Golf has been booming globally since the 1980s, and the number of golf courses that have been built in the United States is simply staggering. Golf clubs, resort-style courses, and private and public courses are literally everywhere you turn in the US.
Golf courses from Florida to Oregon to California and Arizona, the US is undoubtedly the world leader when it comes to the best golf courses in the world. These golf courses are challenging and fun, provide breathtaking scenery, and many are coupled with some of the best 5-star resorts and hotels in the US.
But with so many outstanding courses dotted around the US, how does one go about ranking them? Well, to be honest, it’s borderline impossible to rank which are the best courses in the US. Because the question of ranking the best courses is so subjective, you’ll get 10 different answers if you ask 10 different golfers.
Here at GolfMonster, though, we have gone ahead and taken our best shot at ranking the top 13 golf courses in the United States. Some of these courses you’ll be more than familiar with, while others you may never have heard of. Some will be in locations you’d expect, like California and Florida, while others are located in states and regions you’d never anticipate.
Ranking courses is no easy task; because there are no hard and fast rules or parameters to rank by. Some categories we’ve looked at thought to help us rank the best 13 courses are architecture, course layout, landscape and scenery, history, reviews, and tournament play.
Many of the courses on the list blend traditional course layout and design with modern architecture, while other courses are modern in everything about them. Some of the courses are beautifully manicured, and some of them are a bit rough around the edges, but either way, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
So without further adieus, let’s kick off the list of the 13 best courses in the US.
1. The Prairie Golf Club, Nebraska
- 1 1. The Prairie Golf Club, Nebraska
- 2 2. The Sea Island Resort Golf Club, Georgia
- 3 3. Pebble Beach, California, USA
- 4 4. Hilton La Quinta Resort and Spa, California
- 5 5. Bandon Dunes Golf Club, Oregon
- 6 6. Silvies Valley Ranch Golf Club, Oregon
- 7 7. Pinehurst Golf Resort, North Carolina
- 8 8. Sea Pine Golf Resort, South Carolina
- 9 9. Kiawah Island Golf Resort, South Carolina
- 10 10. The American Golf Club, Wisconsin
- 11 11. Streamsong Golf Course, Florida
- 12 12. Big Cedar Lodge Golf Resort, Missouri
- 13 13. The Greenbrier Golf Resort, West Virginia
The Prairie Golf Club was built way back in the day, even before bulldozers and other earth-moving equipment were invented. The club has two distinct 18-hole courses, The Dunes Course and The Pines Course; it also has a short 10-hole course attached to it perfect for beginner and juniors golfers or those just looking for a bit of fun.
At the Dune Course, you’ll be greeted by undulating and rolling fairways, hills, and greens that are renowned for being some of the toughest in the US. Bunkers are littered everywhere you look, and the meandering fairways make tee shots demanding, even for the best of golfers. The Pines Course winds its way through the Prairie land, and the fairways are lined with beautiful pine trees that run right along the bank of the river gorge.
The shorter course, aptly called “The Horse Course,” has no tee boxes, and players can tee off from wherever they feel like. It’s a throwback to the courses of the old age, yet it has been specifically designed for a bit of fun; after all, golf can get pretty serious.
2. The Sea Island Resort Golf Club, Georgia
Would you believe that the Sea Island Golf Course is not one course but three? The most famous of the three layouts is undoubtedly the Seaside Course. One of the greatest players of all time, Bobby Jones, is even on record saying that the front nine holes were the best front nine layout he’d ever played; not a bad review from a golfing legend.
In recent times the course has undergone a renovation which renowned course architect Tom Fazio has overseen. The Sea Island course also hosts the annual RSM Classic on the PGA Tour. Many professional players also name Sea Island as their home club primarily because the facilities are second to none and many pros have residences in the vicinity.
3. Pebble Beach, California, USA
Pebble Beach is simply one of the most well-known and celebrated golf courses in the US and the world. The course sits right on the coastline of the Monterrey Penisula and offers golfers some of the most breathtaking views of any golf course in the world.
The course has hosted the US Open on several occasions and has also hosted numerous PGA Tour events for over 75 years. Some of the biggest names in the game have played at Pebble Beach, and even Hollywood greats like Bing Crosby and Bob Hope have held celebrity fundraising events.
The course is renowned for its narrow fairways and tiny and undulating greens, which many golfers, including Tiger Woods, have said they’re the most challenging greens in the world to putt on. If you miss the green, you’ll be in deep rough and scrambling to make par with an up-and-down.
