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50 Best Golf Courses In America – See One in Every US State (2020)


Last Updated: August 28, 2019

From golf clubs older than 100 years, to those opened a decade ago, we’ve looked at most popular, loved and visited golf courses in the USA to put together this list of the best golf courses in America.

Some are famous for hosting national and international championships and tournaments, while others boast an incredible scenery and tough and challenging holes.

Whichever US state you are destined to visit next, see which golf course is worth your time!

Best American Golf Courses (A-Z)

1.  Alabama: Shoal Creek

Photo by Shoal Creek
  • Location: Birmingham, Alabama
  • Date Established: 1977
  • Course Architect: Jack Nicklaus, Bob Cupp
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: Hosted two PGA Championships.

The Appalachian Mountains provide a beautiful backdrop for the top golf course in the state of Alabama.

Set in a river valley at the foot of the mountains, the fairways are surprising wide and offer a forgiving tee shot to start off most of the holes.

The Shoal Creek course is described as being ‘true’ and many people have acknowledged that “what you see is what you get”.

The holes that appear straight-forward rarely have hidden challenges and the holes that appear intimidating, earn that right and ask a lot from any golfer.

Jack Nicklaus, the course designer, narrowly lost to Jerry Pate in the inaugural round at the course. Since these golfing legends ‘wet-the-fairways’, the course has hosted many more playing in the major events that have followed.

2. Alaska: Anchorage

Photo by Anchorage Golf Course
  • Location: Anchorage, Alaska
  • Date Established: 1987
  • Course Architect: Bill Newcomb
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: Views of three separate mountain ranges and the tallest mountain in North America, Denali.

Alaska is known to have very little sunlight during the winter months. It is therefore important to ensure you visit in the summer if you are looking to squeeze a round of golf in. The season is restricted and runs from May through to October.

The course is set above the town of Anchorage and as one would expect of Alaska, has perhaps the best scenery available to golfers all around the world.

Visitors rarely finish their round without having encountered some of the interesting Alaskan wildlife. Animals such as moose, fox and occasionally bears, roam around the course and add a unique aspect to a round of golf.

Anchorage Golf Course is not only good for its wildlife and beauty, but also offers players a quality golfing experience.

The fairways are lined with big trees that tend to punish a stray tee-shot. The greens are elevated on a number of holes making for a difficult approach shot.

Considering the short amount of time that the golfing season is limited to in the region, one would expect the course to be frustratingly busy. The marshals however, are on top of their game and keep the field moving at a respectable pace.

3. Arizona: The Estancia Club

Photo by The Estancia Club
  • Location: Scottsdale, Arizona
  • Date Established: 1996
  • Course Architect: Tom Fazio
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: The clubhouse is as beautiful as the scenery.

This prestigious course is available to members and their guests only. The exclusivity is obvious and the facilities and conditioning of the course is up there with the very best.

Built in the ‘desert state’ on a plateau at the foot of Pinnacle Peak, the course experiences a number of elevation changes throughout the 18 holes. This adds an interesting dynamic to the round as golfers must contend with undulating terrain.

The condition of both the fairways and greens at The Estancia Club does not disappoint with ‘firm’ and ‘fast’ being the obvious adjectives in describing each aspect.

The facilities around the course are impressive and combined with the beautiful rock formations that are visible on each hole, golfers are guaranteed a fun day out.

Perhaps the only negative the course possesses is that it does not pose much of a challenge to top golfers. But for leisure golfers, it is a perfect match providing a premium experience.

You may also like: Top Golf Courses In South Africa 

4. Arkansas: Alotian Club

Photo by Alotian Club
  • Location: Roland, Arkansas
  • Date Established: 2004
  • Course Architect: Tom Fazio
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: Greens are always in excellent condition with underground cooling systems in place to keep them cool during the hot summer days.

Tom Fazio designed golf courses have often been on the receiving end of criticism claiming that too many of them are similar and therefore predictable.

The Alotian Club is one of these “typical Fazio designs” however there is much more to it than just the golf course.

No expense has been spared and the attention to detail is remarkable. The course is said to make up for its predictability with pristine conditioning, excellent service and facilities that offer a luxury golfing experience that continues to impress.

The owner of the Alotian Club is Billionaire investment banker, Warren Stephens, who also happens to be a member of Augusta National. Stephens is therefore familiar with what a high-end golf course should offer its individuals.

If you are looking to experience the type of treatment professionals receive upon entering Augusta, then Alotian golf course is a must-do for you. If you are looking to play a challenging and unique golf course however, then perhaps one should look elsewhere.

In conclusion, the exclusivity of the Alotian Club is obvious and it is perhaps the experience in its entirety that keeps people coming back rather than the golf course itself.

5. California: Pebble Beach

Pebble Beach Golf Course
Image credit: pgatour.com
  • Location: Pebble Beach, California
  • Date Established: 1919
  • Course Architect: Jack Neville
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: Six time host for The US Open Championship (the latest being in 2019).

Renowned golf course designer, Jack Nicklaus once said “If I only had one more round to play, I would choose to play at Pebble Beach”. If that doesn’t ignite a strong urge to book a tee time at this links then I don’t know what will.

Pebble Beach Links is open for anyone to play, albeit at a hefty price of $550. The fact that it welcomes visitors is the reason behind rating it above Cypress Point golf course, even though the two are close competitors for the title of top Californian golf course.

The course takes full advantage of its setting alongside the Atlantic ocean with 9 holes perched directly adjacent to the sea.

If you are able to block out the sound of crashing waves and concentrate on your shot rather than the beautiful views, there is a good chance you will score well.

