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The Top Golf Courses In America

Golf Courses

America is known for having some of the best golf courses in the world. But with hundreds of golf courses to choose from, finding the right course to test your mettle can take time. 

Use this article to fast-track your research and explore the undisputed top golf courses in America. From picturesque greens to tracks that demand genius strategy, these courses have everything a real golfer could ever want from a golf green.

15 Best Golf Courses In The U.S.

Narrow down your golf course search and choose from the best golf courses in the U.S.: 

Pine Valley, New Jersey 

Established in 1918, the Pine Valley Golf Club has maintained its top spot for decades. This exclusive golf course is a golfer’s paradise, with difficult but well-thought-out tracks that challenge players’ skills unlike any other course. It’s frequently listed as one of the best in the world. 

As for what drove this popularity, architects George Crump and Harry S. Colt melded penal, heroic, and strategic golf designs. The course puts the player through the works. Those who emerge victorious can be sure of their skill. 

The club is private, and players are invited to join. 

Fisher Island, New York

Another old and exclusive course is the Fisher Island golf course. Built around 1926 and designed by renowned Seth Raynor, the course’s main draw is its views. 

While the course is challenging – the 3rd, 4th, and 5th tracks are known for thrilling even the most experienced players – the view of the Long Island Sound is the perfect backdrop for your win.

To join, members have to contact the club privately to check availability and eligibility.  

Ballyneal, Colorado 

A more modern creation, Ballyneal in Colorado is a picturesque golf course with long stretches of open land. The course originally didn’t find the right target audience but has become a favorite in the last decade. It’s biggest draw? The rolling greens and no cell reception. 

Anyone who enjoys Ballyneal will tell you the same thing. To play at Ballyneal and master the wind and green, you need to think outside the box and breathe new life into your game. 

To join Ballyneal, members need to apply online. The club also prioritizes members who live closer to the course. 

Augusta National, Georgia

First designed in the 1930s by Bobby Jones and Allister Mckenzie, Augusta National was built to provide players with two choices. Do you want to go easy or play hard? 

The course is beautiful, and the green is highlighted by the meticulously maintained flower gardens. Trees removed in 2022 opened up the space even more, lending the course an almost surreal quality. Whether you’re looking for a harmless game in paradise or a trickier line to challenge you, Augusta National can provide it. 

Augusta only accepts 300 members, most of whom are business tycoons and politicians. Initiation fees go as high as half a million dollars. 

Sand Hills, Nebraska 

Sand Hills opened in 1995 and was designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, who had one goal: to make the course as natural-looking as possible. The green follows the rolling hills of the Sand Hills region, with just the right mix of sand, flora, and open prairie. 

Considered one of the more minimalist courts, it’s remained a steadfast favorite among golfers for years. It not only looks good but feels as though it was naturally formed over millennia. 

The club is very exclusive and is known for having fewer than 200 members.

Cypress Point, California 

Cypress Point Golf Club is a study in contrasts. Hemmed in on all sides by natural wonders, Cypress Point, designed by Alister MacKenzie in 1928, is a treat for any golfer lucky enough to play there. 

One of its standout features is the view of the Pacific Ocean. Designer Mackenzie also broke all the rules, combining the varied natural bluff and jagged lines into a seamless green that’s both exhilarating and peaceful. 

Memberships are limited, with most being household-name politicians. The golf fees also change each year. 

Oakmont, Pennsylvania 

Henry Fownes crafted the world-renowned Oakmont course in 1903. Since then, it’s made a name for being a stark and difficult course. The simple beauty of the course and the open landscaping make for striking visuals.

It attracts only dedicated players who want to pitch themselves against the course. The rough is gritty, with dozens of bunkers dotting the landscape. The landscaping is also deceptively unassuming, but players quickly learn not to underestimate the green. 

