How many of the top 100 golf courses in the US have you been lucky enough to play? If the answer is not enough, this article will give you a rundown and resources on where to find the best golf courses in America and what it takes to play them.
While some of the best California golf courses are private and require you to know a member in order to play, many of them are open to the public and require little more than taking the effort to book a tee time.
We’ll highlight some of the best private and best public golf courses in the US and give you a sense of what to expect from each.
Pine Valley Golf Club
Located in the southwestern part of New Jersey, Pine Valley Golf Club has been a mainstay atop various “Best Golf Courses in America” lists and rankings. The private, members-only club was founded in 1913 and has a rich history of being one of the most exclusive and highly regarded golf clubs in the world.
Pine Valley currently sits in the number one spot on both Golf Magazine’s and Golf Digest’s lists for the Top 100 Golf Courses in the US and has held those distinctions several times in its history. Most recently, Pine Valley was ranked the number one course in Golf Magazine’s 100 Top Courses in the U.S. and the World in 2012, 2015, 2019, and 2020.
While most of us will never have the honor of stepping foot onto Pine Valley’s fairways, we can delight in the glowing words of those who have. Legendary golf course architect, Robert Trent Jones, said Pine Valley is “frequently alluded to as the most difficult course in the world, and this reputation is justified. To my way of thinking, it also possesses more classic holes than any other course in the world.” And Golf Hall of Famer, Johnny Miller said that “there are no weak holes (at Pine Valley). Every single one is a masterpiece. There is a surprise around every corner, 18 unique and beautiful challenges.”
Regarded for its sandy layout, penalizing hazards, and ornate green complexes, Pine Valley is considered the truest test of golf ever imagined and asks a player to use every club in their bag. Should you ever get the invite to play Pine Valley, clear your schedule and just say yes.
Seminole Golf Club
Seminole Golf Club / Golf Digest
Tucked away in quiet Juno Beach, Florida, you wouldn’t know you had driven past Seminole Golf Club unless you were looking for it. Guarded by tall hedges and shrubs, Seminole offers few glimpses of its beauty to non-member outsiders.
Like Pine Valley, ultra-exclusive Seminole has consistently ranked as one of the best golf courses in the U.S. and the golfing public finally got the chance to see its scenic oceanside layout when it hosted a charity skins match in 2020 featuring Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy facing off against Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff.
Originally designed by Donald Ross in 1929, Seminole has undergone several renovations in its nearly 100-year history. Most recently in 2016, the highly in-demand design duo of Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore performed work on the course’s bunkering and other sandy areas throughout the course.
Pacific Dunes at Bandon Dunes Resort
Mostly along the rugged Oregon coastline and exposed to the wind and elements, many consider Pacific Dunes to be the most challenging of Bandon Dunes Golf Resort’s five 18-hole courses and it only gets harder if the wind is blowing. While its high degree of difficulty might frustrate your golf game, there’s no doubt
When you’re not battling whatever the unpredictable Oregon weather is offering, you’ll be taking in the stunning coastal sightlines from atop the cliffs. And best of all? Pacific Dunes and all the courses at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort are entirely open to the public putting it on a very short list of best public golf courses in the US.
Pacific Dunes / Golf Digest
Just make sure you plan your trip many months in advance. Bandon Dunes is a golfer paradise and bookings fill up quickly and, in many cases, a year in advance. While getting to Bandon Dunes is not easy, once you’re on the property you’ll be treated to a one-of-a-kind golf experience.
Bandon’s other golf courses are worthy of praise as some of the best public golf courses in the U.S. as well. Bandon Trails, Bandon Dunes, Old Macdonald, and Sheep Ranch each offer their own unique experience and make Bandon Dunes Golf Resort one of the very best golf destinations in the world.
Pebble Beach Golf Links
Widely considered the best public golf course in the US, Pebble Beach Golf Links is a legendary oceanside layout that offers some of the most scenic vistas you’ll find anywhere in golf.
Famously situated on the Monterey Peninsula in California, Pebble Beach was built in 1919 and has played host to some of golf’s most historic events. In 1947, film star and celebrity Bing Crosby moved his wildly popular “Crosby Clambake” to Pebble Beach and the Monterey Peninsula. Each year dozens of his celebrity and professional golf friends would turn out to play Pebble Beach and enormous television crowds would tune in.
After his passing in 1977, the Clambake lived on and today it’s known as the AT&T Pro-Am, an annual stop on the PGA Tour where Tour professionals are paired with celebrities from TV, music, and sports for a weekend of golf and charity fundraising on one of the best golf courses in the U.S.
Pebble Beach Golf Links / Golf Magazine
Holes 4 through 10 at Pebble Beach Golf Links are considered as good a stretch anywhere in golf and its routing along the Pacific Ocean makes it one of the best golf courses in California.
Unless you’ve been unspeakably blessed by the golf gods, it’s likely that your golf bucket list has much room for filling and the Top 100 Golf Courses in the US deserve your attention. Are you up for the challenge? No matter where you live in the country, there’s an opportunity to play one, or many, of the best golf courses in America without much effort.
If you’re like us, it’s always a good time to plan the next golf trip and check another box on our best golf courses in the USlist. So whether you can pull some strings to get on some of golf’s most exclusive clubs or work your way down the list of best public golf courses in the US, there’s no shortage of fantastic golf to be played in the United States.