Our team visited 55 new or renovated courses last year. These were the standouts | GolfDigest.com

Each year Golf Digest honors the highest scoring new or remodeled courses in four categories: Best New Public Course, Best New Private Course, Best Renovation (courses that undergo conventional improvements like tree removal, new bunkers, altered tees and expanded or relocated greens) and Best Transformation (courses that are fundamentally remodeled with new or rerouted holes).

Nationally, we had the most course openings since 2010, and an increasing number of courses are undergoing major renovations. Golf Digest panelists visited 55 candidate courses for the 2023 awards (30 Best Renovation candidates and 25 Best New/Best Transformation). Both the quality and quantity of courses are up as the 2023 honorees are an extraordinary lot.

Building Lost Rail, just southwest of Omaha, was something of a homecoming for Scottsdale-based architect Scott Hoffman, who grew up in the city and went to school at Creighton. The key to the design, named after an abandoned trainline that ran through the northeast corner of the property, was decoding the routing for this relatively small parcel of land, around 150 acres, or just large enough for 18 holes, a practice facility, clubhouse, parking and maintenance. The matter was complicated by the deep, wooded ravines that cut through the site and further limited the areas where holes could be placed. It was an exercise perfectly suited to Hoffman’s skills, who specialized in laying out the holes on numerous Tom Fazio projects across the western U.S. throughout the early 2000s. The ravines serve as both strategic and penal hazards, flanking and bisecting holes and creating dramatic, intimidating scenery.

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