The Golf Crusade's Best of 2022
Updated: Apr 19
It's that most wonderful time of year again! It's a time for memories to be made - just likely not on golf course unless you're really, really lucky. Thankfully, The Golf Crusade never sleeps (though it isn't afraid to hibernate!). Regardless of the state of consciousness you find yourself in at present, it's time to unwrap the presents and reveal the best fake awards column around - the Golf Crusade's Annual Best of Lists for 2022!
As compulsive list makers, we are compelled by constantly creating spreadsheets of courses we want to play, ones we've already played, future event ideas, storyboards, movie scripts, etc. Ok maybe not the last one, but you get the idea.
While we're not playing 100 courses a year or anything crazy like that, we probably get to play more than most folks in respective stages of life. While we each count our lucky stars for our wives in that A) we outkicked the coverage and B) they understand the obsession and support the ridiculous dream we possess!
We didn't hit a ton of 'brand name' courses this year, which if you frequent this site you know we don't care one bit about that. However, we unearthed quite a few themes in 2022...
Get it done! We added a Crusade-best 38 new courses this year. When we shoot for one new course per guy, per month, we went way above and beyond to grab this new mark. Add that tally to dozen of courses that we replayed, and you get a nice round 50 as the total for 2022. Quite a year indeed!
Less is more. We love short courses, but found more of them than usual this year. We also rediscovered the underrated value of a good nine-holer.
Hit the road! We added some new territories to the map (Kentucky & Indiana) and filled in some others that were heavily travelled yet lightly golfed (Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, south central South Carolina).
SURPRISE! It was the year of the surprise course for us - can't wait to show you why!
Alright, let's get into this! Here are the categories...
Best New Public
Best New Private
Best Alternative Golf Facility
Best Nine Hole Course (NEW) Best Replay Rapid Fire Round - Superlative Excellence Uncovered!
The two 'Best New' & the 'Best Alternative Golf Facility' (catch-all for executive, range, mini, indoor, par 3, short, etc) categories are only open to the courses we played in 2022 that were 'New to Us'. We added a new category for nine hole courses since we played enough of them (and good ones) that it felt like it needed its own fake trophy. Best Replay should be simple enough to comprehend.
When it comes to the Rapid Fire Round, we open that up to any course we played this year, not just new courses. Some of those superlatives get one winner, some we each pick one, some we list a bunch. Sorry, Dooner is notorious for making up rules as he goes.
After all, the whole point of this is to share the best - even if there was a lot of it to go around!
So, in the words of the late, great & honorable Mills Lane... "Let's get it on!"
[Photo Viewing Note: Click on any image to expand. Mobile photo viewing experience can vary based on phone, so tablet/laptop/desktop recommended for optimum pleasure]
BEST NEW PUBLIC
BMAC: Springdale | Dooner: Chariot Run
Springdale Resort in Cruso, NC was one of the two courses we actually got to play together this year - and we spun it three times around during the 10th edition of The Battle of the Smokies media tournament. We stayed, we played, we ate and we conquered! This property has received over $15 million in upgrades in the past two years... and it shows! Whether you're day-tripping into Western NC or looking for a stay and play option, Springdale is on the list of affordable places you should consider. While the course is really fun, the new clubhouse complex has everything you need (pool, restaurant, pro shop, fitness center and more!), yet it's people are its best asset. It truly feels like your home course away from home.
Chariot Run Golf Club (Laconia, IN) was a delight in every way. It's equestrian motif carries from tee (horseshoe tee markers) to green (pin flags) and everywhere in between (silos on the range, white perimeter fence and horse barn cart barn. The omnipresent water tower (also with logo) is visible from nearly every hole and the aggressive bunkering gives the place a mean look in contrast to the forgiving fairways. All in all this place just rocks and is a hell of a bargain. The course uses dynamic pricing for their tee times, so we can't tell you how much you'll pay, but you can schedule 120 days out and have your pick of the sheet with proper planning. Well worth the drive from nearby Louisville, KY to play an everyman's version of Ballyhack Golf Club (Roanoke, VA).
Also considered: Stonehaven (WV), Heritage Hill (KY)
BEST NEW PRIVATE
BMAC: Biltmore Forest | Dooner: The Cliffs at Glassy
Biltmore Forest Country Club (Asheville, NC) is about as golden age as it gets. This Donald Ross mountain retreat celebrated its centennial in 2022 and was awarded a USGA Senior Amateur (2025) as a birthday present. It also secured Gil Hanse to steward the golf course and was in the progress of adding a mammoth addition adjacent to its iconic clubhouse. There isn't much not to like here - including the tour of the firm and fast fairways and greens!
