California is known for its beautiful beaches, stunning landscapes, and world-class golf courses. With over 900 golf courses scattered throughout the state, it can be overwhelming to choose which ones to play on. To help you plan your next golf trip to California, here are some of the best golf courses in the state and factors to consider when choosing a course.
Also Read: Best Golf Courses in Palm Springs
Top Golf Courses in California:
- Pebble Beach Golf Links – Located on the Monterey Peninsula, this course is considered one of the most scenic and challenging courses in the world.
- Torrey Pines Golf Course – Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, this course is known for its stunning views and challenging holes.
- Spyglass Hill Golf Course – Designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., this course offers breathtaking views and a challenging layout.
- Riviera Country Club – Located in the hills of Pacific Palisades, this course has hosted numerous PGA Tour events and offers a beautiful setting for a round of golf.
- Los Angeles Country Club – Designed by George Thomas, this course offers a challenging layout and a beautiful setting in the heart of Los Angeles.
- Cypress Point Club – This exclusive course offers stunning views and a challenging layout, making it a favorite among golfers.
- San Francisco Golf Club – This course has a rich history and offers stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Pacific Ocean.
- The Olympic Club – This course has hosted several major championships and offers a challenging layout with stunning views of San Francisco.
- Augustine Golf Club – Located in Palm Springs, this course offers a desert oasis setting with challenging holes.
- Pasatiempo Golf Club – Designed by Alister MacKenzie, this course offers a challenging layout and stunning views of the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Golf Course in California:
When planning your golf trip to California, consider these factors when choosing a course:
- Location – Consider the location of the courses you want to play in relation to where you will be staying.
- Course Difficulty – If you are a beginner, choose a course with a lower difficulty level. If you are an experienced golfer, opt for a more challenging course.
- Course Conditions – Look for courses with well-maintained greens and fairways for a better playing experience.
- Green Fees – Consider the cost of playing at the course, as some can be quite expensive.
- Facilities and Amenities – Look for courses that offer amenities such as a pro shop, driving range, and restaurants for a more enjoyable experience.
Tips for Playing Golf in California:
- Book Tee Times in Advance – Many of the top golf courses in California require advanced booking, so be sure to plan ahead.
- Be Prepared for Different Weather Conditions – California’s weather can be unpredictable, so be prepared for different weather conditions during your round of golf.
- Consider Joining a Golf Club – If you plan on playing multiple times in California, consider joining a golf club to save money on green fees.
- Be Respectful of the Course and Other Players – Remember to repair your divots and ball marks and be mindful of other players on the course.
With its stunning courses and beautiful scenery, California is a top destination for golfers. By considering these factors and following these tips, you can plan the perfect golf trip in the Golden State.
Also Read: Best Golf Courses in Las Vegas
- Experience the beauty and challenge of Pebble Beach Golf Links, known for its stunning ocean views and challenging holes.
- Take on the iconic Torrey Pines Golf Course, a PGA Tour stop and home to the annual Farmers Insurance Open.
- Play a round at the exclusive Cypress Point Club, ranked as one of the top golf courses in the world for its spectacular design and setting.
Top Golf Courses in California
California is home to some of the most breathtaking and challenging golf courses in the world. In this section, we will explore the top golf courses in the state, each with its unique features and stunning landscapes. From the famous Pebble Beach Golf Links to the lesser-known Pasatiempo Golf Club, we’ll take a closer look at what makes these courses stand out and why they are a must-visit for any avid golfer. So, grab your clubs and get ready to tee off at the top golf courses in California!
Also Read: Best Golf Courses in Florida
Pebble Beach Golf Links
Overview: Pebble Beach Golf Links is not just California’s, but one of the world’s most famous golf courses. It’s renowned for its breathtaking ocean views and challenging layout.
- Host of multiple U.S. Open Championships.
- Stunning views of the Pacific Ocean on almost every hole.
- A challenging course layout that tests even the most skilled golfers.
Best For: Golfers who want to experience a piece of golfing history and aren’t afraid of the challenging play combined with unpredictable ocean winds.
Pebble Beach Golf Links is highly regarded as one of the top golf courses in California, known for its breathtaking coastal views and challenging layout. Golfers are enticed by its iconic holes such as the seventh and 18th, which offer stunning views of the rugged coastline. This world-renowned course has been the host of numerous prestigious tournaments, including the U.S. Open. When planning a round at Pebble Beach, it’s crucial to reserve tee times well in advance due to its high demand.
Pro-tip: Be sure to take in the stunning scenery and savor the experience of playing on this legendary course.
