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Best Golf Courses In California

Updated on May 20, 2020

California is home to some of America’s best golf courses, including Pebble Beach, Torrey Pines, Olympic Club and the Rivieria Club – all four of which have hosted the US Open. Some multiple times!

Check out our top Californian golfing picks for your next visit to the Golden State.

Read Next: Best Golf Courses in USA (By State). Also see our top picks in Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, and Wisconsin.

Please note: The list of courses in this article are based on 3rd party rankings from sites like Golf Digest, Top 100 Golf Courses, Planet Golf and Golf Advisor; as well as from consumer reviews from platforms like Google and Trip Advisor.

Best Golf Courses in California

1. Pebble Beach

Pebble Beach Golf Course

Image credit: pgatour.com

  • Location: California
  • Date Established: February 22, 1919
  • Course Architect: Jack Neville , Douglas Grant, Jack Nicklaus
  • Highlight / interesting Fact: Hosted 6 Men’s Major Championships
  • Pebble Beach Golf course was designed by Jack Neville and Douglas Grant. The course opened on February 22, 1919. His objective was to place as many of the holes as possible along the rocky coast line.

    The course was extensively revised in 1928 by H. Chandler Egan. Other architects who have worked on the course include Alistair MacKenzie and Robert Hunter in 1927, Jack Nicklaus with the creation of the new fifth hole, in 1998.

    The PGA Tour are known to play annual events at Pebble Beach. It has hosted six of the Men’s Major Championships. Pebble Beach is regarded as one of the best golf courses in America.

    2. Cypress Point

    Cypress Point Golf Club

    Image credit: golfdigest.com

    • Location: California, Monterey
    • Date Established: 1928
    • Course Architect: Alister MacKenzie, Robert Hunter
    • Highlight / interesting Fact: It was used for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro AM

    Cypress Point Club is a private golf club in California. The club has an 18-hole Golf course, it is one of eight courses on the Monterey peninsula near Monterey California. The course is well known for some holes playing along the Pacific Ocean that have been named as some of the best in golf.

    Cypress Point Club course was opened on August 11. The course was designed in 1928 by Alister MacKenzie, collaborating with Robert Hunter.

    It was used for the AT&T Pebble Beach PRO-AM until 1991. Cypress Point Club was ranked 2nd in Golf Magazine’s 2011 List of the Top 100 Golf Courses in the World.

    3. Los Angeles (North)

    Los Angeles (North) Golf Club

    Image credit: golfadvisor.com

    • Location: California, Beverley Hills
    • Date Established: 1897
    • Course Architect: Herbert Fowler, George C. Thomas Jr., William P. Bell, Gil Hanse
    • Highlight / interesting Fact: One of the best park courses in California

    In 1897, a group of Los Angeles residents founded the Los Angeles Golf Club, a 16-acre plot was leased at the corner of Pico and Alvarado streets for a nine-hole golf course. Called "The Windmill Links" the club house was crafted from the bottom of an abandoned windmill. The club reopened on May 30, 1911.

     It now has 36 holes of golf, as well as tennis courts. The original golf course was laid out by Joe Sartori, Ed Tufts, Norman Macbeth, and Charles Orr. Later, the courses were redesigned by Herbert Fowler and George C. Thomas, Jr., and again by Thomas with William P. Bell in 1927-28. It is a Par 70 with a total length of 7200 Yards.

    4. Riviera Country Club

    Riviera Country Club

    Image credit: golfdigest.com

    • Location: Southern California
    • Date Established: 1926
    • Course Architect: George C, Thomas Jr and William P. Bell
    • Highlight / interesting Fact: Hosted the US Open in 1948, PGA Championship 1983,1995.

    The Riviera Country Club is a private club with a championship golf course, located in southern California. Riviera Country Club was designed by George C. Thomas, Jr and William P. Bell.

    It has been the host for the Genesis Invitational originally known as the Los Angeles Open, an annual event on the PGA Tour. The 2020 edition was the 57th hosted at Riviera. Riviera has also hosted two of the four major championships: the U.S. Open in 1948, and the PGA Championship in 1983 and 1995. It was also the site of the U.S. Senior Open, in 1998 and the U.S. Amateur in August 2017. The club is scheduled to host the Olympics in 2028.

    Riviera is a Par 71 with a length of 7322 yards.

