All of the courses listed here received ratings of 25 or higher in the 2005 Zagat's Survey of America's Top Golf Courses. Zagat's populist system, best known for its use in restaurant evaluations, invites readers to rate golf courses via questionnaires. Courses are rated on a 30-point scale: A score of 25 means "excellent"; 26 through 30 means "extraordinary to perfection."
In other words, a lot of golfers think these Maryland and Virginia courses are really, really good. Any one, or any group of them, would make a worthy road trip.
Among regional favorites, Bulle Rock in Maryland and the Homestead in Virginia rank among the nation's Top 50, according to Zagat readers. Bulle Rock ranks among the nation's toughest tracks.
Zagat also rates courses based on facilities, service and value. Those ratings and more information on courses nationwide are available in the published book ($14.95 in bookstores or via www.zagat.com).
1. Bulle Rock, Havre de Grace, 29 www.bullerock.com; 410-939-8465
A super-tough Pete Dye layout widely viewed as the region's best player's course (and priced to discourage all but the serious golfers who can handle it).
2. Swan Point, Issue, 28 www.swanpointgolf.com; 301-259-0047
A beautiful waterfront track that's far off the beaten path but worth the trip, Zagat raters say.
3. Atlantic Golf at Queenstown Harbor, River and Lakes courses, Easton, 27/25 www.mdgolf.com; 800-827-5257
Well-tended pair of layouts with liberal water hazards located just over the Bay Bridge.