6. Colorado: Ballyneal

Photo by Ballyneal Golf Club
  • Location: Holyoke, Colorado
  • Date Established: 1960
  • Course Architect: Tom Doak
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: Dramatic undulations of the fairways and greens. Unlike any other course.

Course designer, Tom Doak said he aimed to build a golf course that embodied the characteristics of the land it was situated upon. For that reason, the natural undulations of the sand dunes on which the course is built are ever present in the dramatic fairways and greens.

Doak felt it was important to bring shot selection into play on almost every hole of the course. As a result, golfers are often faced with a decision to take the risky direct line to the flag or a more conservative line that avoids trouble but is the longer route to the green.

A classic layout to a golf course surprising of the rough terrain it has had to contend with.

Ballyneal is another closed course available to members and their guests only. But given the opportunity, it provides a fun day out that demands a lot of strategy from the golfers. Perhaps why it is geared more towards the lower handicapper.

7. Connecticut: Country Club of Fairfield

Photo by Country Club of Fairfield
  • Location: Fairfield, Connecticut
  • Date Established: 1921
  • Course Architect: Seth Raynor and modified by A.W. Tillinghast (1939) and Trent Jones Snr (1960)
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: The course was crafted around inspiration from some of the best links in the British Isles.

‘Links-like’ in nature the course has breath taking views of the ocean and the wind that inevitably comes along with it.

The course rating is a 70 mostly due to its length that requires significant power behind some shots.

Golfers able to cope with the wind and the length are likely to score well as the course plays fair to what you see with even high handicappers setting personal records.

The staff at Fairfield take pride in the condition of the course which is evident in the well-manicured fairways and slick greens.

Very rarely are golfers disappointed after playing a round at the Country Club of Fairfield and often leave wanting more.

8. Delaware: Wilmington Country Club (South)

Photo by Wilmington Country Club
  • Location: Wilmington, Delaware
  • Date Established: 1959
  • Course Architect: Robert Trent Jones, Keith Foster
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: Hosted a number of USGA Championships

Wilmington is situated among the rolling hills of the Delaware Valley and is home to two golf courses.

The south course is their flagship and with a healthy combination of tricky golf and good service it ranks consistently in the top courses in the state of Delaware.

Wilmington South boasts a fair number of fairway bunkers that cause trouble for the second shot if found from the tee box.

Water is the biggest challenge however, with more than half of the holes where it comes into play.

Fail to steer clear of these strategically placed hazards and you will be well on your way to a disappointing round.

9. Florida: Seminole GC

Photo by Seminole Golf Club
  • Location: Juno Beach, Florida
  • Date Established/Redesigned: 1929 and 2017
  • Course Architect: Donald Ross and Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: The host of the 2021 Walker Cup.

Seminole was built on the Florida coastline and unsurprisingly the wind blows regularly. The course was routed to point in just about every direction imaginable so the wind is a challenge despite the direction it blows in.

With a number of elevated greens and deep bunkers protecting them, it is the precision game that will hold you in a better position than the rest of the field in a round at Seminole.

You might expect a course in the heart of Florida to be flat and Seminole may appear so to the eye. However in reality it has some “serious elevation changes that add to the uniqueness of the course”.

The greens at Seminole roll extremely fast and with hazards placed at the back of many of them, each approach shot requires concentration and a certain degree of precision to avoid these hazards.

The course is considered to be one of the most exclusive in the country and getting a round there is just about impossible without a member accompanying you.

The 2021 Walker Cup is set to be played at Seminole. This will give supporters around the world, the opportunity to see what all the ‘Seminole-fuss’ is about.

10. Georgia: Augusta National

Photo by Augusta Country Club
  • Location: Augusta, Georgia
  • Date Established: 1933
  • Course Architect: Alister Mackenzie, Bobby Jones
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: Home to the Masters.

Possessing only 22 bunkers and hardly any rough it is surprising that even Professionals struggle to score well at Augusta National. But that is testament to the genius layout of the course making for a challenging round at the best of times.

The huge amount of tradition that the club emulates is obvious from your very first step into the colonial clubhouse.

The two nines pose different threats to players. The front nine is dominated by unforgiving greens and the back nine is sprayed with water hazards that come into play on majority of the holes.

The championship course has undergone many deviations over the years but one thing that is a constant at Augusta is the fact that it is one of the most exclusive and high-end courses around the world.

11. Hawaii: Nanea Golf Club

Photo by Nanea Golf Club
  • Location: Kailua Kona, Hawaii
  • Date Established: 2003
  • Course Architect: David McLay Kidd
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: The ability to play here is an honour and the highlight in itself.

Talked about in the same breath as Augusta National, it is described as the home of the Masters nearest competitor. The exclusivity rivals none other to the point where many golf enthusiasts don’t even know it exists.

The club shuns publicity which is why it may be difficult to find even a write-up about it on the internet or a local that can show you where exactly it is.

One must be a member here in order to play at Nanea and to get that coveted title, one must be invited.

Approaching the gate, visitors might be underwhelmed if you’re comparing it to the likes of Augusta Nationals’ extravagant drive way. However that feeling quickly changes into absolute awe upon entering the complex.

People who have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to play here have noted the extreme attention to detail when it comes to maintaining the courses perfect condition.

Nanea Golf Club is situated on a thick lava mantle which embodies the essence of the ‘Big island’ which is home to many volcanoes.

The designer of the course was expected to produce a challenging links-styled course modelled around some of the owners favourite courses in the United Kingdom and Scotland. Playing like any fine links course does, it is safe to assume that Kidd delivered on these demands.

