The 7 Best Golf Courses in the US

Ed Forester by Ed Forester August 18, 2014   Activities

Maybe you’re trying to fit in some golf during your next family vacation or planning a guy’s weekend on the links – either way, it can be tough to pick just one course or resort from all the great ones out there. That’s why we’ve done the research and narrowed down the seven best golf spots in the US. Keep reading for the results.

Ocean Course – Kiawah Island, SC

True to its name, this seaside course has more holes along the coast, with 10, than any other spot in the US. And the other 8 still have great views, the course’s fairways having been elevated throughout to make sure the Atlantic is never far from sight. It makes wind more of a factor as well, one of the reasons the Ocean Course is considered one of – if not the – country’s most difficult rounds of golf.

The talented Pete Dye and his wife Alice were the designers, and the course saw its first golfers in 1991. Since then, this spot has hosted several major tournaments, including the 2012 PGA Championship, and will become just the fourth course to have hosted each of the four majors. Prices here start at around $200 and can get close to $400, depending on the time and season.

Prince Course – Kauai, HI

Can you imagine anything more relaxing than shooting a round of golf during a vacation in beautiful Hawaii? Fortunately there are a few great courses to be found on the various islands, the best of them arguably being the Prince Course. It’s located at the Princeville Resort in Hanalei, Hawaii.

This spot, which was created based on designs by Robert Trent Jones Jr. and opened to the public in 1991, sits about 300 feet about the Pacific Ocean, giving spectacular views as you play across the hills and slopes of the fairways. Green fees are a little more modest here, running you about $150.

Pebble Beach Golf Links – Pebble Beach, CA

The host of six men’s major PGA championships, Pebble Beach Golf Links is one of the oldest and most famous courses in the world. But don’t let its age fool you, these links are still every bit as good today as it was upon opening in 1919. Jack Neville and Douglas Grant were responsible for the design, taking advantage of the lovely California coast and weather to create a doozy.

Standing on a cliffside fairway overlooking the Pacific, you can pretend you’re Jack Nicklaus or try to reenact Tiger Woods’s historic -12 U.S. Open victory. Nicklaus was once quoted as saying, “If I had only one more round to play, I would choose to play it at Pebble Beach”. Such an unforgettable experience doesn’t come cheap however, with green fees currently at $495.

Pacific Dunes – Bandon, OR

Bandon Dunes Golf Resort is a name that any golfer worth his salt is familiar with. All four of its courses consistently rank among the best in the country, making it an excellent choice for that golf getaway you’ve been looking forward to. But the cream of the crop is Pacific Dunes, the resort’s second course, opened in 2001.

Designed by Tom Doak, his minimalist style really shines here, with rugged fairways and holes that sit right against a breathtaking coastline. Strong winds coming off the ocean and natural bunkers keep things interesting, providing a challenge for even the most experienced. Fortunately the resort also features a short course if you’re feeling intimidated.

You’ll have plenty of time to take in the scenery too, since the resort is walking only – something to keep in mind if you’re averse to a little leg work. Expect to pay anywhere from $75 to $295 a round here.

Bethpage Black – Farmingdale, NY

Bethpage is unique in that it’s a state park, publicly owned and operated, yet still maintains a status as one of the country’s elite golf spots since the Black Course was created in 1936. Designed by A.W. Tillinghast, the course may not feature the same unique scenery as some of our list, but it will require every skill and club you have to make it through each of the 18 challenging holes.

When Bethpage hosted its first US Open in 2002, Tiger Woods was the only golfer to finish under par. The good news is, green fees are fairly affordable – especially if you’re a New York resident – with rates between $65 and $150.

Pinehurst No. 2 – Pinehurst, NC

There’s a reason Pinehurst Golf Resort is called “The Cradle of American Golf”. It features course number 1 through 9, the pinnacle being the legendary No. 2, which has hosted more golf championships than any other course in the country. Designed by Donald Ross and opened in 1907, legend after legend have done battle with this course and its complex greens at one point or another.

Jack Nicklaus once said, “I’ve always though Pinehurst No. 2 to be my favorite golf course from a design standpoint. I’ve enjoyed going out on No. 2 and seeing a totally tree-lined golfcourse without a tree coming into play”. Green fees here hover between the low $300 and $400s.

Harbour Town Golf Links – Hilton Head, SC

This course began hosting the PGA Tour’s annual RBC Heritage tournament in 1969 and continues to today. Not bad considering it was only established in 1967, with Pete Dye and Jack Nicklaus in charge of the design. Since then it’s earned a name as one of golf’s best experiences.

Part of Sea Pines Resorts, this golf hotspot encourages finesse over strength and is capped with a famous final hole that sits beside a beautiful ocean channel known as Calibogue Sound. Rates vary from around $150 to $250.

Grab Your Gear

golfingAre you going to head Northwest to sink putts in Oregon or fly across the Pacific to hit chip shots in the Hawaii sun? You won’t be disappointed either way, and every serious golfer should try to play all seven in their lifetime. These courses will all stimulate the senses and challenge your skills like no other.

This was obviously a tough list to make, and there’s plenty of debate to be had over some of the big names that we chose not to include. We trust you’ll let us know who got snubbed.

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