4. Hilton La Quinta Resort and Spa, California
The tagline “play where the legends play” for the La Quinta Golf Course alone should be enough to convince you that it’s well worth the time and money to play. The La Quinta Golf Resort has been host to a PGA Tour event annually since 1960 and, like Pebble Beach, has seen greats like Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and Jack Nicklaus walk the fairways.
US Presidents Bill Clinton, Geral Ford, Dwight Eisenhower, and George H. W. Bush have all played rounds of golf at the famed La Quinta Resort and Spa.
La Quinta comprises 5 courses; that’s right, 5. The celebrated golf architect Pete Dye designed three of the layouts, while Greg Norman and Jack Nicklaus designed the other two 18-hole courses. Undoubtedly the pick of the bunch is the Stadium Course which tests the skills of the best players on the PGA Tour.
The course, as the name suggests, was designed to improve the fan experience, with many of the viewing spots on each hole raised to provide a stadium feel.
5. Bandon Dunes Golf Club, Oregon
Bandon Dunes is known across the US as the “Golfing Mecca” of the Southwest Coast. The Bandon Dunes Golf Club is one of those we discussed in the introduction that seamlessly blends traditional architecture and course layout with modern course design and state-of-the-art facilities.
The owner, Mike Keiser, purchased the land and employed some of the best course designers in the US to make his dream of building a world-renowned golf course come true. The course itself meanders through prime coastal real estate and has almost a “links-style” golf course feel to it.
Many golf courses in the US are “resort-style,” which means they are perfectly manicured and look like they came right out of a postcard; the Bandon Dunes, though, is the polar opposite. The long whispy, fescue grasses, undulating fairways, and deep rough give the golfer a little feel of what it must be like to play in Scotland on some of the best links courses in the world.
6. Silvies Valley Ranch Golf Club, Oregon
If you looked up “hidden gem” in a dictionary, then I’m sure you’d find a photo of Silvies Valley Ranch right next to it. Tucked quietly away in a secluded area of eastern Oregon, Silivies Ranch offers golfers a formidable challenge and absolutely spectacular views of the surrounding farmland.
Silvies Ranch has a unique layout, and the course consists of 27 greens meaning that you can actually play the course in reverse to change things up. Silvies Ranch is also home to a par-23 course with 7 holes; that’s right, this course is unique and quirky.
The course was designed in 2017 and sits on over 140,000 acres of farmland. As you can imagine, the wide fairways and the greens, although undulating are a dream to putt on. Even mid to high handicappers can post good scores here, which is why the Silvies Ranch appeals to every level of golfer.
Architect Dan Hixson designed the aptly named “Gauntlet Course,” which basically has no designated fairways, as the course only provides tee boxes and impeccably manicured greens. If you want a challenge and a bit of fun, it’s the perfect course for a getaway weekend.
7. Pinehurst Golf Resort, North Carolina
I can actually say that I’ve been lucky enough to tee it up at Pinehurst Resort on more than one occasion, and it’s quite frankly one of the best golfing experiences of my life. Not to mention the club sandwich was absolutely jaw-dropping.
The No.2 Course is the most famed and was originally designed by Donald Ross; however, more recently, it has undergone and “re-do” under the watchful eye of Coore and Crenshaw in 2013. Would you believe there are nine courses at Pinehurst, yep, 9? In 2017, Gil Hanse redesigned the No. 4 course, bringing immediate awards and recognition.
The redesign did more than that; it reminded the golfing world that Pinehurst Resort is more than just the No. 2 course and is home to 8 other courses designed by the biggest names in golfing architecture. Jack Nicklaus, Tom Fazio, and Rees Jones are three designers who have created awe-inspiring courses that provide a golfing experience you’ll never forget.
8. Sea Pine Golf Resort, South Carolina
Sea Pines Resort is home to the Annual RBC Heritage on the PGA Tour and is designed by world-renowned course designer Pete Dye. If you’re a golfer who loves shaping shots and hitting long drives over water, then the courses at Sea Pines Resort will be right up your alley.
Several PGA Tour professionals make the Sea Pines Resort their home in the off-season, and it’s easy to see why. The views of the coastline are spectacular, and the southern hospitality the south is known for makes wining and dining a delightful experience.
The resort has three 18-hole golf courses; the SeaPines Resort, Harbour Town, and Atlantic Dunes, designed by PGA Tour brothers and course architects Mark and Davis Love III. The courses offer three completely different golfing experiences making the resort the perfect three-day getaway.
