The ranking was a stunning upset for the 8-year-old Sandia Park Ken Dye-designed golf course, which finished well ahead of Torrey Pines (No. 38), site of the 2008 U.S. Open, and Chambers Bay (No. 12), a newly opened course near Tacoma, Wash., which will host the 2011 U.S. Amateur and the 2015 U.S. Open.
“We have received tremendous accolades from all the golf publications, based on visits from their respective panelists, and whenever there have been rankings from readers, i.e., the golfers themselves, we finish even higher,” said Paa-Ko Ridge’s general manager, Rob Murray.
Golf World divided its list of the best courses in the United states into three categories: best public, best private and best resort. The results in all three categories apparently were such a surprise to the magazine’s staff that Golf World Executive Editor Geoff Russell felt compelled to offer an explanatory letter both in the printed magazine and in its online edition. Russell’s letter quoted Golf Digest/Golf World’s renowned golf-course rater, Ron Whitten.
“It's a great list," Whitten wrote, “because it's a populist list. It belongs to the people. There isn't any other ranking like it.”
In a breakdown of scoring by readers on a scale of 10, Paa-Ko Ridge scored 9.64 for “quality of course,” the single highest score in that category of any golf course on the 50-course list. In the category of “overall value,” Paa-Ko Ridge scored 9.29 out of 10 – ranking it the 3rd highest of any of the 50 courses on the list.
Finishing No. 1 and No. 2 on the “Best Public” list were two Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail courses – RJT Grand National at Opilika, Ala., and the RJT Golf Trail at Capitol Hill, Prattville. Ala.
In August, Paa-Ko Ridge Golf Club was ranked No. 28 on Golf magazine’s 2008 list of the “Top 100 Courses You can Play,” moving up two spots from its 2006 ranking. Paa-Ko Ridge also is one of just 17 golf courses to be rated at five stars by the Golf Digest/Fodor’s “Best Places to Play” guide. Paa-Ko Ridge was rated by the 2008 Zagat Survey as “Extraordinary,” the only course in the Southwest to receive that highest-possible rating.
To view the Golf World list, plus detailed scoring that went into the top-50 rankings, go to www.golfdigest.com/golfworld/