Torrey Pines Golf Course (La Jolla)
Overview: Situated atop the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Torrey Pines is known for its two beautiful 18-hole courses, the South and North courses.
- The South Course is famous for hosting the U.S. Open and offers a longer and more challenging round.
- The North Course, recently renovated, provides slightly more forgiving fairways and faster play.
- Both courses boast stunning coastal views and a regular host of the PGA Tour.
Best For: Those seeking a challenging yet visually stunning golfing experience. Great for avid golfers who enjoy playing on PGA Tour-tested courses.
Torrey Pines Golf Course, located in California, is a renowned golf destination for both amateur and professional players. This picturesque course offers stunning ocean views and challenging fairways. It has hosted several major tournaments, including the US Open.
When considering Torrey Pines Golf Course, factors to consider include:
- its location in La Jolla
- the course difficulty, which is suitable for players of all skill levels
- the well-maintained course conditions
- the reasonable green fees
Spyglass Hill Golf Course (Pebble Beach)
Overview: Part of the Pebble Beach family, Spyglass Hill is often considered one of the toughest courses in the world, with its first five holes weaving along the Pacific coastline.
- A mix of coastal dunes and forested areas provides a unique and challenging layout.
- Known for its elevation changes and the demanding first five holes.
- The course layout demands strategic thinking and precision.
Best For: Golfers looking for a tough but fair challenge and those who enjoy a blend of coastal and woodland golf settings.
Spyglass Hill Golf Course is one of the top golf courses in California, known for its stunning coastal views and challenging layout. With its undulating fairways, well-placed bunkers, and fast greens, it offers a test of skill for golfers of all levels. The course is located in Pebble Beach and is often ranked among the best in the country. A pro-tip for playing at Spyglass Hill Golf Course is to bring extra golf balls, as the layout can be demanding and has a reputation for being tough. Be prepared for a memorable round of golf on this iconic course.
With its lush green fairways and stunning ocean views, Riviera Country Club is the perfect place to improve your golf game and your Instagram feed.
Riviera Country Club
Riviera Country Club, located in Pacific Palisades, California, is renowned for its championship golf course and prestigious history. With its picturesque fairways, challenging layout, and immaculate conditions, it has become a favorite among golf enthusiasts. As the host of the PGA Tour’s Genesis Invitational, Riviera has seen legendary players grace its greens.
Beyond the golf course, the club offers exceptional amenities, including a clubhouse, dining options, and practice facilities. Whether you’re a seasoned golfer or a beginner, a round at Riviera Country Club promises an unforgettable experience.
Fun Fact: Riviera Country Club has hosted the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship.
Los Angeles Country Club
The Los Angeles Country Club is one of the top golf courses in California. Located in Los Angeles, it offers a challenging course with beautiful surroundings. The club provides excellent course conditions and facilities, including well-maintained fairways and greens. Green fees may be higher compared to other courses in the area, but the quality of the golfing experience justifies the cost. For those interested in becoming a regular player, joining the club is a great option. The Los Angeles Country Club prides itself on providing a respectful and enjoyable environment for golfers.
With views so stunning, you’ll forget you’re playing golf and start searching for your next Instagram post at Cypress Point Club.
Cypress Point Club
Cypress Point Club is one of the most prestigious golf courses in California. Known for its breathtaking coastal views and challenging layout, it offers a unique and memorable golfing experience.
The course is located in Pebble Beach and has been recognized as one of the top courses in the world. Golfers can expect meticulously manicured fairways, fast greens, and strategically placed bunkers. With limited access to members and their guests only, playing at Cypress Point Club is a privilege. Its rich history dates back to its opening in 1928 and has hosted numerous prestigious tournaments. It continues to be revered as a gem in the golfing world.
TPC Harding Park (San Francisco Golf Club)
Overview: TPC Harding Park, known for hosting several major championships, stands out for its rich history and championship layout.
- Surrounded by Lake Merced, the course offers a beautiful and serene setting.
- The course layout is both challenging and fair, with narrow fairways and strategically placed bunkers.
- Hosted the 2020 PGA Championship.
Best For: Golfers who relish the opportunity to play on a championship course and enjoy a mix of natural beauty and challenging play.
San Francisco Golf Club is a prestigious and historic golf course located in San Francisco, California. It is known for its challenging layout and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. The course is known for its pristine fairways and immaculate greens, ensuring an exceptional golfing experience.
Members of the San Francisco Golf Club enjoy exclusive access to this private course, which has hosted numerous professional tournaments over the years. With its rich history and unparalleled beauty, San Francisco Golf Club remains a top choice for golf enthusiasts in California.