12. Idaho: Gozzer Ranch

Photo by Gozzer Ranch Golf Course
  • Location: Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
  • Date Established: 2008
  • Course Architect: Tom Fazio
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: Areas surrounding Lake Coeur d’Alene attract Hollywood and American sports stars and celebrities.

In the words of Tom Fazio himself; “these epic views stop you in your tracks – you almost don’t want to hit the ball because the view is so spectacular”.

Set on an elevated piece of land on the edge of Lake Coeur d’Alene, it is easy to get distracted and forget you’re actually there to play golf rather than admire the spectacular views.

In true Fazio style, the fairways are lined with jagged edged bunkers with immaculate conditioning.

The course allows for exciting attacking play as the greens pose little threat if your approach shot is accurate.

With a few drivable par 4’s, par 3’s carved out of magnificent rock formations and scenic par 5’s this course offers everything and more to keep golfers interested round after round.

13. Illinois: Chicago Golf Club

chicago golf club

  • Location: Wheaton, Illinois
  • Date Established: 1894
  • Course Architect: Charles Blair Macdonald
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: The first 18 hole golf course in America.

When it comes to booking a round at Chicago Golf Club you might expect an outdated course upon learning that it is in its 2nd century of existence.

However since hosting the Walker Cup in 2006, the club has focused on refining the aspects of the course that might have originally been their downfall.

Typical of a Macdonald course, there are very little trees. As a result, fast and firm conditions are present on the fairways.

The green complexes are challenging which is testament to the fact that this old school course is able to compete with some of the top ones around.

Nothing about this club is extravagant and the focus is solely centered around golf.

Tradition oozes out of this Illinois gem.

14. Indiana: Victoria National

Photo by Victoria National Golf Club
  • Location: Newburgh, Indiana
  • Date Established: 1998
  • Course Architect: Tom Fazio
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: One of the most visually appealing golf courses in the United States.

Built upon an old Victoria strip mine, Tom Fazio has done an incredible job in transforming a boring piece of land into one of the most visually appealing golf courses in the United States.

Victoria National has 6 tee boxes to choose from, perhaps necessary in order to avoid the huge amount of water scattered around the course.

It is clear that a lot of thought went into the layout of Victoria National as it delivers a extreme variety of holes. There is not a weak hole on the course and every shot demands concentration.

Bent is the grass of choice on the tee boxes, fairways and greens which delivers a firm surface to execute your shots.

Even critics of Tom Fazio designs will be pleasantly surprised after experiencing what this course has to offer.

15. Iowa: The Harvester Golf Club

Photo by The Harvester Golf Club
  • Location: Rhodes, Iowa
  • Date Established: 2000
  • Course Architect: Keith Foster
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: Previously Iowa’s #1 Public Golf Course, now a high-end course.

Commenting on the youthfulness of the course, owner Dickson Jensen said the design, the surroundings and the commitment the tradition of the game of golf “all lends to a maturity and a degree of excellence beyond our years”.

The Harvester offers golfers a rich blend of holes that demand a lot from the golfer. Stretching over 7,000-meters long, the length proves to be a stern test.

Foster cleverly included Lake Harvester within the routing of the course, and it plays a significant role in the closing holes on both nines.

Having always welcomed visitors and often described as one of the most testing ‘open’ courses around, it is changing its ways in the near future. Keith Foster returned for renovations in 2018 and once he is finished, the course is set to become private.

16. Kansas: Prairie Dunes Country Club

Photo by Prairie Dunes Country Club
  • Location: Hutchinson, KansasT
  • Date Established: The first 9 holes were established in 1937 and the extension to 18 occurred in 1956.
  • Course Architect: Perry Maxwell (1937), James Press Maxwell (1956).
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: In the middle of America and far away from any ocean, the course mirrors a top links course.

Possessing traits that are normally attributed to a fine a links such as wind, rolling fairways and an abundance of sand, Prairie Dunes offers a links-styled round of golf away from the seaside.

James Maxwell, son of the original designer was able to emulate his fathers green complexes which is perhaps the courses’ biggest strength. Many greens break in three directions and makes for a tricky day out for any putter.

The environment at the club is intimate and understated and its obvious primary focus is the game of golf and the condition of the course.

17. Kentucky: Valhalla Golf Club

Photo by Valhalla Golf Club
  • Location: Louisville, Kentucky
  • Date Established: 1986
  • Course Architect: Jack Nicklaus
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: Hosted three PGA Championships.

It comes as no surprise that the course at Valhalla Country Club is a challenging one as it has played host to three PGA Championships.

The front 9 is characteristic of a links course with rolling fairways through a low lying valley. The incoming 9 however, oozes tradition in every sense of the word with tree-lined fairways and thick rough.

The length of the par 3’s and the strategically placed hazards are the courses’ obvious line of defence. A fair number of the greens are elevated demanding precision and control on your approach shot.

Valhalla embraces the ‘reciprocal guest policy’. An obvious attraction for many golfers as its open to members from other clubs provided they are introduced prior to their round.

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18. Louisiana: Squire Creek

Photo by Squire Creek
  • Location: Choudrant, Louisiana
  • Date Established: 2002
  • Course Architect: Tom Fazio
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: The picturesque scenery is definitely a highlight.

Squire Creek is a ‘course of the people’ offering excellent service and a friendly environment.

The course proves to be a stern test for golfers of any calibre. Always kept in good condition with firm greens and well-manicured fairways, it is a fun day out for the professional or leisure golfer alike.

Open to members and their guests only, it is described as a private club. Access to play at Squire Creek as a guest is only granted five times per year for an individual. The exclusivity adds to the appeal.