The Cliffs at Glassy (Landrum, SC) has been on the bucket list as along as any course I can remember - going back twenty years at least. Most of that lustful wishing was due to the cliffhanging and breathtaking 13th hole (above and in story cover photo). While some of the layout itself might not have lived up to the setting, but the terrain is so extreme that we're not sure what else Tom Jackson could have done with it. It's as good as it'll ever be and was well worth the wait to soak in those views and play the highest course above sea level in South Carolina!
Also considered: The Reserve at Lake Keowee (SC), Lynch Country Club (KY)
BEST ALTERNATIVE GOLF FACILITY
BMAC: 3's Greenville | Dooner: (tie) Lynch Country Club & The Patch
3s Greenville made some headlines this fall when Justin Timberlake invested in the golf entertainment facility in one of the South's fastest growing cities. The 12-hole par-3 course also features a putting course and bar/restaurant area, all it lit up for night play! The investment group wants to franchise the idea and take to other major cities, so keep an eye on them! Also of note is the design of the course. While local GCA John LaFoy built the course, he asked 17 of his other friends (it was formerly 18 holes and called Crosswinds) to design a hole a piece, so you've got some nice variety for a par-3 track!
Conversely, picking between Lynch CC - a 90+ year old private 7-hole par three course buried deep within Kentucky Coal Country - and The Patch (brand new 12-hole short course just a few miles from I-40 in Oak Ridge, TN) could not have been an exercise in greater contrast...
So we just chose both.
The Patch (below) frolics up and over a ridge in a new housing development. Among its bowl of eye candy are multi-hole looks, concrete cart paths, 20+ mile long-range mountain & adjacent lake views. It's signature quarry hole took home a couple Rapid Fire Round categories as well. Bill Bergin did great work here on some extreme topo!
Meanwhile, Lynch Country Club (Lynch, KY) is just hands down one of the coolest places I've ever encountered on the road to 1000 courses. It is also a place we literally did not know existed before August of this year. It can't be summed up in a line or two, but if you have fifteen or twenty minutes to kill away from family members, then we've got you covered.
As a matter of fact, if you haven't read our stories on either of these two courses, you won't waste your time by doing so. Click here for the Lynch story and here for the one on The Patch. Both of these courses are about two hours away and we'd drive that far to spend an entire day at either.
BEST NINE HOLE COURSE
BMAC: Tupelo Bay | Dooner: Capon Springs Farm & Resort
Got an hour to kill waiting for your buddy's flight to come in? Need a quick tune up before the golf weekend tees off? Tupelo Bay Par 3 course will not disappoint because nothing gets you to tempo faster than a par 3 course! The greens will even give you a leg up on your competition with their smooth/quick roll. Must play if its your thing when in Myrtle Beach!
Personally speaking, it is really boring to call a course a hidden gem these days. It's an overused term, but there isn't an accepted well-known synonym that's popped up to take its place. We love making up words, so hopefully by next year we'll have that figured out.
Until then, Capon Springs Farm & Resort's 9-hole layout is a freaking gem of a golden age course and yes, it is in fact very hidden. Tucked on the side of the mountain just west of the WV/VA line in the norther reaches of the latter, this entire property is a time capsule. There are event some hints of template work and the conditions are incredible. We're going to do a full write-up on it eventually, but if your travels ever bring you into orbit of this dynamo, make sure to use the gravity assist and land for a few hours (or days maybe)! NOTE: They also have a 9-hole 'prep course' that is fun as well, but we're grading just the regulation 9-holer for this category.
BMAC: Lane Tree | Dooner: The Olde Farm
Sometimes a course you play a few times grows on you. Other times, it's who you play it with that makes your admiration grow. Lane Tree (Goldesboro, NC) is a little bit of both for me. I've ventured up to play it each of the past 3-4 years for a member-guest, but the course has continued to be in solid shape with a solid design. It won't show up on best in state lists, but it's reliable and fun. Win-win-win in my book.
Yeah, I went the other way. Johnson City CC was going to be the runaway winner here thanks to the ongoing renovation/restoration/reimagination of Tillinghast's only remaining original Tennessee design. That is until the invite to The Olde Farm (Bristol, VA) came and became about as automatic as any pick I've ever had in this space. The Bobby Weed course is exceeded only by the attention given to EVERY detail. To put it lightly, it's just an incredible experience, not to mention a @golfbarns Hall of Fame course!
