top golf courses in the US
Sand Valley is one of the top golf courses in the US. Credit: Sand Valley

Did you know that there are more than 15,500 golf courses in the US? Not only does this country offer a huge amount of courses to choose from, but it is also home to some of the biggest names in golf, from Jack Nicklaus to Tiger Woods. To top things off, these courses were all designed by an assortment of the most esteemed architects in the golfing world. 

*if you’re interested in course recommendations in a specific region, jump here.

1. Pinehurst #2 at Pinehurst, North Carolina

Pinehurst #2 at Pinehurst
Credit: Pinehurst

Access: Private/Resort
Site: pinehurst.com
Green fee: $495

You should know that the courses on our list are in no particular order, but this course is in the number one spot for a reason. There is no other course in America that has hosted as many golf championships as No.2 at Pinehurst. The course is exceptionally rich in history and it is one of the most iconic courses in the US. The Donald J. Ross design is known for its challenging layout and it has been unveiling the best of the best since 1907. 

2. The South Course at Torrey Pines, Southern California

The South Course at Torrey Pines
Credit: Torrey Pines

Access: Public
Site: torreypines.com
Green fee: $272

Out of the two courses that you can play at Torrey Pines, the South Course is the longer and more challenging option. The original 1957 William Bell Sr. design has been renovated and upgraded twice, in 2001 and 2019, by the esteemed Rees Jones. The renovations have not only made the course longer but also slightly tougher. The two Torrey Pines courses are also home to the Farmers Insurance Open PGA Golf Tournament, which has been hosted in January every year since 1952. 

3. Sand Valley Golf Course, Wisconsin

Sand Valley Golf Course
Credit: Sand Valley Golf Course

Access: Public 
Site: sandvalley.com
Green fee: $105 – $275

The Sand Valley Golf Course at Sand Valley is one of Wisconsin’s most popular public golf courses. The course is a fairly new Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw design, which opened for play in 2017. You’ll see where the name comes from when you first step foot on the course, as it is covered in huge exposed dunes. Some accolades that this challenging yet playable course has received over the years include honorable mentions by GOLF Magazine and Golfweek. 

4. TPC Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

TPC Myrtle Beach
Credit: TPC Myrtle Beach

Access: Public
Site: tpcmyrtlebeach.com
Green fee: $51 – $94

When most people think of TPC Myrtle Beach, the Senior PGA Tour Championship won by Tom Watson is the first thing that comes to mind. Did you know that this course is the only Myrtle Beach course in the Grand Strand area that got five stars from Golf Digest Magazine? The legend, Tom Fazio, is the skilled hand behind the course design, which opened in 1969 as the 100th Grand Strand golf course. The course features 6,950 yards of wetlands, pine trees, birds, and challenging PGA-standard bunkers. 

5. Shadow Creek Golf Course, Nevada

Shadow Creek Golf
Credit: Shadow Creek Golf

Access: Private/Resort
Site: mgmresorts.com
Green fee: $1,250

Shadow Creek is by far the most expensive golf course that you can play in Las Vegas, Nevada. The course is a Steven Wynn brainchild and Tom Fazio/Andy Banfield masterpiece. Featuring a gorgeous mountain view backdrop and a limousine to take you to the course from your hotel, this course simply speaks VIP and luxury. Playwise, you can expect dramatic elevation changes, meandering creeks, lush vegetation, and the famous 17th hole, which requires a tee shot over water to a bunkered green. 

6. Augusta National Golf Club, Georgia

Augusta National Golf Club
Credit: Augusta National Golf Club

Access: Private
Site: masters.com
Green fee: $525

This golf course in Georgia was founded by Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts and designed by Jones and Alister MacKenzie. It is home to the Masters Tournament, one of the most iconic major men’s golf tournaments in the professional golf world (with a prize fund of $18 million), and it recently started co-hosting the Augusta National Women’s Amateur. The course opened for play in 1932 and in 2009, it was placed in the number one spot in Golf Digest’s list of America’s 100 greatest courses. 

