If you’re looking to unwind with a round of golf, why not do it somewhere scenic? These 17 California courses are cradled by mountains or oceans, with manicured grounds, vibrant flowers, sparkling water features and native trees.
This resort is a destination in itself. It’s 450 acres of secluded luxury, with its own restaurants, spa, pool bars, and nightclub on property. It has not one, but two 18-hole golf courses: the Valley and the Palms. Both were designed by Ted Robinson, and are over 6,600 yards with a par of 72. There is also an 18-hole putting course with a par of 54. The grounds here are truly stunning, with the Santa Rosa Mountains rising up in the distance and sparkling water features throughout. Various packages and deals apply, including the Surf & Turf, which includes unlimited golf, snacks, a $50 credit for the golf shop or restaurants, luxury accommodations, and the use of two “golfboards,” which are sort of like scooters you can ride over the course.
Shandin Hills Golf Course is located in San Bernardino, just south of the mountains. The 18-hole course was designed by Cary Bickler, and has a par of 72. Each hole offers multiple tee options, allowing golfers to play at their own skill level. Course amenities include a golf shop, clubhouse, an affordable bar and restaurant, and a snack and beverage cart on the course that serves cold soft drinks and beer.
This course is connected to the Park Hyatt Aviara, a AAA Five Diamond Resort that features manicured grounds, multiple dining options and incredible views of the Batiquitos Lagoon. The 18-hole, 7,007-yard course was designed by Arnold Palmer, and is the home of the LPGA Kia Classic. Packages, which include overnight lodging, golf, and spa treatments, are available. As an added bonus, Carlsbad’s perennially lovely weather allows golfers to enjoy this course year-round.
The Crossings is another great Carlsbad option. This 18-hole course was designed by landscape architect Greg Nash and features views of the Pacific Ocean. This course is suitable for all skill levels, thanks to multiple teeing options. The clubhouse contains a golf shop, as well as a restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily, plus brunch on Sundays.
Designed by Greg Norman, this NorCal course is suitable for players of varying skill levels. It cuts through the vineyards for a unique and pastoral view. There is also an on-site restaurant and tasting room.
Pasatiempo Golf Club is located in Santa Cruz County, and was designed by Alister MacKenzie. It’s been open since 1929, with the first group to play through including Marion Hollins, Bobby Jones, Glenna Collett and Cyril Tolley. It can be a challenging course for some, but is often named as one of the top courses by golfing enthusiasts and the setting is idyllic. This club is defined as semi-private, meaning the public is allowed to reserve select tee times, which can be done online.
Golf Digest has named this course the number one in America since 2003. It has played host to numerous golfing events, and boasts some of the best ocean views around as it overlooks the Pacific Ocean and Carmel Bay. It’s not cheap to play, with rates for non-resort guests starting at $495 with cart fees, but it is beautiful.
This top-rated course is located in La Quinta and hosts the PGA Tour’s CareerBuilder Challenge (previously called the Bob Hope Classic). The course was designed by Pete Dye and features a pair of challenging holes at its end. Hole #17, perhaps better known as Alcatraz, is particularly harrowing, as it sits on an island. In 1987, Lee Trevino once conquered Alcatraz with a hole-in-one, earning him $175,000.
On the site of a former crude oil production facility, Sandpiper Golf Club is now a pretty, seaside course. You can continue to enjoy the ocean views at the course’s casual Sandpiper Grill, which serves breakfast and barbecue.
Torrey Pines Golf Course, located in La Jolla, is owned by the City of San Diego. There are two courses here, titled North and South, each consisting of 18 holes. The South course is the larger of the two at 7,698 yards, and was redesigned by Rees Jones. The North was redesigned by Tom Weiskopf. The course is located near Torrey Pines State Reserve, so named for the Torrey Pine tree, and golfers will enjoy scenic, cliffside ocean views.
Mountains and palm trees add to the natural beauty of this course, which offers multiple tees for golfers of varying skill levels. The course was designed by Jack Nicklaus with a desert layout. Amenities include a clubhouse with a restaurant, golf shop, bar, and snacks.
This public golf course is owned by the San Francisco Department of Recreation & Parks. It was designed by Willie Watson and Sam Whiting in the 1920s, then later renovated to prepare the course for PGA Tour events. It is bordered by Lake Merced, and flush with Monterey Cypress trees.
CordeValle, located in San Martin, features a bucolic, 7,360-yard course designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. The course features creeks and sycamore trees, as well as views of the Santa Cruz Mountains. It is invitation-only, so it might behoove you to make friends with a member.
Indian Wells Golf Resort features multiple courses. The Players Course opened in 2007, and was designed by John Fought. It features mountain views and lots of natural trees and foliage, and is the more challenging of the two 18-hole courses. The other, the Celebrity Course, opened in 2006 and boasts multiple water features throughout. There is also a free, nine-hole putting course on the property.
Pelican Hill is a luxurious resort with two 18-hole courses, the North and the South. Both were designed by Tom Fazio, the North track being the larger and more challenging of the two. This stunning course offers a view of the Pacific Ocean throughout the game, with many holes alongside cliffs that overlook the waters below. The clubhouse features a restaurant, espresso bar, locker rooms, and golf shop.
Everything in coastal Dana Point is beautiful, including this golf course, located at the Monarch Beach Resort. Designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., this is a par-70 “Scottish links style” course set against the ocean. Amenities include an on-site restaurant, refreshment carts, a golf shop, and discounted access to the resort’s spa and gym.
Spyglass Hill Golf Course is a challenging, 18-hole course located in Pebble Beach. It was designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. in 1966, and each hole is named after characters or references found in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. Stevenson is believed to have used the area, long before the golf course existed, as inspiration for his novel.