Upon arrival, golfers have access to all the facilities one would expect of a top class golf course. The full length driving range, chipping area and a putting green allow you to dial in your stoke before your round whilst embracing the beautiful scenery surrounding the property.

19. Maine: Belgrade Lakes

Photo by Belgrade Lakes Golf Club
  • Location: Belgrade Lakes, Maine
  • Date Established: 1999
  • Course Architect: Clive Clarke
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: A gem in the wilderness.

The Belgrade Lakes Golf Course uses the idyllic landscape to its utmost advantage and offers a serene and peaceful round on a championship course.

Contrary to what one might believe because of the name and its position, water is not the primary hazard of the course.

Instead, rocky outcrops and boulders that line the fairways dominate the challenges on both the outward and incoming 9.

There is no driving range at the course and for the price one pays for a round at Belgrade Lakes (averaging $120), perhaps that is enough to turn people away. But if you are not fussed about practicing beforehand and enjoy peaceful and scenic holes then this golf course is a must-do if you find yourself at a loose end in the state of Maine.

20. Maryland: Baltimore Country Club (East)

Photo by Baltimore Country Club
  • Location: Lutherville, Maryland
  • Date Established: 1898
  • Course Architect: A.W. Tillinghast
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: Hosted 5 major championships.

The East course at Baltimore Country Club is a Maryland gem, having hosted 5 major championships it has earned its right to be named amongst the top courses in America.

Featuring only two par 5’s in total and measuring less than 7000 yards from the Championship tee box’s, the course is relatively short compared to others on the list.

Baltimore East is extremely undulating playing through the hilly Maryland horse country. Flat lies are difficult to come by which forces golfers to become accustomed to hitting balls lying above or below their feet.

The course boasts an extreme amount of variety per hole which adds to the fun-factor of a round here. The green complexes are old school and run firm and true which make for a positive putting experience.

21. Massachusetts: The Country Club (Clyde/Squirrel)

Photo by anycourseonearth.com
  • Location: Brookline, Massachusetts
  • Date Established: 1893
  • Course Architect: Willie Campbell, Geoff Cornish, Rees Jones, Gil Hanse
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: The first and the oldest Country Club in the USA.

The Country Club was the first of its kind and with a start-up budget of $50, the golf committee could only afford to build 6 holes. Since then, expansions have been made to the course and today its boasts 27 championship-worthy holes. 

The three nines are named Clyde, Squirrel and Primrose respectively. On a day-to-day basis, the general public have access to the Clyde and Squirrel with the Primrose 9 coming into the equation during major events.

The Country Club boasts a huge amount of history and perhaps the most famous story to come out of it is the US Open of 1913. 20 year old Francis Ouimet and his 10 year old caddie managed to win the title playing against the best golfers in Britain.

The old school clubhouse exudes tradition and the club have done a great job in collating historical items. Stepping foot into the facilities at The Country Club, one feels privileged to be a part of such history.

22. Michigan: Crystal Downs Country Club

Photo by Crystal Downs Country Club
  • Location: Frankfort, Michigan
  • Date Established: 1927
  • Course Architect: Alister Mackenzie, Perry Maxwell
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: Upon entering the gates at Crystal Downs, you are treated like a member of the coveted club.

Crystal Downs CC is set on a ridge overlooking Lake Michigan and Crystal Lake and boasts incredible views of both.

The English cottage style clubhouse is situated on the highest point of the property overlooking the two lakes.

The course is an unconventional yet exceptional one with many challenges that golfers must contend with throughout their round.

The staggered and undulating fairways, wind off the lake and the challenging green complexes all make for a unique experience.

The golf course and clubhouse have undergone very little changes throughout the years and have remained true to their original design. This provides golfers with the feeling of being immersed in the history of the course designed by one of the best architects the game has seen.

23. Minnesota: Interlachen Country Club

Photo by Interlachen Country Club
  • Location: Edina, Minnesota
  • Date Established: 1911
  • Course Architect: Willie Watson (1911), Donald Ross (1921), Brian Silva (2006)
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: Golfing legend, Bobby Jones won the 1930 US Open are Interlachen (which became the second leg of the first ever Grand Slam).

The environment surrounding Interlachen is serene with beautiful rolling hills and water features around the course.

The course boasts wide, tree lined fairways that which present exciting tee shots if they are accurate.

The routing of the course brought water into play on six holes and if you fail to navigate around these hazards, you will struggle to score well.

The greens at Interlachen are small with at least 10 being placed higher than the fairways. Approach shots have go to be accurate in order to improve that ‘greens in regulation’ percentage.

Interlachen Country Club is said to be one of Donald Ross’s best designs and boasts a huge amount of history.

24. Mississippi: Mossy Oak

Photo by Mossy Oak Golf Club
  • Location: West Point, Mississippi
  • Date Established: 2016
  • Course Architect: Gil Hanse
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: The first course designed by Gil Hanse after his 2016 Rio Olympic Games course that impressed the golfing community world-wide.

The alternative name for Mossy Oak is “Nature’s Golf” and it is obvious to see why. The course offers golfers the opportunity to be immersed in nature whilst experiencing world class golf.

Gil Hanse’s minimalistic approach is obvious throughout your round of 18 holes and nothing unnecessary added throughout the course.

The tee boxes and greens are routed close to each other providing an easy walk from hole-to-hole.

Whilst the course is very playable, missing the greens makes scoring par a challenge.

Mossy Oak Golf Course is extremely balanced and if you play well, you will score well.

25. Missouri: Bellerive

Photo by Bellerive Country Club
  • Location: St. Louis, Missouri
  • Date Established: 1897/1960
  • Course Architect: Robert Trent Jones (1960), Reese Jones (2014)
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: Hosted the 1965 US Open and became the second youngest course to do so in the 20th Century.