7. The Course at Bayside Resort Golf Club, Delaware

Bayside Resort Golf Club
Credit: Bayside Resort Golf Club

Access: Public
Site: golfbayside.com
Green fee: $149 – $206

This course has been Golfweek’s number one best course that you can play in Delaware for fourteen years in a row. It is also this state’s first Jack Nicklaus Signature Course, featuring jaw-dropping views of the Assawoman Bay coastline and the surrounding pine forests. The play is very distinct as the designer incorporated three different styles and experiences in a single 18-hole course, including tree-lined holes, holes that play through marshlands, and holes with wide-open fairways. 

8. Newport Bay at Ocean City Golf Club, Maryland

Newport Bay at Ocean City Golf Club, Maryland
Credit: Ocean City Golf Club

Access: Public
Site: oceancitygolfclub.com
Green fee: $45 – $105

This East Coast course offers unbeatable and unmatched views of the bay and marshlands on all 18 of its holes. The course is known for its challenging layout, with hazards testing your fast-thinking abilities at nearly every shot. The strategically placed bunkers and subtle landscape contours will require you to think twice before making long shots. Don’t let the challenge scare you off, as this course remains a fun option for players of all skill levels. 

We also have compiled a list of fantastic golf courses around Ocean City. Check it out!

9. Erin Hills Golf Course, Wisconsin

Erin Hills Golf Course
Credit: Erin Hills Golf Course

Access: Public
Site: erinhills.com
Green fee: $170 – $385

Erin Hills was designed by three legends in the golf world, Dana Fry, Dr. Michael Hurdzan, and Ron Whitten. Carved into the landscape and routed over kettle moraine areas that were left by glaciers, this course in Wisconsin provides an experience like no other. The icy fingers and streams from south central Wisconsin’s last glacier that used to call this area their home did most of the designing work, as perfect holes were already carved into the landscape. 

10. The Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort, Indiana

The Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort, Indiana
Credit: French Lick Resort

Access: Public
Site: frenchlick.com
Green fee: $375

The idea and design behind the Pete Dye Course came from an initial rough sketch by Pete Dye on a napkin at a restaurant. Today, it is one of the most iconic courses in America, with many accolades from major names, like Golfweek and Golf Digest. The course is located on the highest point in Indiana, so you can expect to be blown away by the 40-mile panoramic views of Hoosier National Forest. The course has five sets of tees, spanning over more than 8,100 yards of natural beauty. 

11. The Bluffs Course at Arcadia Bluffs, Michigan

The Bluffs Course at Arcadia Bluffs
Credit: Arcadia Bluffs

Access: Public
Site: arcadiabluffs.com
Green fee: $100 – $240

This world-class links-style championship course features magnificent views of Lake Michigan, from the first hole to the last. The wind-swept native grasses, sod-wall bunkers, wide-open fairways, and spacious lush greens all come together to complement Warren Henderson’s design. Each of the holes was carefully crafted and carved into the landscape to create 18 unique experiences as you move through the course. 

12. Firekeeper Golf Course, Kansas

Firekeeper Golf
Credit: Firekeeper Golf

Access: Public
Site: firekeepergolf.com
Green fee: $70 – $100

This par 72 championship public course in the Kansas woodlands is home to 7,700 yards of practically undisturbed land. The course was designed by Winner Notah Begay III and Jeff Brauer, a winning combination that tried to keep the landscape true to its natural form.  The Firekeeper Course has hosted many Professional and Amateur tournaments, events, and championships and the forward tees only span over 4,700 yards, so this course is a fit for players of all skill levels. 

