I started playing golf in the 1990s. Digital was just a twinkle in the eye at that time so if you really wanted to know a course you had to get your hands on a physical yardage book. Of course during my Coore Crenshaw quest, you know I was going to collect as many yardage books as possible.
Since we are living in modern, digital times, many golf courses have phased out the physical yardage book but those that I do have I figured, why not rank em? These rankings are COMPLETELY subjective and only reflect the yardage books I have collected on my quest at the halfway point. Once my quest is finally over, I hope to have a definitive ranking (I can tell you are all waiting with baited breath for that one).
Courses NOT ranked because no books were printed or available at the time of my visit include Sand Valley and Barton Creek. Here we go!
10) Tie We-Ko-Pa and Talking Stick
Sigh Arizona. I know you are like 1,000,000 degrees during the Summer so yardage books made out of paperwork with a heavy card stock front and back many not be the best substances but these "books" are the worst of the bunch. I barely consider trifold yardage books to be actual yardage books but everything in here makes them not special. The laminated covering, the terrible folds, nothing about the construction makes it great to be used in golf.
The designs are standard colors but nothing about these "books" makes me want to take these out and look at them.
9) Trinity Forest Golf Club
My favorite type of yardage books are folded from the top. This allows for ease of access in taking the book from the pocket and also allows for the book to fit comfortably into a yardage book holder. Conversely, my least favorite yardage books (other than the type listed in number 10 above) are ones that have rings in them. They tear up the books, they tear up your pocket and as much as I love Trinity Forest's book, the construction isn't my favorite.
Diving into the book itself, there is a nice green shade to all the fairways and much like C&Cs understated aesthetic, there are understated undulations which means you have to study the book much more closely. I really dug the shading on the green complexes, top marks for that!
8) Kapalua Golf Club
Continuing on the the top fold with teeth tour is Kapalua. The book's construction is barely hanging in there but I still could get a few more uses out of it for sure.
7) Warren Golf Club
Yes it has rings but the interior is where this book really shines.
I am a sucker for golf history and Warren puts C&C front and center for the book. I like yardage books that "set the table" for your round to come and Warren does a great job of getting you ready.
Also, great use of color, great shading and subtle use of contouring on the green complexes. Warren often gets overlooked in the C&C pantheon but you do so at your detriment. I really dig the course for a lot of reasons, including this yardage book!
6) Austin Golf Club
The first rule of AGC is that you don't talk about AGC. The second rule of AGC is to see rule one. Black is an unusual color for a yardage book but it really works here. There is a good heft and good detailing of the holes on the interior. I really wish the book folded from the top but the construction is top notch and it is a solid book.
5) Clear Creek Tahoe
The book has good heft to it and well constructed. I wish the front wasn't as "plain" as it is. Some embossing would go a long way here.
Clear Creek is an amazing mix of trees, scrub and sand and the coloring of the book goes a long way of giving you visual cues about what the hole holds for you. I would also like to point out how much I love holes with names. Gunsight for this hole is a great name and I got a kick out of looking at this hole again when I got the book out for this article.
4) Cabot Cliffs
This book is smaller but has a good heft on it. While not folding form the top, the side fold is solid and I really dig the front of the book with the bold lobster and the subtle landscape on the bottom.
The interior of the book really shines with bold colors and great highlighting of the fairway undulations. Also bonus points for a bigger picture of the greens than other books. Pretty top notch!
3) Bandon Trails
There is a lot to like with the construction of this book. The weather in Oregon can be wet and windy so laminating the outside of the book is a good call. I am not a huge fan of the side fold but the book pulls pretty easy from the pocket.
Inside the hole descriptions, yardages and artwork are great. What puts this book near the top is not just the basics but the pictures.
2) Sand Hills Golf Club
It is no surprise that the highest ranked C&C course has one of the best yardage books. This thing is large and is mostly blank which leads me to believe that a member buys this and keeps filling it in round after glorious round at this course.
A lot of yardage books imprint themselves on your round. This book allows you to to put your own markings onto the course which I always appreciate. Of course the construction of the book is top notch with a top fold and a good heft. I could use a bit more detailing on the course but I guess I just need to be invited to play it more and I will fill it in myself!
1) Colorado Golf Club
What makes this number one? First off the fold over on the top making it easy to slide in and out of the pocket. The heft is great and I am a huge fan of the subtle embossing on the front cover. However the real star of the book is on the inside.
That is a hand drawn work of art! Great shading, thoughtful placement of the yardages. Love how the artist did the green complex. When you look at this, you feel like you are holding a piece of golf history, which is the highest compliment I could pay a yardage book. The cream de la creme.
What are you favorite yardage books? Let me know in the comments!