The course has hosted many professionals in its day which is testament to the quality of golf it offers individuals.

Since hosting its first major in 1965, Bellerive has quickly become a PGA favourite. The most recent major played here was the 2018 PGA Championship.

The present design of Bellerive is a mere outline of the original one of 1960. Perhaps the biggest alterations were done in 2014 by the son of original architect. Reese Jones replaced his father’s bunkering with the view to test the bigger hitters by placing them further from the tee.

The condition is as good as one would expect from a Championship worthy golf course and boasts immaculate fairways and greens.

The same, however can be said for the difficulty but there are a number of tee boxes to play from making it a little more playable for the average golfer.

26. Montana: Rock Creek Cattle Company

Photo by Rock Creek Cattle Company
  • Location: Deer Lodge, Montana
  • Date Established: 2008
  • Course Architect: Tom Doak
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: Built on the historic Grant-Kohrs Ranch that once spread over 10 million acres.

Rock Creek Golf Course is a true representation of the ‘less is more’ statement and Tom Doaks’ philosophy of minimalism is obvious.

The course is flanked by the dramatic Flint Creek Mountain Range that offers a beautiful back drop to a round of golf.

The location is exceptional for a golf course and Doak said only an exceptional golf course is going to be able to distract people from the beauty of the natural wonders and focus on their game.

Despite slight elevation changes throughout the course, it is easily walkable and the tee boxes and greens are in close proximity.

27. Nebraska: Sand Hills

Photo of Sand Hills
  • Location: Mullen, Nebraska
  • Date Established: 1994
  • Course Architect: Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: Club with change the ole handicaps per day based on wind direction and strength of gusts.

Sand Hills Golf Club is closed 8 months of the year which is why playing here is such a novelty.

The course has wide fairways that wind their way through sand dunes that occur throughout the meadow. The natural sand present has been used well in creating many bunkers that appear to be the courses biggest defence.

It is a long course and the par 5’s are difficult to reach in two unless you’re a big hitter.

Sand Hills is perhaps the most natural course in America. Coore and Crenshaw moved just 4000 cubic yards of earth and allowed the wind to shape the bunkers.

28. Nevada: Shadow Creek

Photo by Shadow Creek Golf Club
  • Location: North Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Date Established: 1990
  • Course Architect: Tom Fazio
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: Players stay in suites associated with the club and are lifted to the course in a stretch limo where a caddy is waiting for them.

The vision of previous owner, Steve Wynn was to build a desert oasis on the grandest of scales. Upon entering the gates of Shadow Creek, you are treated like a top tier VIP.

The course is always in immaculate condition and the elegant clubhouse is well maintained. Although it may cost a small fortune to play here, it is well worth it and doesn’t come close to the amount some people drop in the casinos in Vegas.

Mountains in the distance provide a beautiful backdrop for a round of golf. The heat is something you expect of a desert and therefore it is recommended that you use the golf cart that is provided to you.

Many people describe Shadow creek as a ‘wonderland’ and it is clear to see why it is a golfers heaven. It offers golfers a luxury experience on a challenging yet beautiful course.

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29. New Hampshire: Mount Washington

Photo by Mount Washington Resort
  • Location: Bretton Woods, New Hampshire
  • Date Established: 1915
  • Course Architect: Donald Ross
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: Consists of 27 holes within the Mountain Washington resort.

Mount Washington golf course is a typical American one with certain links features adopted.

Any course that is situated within a resort is a challenge to design because you need to cater for many different levels of players. Mount Washington has successfully done this and doesn’t appear to be too challenging for beginners.

The fairways are wide with plenty of fescue lining the edges. This layout allows for freedom of the tee and attacking the hole with your driver is enticing.

Being in a good position to attack the pin is key to a good round at Mt. Washington. Ross has incorporated a fair number of contours into the greens that may result in your ball running off.

Golfers are treated to beautiful views of the courses’ name sake when the weather provides.

The course is fun to play on and playability was the main focus in the design.

30. New Jersey: Pine Valley

Photo of Pine Valley Golf Course by Forbes
  • Location: Clementon, New Jersey
  • Date Established: 1913
  • Course Architect: George Crump, Harry Colt
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: Took three years for anyone to go round in 70 strokes and is world renowned to be one of the most challenging courses in the world.

Pine Valley frequently ranks amongst the top three golf courses in the world. The unique layout, true greens and perfectly maintained fairways contribute to its high position year after year.

It incorporates all three school of golf design – penal, heroic and strategic – and at times, on a single hole. The variety in features throughout the course is like none other in the world and each hole presents new challenges.

Pine Valley is considered to be one of the hardest golf courses in the world and this title is well earned. Every shot demands extreme concentration to execute an accurate shot. Relentless bunkering will punish any shot that veers off the path the green.

The greens are large, except for 2, but most balls tend to roll away from the flag than towards it due to the contours.

31. New Mexico: Paa-Ko Ridge

Photo by Paa-K Ridge Golf Club
  • Location: Sandia Park, New Mexico
  • Date Established: 2000
  • Course Architect: Ken Dye (Finger Dye Span firm of architects)
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: One of the top ‘mountain’ courses in the United States.

Set beneath the Sandia Mountains, Paa-Ko Ridge Golf Course has beautiful scenery.

The course is made up of three loops of 9 holes and with five tee boxes to play off, there is a large variety of hole configurations available to golfers.

The course is a lengthy one and spans over 7500 meters from the back tees. The ball does however travel further than at sea level as the course is 7000 meters above sea level. This makes the length a little more playable for the average golfer.

