The Best Public Golf Courses to Play in 2024

Nov 6, 2023

The best public golf courses to play in 2024!

Freshly manicured greens, clubhouse conversation, a walk down the back nine on a sunny day. Few things top a great round of golf. Maybe you’re playing with a bit of a handicap (as this author must confess to), but who hasn’t imagined themselves walking up the 18th fairway in contention for a major tournament? We all know that electric feeling of anticipation as you watch your putt curl in for a much needed birdie! If this sounds like your weekend ideal, we’ve put together a list of some amazing courses. Aficionados will recognize many, but we think this is a well-rounded look at some of the best golf on offer. Fore!

The Best Public Golf Courses to Play in 2024

Hunter Ranch Golf Course, Paso Robles, CA

We open with something a little unexpected. Nestled in California Wine Country, Hunter Ranch is a great place to enjoy an afternoon on the links. Easily accessible off Highway 101 between LA and San Francisco, Hunter Ranch is a great stop while you’re out enjoying some vineyards. Year-round seasonable temperatures make it great in any season. A bit less well-known than other classic California courses, you’ll have better luck booking a tee time. And as an added bonus, Hunter Ranch won’t break the bank. Midday walking sessions come in under $50 and there are discounts for active-duty service members. The course is scenic, well-designed, and offers a challenge if you’re looking for one. Next time you’re in the mood for a great round, take a look at Hunter Ranch.

Arcadia Bluffs, Arcadia, MI

Ask anyone from the Great Lakes Region and they’ll tell you Lake Michigan’s scenic shoreline and beautiful sunsets make it a paradise for recreation enthusiasts. Arcadia Bluffs takes full advantage to offer a stunning course set right on the water. If you’re coming over from Chicago, you can easily make a stop on your way up to Traverse City. The idyllic drive adds to the magic at Arcadia. Once you get on the fareways, you’ll have no trouble imagining yourself at a classic European venue like St Andrews or Ballybunion. The brisk breeze and earthy tones give Arcadia a lovely allure. With lots of small town B&Bs within reach, you can easily make a weekend go at this exceedingly lovely course.

Black Mesa Golf Club, Black Mesa, NM

If you’re a landscape lover as well as someone who enjoys a challenging course, Black Mesa is the place for you. Set in the hills north of Santa Fe, Black Mesa is a stunning course. Green fees are quite reasonable so this won’t set you back a lot. Española is likewise a great town to explore so consider coming up from Albuquerque or Santa Fe for a day or two. Enjoy some time along the Rio Grande when you’re not working on your swing. The course design does a fantastic job incorporating natural scenic elements. You’ll find yourself thinking each hole is just an integral part of the landscape. As far as great public courses go, this one ranks high on our list for a reason.

Bethpage Red, Farmingdale, NY

The ferocious Black course may get all the attention, but neighboring Bethpage Red is perfect for the aspiring amature. The par 70 design means it’s no slouch and you better bring your A-game. With Bethpage Black having played host to numerous PGA tour events, there’s been more than enough love shown to Red to make sure it’s also world-class and eminently playable. As far as public courses go, this is absolutely one of the best anywhere in the US. Not much more than an hour outside Manhattan, Bethpage’s setting on Long Island makes it a great place to vacation. Connect into New York City for some sightseeing in between your time on the links or head out to Montauk and the Hamptons. No matter how you play it, Bethpage is one of the best courses around.

Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, Bandon, OR

Bandon Dunes is actually a collection of several great courses including a fun Par-3 short course and a seperate putting course. Having the option to sample around helps make this such a good venue. Of course, the stellar location on Oregon’s Pacific Coast is just incredible. Depending on your skill level, players tend to find the original Bandon Dunes course the most forgiving. First opened in 1999, it’s lost one of its luster in the intervening decades. The classic elements will have you picturing yourself chasing a Claret Jug in Scotland. Natural sand dunes and sea breezes will make you feel as if you’re right in the thick of tournament action. Places like these bring out the best in golfers and that’s why Bandon Dunes makes our list of great public courses.

