As cars reach the end of Magnolia Lane, a flower bed in the shape of the United States emerges. The blossoms are intensely yellow, and there is a flagpole set just as Georgia and South Carolina meet. The Masters logo. It’s the holy grail of the golfing community and can be recognized by almost everyone in the sporting world.
A good logo is both memorable and revered. For golf clubs, the best ones subtly capture the essence of the course and membership alike. Most importantly, a logo should be visually intriguing.
With all of the uninspired logos around the country, we decided to form a list of the best ones. Using a focus group of sorts, we got the opinions from 20 different golfers to form a general list of the favorites. Our personal opinions were the final determining factor on how a logo was categorized. Similar to golf courses, we don’t believe that logos necessarily need to be ranked. Instead, they are separated out in groups that are in a similar class. We also handed out some awards for clubs that may not be featured on this list.
Prairie Dunes- The yucca plant is abundant throughout Prairie Dunes and prominently featured in their logo. It depicts the wide open spaces that the course treks through. If the logo looked a little less modern it would have snuck its way into our top 15.
Pinehurst- Based on history alone, Pinehurst makes its way into the honorable mentions list. In 1912, with Donald Ross modeling how to hold a golf club, sculptress Lucy Richards created “The Putter Boy” sundial. The sundial still sits outside the clubhouse today and remains one of the most recognizable logos in the game.
Myopia Hunt- Similar to the club itself, this logo is mysterious. Myopia Hunt was originally started as a baseball club in 1875 before adding hunting, polo, tennis, and finally golf in 1894. The fox and his trumpet serve as a very understated symbol of a club that remains off the beaten path.
Pasatiempo-With a name that translates to “pastime” or “hobby”, it is only fitting that Pasatiempo’s logo has a very laid-back vibe. The sombrero also serves as a tribute to the Spanish heritage of the area. Alister Mackenzie’s masterpiece remains as one of golf’s best architectural designs that anyone can play today.
Cal Club- Believe it or not, Andy did not write this piece. The first two on this list just happen to be courses he played during his galavanting through Northern California. Featuring the California bear, the Cal Club logo encapsulates this vintage course with a classic design. There is a lot going on, but anyone would be proud to walk around with this logo printed on the chest of their polo.
Pine Valley-I struggled with this one. I really wanted to put the Pine Valley logo in a higher class but I think it belongs here. My reasoning is simple, the crest is simple. While the highest rated course in the world, the environment is very subdued. The entrance sign is small and unassuming with the words “Pine Valley Golf Club...Private”. Similarly, the logo is quiet, accurately reflecting the attitude of the club.
The Olympic Club- The Olympic Club literally started as a place for Olympians to train and has continued to celebrate athletics ever since. The club offers 16 different sporting options to their over 10,000 members. The logo is a tribute to the Olympic Games and features wings that I assume is a nod to the Greek god Hermes. It doesn’t have anything to do with golf necessarily, but The Olympic Club logo is truly iconic.
AWARD: Best Use of Farm Animal
Stonewall- Granted, there isn’t a whole lot of competition in the farm animal category. Black Sheep Golf Club in Illinois did make a solid case but came in a close second. I like the cow better.
AWARD: Best Logo That Was Disqualified Due to Golf Course
Whistling Straits- It pains me to give this one out because clearly the logo is incredible. We’ve got Poseidon bringing the winds in off Lake Michigan with this super cool god-like face, it’s awesome! However, the golf course has literally over 900 bunkers and is a 10 handicappers worst nightmare. If you actually want a good walk spoiled and to drop a quick 300 bucks, take a quick trip to Sheboygan.
Chicago Golf Club- It is at this point in the proceedings that we pay homage to C.B. Macdonald. Chicago Golf Club was the first 18 hole golf course in the United States and still features the same logo from its beginnings in the 1890s. “Far and Sure” is the same motto that is featured at Royal Liverpool Golf Club (Hoylake), a place where Macdonald had a lot of friends. This classic logo serves as a seal of approval for one of America’s greatest golf courses.
National Golf Links of America- After years of studying the best courses around the world C.B. Macdonald set out to make NGLA a true testament to golf architecture. Today it serves as a living museum of sorts as players can see the best aspects of a number of world class golf courses in one place. Finding a logo that adequately lives up to this golf course was going to be a challenge. The logo is very peculiar and seemingly unrelated to the course itself. Legend has it that Royal St. Georges founder Dr. Laidlaw Purves sold Macdonald a collection of golf memorabilia which included Delft tiles. Designs from the tiles were seemingly used as inspiration in creating the logo, although we aren't exactly sure who created it. Quirky, yet fitting in a sense that nothing was going to live up to the standard set by the golf course.
