The Best Golf Course to Play in Every U.S. State

French Lick Resort, Indiana
French Lick Resort, Indiana | © French Lick Resort

Sports Editor

With endless choice throughout the country, there are some outstanding golf courses all over the United States but some are only an option for club members. With that in mind, Culture Trip guides you through each U.S. State’s best public golf courses and the clubs they’re located in.

Alabama: Capitol Hill, Prattville

This stunning course consists of more than 1,500 acres of utter beauty and is probably good enough to host the U.S. Open, should it ever get the chance. Play The Judge course to see the most outstanding views of Alabama River.

For more info, head here.

Capitol Hill

Alaska: Anchorage Golf Course, Anchorage

A very challenging course, this overlooks the city of Anchorage as well as three different mountain ranges. It’s location means that in the summer months the hours of daylight allow you to start play at around 5am (if desired) or finish after midnight.

For more info, head here.

Arizona: Troon North, Scottsdale

Home to two courses—Pinnacle and Monument—which both have five tees to accommodate a range of abilities. The number of people allowed on the course at any one time is restricted—ensuring groups enjoy a relaxed game.

For more info, head here.

Arkansas: Big Creek Golf & Country Club, Mountain Home

Surrounded by lakes and mountains, this is a globally recognized destination for golfers. Gorgeous, lush fairways and ivory white bunkers fill this award-winning course, and there’s a three-tiered driving range if you just want to get some practice in.

For more info, head here.

Big Creek Golf & CC

California: Pebble Beach Resorts, Pebble Beach

It would be crazy not to include Pebble Beach, because, well, it’s Pebble Beach. Playing here is on the bucket list for golfers, and sports fans in general; their course Pebble Beach Golf Links has got a claim to be the best public course in the world.

For more info, head here.

Colorado: Red Sky Ranch, Wolcott

This is a private club, but with a separate golf resort open to the public; both their Fazio and Norman course are options. The Norman course is probably the tougher of the two despite some generous fairways and look out for the sudden descent at the end of the Fazio – very fun to play.

For more info, head here.

Connecticut: Lake of Isles, North Stonington

Designed by Rees Jones, this beautiful location has two courses, the North and the South. The North course is open to the public and has 7,300 yards of exquisite rolling terrain.

For more info, head here.

Delaware: Bayside Resort Golf Club, Selbyville

Situated alongside the Assawoman Bay coastline, this tricky course faces the winds that come through the pine trees. The course is well worth the test it provides, but there are limited tee times for public players, so plan ahead.

For more info, head here.

Hole 13 at Bayside

Florida: TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach

Designed by Pete Dye, the PLAYERS Stadium course is beautifully balanced, with a huge range in distances and no consecutive holes playing in the same direction to ensure everybody has a fair crack. Be warned, a great round can fall apart on the daunting 18th hole.

For more info, head here.

Georgia: Sea Island, St. Simons Island

People have been playing golf here since the 1920s, and with the Atlantic Ocean, sand dunes and salt marshes hugging the course it’s easy to see why. Sea Island is where Davis Love III learned to play the game.

For more info, head here.

Hawaii: Kapalua, Maui

Few things are as good as playing golf in Hawaii, and this resort offers two outstanding courses—the Plantation Course and the Bay Course. The 5th hole on the Bay Course is the only hole to overlook the ocean and is, unsurprisingly, glorious.

For more info, head here.

Idaho: Circling Raven, Worley

Part of the Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort and Hotel, Circling Raven sits in over 600 acres of northern Idaho. The 72-par course’s terrain is varied, with wetland, woods and prairie all included.

For more info, head here.

Illinois: Cog Hill Golf & County Club, Lemont

Cog Hill, 30 miles southwest of Chicago, has four courses, none of which are too difficult, yet all of which still manage to test your skills. A real challenge for shot-makers.

For more info, head here.

Indiana: French Lick Resort, French Lick

The idea for this Pete Dye course was originally conceived on a napkin. The bunkers are brutal, the course is long and there are panoramic views from one of the highest points in Indiana.

For more info, head here.

French Lick Resort

Iowa: The Harvester, Rhodes

This relatively young course in Iowa (opened in 2000) is already ageing well. Watch out for the last two holes, the toughest on the course, where the lake is in close proximity.

For more info, head here.

The Harvester

Kansas: Colbert Hills, Manhattan

Although appearing and looking like a private club, this is actually a public course with 27 holes and a brilliant range of facilities. The 18-hole Championship Course offers relatively generous areas to land in.