RAPID FIRE ROUND
BEST OPENING HOLE
The Reserve (big view/drop par-4) | Oakwoods CC (cliffhanger par-3)
BEST PAR 3
Biltmore Forest #3 | Cliffs at Glassy #13 | The Patch #6
BEST PAR 4
Pine Lakes CC #15 | Biltmore Forest #6
BEST PAR 5
The Reserve #5 | Stonehaven #16
BEST TEE SHOT
Springdale #15 | Shenvalee (Olde #8)
BEST @GOLFBARNS, Farms & Silos
Pictured top to bottom: The Olde Farm (first 8), Graysburg Hills (9-11), Blue Ridge CC (12-13), Jim Beam/Four Roses/My Old KY Home (14-16), Sweetbrier (17), Steele Creek Park (18), Shenvalee (19-21), McDonald Hills (22), Johnson City CC (23), Waynesboro G&G (24), The Reserve at Lake Keowee (25), Springdale (26), Heritage Oaks (27), Bright Leaf (28), Silver Creek (29), Chariot Run (last 2)
BEST BUNKERING (MODERN)
The Reserve | Chariot Run
BEST BUNKERING (CLASSIC)
Biltmore Forest | Capon Springs
BEST GREENS (ARCHITECTURE)
Biltmore Forest | Lynch CC
Lynch CC, The Patch, Capon Springs, Wyboo, Shenvalee, Springdale, Sleepy Hollow, the invites to play Biltmore, Glassy & Olde Farm, new bunkers at Johnson City CC, Crockett Ridge's improvement, Waynesboro Golf & Games... It was THE YEAR of the Surprise!
Blue Ridge CC | Oakwoods CC | Lynch CC
Harlan CC | Sterns Heritage (2)
BEST OVERALL COURSE CONDITIONS
Biltmore | Glassy | Olde Farm
BEST TEE MARKERS
Silver Creek | Chariot Run | Lynch CC
(view of the clubhouse)
Biltmore Forest | Springdale
(view from the clubhouse)
(amenities in the clubhouse)
COOLEST MINIMALIST LOCKER ROOM Capon Springs & Farms
*Capon's locker room also wins BEST QUIRK with the outside doubling as an observation deck & party platform for resort guests to enjoy scenery or taunt fellow players!
BEST 19th HOLE Rocky Fork Tavern at Springdale
CRAZIEST CART PATH
Cliffs at Glassy
BEST STAY & PLAY (on-site)
Treehouses at Springdale
MOST UNIQUE STAY & PLAY OPTION
Capon Springs & Farms (all-inclusive resort except golf - $35/day add)
MOST IMPROVED COURSE Crockett Ridge (2012 vs 2022)
BEST RENOVATION Johnson City Country Club Check out our 4-year documentation project on JCCC here!
RENOVATIONS WE'RE MOST EXCITED ABOUT
Tot Hill Farm Golf Club | Waynesville Inn | Woodlake Country Club
Gulch on #5 at The Reserve | Quarry on #6 at The Patch
WORST HAZARD The entire 'Springdale Spasm' (13th hole)
Sergeant Jasper | Wyboo
BEST LOGO ON COURSE
MOST DIFFICULT COURSE
The Reserve | Cliffs at Glassy
Pine Forest (always <$50) | Heritage Hill ($45) | Sandy Bottom ($5)
BEST GOLF PURCHASE
MNML Golf Bag | Plastic Mini Tees
BEST PRACTICE GREEN
Cacapon State Park
BEST RANGE Chariot Run
Middlesboro | Waynesboro Golf & Games
BEST WILDLIFE Woodpecker & Bald Eagle at Springdale
COOLEST POST-ROUND ACTIVITY
Hand-dip bottles at Maker's Mark Distillery See Dale Earnhardt, Jr. race at a sold-out North Wilkesboro Speedway
BEST NON-GOLF PHOTOS
Shots from September/October events at Bristol Motor Speedway &
View from Summit of Black Mountain - Kentucky's highest peak Shot from 'The Chapel' at Cliffs at Glassy of SC Blue Ridge Mountains
BEST FINISHING HOLE
Our sincerest gratitude goes out to all who we welcomed into the Crusade this year, as well as a special thank you to those who keep coming back! We can't wait to see what 2023 holds for us and others. We hope to see you on the course!
BMAC & Dooner
Your Golf Crusaders