The green complexes are fun and challenging with some hidden contours that demand good reading of the putt.

It is a difficult course to walk so using a golf cart is recommended to all players.

Paa-Ko Ridge consists mostly of elevated tees and greens with a sunken fairway. This routing makes for an intimidating drive and tricky approach shot.

A beautiful course with friendly staff proves to be a fun day out.

32. New York: Shinnecock Hills Golf Club

New York – Shinnecock Hills Golf Club
Photo by Shinnecock Hills Golf Club
  • Location: Southampton, New York
  • Date Established: 1891
  • Course Architect: C. B. Macdonald, Seth Raynor, William Flynn, Howard Toomey
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: One of five founding members of the USGA

Shinnecock Hills is a group of great holes that stand strong as a collective with no holes sticking out for being unique to the other. Each hole feels connected to the last and it is clear that the game of golf is the main focus at this club.

There is value in this type of design as you always know exactly where you must hit it and if you do that accurately, you will score well.

Shinnecock is an old club and boasts a wealth of tradition that naturally comes with age. The Stanford White Clubhouse was designed specifically to fit in with the area and is perched on the highest point of the property, looking down on the first hole.

Charles Prince wrote in his ‘New World Atlas of Golf’ that the course “fully utilises the outstanding features of the area” and that it brings into play the strong winds, rolling terrain and thick bush excellently.

33. North Carolina: Pinehurst (No 2.)

Photo by Pinehurst Resort
  • Location: Village of Pinehurst, North Carolina
  • Date Established: 1907
  • Course Architect: Donald Ross
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: One of 9 golf courses in the Pinehurst property.

Pinehurst No. 2 is perhaps the most well balanced course in the world. It has a few world-class holes coupled with a few ordinary ones to improve its playability.

The course has hosted three US Opens which is a testament to the respect it holds within the professional golfing community.

It is a stern test for even the best golfers in the world, so to score well at Pinehurst No.2 you will need to bring you’re a-game.

The greens are the courses’ biggest defence as they are small and consist of dangerous contours. Greens in regulation is a difficult statistic to do well on at Pinehurst as you have to be very good or very lucky for your approach shot to stick on the putting surface.

With over 100 years of history and 9 golf courses spread across the property, it is no surprise that there is such a large golfing community in the region.

34. North Dakota: Hawktree Golf Course

Photo by Hawktree Golf Club
  • Location: Bismarck, North Dakota
  • Date Established: 2000
  • Course Architect: Jim Engh
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: Bunkers are made up of black sand which adds a unique dimension to the golf course.

Hawktree is a contemporary golf course and it is clear that Jim Engh enjoyed pushing the boundaries in his design.

The course has 8 holes winding around Burnt Creek and three holes placed around three separate man-made lakes. There is a lot of trouble that golfers can encounter if they fail to stick on the target line.

Golfers experience a number of elevation changes throughout their round. Some holes drop deep into a valley and others provide a panoramic view of the local scenery.

North Dakota is known for its prevailing wind storms and as a result standard white bunkers wash away frequently. Jim Enghs solution was to create black sand bunkers. Although they take some getting used to, one grows to appreciate the unconventional style.

The greens at Hawktree are very undulated but true. Accurate reading of the putting surface is the main variable that will affect your score.

35. Ohio: Muirfield Village Golf Club

Photo by the Country Club at Muirfield Village
  • Location: Dublin, Ohio
  • Date Established: 1974
  • Course Architect: Jack Nicklaus, Desmond Muirhead
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: Jack Nicklaus won the 1966 British Open at Muirfield in Scotland and fell in love with the design of the course. His dream was to create a course in Ohio of similar standards to this Championship course.

Jack said that he “set out to build not only an outstanding golf course for every level of player, but a magnificent course for watching a tournament”.

Nicklaus knows a good course when he sees one and Muirfield Village lives everything up to everything he tried to emulate.

The course is difficult to navigate around. It demands pin point accuracy due to its narrow fairways, bold bunkering and water hazards.

Muirfield Village is always in immaculate condition. It has proven itself as a top class golf club since it’s been the annual host of the PGA Memorial Tournament.

36. Oklahoma: Southern Hills (Championship)

Photo by Southern Hills Golf Course
  • Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • Date Established: 1936
  • Course Architect: Perry Maxwell, Gil Hanse
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: Hosted seven major events.

Southern Hills architect, Perry Maxwell does not have a much better designed course to his name.

In a state that is relatively flat, the piece of piece of land that was chosen for this golf course is quite hilly. There are a number of elevated tee boxes and greens that add an interesting dynamic to the round.

Southern Hills is pressed for space and as a result, the course is quite short. To make up for the lack of length, Maxwell incorporated many severe dog legs to most the par 4’s and 5’s. The fairways are protected by trees and thick rough and very few good golfers will tee off with the driver.

The green complexes at Southern Hills are typical of a Perry Maxwell course and consists of his famous “Maxwell Rolls”. Planted with Bent grass, the putting surfaces roll firm and fast.

A stern test for golfers of any level and exudes tradition which makes it a fun day out for anyone.

37. Oregon: Pacific Dunes

Photo by Bandon Golf Resort
  • Location: Bandon, Oregon
  • Date Established: 2001
  • Course Architect: Tom Doak
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: As close to a Links golf course as you will get in the United States.

Pacific Dunes is a modern masterpiece designed by Tom Doak whose experience in golf course architecture has dramatically shone through.

The design is as good as the setting which is saying a lot. It would take a special course to be able to take the attention away from spectacular views of Bandon Dunes and Pacific Dunes manages to do so.