Caledonia Golf & Fish Club, Pawleys Island, SC

What’s better than a great 18-holes? How about 18-holes followed by some excellent fishing? That’s just what’s on offer at Caledonia Golf & Fish Club. This prized course is built on former plantation lands and frequented by hunting and fishing enthusiasts. Anglers can enjoy themselves along the Waccamaw River and its many tributaries or out on the open waters in the Atlantic. Located just south of Myrtle Beach, Caledonia is an excellent place to stop during your family vacation. Magnificent oak trees still lead towards the clubhouse and the lovely rustic feeling preserves the region’s historic charm. Water and sand add a little spice to the layout. Don’t let the relatively straight fairways fool you. The large oak groves are more than happy to snag any wayward balls you send their way. Caledonia is a course that will keep you on your toes.

Whistling Straits, Sheboygan, WI

Sharing some beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline, Whistling Straits is another one of those fantastic Midwestern courses with a true championship pedigree. Designed by famed husband and wife duo Pete and Alice Dye, Whistling Straits has been the setting for several major tournaments over the years including the PGA Championship and U.S. Senior Open. Located a little north of Sheboygan, the area is a favorite summertime destination with plenty of scenic towns and things to see along the lakeside. The popularity certainly attracts a crowd meaning this is one course where you want to plan ahead and book a tee time well in advance. If you fancy seeing how you stack up against the best players in the world, try your game at Whistling Straits.

Mauna Kea Golf Course, Waimea, HI

Hawaii is America’s tropical paradise. Lush green landscapes, black volcanic beaches, world

class surf breaks, it’s an all-around ideal destination. The Big Island is where you can sample some of the best Hawaii has to offer. Flights are available to Kona International Airport on the west side of the island. From there it’s just a short and stunning drive up to Mauna Kea Golf Course. Set on the shore beside the slopes of the now dormant Mauna Kea volcano, this is one of the most spectacular golf courses anywhere in the world. Relax along the resort beach after your round and stick around for an amazing sunset and some evening entertainment. This is hands-down one of the best public courses anywhere in the United States.

Wolf Creek Golf Club, Mesquite, NV

Las Vegas is a town with something for everyone. Amazing natural landscapes, monumental engineering, and big name stars performing nightly in Las Vegas shows. Of course, there’s also the glitz and glamor of the world’s swankiest casinos. Located along I-15 a little more than an hour from the Strip is Wolf Creek Golf Club. Sometimes a Vegas vacation requires a bit of breathing room from all the neon hubbub in town. Wolf Creek is a great place to go, especially if you plan to venture a little further to Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Summer temperatures can put a damper on things, but that’s when you’ll find the best tee-time rates. If you’re in the mood for a little golf during your next trip to Vegas, book a slot at Wolf Creek Golf Club.

TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

Home to PGA Tour headquarters, you just know this is going to be a fantastic course. Hosting annual The Players Championship tournament, TPC Sawgrass is widely regarded as among the most challenging anywhere in the world. TPC’s Valley Course is a bit more forgiving. However, if you’re looking fore (get it?) the real deal and a chance to swing for the iconic island green, the Stadium Course is where you want to go. Open to the public, anyone can come test themselves here. Book ahead though to make sure there’s an opening. Fantastic Atlantic shoreline awaits when you’re not prowling the clubhouse seeking an autograph. As far as public courses go, this is just about the best you can find.

Some say golf has lost a bit of luster. If you ask us, however, it’s ready to enjoy a second renaissance. With unbeatable public courses on offer, there’s no shortage of great places to play across the United States. The ones we profiled here struck our imagination for one reason or another. Whether you harbor PGA Tour ambitions or just fancy a casual round among friends, there’s something for everyone. Make 2024 the year you finally work on that lagging part of your game.

Contact Center of the year 2022
Contact Center of the year 2022
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Google Material Design Awards 2019