    5. California Golf Club

    California Golf Club

    Image credit: flickr.com

    • Location: San Francisco
    • Date Established: 1918
    • Course Architect: Arthur Vernon Macan, Willie Locke
    • Highlight / interesting Fact: Appeared on the List of 200 ‘’toughest’’ golf courses in Golf Digest.

    California Golf Club in San Francisco was founded in 1918. Arthur Vernon Macan has credit as the original architect of record. Some have opined that Willie Locke was also involved.

    In the 1960's the club appeared on the list of 200 "toughest" golf courses in Golf Digest.

    In 2007-2008, Kyle Phillips restored the golf course to its "golden age" design. Kyle Phillips's restoration called for the use of fine fescue grass and the course is unique in Northern California for its fast and firm playing conditions.

    6. Olympic Club (Lake)

    Olympic Club (Lake) Golf Course

    Image credit: golfadvisor.com

    • Location: San Francisco , California.
    • Date Established: May 6, 1860.
    • Course Architect: Sam Whiting , Willie Watson
    • Highlight / interesting Fact: Hosted the 1955 , 1966, 1987, 1998, 2012 US Open. Tour Championship, 1993 and 1994.

    The Olympic Club is an athletic club and private social club in San Francisco, California.

    First named the "San Francisco Olympic Club", it is the oldest athletic club in the United States. Established on May 6, 1860, its first officers were President, G.W. Bell, Secretary, E. Bonnell, Treasurer, H.G. Hanks, and Leader, Arthur Nahl.

    There are three golf courses, Lake, Ocean, and Cliffs. Lake and Ocean are 18-hole par-71 courses, and the Cliffs is a nine-hole par-3 course. All three venues are lined with trees and offer views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Golden Gate Park. The United States Golf Association recognizes the Olympic Club as one of the first 100 golf clubs established in the United States.

    In November 2017, it was announced that Olympic Club would host the 2032 Ryder Cup.

    7. San Francisco Golf Club

    San Francisco Golf Club

    Image credit: golfdigest.com

    • Location: San Francisco.
    • Date Established: 1895
    • Course Architect: A.W. Tillinghast
    • Highlight/interesting Fact: In 2015/16 Golf Digest ranked 35th Best Course in America.

    San Francisco Golf Club was one of seven golf clubs West of the Allegheny Mountains when it was founded in 1895. It had its beginning at the Presidio of San Francisco as a nine-hole course. It was moved to 19th and Ocean streets in 1904 and to its present location in 1915.

    The course was designed by American golf course architect A.W. Tillinghast. The course's signature 7th hole overlooks the site of the final legal duel in California. San Francisco Golf club is a Private 18 hole Golf course.  It’s a Par 71 course with a total of 3828 yards.

    8. Spyglass Hill

    Spyglass Hill Golf Course

    Image credit: flickr.com

  • Location: Pebble Beach, California
  • Date Established: March 11, 1966
  • Course Architect: Robert Trent Jones Sr
  • Highlight/interesting Fact:  Course Record is 62, held by Phil Mickelson and Luke Donald. Hosted AT&T Pebble Beach Pro AM.
  • Spyglass Hill was designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. The course opened 54 years ago on March 11, 1966, after six years of planning. The course has hosted the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am before. Spyglass Hill plays at 6,960 yards an 18 hole par of 72.

    The first five holes at Spyglass Hill all have views of the Pacific Ocean, and the other thirteen wind through the Del Monte Forest. The course record of 62 is jointly held by Phil Mickelson and Luke Donald.

    Originally called Pebble Beach Pines Golf Club, the course was renamed to Spyglass Hill by Samuel F. B. Morse, the founder of Pebble Beach Company, All the holes at Spyglass Hill were named by Bob Hanna.

    9. Pasatiempo

    Pasatiempo golf club

    Image credit: allsquaregolf.com

    • Location: Santa Cruz County, California
    • Date Established: September 1929.
    • Course Architect: Alister MacKenzie
    • Highlight/interesting Fact: Ranked 12th in Golf Magazine’s Top 100 courses you can play in 2006/07.

    Pasatiempo Golf Club is an 18-hole golf club on the West Coast of the United States, located in Santa Cruz County, California. The course was designed by a famous architect known as Alister MacKenzie, the course is also known for its breath taking scenery and a rich golf history. The course opened in September 1929 and Bobby Jones was one of the first group to play it.

    MacKenzie claimed that it was his best layout, ahead of Cypress Point and Augusta National. Pasatiempo is about an hour's drive from Cypress Point, a Monterey Peninsula neighbour to Spyglass Hill and Pebble Beach.