13. Kearney Hill Golf Links, Kentucky

Access: Public
Site: lexingtonky.gov
Green fee: $29 – $35

This course, one of Kentucky’s most famous public courses, is located in northwest Fayette County. According to Golf Digest, the Scottish links-style course is one of Kentucky’s top 10 golf courses. Being one of the state’s top courses, it’s only natural that it would host many esteemed events over the years. Some events that were hosted here in the past include the Senior PGA Tour, the Celebrity Players Tour, the PGA Junior Tour Series, and both the Men’s and Women’s Amateur Public Links Championships.

14. Inverness Club Golf Course, Ohio

Inverness Club Golf Course
Credit: Inverness Club Golf Course

Access: Private
Site: invernessclub.com
Green fee: $140 – $210

Inverness is rich in history and it has seen many prestigious events hosted here since Donald Ross finished his design of the championship course in 1916. The first event was the 1920 US Open, the first of four US Opens to be hosted here. The course has also hosted two PGA Championships, a US Amateur, the 2020 LPGA Drive On Championship, and the 2021 Solheim Cup. In 2018, Andrew Green took on the challenge of giving the course a much-needed renovation, as it was already in existence for 100+ years.  

15. Players Course at Indian Wells Golf Resort, Southern California

Indian Wells Golf Resort
Credit: Indian Wells Golf Resort

Access: Public
Site: indianwellsgolfresort.com
Green fee: $72 – $199

This John Fought-designed classic American-style golf course features bunkers that resemble Riviera, Winged Foot, and Dr. Alistair Mackenzie’s works. Many of the holes feature views of the San Jacinto, Santa Rosa, and San Bernardino mountain ranges, while others overlook the Eisenhower Mountain stands. The designer incorporated many of the existing trees into his work, which helped maintain a natural and older feel, while some other features that he included added to the modern feel. 

16. THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, Florida

THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass,
Credit: TPC Sawgrass

Access: Public
Site: tpc.com
Green fee: $450 – $650 

Former PGA TOUR Commissioner, Deane R. Beman, is the person who came up with the idea to build a course that would be the permanent home of THE PLAYERS Championship. In 1980, she started working with Pete Dye, who helped her create a masterpiece that not only has a fantastic on-site experience for spectators but also favors no style of play with a balanced layout. The course is home to one of the most recognized holes in the world, the 17th, which features an island green. 

17. Dunes Course at the Prairie Club, Nebraska

Dunes Course at the Prairie Club
Credit: Prairie Club

Access: Public
Site: theprairieclub.com
Green fee: $157 – $299

This course by Tom Lehman and Chris Brands was designed and built before the world knew of bulldozers and other ways to flatten the land to create golf courses. The Dunes Course is known for its dramatic elevation changes, spanning over a maximum of 8,073 Yards, sandhill views, and blowouts. The landscape is made of prairie grass and wind-shaped dunes and bunkers and the wind is your opponent. The links-style layout will require you to keep the ball low but also cut through the air at the same time. 

The Prairie Club also provides one of the best golf packages in Nebraska. You can check it in their site.

18. TPC Deere Run, Illinois

TPC Deere Run
Credit: TPC Deere Run

Access: Public
Site: tpc.com
Green fee: $99

D.A. Weibring is the artist behind this TPC course in Illinois, home to the John Deere Classic. With a combination of the Mississippi River Valley landscape and the traditional PGA Tour’s standards, the course gives you the best of both worlds. The course is both playable and challenging and it is complemented by hardwood trees and elevation changes. There used to be an Arabian horse farm high above the Rock River Valley, of which the natural features have remained completely untouched. 

19. Pinehurst #4 at Pinehurst, North Carolina

Pinehurst #4 at Pinehurst
Credit: Pinehurst

Access: Private/Resort
Site: pinehurst.com
Green fee: $280

To conclude our list of the best US golf courses, we’re heading back to Pinehurst in North Carolina one more time. No. 4 at Pinehurst was designed by Gil Hanse and he redesigned it again in 2018. Just a year after the reopening, the course was chosen to host the 2019 U.S. Amateur. You’ll find exposed sand wherever you look, from the cross-fairway bunkers to the fringes of the course and the abundance of dramatic vistas add to the overall challenge.