The Olympic Club
The Olympic Club is one of the top golf courses in California, known for its challenging layout and rich history. Located in San Francisco, it offers stunning views of the city and the Pacific Ocean. Golfers can expect well-maintained fairways and greens, providing an enjoyable playing experience. The club also boasts excellent facilities and amenities, including a clubhouse, practice areas, and a pro shop.
If you’re planning to play at The Olympic Club, remember to book tee times in advance and be respectful of the course and other players. It’s a must-visit destination for golf enthusiasts visiting California.
Augustine Golf Club
Augustine Golf Club is one of the top golf courses in California. Located in Stafford, it offers a challenging and scenic course with well-manicured fairways and greens. With its pristine surroundings and top-notch facilities, Augustine Golf Club is a favorite among golf enthusiasts. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned player, this course caters to all skill levels. So, if you’re looking for a memorable golfing experience in California, be sure to check out Augustine Golf Club.
Fun Fact: Augustine Golf Club hosted the prestigious PGA Tour event, attracting top professional golfers from around the world.
Don’t let the name fool you, this course is anything but a ‘passing time’ activity.
Pasatiempo Golf Club (Santa Cruz)
Overview: A hidden gem designed by the acclaimed architect Alister MacKenzie, Pasatiempo offers a blend of rich history and challenging golf.
- A semi-private course that allows public play.
- Known for its well-bunkered greens and strategic layout.
- Offers stunning views of the Monterey Bay on clear days.
Best For: History buffs and architecture enthusiasts who appreciate a classic design coupled with a challenging round of golf.
Pasatiempo Golf Club is a renowned golf course located in California. With its stunning views and challenging layout, it offers an exceptional golfing experience for players of all skill levels. The course is known for its unique design and strategic bunkering, which provides a true test of golfing abilities. Golf enthusiasts can enjoy the well-maintained fairways and greens, along with the picturesque surroundings. Pasatiempo Golf Club is a must-visit destination for golfers seeking a memorable and enjoyable golfing experience in California.
California Golf Club of San Francisco (South San Francisco)
Overview: The California Golf Club of San Francisco, often referred to as Cal Club, is a storied course known for its classic design and exclusivity. The club has a rich history and a course that has undergone significant renovations to enhance its classic charm.
- Originally designed by A.V. Macan and later revamped by Kyle Phillips.
- Features undulating fairways, strategic bunkering, and fast, challenging greens.
- Known for its excellent conditioning and classic layout that rewards strategic play.
Best For: Golf connoisseurs and history enthusiasts who appreciate a course that combines traditional design with modern refinements.
Meadow Club (Fairfax)
Overview: Nestled in the hills of Marin County, the Meadow Club holds the distinction of being the first course in America designed by famed architect Alister MacKenzie. It’s a hidden gem that offers a serene and intimate golfing experience.
- A classic MacKenzie design with natural, rolling terrain and subtle, nuanced greens.
- Offers a tranquil setting away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
- The course layout features strategic bunkering and thoughtful use of the natural landscape.
Best For: Players who enjoy a serene golfing experience and appreciate the subtleties of a classic golf course design. Ideal for those seeking a peaceful retreat.
Half Moon Bay Golf Links (Half Moon Bay)
Overview: Perched on cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Half Moon Bay Golf Links comprises two distinct courses: The Ocean Course and The Old Course, each offering a unique playing experience.
- The Ocean Course, designed by Arthur Hills, features a traditional Scottish links-style layout with stunning ocean views.
- The Old Course, designed by Arnold Palmer, offers a parkland-style layout that culminates in a dramatic cliffside finish.
- Both courses provide breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and are known for their pristine conditioning.
Best For: Golfers seeking a visually stunning experience with a choice of links or classic golf. Ideal for those who enjoy the sound of crashing waves as they navigate each hole.
Arnold Palmer Course at SilverRock Resort (La Quinta)
Overview: The Arnold Palmer Course at SilverRock Resort in La Quinta is a shining example of Arnold Palmer’s legacy in golf course design. Nestled against the backdrop of the Santa Rosa Mountains, this course is known for its stunning natural beauty and challenging layout.
- The course is set against a dramatic desert landscape, offering spectacular views and a serene golfing environment.
- It features wide fairways, large greens, and multiple tees on each hole, catering to golfers of all skill levels.
- The layout incorporates natural elements like water features and native vegetation, adding to its aesthetic appeal and strategic complexity.
