A Golfers Vacation Guide | The Best Golf Courses in the USA

Green, meticulously manicured grass stretches for acres. Impressive trees and fauna populate the oasis offering shade as well as potential hazards to any shots drifting off their intended paths toward the greens. The local avian species grace the pond surfaces while they look for insects, fish, or a cool spot to beat the heat. And there you are, a bag of clubs, your most comfortable golf polo, athletic sunglasses, and not a single worry in the world. How could there be? You’re out on one of the best golf courses in the world.

If you’re an avid golfer, you’ve likely played a few rounds on your local courses far too many times, right? You know every hole like the back of your hand. Like any sports enthusiast, you enjoy the novelty of a new course. What better way to explore and see a new course than by planning a vacation with that new venue in mind? So what are the best golf courses in the States, and where are they? There is an abundance of breathtaking places to tee off, but we’ve narrowed it down to a top 5 to get you started!

The 5 Best Golf Courses in the US

Shadow Creek
The Ocean Course
Whistling Straits
Pacific Dunes
Pebble Beach

 

 

1. Shadow Creek | North Las Vegas, Nevada

Describing a golf course as an oasis is an easy comparison to make. In the case of Shadow Creek located in Northern Las Vegas, it is simply true. Nestled into the arid desert surrounding the infamous sin city, Shadow Creek truly makes for a stark contrast from the bright neon of the strip and the desert that stretches for miles around. The greenness of the rolling hills and trees paired with the impressive mountains rising as a backdrop are astonishing.

The course itself will challenge you. Every hole is designed to make you observe the angles of the approach and really play the game. It isn’t by chance that this course was on our list, the scenic backdrop and play-ability of the course are worth the trip. If you plan on playing the course, it’s worth noting that it is public Monday through Thursday, but treated as a private course Friday through Sunday.

Restaurants:

The city is so full of high-end food options that we can’t begin to run through each and everyone or pick out the best unique spot for you to try. This isn’t a cop-out, rather a suggestion that the number of famous restaurants and chefs in town are in abundance.

Where to Stay:

Las Vegas! There’s a wide variety of options there. In fact, we assume you already have a favorite place to stay in the city renowned for gangsters and gambling. But if you don’t, Shadow Creek is part of the MGM Grand resort making shuttle service to and from the course an easy option.

Top things to see and do:

Bright lights and colors everywhere. The strip is the most common destination for people traveling to Vegas. The shows, lavish resort amenities, and casinos are certainly great entertainment and need no introduction from us. However, what many people may be unaware of is the beautiful rugged terrain that skirts the city limits. If this describes you, then Red Rock Canyon is a must-see. Bring your hiking gear, (boots, sunglasses, hat, etc) and hit the trails. If you need more suggestions on routes, directions, and essentials, check out the outdoor project’s page on the 11 best hikes day hikes in Las Vegas.

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2. The Ocean Course | Kiawah Island, South Carolina

The Ocean Course | The number 4 best golf course in the US

3 miles of beautiful coast is a major feature in our 4th best golf course. The greens are surrounded by bunkers that give way to natural sand dunes. Saw-grass threatens around every hole. And of course, the ocean breeze that is keeping you cool on those hotter days is going to make any shot you take a challenge.

Of course, this is the stuff that makes for an epic game of golf, on an equally epic course. This was the location for Rory Mcllroy’s PGA championship victory in 2012. The Ocean Course will again be used for the Championship in 2021! Simply put, you will be driving, chipping, and putting away on one of the most beautiful and difficult courses in the US.

Restaurants:

Dining at the resort is the highly recommended option. If you decide to venture off and explore the local cuisine, you should know that Charleston is famous for its soul food. A lunch stop at Lewis Barbecue will leave you more than satisfied. We should also tell you to steer clear of a heavy lunch if you plan on playing another round later in the day.

For dinner out on the historic town, we have to direct you to an extraordinary eatery known as The Ordinary. Happy hour offers oysters for $1.50, an excellent way to celebrate a fantastic day away from whatever you call normal. The historic building which was once a bank only builds on the ambiance created by the culinary mastery on your pallet. The Ordinary represents Charleston’s traditional food to perfection.

Where to Stay:

The Sanctuary Hotel partners with many of the golf packages offered through The Ocean Course. We have to agree that this is a magnificent place to stay. The Sanctuary captures the feel of an east coast seaside mansion to a tee. The amenities, sprawling lawns that meat the beach, and exceptional rooms with ocean views will make sure you feel transported from reality. Look no farther than the Sanctuary!

Top things to see and do:

The island offers some hiking and kayaking which is well worth your time if you are planning on staying a number of days. However, the proximity to Charleston means that you could spend time enjoying the wonderful art scene, fantastic historic architecture, and even some of the surrounding lowlands. Beaufort is a popular nearby town that may be worth a day trip of its own.

3. Whistling Straits | Haven, Wisconsin

Whistling Straits | Number 3 best golf course

Resting atop the bluffs overlooking Lake Michigan on what was once an air force base, is the Whistling Straits Golf Course. Peppered with over one thousand bunkers, saw grass, and seaside cliffs, this challenging course will make you feel as if you have been transported to Ireland.

Mornings here often shroud the impressive trees in the mist. The common presence of grazing black Scottish ewes moving about the grasslands makes for a magical old-timey feel. There are plenty of reasons this made our list for the best golf courses in the US. If you’re a fan of classic golf and the traditional roots of the game, this should be on your US golf course bucket list for sure.