20. Whispering Pines Golf Club, Texas

Whispering Pines
Credit: Whispering Pines

Access: Public
Site: whisperingpinesgolfclub.com
Green fee: $29 – $37

Along the shores of Lake Livingston, on 450 acres of pine and hardwood forest, you’ll find the appropriately named Whispering Pines. The land was acquired when Barbara and Corby Robertson Jr. Wanted to open a summer camp in 1970. By the mid-90s, the course was partially complete and known as Camp Olympia Golf Course, the course that featured the first Flora Dwarf greens in Texas. In 2000, the Whispering Pines Golf Club, a design by Chet Williams, opened as the 3rd Best New Private Course by Golf Digest.  

21. National Golf Links of America, New York

National Golf Links of America
Credit: National Golf Links of America

Access: Private
Site: ngla.us
Green fee: $350 – $500

This Charles B. Macdonald and Seth Raynor course was founded in 1908 as a first-class US course modeled after the courses in Scotland and England. Each of the 18 holes represents famous holes from British Isle courses, like Road Hole and Eden from St. Andrews, Redan from North Berwick, and Sahara from Sandwich. Today, this 253-acre piece of land on Peconic Bay in the Town of Southampton sees many architects as the course acts as a source of inspiration. 

22. The South Course at Oakland Hills Country Club, Michigan

Oakland Hills Country Club
Credit: Oakland Hills Country Club

Access: Private/Members-only
Site: oaklandhillscc.com
Green fee: $175

Since Oakland Hills was founded in 1916, it has seen some of the best-of-the-best play on its greens over the years, from Gary Player to Arnold Palmer to Jack Nicklaus, who all competed on “The Monster”, designed by the esteemed Donald Ross. The list of major tournaments that have been hosted on The South Course is rather long, with six US Opens, three PGA Championships, a Ryder Cup, and two US Amateurs. 

23. Valhalla Golf Club, Kentucky

Valhalla Golf Club
Credit: Valhalla Golf Club

Access: Private/Members-only
Site: valhallagolfclub.com
Green fee: $59 – $99

Do you remember the time that Tiger Woods held off Bob May in a three-hole PGA Championship playoff? Or the time that the United States prevailed and reclaimed the Ryder Cup? Both of those big events happened right here, at the gorgeous Audubon-certified Valhalla Golf Club. The designer, the legend Jack Nicklaus, really outdid himself when he incorporated the rolling hills and Valhalla wildlife to create this riveting and challenging golf course amid the tranquil surroundings of the Bluegrass State.

24. Harbour Town Golf Links, South Carolina

Harbour Town Golf Links
Credit: Harbour Town Golf Links

Access: Public
Site: seapines.com
Green fee: $195 – $370

Two legends worked on this course, with Pete Dye at the wheel and Jack Nicklaus by his side as his design consultant. Harbour Town is known as one of the most celebrated courses on the PGA Tour, as it has been the host of the RBC Heritage since 1969. The course and its layout have the ability to force you to use your imagination rather than use your strength to make aggressive shots. The par 71 course spans over more than 7,000 yards and it is located at The Sea Pines Resort on Hilton Head Island. 

Recommended Golf Courses in Specific Regions

Already know where to visit but need to check your options? Fear not, check out our lists of the best golf courses to check:

West

Midwest

Southeast

Northeast

Final Word

Golfing in the US is an experience on its own, regardless of where you choose to tee off. However, some cities just stand out above the rest when it comes to their collection of golf courses. You can find nine of these cities in this list that we compiled of the top US cities with the best golf courses.

Or you can choose international golf destinations like Ireland by having a professional golf tour operator take care of the arrangement hassle for you. Here’s our list of the top golf tour operators for you to check out.

Lastly, you’ll definitely need a good-quality travel bag for your clubs, so check out our review on the best golf travel bags on the market.

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