fescue-blanketed holes that weave through green hills, valleys, and around several bodies of water. The clubhouse overlooks all 13 holes and there’s also a 13-hole “extreme putting course” as well as a group of bocce ball courts for golfers and non-golfers alike to enjoy this outside-the-box gathering spot. gravelpitgolf.com
Brambles (Middletown, Calif.)
The opening of this private club designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw was pushed back a bit but is now scheduled for late 2022 just outside Northern California wine country. A walkable layout that puts an emphasis on strategic decision-making, Brambles has been created as an authentic golf experience: walking, spirited competition, camaraderie, and an appreciation of the outdoors in a ranch-style setting in the rolling California countryside. jhduncan.com/brambles
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Big Easy Ranch (Columbus, Texas)
Centrally located between Houston, Austin, and San Antonio, Big Easy Ranch is a premier destination for whitetail and exotic hunting, upland and duck hunting, fishing, sporting clays, upscale dining, and golf. The property already had a 9-hole, par-3 course and now is adding an 18-hole course from Chet Williams Design that takes advantage of the area’s rolling terrain, including some holes that have an 80-foot drop from tee to fairway, along with tree-lined holes, natural running creeks, and waterfalls. bigeasyranch.com
Grass never stops growing. #365 pic.twitter.com/qaTXsZ1hgD
— Big Easy Ranch Golf (@BER_Golf27) January 1, 2022
Lost Rail (Omaha, Neb.)
Secluded and spectacular, Lost Rail is a private, golf-only escape just outside the city designed by Omaha native Scott Hoffman and built by Lincoln, Neb., firm Landscapes Unlimited. There’s local flavor, but world-class expectations for a memorable layout that plays through farmland and rolling pastures as well as over and around ravines, ridges, and a century-old railbed from which the club derives its name. There will also be a 6-hole short course when the club officially opens, likely this summer. lostrailgolf.com
Day 11: the par-3 5th.
Playing over the ravine — and through the gap in the old railbed — this hole was essential to Lost Rail. And quite a feat of construction. pic.twitter.com/bH4YznUKbo
— Lost Rail Golf Club (@LostRailGolf) December 31, 2021
Landmand (Homer, Neb.)
About 90 minutes north of Omaha is yet another star-in-the-making in Nebraska’s burgeoning golf scene. Unlike Lost Rail and some of the other exclusive private properties in Nebraska’s sandhills (Sand Hills, CapRock Ranch, Dismal River), this sprawling course—pronounced “Lan-man”—will be open to public play. Danish for farmer, Landmand is built to honor the history of the property’s owners, the Anderson family, who have been farming the prairies for almost 80 years. Architects Tad King and Rob Collins, the visionaries behind cult favorite Sweetens Cove, created this course across an awe-inspiring 550-acre landscape that has many wanderlust-struck golfers clamoring for a Nebraska pilgrimage. landmandgc.com
I wish I could click my heels and fast forward to opening day @LandmandG. Photos from @bennyv13. Pictured in order: the 3rd a few days before the barranca was grassed, the par 5 first, the 35k sq. ft. 17th green, and 1/18 fwy with 17 green bottom right. pic.twitter.com/Jq903eAHSf
— King-Collins Golf (@KingCollinsGolf) December 12, 2021
Which 2022 course openings are you most excited about?