Best Public Golf Course (2002)

Tour 18

Golfing vacations have become all the rage in recent years. Young power players and old gummers alike are paying top dollar for package trips that whisk them over the ocean -- and back in time -- to Saint Andrews or some other hallowed shrine of shankers everywhere. Houston doesn't lay (or even lay up) claim to any legendary links, but that doesn't mean august Augusta or pristine Pebble Beach has to be out of reach. With Tour 18, the mountain has come to Mulligan. As most weekend hackers know by now, Tour 18 replicates famous holes. No, the condition of the course isn't the plushest in the area -- and suburban Humble hasn't come up with the crashing ocean waves over rocky coastline of Pebble Beach. But there's ample accuracy of design, whether it's the Blue Monster of Doral, or the challenges of Shinnecock Hills, Oakmont, Harbour Town (the course lost its signature lighthouse replica in litigation) or even Colonial. Augusta's Amen Corner is the most exquisite offering -- the ghost of Arnie can almost be detected, advising through the hush of the lush pine roughs. Tour 18 has taken criticism for its obvious lack of originality. But it's easy to spot those who have teed it up on this course. When a PGA sportscaster tells of the terror awaiting the pros on the deadly island-green hole of Sawgrass, for example.


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