For most avid golfers, the planning of any vacation can largely be centered around the public course offerings of potential destinations. The opportunity to spend their down time on the links, playing courses they have never played is a chance they just can’t pass up. Since golf is often their form of relaxation, what better way to spend those precious few days? If you are one of these people, knowing where the best public courses in the United States are located is step one on the vacation planning task list.
- Pebble Beach Links, Pebble Beach, California: Holding the top spot since Golf Digest for created the Top 100 Public Golf Courses in the US list in 2003, playing Pebble Beach is every golfers fantasy. This 72 par course has 9 holes perched on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. For course views, Pebble Beach is unrivaled. It also holds the honor of having hosted 5 U.S. Opens and is a favorite course for almost every golfer who has played it.
- Pacific Dunes, Bandon, Oregon: Consistently holding the #2 spot on the top 100 list, this par 71 course has been beautifully blended into the landscape. It is one of the only courses that appears to have been designed around the natural landscape of rocky cliffs, ocean views, and sand dunes instead of the landscape being designed around the course.
- The Ocean Course, Kiawah Island, South Carolina: Moving up from #4 to take the #3 spot this year is the The Ocean Course. Specifically designed by Pete Dye for the 1991 Ryder Cup, The Ocean Course is the first course designed and built for a major event. With bunkers backing up to sand dunes, greens framed by saw grass, and extremely tricky slopes, this par 72 course is one of his most masterful creations but almost borders on evil genius.
- Whistling Straits, Haven, Wisconsin: Another amazing Pete Dye masterpiece, this par 72 course is located on 2 miles of Lake Michigan frontage. The concept behind Whistling Straits was to make it appear as those it was transplanted from Ireland. With its astonishing 967 bunkers, this stunning course definitely achieves that.
- Pinehurst Resort, Pinehurst, North Carolina: In the 1970’s, someone got the bright idea to plant invasive Bermuda grass along the greens of Pinehurst Resort. Fast forward to 2010 and Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw set out on the massive undertaking to completely revamp the landscape of this course. All of their changes created a course that plays very fast and has hosted both the men’s and women’s U.S. Open.
- Shadow Creek, North Las Vegas, Nevada: Once holding the honor as Golf Digest’s #1 private course, Shadow Creek is now a one of a kind public course. With beautiful greens framed by large trees and the backdrop of stunning mountains, Shadow Creek’s par 72 course is definitely an oasis in the middle of the desert.
- Bandon Dunes, Bandon, Oregon: It is unusual enough for a state to have one course rank high on the list, let alone one city having two. While Bandon Dunes may not have views as stunning as Pacific Dunes, this par 72 course is much more technical. It also ranked #1 on Golf Digest’s list of 50 Most Fun Public Courses.