The Navy Academy Golf Course in Maryland.

The Naval Academy Golf Course in Annapolis, Md., underwent major changes over the last couple of years.

Mozell Photography

Our knowledgeable crew of course raters have played golf just about everywhere. Many of those courses you’ve probably heard of, but some are less renowned — at least for most golfers. In Best Course You’ve Never Heard Of, we celebrate those sneaky-good designs.

As a proud graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., I subscribe wholeheartedly to the mantra, “Go Army, Beat Navy.” Slightly further down my list of guiding principles is the saying, “Give Credit Where Credit is Due.” Therefore, as painful as it is for me to admit, the best course you may have never heard of is the William Flynn-designed Naval Academy Golf Course, in Annapolis, Md.

The history of the course is about as random as having a billy goat for a school mascot, but in the end it all worked out. In 1938, the U.S. Navy purchased land near the academy in order to expand its radio communications facility. On that land happened to be an abandoned 18 holes, once belonging to the Greenbury Point Yacht Club. In 1940, a new nine-hole course was established. Then, in 1942, Flynn, the famed architect behind such vaunted designs as Shinnecock Hills, Merion, The Country Club and Cherry Hills, was brought in to create a new 18-hole layout from the existing nine holes. The course opened (again!) in 1944 and proved to be Flynn’s swan song, as he passed away that same year of kidney disease, at 53.

The Naval Academy Golf Course restoration was finished in 2020.

Mozell Photography

Over the next half century, as the annual Star Match between Army and Navy golf toggled back and forth between the teams’ home venues, little was done to the Naval Academy Course. It wasn’t until 2018 that Andrew Green was tasked with restoring the original Flynn bones. Doing so involved expanding the fairways, reshaping the greens and adding 21 fairway bunkers. A major turf overhaul took place as well, headed by superintendent Eric David. The restoration was complete and ready for play in 2020.

The course is managed by the Naval Academy Golf Association and open to Midshipmen, active-duty and retired military, Academy faculty, staff and their guests. As is the case with many university-owned courses, it can be a bit tricky gaining access, but if you find yourself in the D.C./Mid-Atlantic area, it’s worth calling up an old Navy friend to play this classic. Just don’t let them fool you: the nation’s finest service academy was established in 1802, some 260 miles north!

All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy a linked product, GOLF.COM may earn a fee. Pricing may vary.

GolfLogix Green Books

This game-changing product is like having a professional caddie with you to read every green. Find the book for your course today.


Buy from Golf

In most years, the Oscars are like a movie that we’ve seen before. We all have movies like this that we’ve watched over and over: something that’s maybe objectively not very good, but that gives us comfort in its unvarying, not-that-good sameness. I’ve often written in the past about how much I enjoy watching the Oscars ceremony despite its general lameness; I like how every year they say it’ll be different, and every year it’s basically the same: good dresses, dull speeches, awful banter, way too long. It’s dependable, in a world where not many things are, and it goes down well with wine and popcorn.

And now we have Oscars 2021, and, well — I have not seen this movie before. Here’s what I know of an Oscar night plan that seems rather fluid: The April 25 event, unlike nearly everything else in the past year, will not take place on Zoom; instead, it will unfold live at several in-person locations. These include the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles (where the awards usually are), L.A.’s Union Station (a busy transit hub that’s played a role in many Hollywood films, including “The Dark Knight Rises”) and a few overseas locations for nominees unable to travel/quarantine.

Filmmaker Steven Soderbergh, who’s producing the show along with Stacey Sher and Jesse Collins, gave a few hints to Vanity Fair magazine this month of what the show — the planning of which he described as “trying to build a house of cards on the deck of a speeding boat” — might look like. “There’s an opportunity here to rebuild what this show should look and feel like,” he said. “Everybody will be a character: Every nominee, every person that gives an award, will feel like characters in a film. And in the end, you’ll know who everybody was and what they wanted. You’ll have a connection to everyone in this show. What we want to do is have this three-hour movie in which some awards are given out.”

There will be a few nods to sameness: All of last year’s acting winners (Joaquin Phoenix, Renée Zellweger, Brad Pitt and Laura Dern) will be on hand to present, as will last year’s directing winner (Bong Joon Ho) and an assortment of stars including Angela Bassett, Harrison Ford, Rita Moreno, Regina King and Reese Witherspoon. Like the last few years, there will be no host. And there will be performances of at least some of the nominated songs, reportedly prerecorded on the rooftop of the Academy museum.

I’m fascinated to see how all of this will play out — will there be weird real-time glitches when a nominee in, say, London, steps up to give an acceptance speech? What does Soderbergh mean when he talks about it being like a three-hour movie? (This worries me a bit; most movies do not need to be three hours long.) Will there be a socially distant red carpet? And what, exactly, is going to be happening at Union