Measuring a mere 6,673 yards it is by no means championship worthy. However, the par is 71 and proves to be just enough of a challenge for most golfers.

The course utilises the ocean frontage very well and boasts a number of cliffside holes. Pacific Dunes is a perfect example of how golf can fit into nature.

38. Pennsylvania: Oakmont Country Club

Oakmont Golf Course by usga.org
  • Location: Oakmont, Pennsylvania
  • Date Established: 1903
  • Course Architect: Henry Fownes (1903), Tom Fazio (2014)
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: Holds the title as the host of the most U.S. Opens ever.

Oakmont Country Club is one of the biggest tests to any golfers game.

The course has some of the fastest putting surfaces around making sinking a putt that is further than five feet a big challenge. Any approach shot that falls behind the pin, risks running of the front of it.

The fairways are narrow and because many of them possess internal slopes, even lies are hard to come by.

A recent restoration program that was done in 2014 by Fazio, resulted in the removal a large number of trees. Since then, the course golfers are able to see what is left of the course in front of them which adds to the intimidation factor.

The variety in holes as well as green complexes around the course makes it one of the best and toughest courses in the world.

39. Rhode Island: Shelter Harbor Golf Club

Photo by Shelter Harbor Golf Club
  • Location: Charlestown, Rhode Island
  • Date Established: 2005
  • Course Architect: Michael Hurdzan, Dana Fry
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: The bunkers were designed by bunker “guru” Jeff Bradley and are some of the most beautiful in the world.

The architects utilised the undulating terrain to make a golf course where some elevation changes are as much as 70 feet.

The course wraps around a forest like wings of a butterfly. Many of the holes are therefore isolated and gives golfers a feeling as if they’re the only people on the course.

Perhaps the two most striking are the rough-edge bunkers and the glacial boulders that poke out at many spots around the course.

Shelter Harbor demands a variety on shots off the tee as well as approach shots to the greens.

The par 3’s vary in length and requires golfers to execute accurate shots with a number of different irons in order to reach greens in regulation. The course possesses wide fairways with many having hazards strategically placed in the middle which makes for a fun and interesting challenge.

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40. South Carolina: Kiawah Island Resort (Ocean)

Photo by Kiawah Island Resort
  • Location: Kiawah Island, South Carolina
  • Date Established: 1974
  • Course Architect: Pete Dye, Alice Dye
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: Hosted the 1991 Ryder Cup just weeks after it opened.

Kiawah Island was catapulted into the limelight after hosting the Ryder Cup just weeks after completion. The course boasts incredible panoramic views of the ocean that golfers can appreciate at each hole.

The course does not adopt a classic ‘links-like’ nine out and nine in layout but rather opted for a figure of eight configuration allowing for more holes to run along the fairway.

Pete and Alice Dye focused a lot on their recycling irrigation system. While the course is always in immaculate condition, it does not come at the expense of the environment.

Kiawah Island was developed with the Ryder Cup in mind and if anything encourages designers to seek out unique hole concepts, it is match play. Dye delivered and produced 18 exciting holes that reward risky shots.

41. South Dakota: Sutton Bay

Photo by Sutton Bay Resort
  • Location: Agar, South Dakota
  • Date Established: 2003
  • Course Architect: Graham Marsh
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: The resort offers something for all members of the family and is geared towards an entire weekend of fun.

Sutton Bay Club is a combination of a fishing, hunting and golfing resort that offers activities for all members of the family.

The golf course is quite spectacular. Built on glacial bluffs that overlook Lake Oahe it boasts incredible views of the surroundings. Golf at Sutton Bay is idyllic and serene.

It is one of few golf courses in North America that replicates a genuine inland links-like design.

The course is traditional and offers enthusiasts a “rewarding, challenging and fair” round of golf whilst being immersed in the wonders of nature.

42. Tennessee: The Honours Course

Photo by the Honours Course
  • Location: Ooltewah, Tennessee
  • Date Established: 1983
  • Course Architect: Pete Dye, P.B. Dye
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: Founder, Jack Upton named it the ‘Honours Course’ as he aimed to honour “al that is best in amateur golf”.

The Honours Course is not the most accessible course and you wouldn’t go there unless your sole focus was golf. There is nothing to detract attention away from the course or your game.

There was not much hype round the opening of the course which reflects its understated philosophy. Apart from the small changes that have occurred as a result of nature, the original design is still very much in play.

The natural environment has been very much persevered and utilised which created an unforced design that tests golfers of all abilities.

The course is well balanced with varying lengths of holes and angles of approach shots. This adds the element of excitement needed for a top ranked course.

43. Texas: Whispering Pines

Photo by Whispering Pines Golf Club

Whispering Pines is located north of Huston. It has built a reputation of turning golfers into professionals. The course only has 160 members with a limited golfing season.

No detail is overlooked by the passionate staff working at Whispering Pines. This attitude keeps the course in pristine condition as well as its ranking high.

Bordered by creeks and lakes, it seems as each fairway is routed in a different direction which adds an element of uniqueness to every hole.

People who have discovered this relatively unknown and hidden Texas gem often encourage others to do the same.

44. Utah: Glenwild Golf Club

Photo by Glenwild
  • Location: Park City, Utah
  • Date Established: 2001
  • Course Architect: Tom Fazio
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: Sits on a meadow valley, offering amazing vistas of the Wasatch Mountains. 

The Wasatch mountain range acts as the backdrop to the Glenwild Golf Club and spectacular views of it are available from the course. Tom Fazio was given the opportunity to route a golf course prior to homesites being plotted and this freedom allowed him to do with the land as he pleased.