Restaurants:

There are a few local eateries in Haven or at the resort, but if you are feeling adventurous you should head for Green Bay. Leaving the countryside behind for a day could be worth the hour’s drive to experience some unique food. Our first pick is Rustique Pizzeria +Lounge. Dining at Rustique will be both relaxing as well as rewarding to your taste buds. FYI, this isn’t just a pizza joint but a fully-fledged kitchen serving up exquisite food and drinks in a 112-year-old chapel. Not your everyday sit down restaurant.

Our second pick is Hinterland. The craft brewhouse has won awards for its beer and the locally sourced ingredients going into the creative dishes make for a memorable night around a table. You’ll find that this delectable sit down is a fantastic representation of Green Bay’s foodie scene. If you do head to Hinterland for a beer and a bite, here’s a preemptive cheer from us to you!

Where to Stay:

Any of the 5 lodgings at The American Club Resort extend a feeling of simpler times. Much like the Straits, you will be welcomed by the charm and feel of something different from the norm. The resort’s lodgings include amenities such as a spa and dining.

Top things to see and do:

The beautiful coastline featured on the course is just a taste of the surrounding natural landscape. Self-guided hiking, fishing, as well as guided horseback tours and trap shooting are all offered around the resort. We have to mention that skipping a tour through the gardens at Kohler would be a mistake. The design of the garden was planned with the same care and thoughtfulness of the architect who designed the course. Truly worth a walk.

One very unique perk of staying at the Destination Kohler (one of the resort lodging options) is the courtesy BMW included in the package. Taking your partner on a trip to explore the rustic countryside and local arts is a fantastic way to spend part of what is sure to be a special getaway.

4. Pacific Dunes | Bandon, Oregon

Pacific Dunes | Number 2 best golf course in the US

Located a couple of hours north of California along the scenic highway 101 is the cranberry capital of Oregon. A small coastal town named Bandon features our number 2 pick for best public golf courses in the USA. The resort offers 4 fantastic courses however, Pacific Dunes is the premier choice. Settled into the coastal landscape, the course looks as if it was designed into the naturally occurring terrain.

Off the course, there is plenty to do and see. The beautiful country surrounding Bandon is open to mountain bike, horseback, and hiking with great guides and tours available for those that enjoy the wild. Looking for some shopping? The old town shops and markets will offer all the unique charm that one can expect from a small west coast town.

Restaurants:

The Loft is the place to stop for an exquisite dinner after a long day on the links. The freshly baked bread and the quaint interior is as welcoming as your favorite family table. The elevated view from your table at the loft will only be outdone by the mastery coming from inside the kitchen. Make this part of your trip!

Where to Stay:

We’ll give you two of our top options, as many of these golf resorts have amazing lodging of their own. Bandon Dunes lodging offers 5 different options. Each has its own unique charm and proximity to different features around the resort. A van is available to shuttle patrons to wherever they need to be. Did we mention that the costs of staying here are astoundingly low?

The Bandon Inn is our off-site pick. The newly renovated and gorgeous rooms promise guests comfort and close proximity to everything in Bandon. The unencumbered view overlooks the town and the Pacific Ocean beyond. Rates, like those at the golf resort, are affordable. This means more cash for experiencing the food, shops, scenery, and of course that golf game(s) you were planning this trip around, to begin with.

Top things to see and do:

The drive along the coast, though already mentioned above, is worth another shout-out. White-capped waves roll in from the blue sea with stunning monoliths populating the coastal waters. Beautiful trails wind through the coastal slopes offering hikers views and a route to go see the tide pools below. It is a truly breathtaking stretch of the western seaboard.

5. Pebble Beach | Monterey, California

the number 1 best golf course

People travel to Monterrey for a variety of reasons and for good reason, the scenery is simply magnificent. The vistas are seen while traveling down 17-mile drive along the coast, Carmel by the Sea, and of course the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium would all be reason enough for a trip to this seaside retreat. You won’t have to be a golfer to appreciate the Pebble Beach Golf Course. But if you are, the history, location, and artful fairways will make for an unforgettable day on the links.

Playing Pebble Beach can be tough for a few reasons. First of all, it has been debatably the best golf course in the US for years. If you love golf, it will be hard to play here without losing yourself in the nostalgia wrapped up in the course’s pro history. The views from the greens will certainly do their best to distract you as well. If that isn’t enough, the course is as challenging as any great course will be. Good luck!

Restaurants:

The Old Fisherman’s Grotto is the place to go! From the Boston Clam Chowder to the Hawaiian swordfish, you will not be disappointed. We must also recommend stopping for a post-course refresher at the 19th hole. The Taproom is as famous as the course itself. If you plan on staying near the resort for dinner, the Stillwater Bar and Grill which overlooks the 18th hole is the place to be.

Where to Stay:

There is an abundance of lodgings near Pebble Beach to suit your fancy, but The Lodge at Pebble Beach is famous in the golf world and has a steep price with it’s close proximity to the first hole and shops. If the price of the Lodge is slightly out of range, Pebble Beach Resorts offers 2 other amazing options at a nicer price tag and similar accommodations.

Top things to see and do:

Monterey is home to one of the most beautiful Aquariums in the world. If you haven’t been, or only have experienced it in the sequel to Finding Nemo, it’s worth the trip. The natural lands that surround the area are as beautiful as much of the California coast tends to be. We will also mention that you are in California WINE country if that’s your thing. As a final note, Carmel by the sea offers a bevy of high-end shops and designers. It’s worth your (and your dates) time for a romantic stroll and day of fun.

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