Shinnecock Hills, New York

You’ll likely recognize Shinnecock Hills for hosting the U.S. Open. The last time was in 2018. The course was designed by William Flynn, who started the project in 1928 and finished it in 1931. With ample time on his hands, Flynn took his time crafting his masterpiece. 

Today, the course is world-famous. Reservations are made months in advance. The course itself is also expansive. It’s a truly immersive and impressive experience. 

Pebble Beach, California

Pebble Beach is a deceptively unassuming name for one of the most breathtaking golf courses in the world. The course was the first public oceanside course in the United States and was designed by master architects Jack Neville and Douglas Grant. 

However, its real claim to fame is the course’s elevation. The majority of it is built on higher ground, giving the oceanside course an uninterrupted view of the watery horizon. The natural beauty of the landscape and the course make Pebble Beach a must-play spot for any golfer. 

To play, you’ll need to make a reservation with the club. The earlier, the better. 

Riviera, California 

Riviera Golf Course was designed by George Thomas and Billy Bell in 1927. Unlike the open, expansive land of most golf courses, Thomas and Bell only had a narrow stretch of canyon to work with. 

What emerged was a sharp and challenging course. While the location wasn’t desirable, the course is loved for the type of play it demands. To play at Riviera, you need to engage your body and your mind to strategize a win. 

To join, you’ll need a referral from a member, or you need to contact the club directly. 

Chicago Golf, Illinois

Step back in time with a classic course. The Chicago Golf Course was first introduced in 1894 by architect C.B. Macdonald. 

He designed a clean course with classic lines. It was also the first golf course with 18 holes in the United States. In 1926, Seth Raynor re-fitted the golf course but kept much of the original design. The 18-hole course also seamlessly moves from challenging holes to more relaxed greens. 

Membership is ultra-exclusive. Most are invited to the club or join via referrals. 

National Golf Links of America, New York 

It’s hard to find a club that is more exclusive than National Golf Links of America. Designed by the same architect as Chicago Golf, C.B. Macdonald, National Golf Links is an invitation-only club. From conglomerate tycoons to Wall Street aficionados, it is the epitome of exclusive. 

As for the course, it’s a study in strategy. The holes are famous for pushing players to think outside the box. The course is so good that it’s considered a perfect golf course – not just in America, but in the world. 

Merion, Pennsylvania 

Another exclusive green, Merion is a 1912 course designed by Hugh Wilson. It is unanimously considered a masterpiece and challenges players with various pars. In particular, Merion likes to play with length. Tracks can range anywhere from 100 yards up to 300 yards. 

The course has undergone continuous development, introducing more strategic gameplays that push players to whole new levels. 

Friar’s Head, New York 

Another New York favorite, Friar’s Head, is a relatively modern course. Designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw and opened in 2003, the course has a minimalist approach with stark views and plays. 

Gentle dunes, groves of trees, and open stretches of sky lend the course an infinite feel. The course is also continuously adjusted and improved by its architects, meaning there’s almost always something new to challenge your gameplay. 

Membership is exclusive but quite a bit more affordable than most of the other golf clubs on this list. 

Crystal Downs, Michigan 

Designed by renowned architects Alister MacKenzie and Perry Maxwell, Crystal Downs flew under the radar until the 1980s – almost 50 years after the course was built. The remote course covers a relatively small area, which is why the golf course wasn’t considered a top-spot contender for nearly five decades. 

That all changed when Ben Cranshaw was introduced to the course. The strong Michigan weather and cleverly designed tracks proved captivating. It didn’t take long for Crystal Downs to receive the recognition it deserved. 

Members can only join through referrals from existing members. 

Conclusion 

Playing golf is more of a lifestyle than a hobby, and there is nothing quite as rewarding as finding another gem to play on. If you’re interested in upping your game and exploring all the courses the nation has to offer, use this list as a checklist for your golf course bucket list. 

For more golf tips, follow The Nutty Golfer. From course recommendations to play tips to equipment guides, The Nutty Golfer is the blog to follow if you want to become the best of the best.