The Top 10 Courses Named for Trees

Trees on golf courses can be loved and admired, but they can also be controversial. Recent trends have focused on serious tree removal. Yet, dozens of clubs owe their very existence to trees, meaning the club’s name incorporates a type of tree.

Oaks and pines predominate among this group, so to provide a bit of variety to our list, we limited the genus (type of tree) to no more than three, which means some terrific tracks had to settle for honorable mention, including Castle Pines, Whispering Pines, Calusa Pines, and Torrey Pines (South), as well as Oak Tree National and Bluejack (a type of oak) National.

Here are the top 10 courses named for trees.

1. Pine Valley Golf Club—Pine Valley, N.J.

Something on the order of 22,000 pine tree stumps had to be pulled in creating Pine Valley more than a century ago, but George Crump and his team left enough in place to justify using the name on this course that resides in the pine barrens of southern New Jersey. Uniquely beautiful and brutal, Pine Valley serves up multiple forced carries on holes that hopscotch from one island of turf to the next. It’s an unforgettable gallop through trees, sand, and scrub.

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Pine Valley (photo by L.C. Lambrecht)

2. Cypress Point Club—Pebble Beach, Calif.

As Alister MacKenzie himself must have felt about his 1928 design, it’s almost inconceivable that land this stunning was made available for golf. For the lucky few who have access to super-exclusive Cypress, they’re privileged to enjoy the best walk in the sport. The trek to the 15th tee, amid wind, waves, deer, gnarled Cypress trees, and near-isolation is spiritual. And the over-the-ocean, 231-yard par-three 16th is golf’s ultimate heroic gut-check. Yet, the conglomeration of Cypresses that controversially dot the middle of the 17th fairway might impress arborists most of all, for their beauty and strategic value.

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Cypress Point (photo by L.C. Lambrecht)

3. Oakmont Country Club—Oakmont, Pa.

Located 15 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, the town of Oakmont was incorporated in 1889, but its roots date to 1816, when a local farmer founded a settlement that was tied to a landmark black oak tree. Ironically enough, the town’s namesake country club is nearly bereft of trees, including oaks, after a 20-year restoration felled more than 12,600 trees on property, according to the USGA. Fresh off a further restorative effort from Gil Hanse, Oakmont plays viciously harder than it looks, thanks to an ocean of bunkers and the firmest, fastest greens in existence.

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Oakmont (photo by Getty Images)

4. Oakland Hills Country Club (South)—Bloomfield Township, Mich.

Ben Hogan called this course a “monster” in capturing the 1951 U.S. Open, thanks to a severe course setup and alterations by Robert Trent Jones Sr. Many other majors and the 2004 Ryder Cup followed, as well as a sensitive Gil Hanse restoration in 2021. Donald Ross’s superb set of greens and bold bunkering form the bulk of the challenge, rather than its tree density. Interestingly, the club is called Oakland Hills because it’s situated in Oakland County, in the northern Detroit suburbs. Yet, it’s called the South course because it was built south of Maple Road, and five years after it opened in 1916, the club added 100 maples and 70 elms under the supervision of Ross. No mention of oaks.

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Oakland Hills (South) (photo by L.C. Lambrecht)

5. Pinehurst Resort (No. 2)—Pinehurst, N.C.

Boston tycoon James Walker Tufts founded his postcard-ready village in 1895, amid the pine forests that cloaked the Sandhills region of south-central North Carolina. Donald Ross’s 117-year-old chef d’oeuvre rolls gently and spaciously through tall Longleaf pines, with holes culminating in the legendary “inverted saucer” greens that have confounded the game’s very best since they were first grassed in 1935. For the 2014 U.S. Open, a Coore & Crenshaw restoration brought back the tawny-edged fairways and native roughs last seen in the 1940s.

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Pinehurst No. 2 (photo by Kevin Murray)

6. Oak Hill Country Club (East)—Rochester, N.Y.

Host to three U.S. Opens, the 1995 Ryder Cup, and a handful of PGA Championships, including 2023, when Brooks Koepka triumphed, Oak Hill has witnessed numerous renovations since it debuted in 1924. Most recently, Andrew Green performed a thorough restoration that was completed in 2019. Yet, its character is unmistakably Donald Ross, thanks to such holes as the 325-yard par-four 14th, its vexing undulations yielding superb risk/reward opportunities. There are plenty of oaks on site, including at the famous “Hill of Fame” that sits adjacent to the par-five 13th hole, where each tree honors a golf legend.

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Oak Hill East, 14th hole (photo by Evan Schiller)

7. Cherry Hills Country Club—Cherry Hills Village, Colo.

Originally called the Cherry Hills Club in 1922 in recognition of a cherry orchard on the grounds, Denver’s Cherry Hills C.C. soon would possess one of the best courses west of the Mississippi, due to its inspired William Flynn design. Cherry Hills has hosted three U.S. Opens, including one of the best ever, when Arnold Palmer charged from seven back to win in 1960. Amid Rocky Mountain backdrops, the main defense comes from the tough-to-read, sloping greens, solved best by Nick Dunlap in 2023 when he captured the U.S. Amateur.

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Cherry Hills, 14th and 7th holes (photo courtesy Cherry Hills Country Club)

8. Peachtree Golf Club—Atlanta, Ga.

Bobby Jones and Robert Trent Jones Sr. collaborated on this hilly, forested track north of the city. Like that other top-ranked Georgia course, Augusta National, Peachtree features inspired green contouring, dogwoods and pines along the fairways, and minimal fairway bunkering. And while there is a road, park, buildings, and shopping center in the vicinity named Peachtree, the club once entertained the idea of calling itself Atlanta Golf Club. By opening day in 1948, however, it was Peachtree Golf Club, thanks to the profusion of peach trees on the property. Peachtree played host to the 1989 Walker Cup Match, when Great Britain and Ireland pulled a 12.5 to 11.5 upset.

9. Old Elm Club—Highland Park, Ill.

In 1913, along the fabled north shore of Chicago, one of history’s least known and most remarkable architectural pairings—H.S. Colt (designer) and Donald Ross (builder)—combined to create the Old Elm Club. Always a low-key haunt for the Windy City’s elite, the 200-member, men-only club—named for the prominent elm trees on the grounds—has steadfastly eschewed the spotlight that comes from hosting tournaments. Nonetheless, its profile has soared since architect Drew Rogers began his restoration efforts in 2010, injecting bite into the contours of the expanded greens and crafting detail into the tattered edge bunkers. Removing trees, however, was the final puzzle piece in Old Elm’s return to glory, as fairways now had the necessary width to demand proper emphasis on angles and strategy.

10. Sycamore Hills Golf Club—Fort Wayne, Ind.

A member of the U.S. Top 100 for 16 years, this 1989 Jack Nicklaus design is one of a fistful of midwestern courses that bears this name, but none can touch Fort Wayne’s version for beauty and challenge. Named for the abundance of mature sycamores that dot the acreage, the course rolls gently in and out of the trees and along the Aboite River. Typical for early Nicklaus courses, it serves up a stern challenge with room off the tee and demanding approaches to slick greens. A popular tournament host, Sycamore Hills was the venue for three Web.com Tour events from 2013–15. The first edition saw 2008 Masters champ Trevor Immelman edge young star-in-the-making Patrick Cantlay by one.

What courses named for trees did we miss? Let us know in the comment section.

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