9. Kiawah Island Golf Resort, South Carolina
Kiawah Island Golf Resort is not located in Hawaii, which the name might suggest; instead, the course is in South Carolina; oh, hang on, did I say course? Actually, the resort is home to five 18-hole Championship Courses.
In 1991 the course played host to one of the most controversial Ryder Cups in recent memory. The Ocean Course hosted the 2012 PGA Championship, and Rory McIlroy ran away with the tournament win by a whopping eight strokes. In 2021 Phil Mickelson became the oldest player on the PGA Tour to win a Major Championship at the age of 50.
Cougar Point, Osprey Point, Turtle Point, and Oak Point are the other four courses, and each of them showcases the unique flora and fauna that can be found on the island. The Pete Dye layout meanders through marshland, and with its wide-open fairways, the wind can blow and wreak havoc with your approach shots.
10. The American Golf Club, Wisconsin
Again, Pete Dye has created one of the best risk-reward golf courses in the entire US. The American Club played host to the 2021 Ryder Cup, and the event was a rousing success, especially as the TV ratings went through the roof.
The course itself comes across spectacularly on TV with its treacherous bunkers and thick fescue rough lining the fairways. Many experts love the Whistling Straights layout as the course is sandwiched between Lake Michigan and the clear blue skies the area is known for. The only downside that might prevent some golfers from visiting is the temperatures can get pretty chilly even in September, so bring a winter hat.
The season is relatively short, making summer golfing holidays hard to book; however, the club has three other world-class courses in their own right. The River, The Irish, and the Meadow Valleys courses are littered with over 1000 bunkers, so be prepared to spend more time in the sand than David Hasselhoff.
11. Streamsong Golf Course, Florida
If you’ve been to Central Florida, you’ve probably been struck by just how flat the landscape is; some might say boring, but I wouldn’t go that far. The terrain has been heavily mined for phosphate, making the landscape resemble something from a science fiction movie or the moon’s surface.
The Blue Course was designed by Tom Doak, while the design team of Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore are responsible for the red course. Then there’s The Black Course that Gil Hanse designed. All three courses offer completely different golfing experiences. The Red Course is challenging and fast and meanders its way through the dunes and marshland.
The Black Course has undulating fairways lined by thick scrub, and The Blue Course is littered with hazards such as bunkers and ponds.
12. Big Cedar Lodge Golf Resort, Missouri
Inspired by a fascination with connecting nature with people, Johnny Morris set out to design a unique and profound golfing experience. The Big Cedar Lodge showcases the very best landscapes and scenery that the Ozarks have to offer, and with five courses, there’s something for everyone.
The courses have been designed by the game’s most significant architects and course designers. How many golf resorts do you know that can boast courses designed by Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tiger Woods, Tom Watson, Ben Crenshaw, Gary Player, Tom Fazio, and Bill Coore.
The founder Jonny Morris is the owner of the world-famous fishing franchise “Bass Pro Shops.” It’s fair to say that whatever project Morris undertakes, he always goes big, and Big Cedar Lodge is no different. In fact, many golfing experts view Big Cedar Lodge as the pinnacle of golf resorts in the US and worldwide.
The Big Cedar Lodge is also home to Payne’s Valley, which is the first-ever public golf course designed by Tiger Woods. The course offers golfers spectacular views of the limestone rocks, and the fairways are lined by centuries-old trees that look like something from the Lord of the Rings. All five of the golf courses will leave you breathless with the White River running through the area, perfect for combining golf and fishing.
13. The Greenbrier Golf Resort, West Virginia
The saying, “we’re saving the best for last,” rings true here. The Greenbrier is affectionately known as “America’s Resort” and has been for more than 100 years. The Greenbrier consists of three 18-hole Championship Golf Courses plus a recently developed short course.
Whether you want to take on the challenge The White Course offers or try your luck on The Greenbrier Course, you’re truly in for a magical and memorable golfing experience. The accommodation is literally fit for Kings and Queens. President Dwight D. Eisenhower hosted the North American Summit Conference in 1956 and Greenbrier has even been the abode of Princess Grace of Monaco, The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and Prince Ranier.
The Greenbrier employs some of the best greenskeepers in the United States, and the course is in pristine condition all year round. If I had to choose the ultimate golfing experience from any of the courses on the list, the Greenbrier would win hands down.