Best For: Golfers who enjoy playing in a visually stunning desert setting. The course is ideal for those who appreciate Arnold Palmer’s design philosophy, which combines playability with strategic challenges.
- The course is a former host of the PGA Tour’s Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, adding to its prestige and allure.
- Golfers will find the combination of natural beauty, strategic bunkering, and the thoughtful use of water hazards both challenging and rewarding.
- The course is known for its environmental stewardship, blending seamlessly into the surrounding desert landscape.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Golf Course in California
California is home to some of the most beautiful and challenging golf courses in the world. But with so many options to choose from, it can be overwhelming to decide which one to play. In this section, we will discuss the key factors to consider when choosing a golf course in California. From the location and difficulty of the course to the course conditions, green fees, and facilities, we will give you all the information you need to make an informed decision and have an unforgettable golfing experience.
Also Read: Best Golf Courses in San Diego
When choosing a golf course in California, location is a crucial factor to consider. The state offers a diverse selection of courses in various locations, ranging from coastal areas to mountainous regions. The location of the golf course can greatly impact factors such as travel time, weather conditions, and accessibility.
For instance, if you prefer a coastal setting, Pebble Beach Golf Links offers breathtaking views of the ocean. Conversely, if you prefer a mountainous location, Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego provides stunning views of the surrounding canyons. Ultimately, selecting a golf course in a location that aligns with your preferences and convenience can enhance your overall golfing experience.
I once had the pleasure of playing at a golf course situated in the heart of the Napa Valley wine region. Not only did I enjoy the challenging course, but the picturesque vineyards surrounding the fairways added a unique and unforgettable element to the game. The location added an extra level of beauty to the experience, making it a truly memorable round of golf.
When choosing a golf course in California, there are several factors to consider, including the level of difficulty. Some courses are designed for beginners, while others offer more challenging layouts for experienced players. The difficulty of a course can be determined by factors such as the length of the holes, the presence of hazards like water or bunkers, and the overall design. It’s important to assess your skill level and choose a course that aligns with your abilities. For instance, Pebble Beach Golf Links is renowned for its challenging ocean holes, while Torrey Pines Golf Course offers a mix of challenging and more forgiving fairways. Keep in mind that course difficulty can also be affected by weather conditions.
I have a true story about playing at a golf course in California known for its difficulty. The fairways were narrow, with strategically placed bunkers and water hazards. It was a true test of skill and strategy. Despite the challenges, I had a fantastic time and felt a sense of accomplishment when I successfully navigated the course. It was a valuable learning experience that helped me improve my game.
The conditions may be rough, but that’s just how Californian golfers like their courses – a little rough around the edges.
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When selecting a golf course in California, it is important to take into account the course conditions. These conditions can greatly influence your overall experience and ability to play. It is crucial to evaluate key elements such as the fairway quality, green quality, bunker conditions, and overall maintenance. Look for courses that prioritize consistent upkeep and have well-groomed surfaces. It is also important to consider the unique weather conditions of the region and how they may impact the course conditions throughout the year. Reading reviews or consulting with local golfers can provide valuable insights into the course conditions of various golf courses in California.
When considering the cost of playing golf at courses in California, it’s important to assess the value of your investment. Various factors such as the course’s reputation, quality, amenities, and location can impact the green fees. For instance, renowned courses like Pebble Beach Golf Links and Torrey Pines Golf Course may have higher fees due to their prestige and picturesque views. On the other hand, lesser-known courses may offer more affordable rates while still maintaining a high level of quality. As an example, a friend of mine once played at a hidden gem called Pasatiempo Golf Club, paying reasonable green fees for a challenging course with stunning surroundings.
These golf courses have more amenities than a five-star resort, but let’s be honest, we’re just here for the 19th hole.
Facilities and Amenities
When selecting a golf course in California, it is important to take into account the available facilities and amenities. These features can greatly improve your overall golfing experience. Look for courses that offer well-maintained practice areas, such as driving ranges and putting greens. Additionally, facilities like pro shops, locker rooms, and clubhouses can provide convenience and comfort. Other amenities to consider include on-site dining options, golf carts, and the availability of lessons or clinics. Considering these factors will guarantee a pleasant and enjoyable time on the course.
Tips for Playing Golf in California
As one of the top golfing destinations in the world, California offers an abundance of world-class courses for golf enthusiasts to enjoy. However, playing golf in California requires some preparation and knowledge of the local golfing culture.