Boston Golf Club- A little bit about me, I love anything American Revolution related. It just so happens that the Boston G.C logo features the flag of the Sons of Liberty. The Sons of Liberty were a secret organization that formed to help initiate the rebellion against the British. Members included Paul Revere, Sam Adams, and John Hancock. The logo also features a script that looks as if it was written with a quill. An extremely classic design for a high caliber club.
Sand Hills Golf Club- Before we get started here, take a look at all of the logos that we have gone through thus far. See any that are strictly the acronym of the club? That’s because the vast majority of them are boring and uninspired. Sand Hills bucks that trend with a logo that reflects the golf course. Coore and Crenshaw used the natural flow of the land to create a true masterpiece in the middle of the Nebraskan landscape. The logo mimics this ideology as the letters seem to be flowing together. A fitting image to represent a course for the ages.
Augusta National Golf Club- No, not The Masters logo. No logo is more rare in golf than that of A.N.G.C. You cannot buy merchandise with it when you visit for the Masters which means you can only purchase it if you play with a member (or are a member). The current logo is a slight variation of the one to the right but it is so hard to find that even the internet doesn’t have it. The last time I saw it in the wild was when Doug Ghim wore it during his quarter final match at the U.S Am. The logo is more restrained that the one we are used to seeing at The Masters but it is a true icon of our sport.
AWARD: Most On the Nose
TIE-Crooked Stick and Winged Foot- Enough said.
AWARD: The Vince Lombardi “What the hell is going on out here”
Kingston Heath Golf Club- I mean seriously guys, what is this? It looks like the New York Yankees logo took up drugs and tried to pose for a photo at Top Golf. Let’s clean it up a bit.
Philadelphia Cricket Club-It shouldn’t be surprising that A.W Tillinghast’s home course has a brilliant logo. After Tilly designed it in 1922, the 18 hole course was named “Wissahickon”. The Lenni-Lenape Indian tribe previously occupied this area and gave the name to the creek that runs through the property. The logo also pays homage to cricket, the first sport to be played at the club. Cricket was not played here from the 1920s until the 1990s but has recently received increased participation and support. A few other courses feature similar logos with Indian heads (Shinnecock Hills, Seminole) but Philly Cricket features the best image/history combination.
Sleepy Hollow C.C- “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is a short story that was written in the mid 1800s. In it, the main character has a mysterious interaction with what appears to be The Headless Horseman. With a tale like that already associated with Sleepy Hollow, the logo came natural. Nothing like a little ghost story to add some intrigue.
Friar’s Head- An illuminati like atmosphere surrounds Friar’s Head and that applies to their logo as well. One of the country’s most private clubs features a somewhat cryptic logo. A little digging and you find that they are nautical flags, used by sailors to transmit messages. Dig a little deeper and the flags are “F” and “H”. The course actually uses both flags on their pins as well, something I have never seen. Fun Fact: Friar’s Head’s website has a tab for directions if you’re traveling by boat or helicopter...that’s badass.
Cypress Point Club- Perhaps the most scenic golf holes in the world lie on the final stretch of Cypress Point. The club prides itself on ultra-exclusivity and boasts one of the best sites for a golf course in the world. With all of this going for them it would have been easy to overdo the logo. They didn’t. The CPC logo is straightforward yet seems elegant at the same time. The simplicity of it makes it really stand out amongst its peers. Anyone lucky enough to play a round here will most certainly leave Monterey Peninsula with this logo on their hat.
Fishers Island Club- The logo for Fishers Island brings out a gut reaction and miine was overwhelmingly positive. Similar to Cypress Point, they didn’t overthink it. They knew that the strongest thing they have going for them is their location and they leveraged it perfectly. It‘s similar to Augusta in that the pin points to the location but the shape of the island completes the logo. Like the shape of the island itself, the Fishers Island logo is truly one of a kind.
Note: One minor flaw with the Fishers logo is the flag which points in the opposite direction of the normal prevailing wind.
Merion- I know I said we wouldn’t be ranking them but Merion is without a doubt my #1. The infamous wicker basket is front and center, something everyone recognizes. The bush in the background is the Scotch Broom bush which can be found on the famous 16th hole of the East Course. The logo is clean, sophisticated, and extremely appealing to the eye. It is the perfect example for how a logo should look. Granted, the 100 years of history and unmistakable icon are hard to come by.
BONUS AWARD: Worst Logo
TIE- Butler National and Blackwolf Run- I tried to pick just one for this but these two are both so deserving of this award that they have to share it. Not only does Butler still not allow women but their logo also looks like clipart. A golf course of this caliber should never have this weak of a logo on its scorecard. I don’t even know where to begin with Blackwolf Run. Modern art has always been lost on me so maybe that is the disconnect. Either way, both of these logos need a complete overhaul.