    Pasatiempo is a highly rated course — it is ranked 12 in Golf Magazine's "Top 100 Courses You Can Play 2006-2007" and ranked 31 in Golf Digest's "2005 America’s Greatest Public Courses". Golf Digest named Pasatiempo Golf Club as one of the top 3 "Courses You Can Play in California" along with Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill.

    10. Monterey Peninsula (Dunes)

    Monterey Peninsula (Dunes) Golf Course

    Image credit: golf.com

    • Location: Pebble Beach, California
    • Date Established: 1924
    • Course Architect: Seth Raynor
    • Highlight/interesting Fact: There are 20 world class golf courses on Monterey Peninsula

    The Dunes Course, known to be in the shadow of Shore Course, was originally designed by Seth Raynor in 1924.

     The Dunes course was completed by Robert Hunter, a partner to Alister MacKenzie In the 1990s. Rees Jones re-modelled the course and reshaped many holes. Sandscapes frame most holes, fairways zigzag around bunkers and nearly all the greens are now diagonal.

    11. Mayacama

    Mayacama golf club

    Image credit: allsquaregolf.com

  • Location: Santa Rosa, California
  • Date Established: 2001
  • Course Architect: Jack Nicklaus
  • Highlight / interesting Fact: A great cross between wine estate and golf course
  • Mayacama designed by the great Jack Nicklaus is less than 6,800 yards and is routed to be a very comfortable walk, essential since the club has no golf carts. 

    A bold design, it explores every part of the oak-dotted hillsides above Santa Rosa. Watersheds and gulches figure prominently in the layout, which has some dramatically elevated tees and four stunning par 5s. The layout is a Par 71.

    12. Monterey Peninsula (shore)

    Monterey Peninsula (shore) Golf Course

    Image credit: golfadvisor.com

    • Location: Pebble Beach , California
    • Date Established: 1926/ 1962
    • Course Architect: Bruce Harris
    • Highlight / interesting Fact: One of 3 courses that hosted PGA TOURS AT&T Pebble Beach Pro AM.

    Seth Raynor designed the Dunes course in 1926, but died before construction was complete. Local Robert Hunter was called in to finish out the construction of the course. Bruce Harris redesigned the Shore course in 1962, and it was later redesigned in 2003 by Mike Strantz.

    In 2010, the Shore course was one of three courses that hosted the PGA Tour’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. The Dunes course hosted the event from 1947 to 1964 and the Shore course hosted in 1965, 1966 and 1977.

    13. Stone Eagle

    Stone Eagle Golf Course

    Image credit: golfadvisor.com

    • Location: Santa Rosa, California
    • Date Established: 2005 November
    • Course Architect: Tom Doak
    • Highlight/interesting Fact: Tom Doak’s masterpiece in the Desert

    Since opening in November 2005, some of golf’s greatest champions, writers and commentators have made a special point to see Stone Eagle, Tom Doak’s masterpiece in the Desert. Seven families purchased Stone Eagle in 2010.

    Stone Eagle is a Par 71 with a total of 7012 yards. Tom Doak designed the course layout. At Stone Eagle, Doak used hillsides of rocks and boulders the way Old Country architects used sand dunes. The only difference: sand is soft, rock is not.

    14. Bel-Air

    Bel-Air Golf Course

    Image credit: usga.org

    • Location: Los Angeles California.
    • Date Established: 1925
    • Course Architect: George C. Thomas, Dick Wilson, George Fazio, Robert Trent Jones Jr, Tom Doak
    • Highlight / interesting Fact: Hosted 50th USGA seniors championship in 2004 to mark the 80th anniversary of the club.

    George C. Thomas was the original designer of Bel-Air CC, but over the preceding decades the design was altered by among others, Dick Wilson, George Fazio, Robert Trent Jones Jr. and Tom Fazio. In 2018 Tom Doak erased much of the alterations, removing water hazards and focusing on achieving Thomas’s signature bunkering.

    Bel-Air is a Par 70 golf course with a total of 6,482 Yards.

    About the author 

    Paul Bradshaw

    Paul hit his first golf shot at the age of 5, and from that point on was immediately hooked. He went on to become one of the leading amateurs in South Africa, securing a full golf scholarship with the University of Arkansas Razorbacks. Turning professional in 2004, Paul played extensively on the Sunshine Tour and co-sanctioned European Tour events. Paul is our lead editor at Golf Assessor.

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