In this section, we will provide you with valuable tips for playing golf in California, including the importance of booking tee times in advance, being prepared for varying weather conditions, considering joining a golf club, and showing respect for the course and your fellow players. Let’s tee off and discover the best ways to make the most of your golfing experience in California.
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Book Tee Times in Advance
Booking tee times in advance is crucial when playing golf in California to ensure availability and convenience. Here are the steps to follow:
- Research the golf course: Find out the preferred booking method and policies.
- Contact the golf course: Call or visit their website to inquire about available tee times.
- Select a suitable time: Choose a tee time that fits your schedule and preferences.
- Make a reservation: Follow the golf course’s booking instructions to secure your preferred tee time in advance.
- Confirm your reservation: Before playing, verify your reserved tee time to avoid any misunderstandings.
Pro-tip: To secure your preferred time slot, consider booking tee times in advance for popular courses during peak seasons.
Be Prepared for Different Weather Conditions
When playing golf in California, it’s important to be prepared for different weather conditions to ensure an enjoyable experience.
- Check the weather forecast before heading to the golf course.
- Dress in layers to accommodate changing temperatures throughout the day.
- Wear sunscreen and a hat to protect yourself from the sun.
- Bring rain gear in case of unexpected showers.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, especially in hot weather.
In 2017, during the final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, heavy rain and hail caused a temporary suspension of play. Despite the challenging weather conditions, Jordan Spieth went on to win the tournament, showcasing his ability to adapt to different weather situations.
Consider Joining a Golf Club
Considering joining a golf club in California offers multiple benefits and opportunities for passionate golfers. By becoming a member of a club, you will have access to exclusive courses, practice facilities, and events. Moreover, joining a club allows you to establish connections with fellow golf enthusiasts and participate in competitive or social activities.
Before making a decision, take into account factors such as membership fees, location, course conditions, and available amenities. Conduct thorough research on different clubs, visit their facilities, and assess their offerings to find the one that best fits your preferences and goals. Becoming a member of a golf club can greatly enhance your golfing experience and provide a sense of community within the golfing world.
Be Respectful of the Course and Other Players
When playing golf in California, it’s important to show respect for the course and other players. Here are some steps to follow:
- Arrive on time and be mindful of your pace of play to avoid slowing down other golfers.
- Repair any divots you make on the course and fix ball marks on the greens.
- Keep noise levels to a minimum and avoid distracting other players during their shots.
- Follow proper golf etiquette, such as refraining from talking or moving while someone is addressing the ball.
- Respect the course by properly disposing of trash and not littering.
- Be courteous and polite to other players, including offering compliments for good shots.
- Follow the rules and guidelines of the golf course, including adhering to the dress code and proper cart usage.
By showing respect for the course and other players, you can enhance your golfing experience and create a positive atmosphere for everyone.
Also Read: Best Golf Courses in Southern California
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some of the top public-access golf courses in California according to Golfweek’s Best list?
According to Golfweek’s Best Courses You Can Play list for public-access layouts in California 2022, the top-ranked courses include Pebble Beach Golf Links, Pasatiempo, Spyglass Hill, Torrey Pines (South), Rustic Canyon, and Yocha Dehe at Cache Creek Casino.
What is the significance of Golfweek’s Best rankings in the golf community?
Golfweek’s Best rankings are highly regarded in the golf community and are used by golfers to plan their trips and choose courses to play. The rankings are based on factors such as course design, conditioning, and overall experience.
Are there any private courses included in Golfweek’s Best list for California?
Yes, the list also includes rankings for private courses in California, with the top three being Cypress Point Club, Los Angeles Country Club, and San Francisco Golf Club.
What makes California a popular destination for golfers?
California’s coastline, which stretches for many miles, is a major factor in the popularity of its public-access golf courses. The state also offers a variety of landscapes and terrain, from oceanside courses to mountain courses, making it a desirable destination for golfers.
What are some notable courses on Golf Digest’s list of Best Golf Courses in California?
Some notable courses on Golf Digest’s list include Cypress Point Club, Pebble Beach Golf Links, Poppy Hills, PGA West (Stadium), Pelican Hill (Ocean North and Ocean South), and The Grand.
What is the top-ranked course on Golf Digest’s list of Best Golf Courses in California?
The top-ranked course on Golf Digest’s list is Cypress Point Club in Pebble Beach, known for its unique design by Alister MacKenzie and recent restoration of original bunkers by course superintendent Jeff Markow.
How many courses are included in Golf Digest’s list of Best Golf Courses in California?
The list includes 60 courses, making it the first time since 1977 that Golf Digest has listed 60 courses in California, showcasing the depth of great golf in the Golden State.