For a lot of golfers, the local course is all they can afford on a regular basis, but every golfer dreams about playing a challenging game surrounded by beautiful scenery one day. In honor of August being National Golf Month, I have compiled a list of 9 of the best public courses available in the United States. (I have only been to a few, so I took some cues from Golf Magazine’s Top 100 Courses You Can Play.) Before summer slips away, be sure to hit the links with a group of friends and enjoy the view!
1. Pebble Beach | Pebble Beach, California
Frequenting the top of any list of top courses, Pebble Beach offers nine holes right on Carmel Bay. The 18th hole is the most famous finishing hole in the world.With the Pacific Ocean crashing into the rocks the entire left side of this dogleg left hole, it is the most recognizable and one of the most beautiful holes anywhere.
2. Pacific Dunes | Brandon, Oregon
Pacific Dunes is considered by many to rival Pebble Beach as the finest public access course in the country. Pacific Dunes easily makes the top list for the best use of the natural land. The course emerges from shore pines to incredible 60-foot sand dunes.
3. Bethpage (Black) | Farmingdale, N.Y.
This is one of the best and most challenging layouts the U.S. Open (2002 and 2009) has ever featured. Sports Illustrated’s Gary Van Sickle has said of the course: “The Black is a brute on a sprawling landscape of rolling hills.”
4. TPC Sawgrass (Players Stadium) | Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
Unlike some of the private TPC courses played on tour, anyone can play the Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass…and players are grateful. Some have argued that the closing three holes, including the famous 17th island green, are amongst the most beautiful in golf.
5. Shadow Creek | Las Vegas, Nevada
Shadow Creek might be as close to an Augusta experience that the general public may ever be able to enjoy. One of a kind, Shadow Creek was originally a private course that has become a must-see destination for golfers. The course features hundreds of species of trees and is built up around the perimeter so that the beautiful foliage and wildlife are the only things you see other than the mountain range in the far distance.
6.Chambers Bay | Tacoma, Washington
Voted the best new course of 2007 by GOLF Magazine, at Chambers Bay the visuals scream Ireland: giant sand dunes, rumpled fairways, stunning sea views, and unpredictable weather. But this superb new course is almost 5,000 miles west of Ballybunion, atop an old gravel mine about an hour south of Seattle.
7. Red Sky Ranch (Norman) | Wolcott, Colorado
There are two 18s at Red Sky Ranch, one by Greg Norman, the other designed by Tom Fazio. Public play on each alternates on a daily basis. A ridge-line separates the two courses (the ridge designated as a wildlife corridor), with the Norman 18 positioned on a western slope, affording long-range views of the Rockies to the west and south.
8. The Homestead (Cascades) | Hot Springs, Virginia
Dating to 1766, The Homestead may be one of America’s most historic resorts. Gurgling brooks, tree-cloaked mountains and library-like tranquility fuel a round of golf that offers perhaps the finest blend of shotmaking and solitude in golf.
9. Barton Creek Resort (Fazio Canyons) | Austin, Texas
Nestled in the hills outside Austin, you can really begin to appreciate Hill Country. The course features beautiful holes cut through the Texas hill country, with many elevation changes and scenic creeks and canyons on most holes. With a slope rating of 139 from the gold tees and 141 from the blacks, it is one of the most difficult courses in Texas but a must play for golf enthusiasts!
Looking for an extra fitness challenge? Forget hopping on the ol’ golf cart between holes and forgo the caddy to carry your own bag!
Have any public golf courses to add to the list? Feel free to comment below.