A result of this freedom is a wonderful course boasts a number of beautiful streams and waterfalls in amongst the housing.

The fairways are lined with enough trees to offer a challenge however not enough to obscure the panoramic views. It is a classic example of how nature and golf can live harmoniously and be appreciated together.

There is a decent amount of variety from hole to hole with left and right dog legs being incorporated.

Although there are safe routes available for the more conservative routes, risky shots are rewarded if one is brave enough to attack the green.

45. Vermont: Ekwanok Country Club

Photo by Ekwanok Country Club
  • Location: Manchester, Vermont
  • Date Established: 1899
  • Course Architect: Walter Travis
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: Famous ammeter Francis Ouimet won the US Amateur Championship hosted here the year after he won the US Open at Country Club Brookline. He is one of eleven players that have won both events.

For a course that is over 100 years old, Ekwanok is still a highly respected amongst the golfing community.

Few century old courses continue to stay revelevant for as long as Ekwanok has. Walters’ imaginative routing combined with various enhancements made over the years has enabled the course to progress with the times.

The first three holes run parallel to one another which may result in initial disappointment from golf enthusiasts. After these however, the course opens up and proves to have a lot more variety that the start may have lead on.

The strongest aspect to Ekwanok along with its biggest defence are the green complexes. Failure to read the slightest of contours wrong and a three-putt is inevitable.

Unsurprising of a course this old, Ekwanok exudes tradition. The history is something any golf enthusiast is able appreciate.

46. Virginia: Kinloch Golf Club

Photo by Kinloch Golf Club
  • Location: Manakin-Sabot, Virginia
  • Date Established: 2001
  • Course Architect: Lester George, Vinny Giles
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: The course features a genuine 19t hole (not a clubhouse) that is a par 3 used to settle any ties after a round of 18.

Kinloch Golf Course offers classic parklands layout with a central lake adding an element of beauty.

The natural terrain has been preserved at the club with minimal earth moving having taken place.

The transition from fairway to greens is seamless which creates an understated look to the putting surface. Bump and run approach shots can easily be utilised on almost all holes if that’s your game.

The course features a number of artificial water hazards that are well maintained. Besides the fact they add a challenge to the course, they are also pleasant to the eye.

The course has several split -fairway holes and there are planty ‘risk reward options’. This makes for an exciting match play course.

47. Washington: Chambers Bay

Photo by Chambers Bay
  • Location: University Place, Washington
  • Date Established: 2007
  • Course Architect: Robert Trent Jones Jr.
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: Youngest golf course in Washington but is definitely on the same level of the older ones.

The course only opened in 2007 and is the youngest member to the Washington golf scene. It is however, able to compete with the more established courses as it’s true model of the old-fashioned links courses in Britain and Ireland.

The course has been recognised as Championship worthy by the USGA since its been a host 2015 U.S. Open.

Chambers Bay welcomes visitors and will cost you a lot less than some of those previously mentioned. Definitely a course to look out for if in the area.

The 18-hole course is situated in-between water and a steep hillside. The fairways are free flowing with welcomed elevation changes that add to the ‘links-like’ layout.

48. West Virginia: Pete Dye Golf Club

Photo by Pete Dye Golf Club
  • Location: Bridgeport, West Virginia
  • Date Established: 1995
  • Course Architect: Pete Dye
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: It took 16 years for the course to become a reality.

It took 16 years of Pete Dye going back and forth with the Owners to eventually agree upon a final design. This is due to the amount of earth moving that needed to occur.

The course was built on an existing coal mine and evidence of this fact is spewed across the course. Perhaps the most obvious is the mining shaft you can walk through to get to the seventeenth tee.

The course is a fine test to golfers of any ability. The fairways offer a wide landing site from the tee. But the greens play smaller than what they appear due to the contours one must navigate and a. accurate approach shot is imperative to stay on the putting surface.

49. Wisconsin: Whistling Straits

Photo by American Club Resort
  • Location: Kohler, Wisconsin
  • Date Established: 1998
  • Course Architect: Pete Dye
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: Hosted a number of PGA Championships.

Pete Dye is known for his earth moving and Whistling Straits is perhaps the biggest reason why. Set on a former airfield, it is no surprise that a huge amount of work was required to produce such a dramatic golf course.

The course is sculpted alongside Lake Michigan which offers a beautiful view from numerous tee boxes. Being in such close proximity to the lake, one must expect windy conditions that can change daily.

Several holes around the course play downhill towards the lake and offer an interesting approach shot as hitting it too long will send it into the water.

Whistling straits is at top playing condition for most of the season and that is why some people regard it amongst the top courses in the US. No matter when you opt to take on the course, it is well manicured and the greens fully cut and rolled.

50. Wyoming: Shooting Star

Photo by Shooting Star Jackson Hole
  • Location: Teton Village, Wyoming
  • Date Established: 1929/2009
  • Course Architect: Tom Fazio
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: It’s reported that Tom Fazio moved more than 1.5 million cubic yards of earth when creating course.

Shooting star is set beneath the Grand Teton mountains and is the very epitome of a ‘mountain golf course’.

The greens are extremely well rolled and the fairways are crisp. The backdrop to many holes are as jaw-dropping as you’d expect from a course set amongst the mountains.

The course boasts many opportunities that reward risky play but punish those who can’t execute. It is like many Tom Fazio designs in the way that there are few ‘hidden’ hazards. The course plays as you see it and good readers of the game are able to score well.

Players must navigate around the array of small lakes situated on thirteen of the holes.

Shooting Star is a work of art sculpted out of a very flat piece of land. It is a must-do for any golf enthusiast in the area.

About the author  Aidan Mailey

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