For more info, head here.

Kentucky: Lassing Pointe, Union

A Boone County Golf course, Lassing Pointe is reassuringly forgiving for first timers, particularly its fairways. The conditions are usually brilliant and there are bunkers, greens and a driving range for practice rounds.

For more info, head here.

Louisiana: The Bluffs on Thompson Creek, St. Francisville

Just half an hour from Baton Rouge, this Arnold Palmer course includes plenty of elevation. In the middle of dense forest, the 18-hole course is truly beautiful, with the penultimate hole the best of the bunch.

For more info, head here.

Maine: Belgrade Lakes Golf Club, Belgrade Lakes

Across 240 acres, Belgrade Lakes has stayed true to the natural landscape and manages to look beautiful without being pretentious. Don’t be fooled by the short par-fives, they’re trickier than they look.

For more info, head here.

Maryland: Bulle Rock, Havre de Grace

The best way to get a feel for this incredible course is to head to their site and watch the drone footage of each hole. Bulle Rock is a fantastic example of making world-class golf accessible to anyone who wants to play.

For more info, head here.

Bulle Rock

Massachusetts: Red Tail Golf Club, Devens

Check Red Tail’s website for a hole-by-hole tour, but expect plenty of water features and almost coastal-like sand amid the classic New England terrain. The par five on the 4th hole, set in a valley, is a particular favourite.

For more info, head here.

Michigan: Forest Dunes, Roscommon

A truly exquisite resort and one that can be considered among the best in the entire country. Definitely a course that rewards risk takers, the par fours are short and the front nine has some extravagant bunkers.

For more info, head here.

Forest Dunes

Minnesota: The Quarry at Giants Ridge, Biwabik

Originally built on the site of an old gravel-mining operation, this is comfortably the best public course in Minnesota. The Quarry can play a little longer than it first appears and rest assured, the tees, fairways and greens are exemplary.

For more info, head here.

Mississippi: Dancing Rabbit Golf Club, Choctaw

Two par-72 courses, the Azaleas and the Oaks, fill the 700 acres here and there are plenty of streams and creeks that intersect the lush fairways. Course designers Tom Fazio and Jerry Pate have instilled wonderful character into the landscaping.

For more info, head here.

The Azaleas

Missouri: Old Kinderhook, Camdenton

The resort’s Tom Weiskopf course features zoysia tees and bentgrass greens within the picturesque Lake of the Ozarks. Four different tees ensure there’s something for everyone, but there are also plenty of hazards, even if they’re beautiful.

For more info, head here.

Montana: Old Works, Anaconda

Designed by legend Jack Nicklaus, this course incorporates a huge number of local historic features. The greens are large and welcoming, but watch out for the creek that will pop up in a number of different holes on the course.

For more info, head here.

Nebraska: The Prairie Club, Valentine

According to The Prairie Club this is where you’ll find “the land creating the golf and not the other way around.” There are three brilliant courses and 17 acres of practice facilities too.

For more info, head here.

Nevada: Shadow Creek, North Las Vegas

Waterfalls and incredible gardens will distract you from this outstanding course set amongst the mountains. The narrowing 4th, as well as the par four at the 15th, are particular highlights.

For more info, head here.

New Hampshire: Omni Mount Washington Resort, Bretton Woods

Played in view of the startling Presidential Mountain Range, Mount Washington hosted the New England Open Championship in September 2010. The array of bunkers provide plenty of options for recovery shots near the greens.

For more info, head here.

Mount Washington

New Jersey: Atlantic City Country Club, Northfield

The greens are large, with deep bunkers shielding them from the salty winds you get in links golf, on what is one of the oldest courses in the United States.

For more info, head here.

Atlantic City Country Club

New Mexico: Paa-Ko Ridge, Bernalillo County

Play any combination of the three nine holes that feature elevation as high as 7,000 feet. Handily, there are plenty of visual indicators, with black and white posts to indicate points to aim at off the tee. A wonderful experience.

For more info, head here.

New York: Bethpage Black Course, Old Bethpage

The Black Course is difficult, and anyone with a handicap over five may well struggle, as the fairways are narrow, the greens are small and the bunkers aggressively placed. It also features the highest slope-rating in the northeast. Get it right and it can be one of the best in the country.

For more info, head here.

North Carolina: Pinehurst Resort, Pinehurst

Steeped in history, Pinehurst is the only course to have played host to the U.S. Open, U.S. Women’s Open, U.S. Senior Open, U.S. Amateur and U.S. Women’s Amateur Championships. The resort features nine courses, with course No.2 described as “my favorite golf course from a design standpoint” by Jack Nicklaus.

