Notable Regulation Courses Under Par-70 in the U.S.

When the newest course at Sand Valley Golf Resort opens this year, it will be very different from the other offerings at the Central Wisconsin destination. Unlike the wider corridors at Sand Valley and especially Mammoth Dunes, Sedge Valley is tighter and shorter, a par-68 layout designed by Tom Doak on an intimate piece of property in the tradition of the heathland courses of London and the English coast.

As Sand Valley co-owner Michael Keiser Jr. says, Sedge Valley is intended to engage golfers’ “imagination and decision-making” while challenging traditional assumptions.

And when it comes to tradition, a par of 72 over 18 holes is the standard. Par-71 courses are fairly common; a par of 70 less so, but not rare.

under par-70
Sedge Valley (photo by Kevin Murray)

Regulation length golf courses with a par of under 70? Those are quite scarce in the U.S.

Some say that par is relative. And it is, to an extent. Doak, after all, is a proponent of “half-par” holes in his designs and that’s the case again at Sedge Valley, which features holes like the 290-yard par-four 6th that tempts long hitters to attack but features a devilish green atop a skinny shelf. Shorter doesn’t mean easier.

Architect Donald Ross designed at least 10 courses with a par of 69 in the northeast, primarily in the New England area. The majority are private clubs, with names like Sakonnet, Wannamoisett, Misquamicut, and Warwick within the fittingly smaller state of Rhode Island.

But what are some of the other top regulation courses—not “executive” courses—open to the public that play to a par of 67 to 69? Here’s a sampling.

Cape Arundel Golf ClubKennebunkport, Maine

Originally founded in 1896 at Kennebunkport Golf Club, Cape Arundel was designed by U.S. and British Amateur champion Walter Travis, who is quoted as saying the par-69, sub-5,900-yard layout “looks easy, as my courses do, but the man who equals par will have played some golf.” The facility’s clubhouse overlooking the Kennebunk River was renamed “41 House” to honor the club’s most famous member, former president George H.W. Bush. Phil Mickelson holds the course record of 60 at the private club, which welcomes public play.

Douglaston Golf CourseQueens, N.Y.

One of five New York City municipal courses operated by Golf NYC, Douglaston Golf Course is in a park at the highest point in the Borough of Queens, providing picturesque views of the Manhattan skyline. The tree-lined course, which was redone by architect Stephen Kay 20 years ago and is one of the busiest golf facilities in the Big Apple, is a par-67 layout that tips out at about 5,500 yards.

The Jewel Golf CourseMackinac Island, Mich.

The Jewel is a unique course on Mackinac Island, with two distinct nines that comprise a par-67 course with a single par-five hole. The original Grand nine, built in 1901, is located across from the Grand Hotel and offers views of the Straits of Mackinac, while the Woods nine that opened in 1994 weaves through the interior of the island. Golfers are treated to a leisurely, 1.5-mile horse-drawn carriage ride between the nines, with guests’ fees that reach $200 during peak season.


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The Monterey Pines Golf ClubMonterey, Calif.

Known to locals as the “Navy Course,” Monterey Pines is less than 10 miles from Pebble Beach and 17-Mile Drive. Originally built as a 9-hole course by Robert Muir Graves in 1963, it expanded to 18 holes in 1972 and checks in at just over 5,500 yards. The par-69 course, which is adjacent to the Monterey Regional Airport and Monterey County Fairgrounds, was redesigned in 2009 and is managed by the Navy Golf Program.

Wyckoff Country ClubHolyoke, Mass.

Donald Ross designed this par-69, 6,100-yard course built on a rolling piece of property at the base of Mount Tom. The family-owned and operated facility is a semi-private club that offers public play six days a week. Wyckoff’s website describes the layout as a “little monster,” with only two par fives, but tight fairways and small target greens that are fast and severely sloped.

Note that a course like the popular Goat Hill Park in Oceanside, Calif., isn’t included here only because it’s categorized as an “executive” length course—at less than 5,000 yards with a par of 65. But it’s another great example of good things coming in small packages.

Have you played any other regulation-length courses with a par of 67 to 69 that are worth sharing? Let us know.



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