For more info, head here.

North Dakota: The Links of North Dakota, Ray

About as good as links golf gets in the United States, this course includes plenty of uneven lies and the wind will always play a factor in rounds. The five different tees range from 5,249 to 7,092 yards.

For more info, head here.

The Links of North Dakota

Ohio: The Virtues Golf Club, Nashport

This Arthur Hills-designed course is situated 40 miles away from downtown Columbus. Arthur Hills has designed a quirky course, with mature trees framing the fairways that will challenge players of all skill levels.

For more info, head here.

Oklahoma: Forest Ridge, Broken Arrow

Open for 27 years, Forest Ridge is wonderfully friendly. Amid the challenging course, the double dogleg on the 5th is a lot of fun and the blind approach to the green on the tenth is a favourite.

For more info, head here.

Oregon: Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, Bandon

The course’s location just above the Pacific Ocean, which is visible from nearly every hole, means the elements are always in play. The scenery is incredible and conditions often favor players that can think on their feet.

For more info, head here.

Pennsylvania: Nemacolin Woodlands, Farmington

The resort is outstanding, with plenty to keep non-golfers occupied. Of the courses themselves, Mystic Rock has been excellent for a while, while this summer will see the opening of another course, Shepherd’s Rock, which promises a huge amount.

For more info, head here.

Mystic Rock

Rhode Island: Newport National Golf Club, Middletown

This fabulous links-style course with views of the Atlantic Ocean has been designed by Arthur Hills and Drew Rogers. The course includes naturalized wetlands; the first hole is a particular tricky opener.

For more info, head here.

South Carolina: Kiawah Island Golf Resort, Kiawah Island

A resort with five exceptional courses, with the Jack Nicklaus-designed Turtle Point Golf Course probably the pick of the bunch. The course rewards clever thinking, rather than huge power, with small greens requiring high shots.

For more info, head here.

South Dakota: Golf Club at Red Rock, Rapid City

Very accessible, with casual regulations regarding dress code, this course has been designed so each hole is distinctive. There are links-like bunkers and USGA specification greens, as well as plenty of elevation.

For more info, head here.

Tennessee: Mirimichi, Millington

Probably the best public course in the Mid-South, this is 7,400 yards of waterfalls, creeks, lots of elevation and deep, deep bunkers. To ensure accessibility some holes have as many as eight tee options.

For more info, head here.

Tennesse Signature Hole

Texas: Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa, Austin

Four brilliant courses, the Fazio Canyons (the best of the four) includes views of the beautiful Short Springs Branch creek as you meander round the 7,153 yards. The par-five 18th hole is spectacular.

For more info, head here.

Barton Creek

Utah: Sand Hollow Resort, Hurricane

Golf is just a small part of Sand Hollow, with hiking, boating and motor sports all on offer. The championship course is fairly unique, with ancient red-rock jutting out all around. The front nine offers great scoring options to carry you through.

For more info, head here.

Vermont: Okemo Valley Golf Club, Ludlow

A fairway that really undulates, with a large number of ripples and dips. In the shadow of the impressive Green Mountains, this course favors a short game thanks to the sweeping greens.

For more info, head here.

Okemo Valley

Virginia: The Omni Homestead Resort, Hot Springs

The Old Course here is aptly named, with the oldest first tee in continuous use. Originally opened in 1892, the course has undergone updates and today features small greens that require excellent approach shots.

For more info, head here.


Washington: Chambers Bay, University Place

A links course in its purest form, this was the first course in the Northwest to host the U.S. Open Championship. Everything seems massive at Chambers Bay, from the dunes and the snow-capped mountains in the distance, to the fairways on the course.

For more info, head here.

Chambers Bay

West Virginia: The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs

The Greenbrier has five courses, some of which have hosted the very best tournaments around, including the Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup. The public can play on three—The Greenbrier, The Old White TPC and The Meadows.

For more info, head here.

Wisconsin: Whistling Straits, Kohler

Another Pete Dye offering, this is one of the best championship courses around, and is wide open, with Irish course-design influences. Once you get a little inland, things become a bit more tranquil on this world-class course.

For more info, head here.

Whistling Straits

Wyoming: Three Crowns Golf Club, Casper

Constant winds will test even the most skilled golfers and if you get any of the 61 large bunkers wrong there are lots of water features waiting eagerly. The 110-acre course also boasts eight lakes within it.

For more info, head here.

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