Did you know the United States accounts for around 45 percent of the golf courses in the world? Whether you’re looking for championship golf courses or small-but-mighty nine-hole courses, don’t pack your clubs before you’ve checked out our list of the best golf vacations in America.
Planning A Great Golf Getaway
When you’ve decided which town to tee off in, consider a vacation rental as your home base. You’ll enjoy amenities like a full kitchen, laundry, extra space to store your golf gear, and maybe even a patio or pool! Choose to stay in the heart of town for post-round entertainment or steps from the first hole to maximize time on the course. A spacious rental is ideal for your group golf getaway—and you can find the perfect one right on FlipKey.
If you’re looking for activities off the course, our friends at TripAdvisor can help with that! Below, you’ll also find great excursions, tours, and experiences in each destination—which you can book on TripAdvisor.
Home of TPC Scottsdale and the PGA Tour’s annual Phoenix Open, this desert city tops our list as one of the best golf destinations in the American Southwest. Try out a day in the life of a tour pro on the 36-hole Stadium Course, with its upscale amenities and panoramic views of the McDowell Mountains. For a classic desert golf experience, Troon North Golf Club offers two 18-hole courses stretching through the natural ravines and foothills overlooked by Pinnacle Peak. Book a Sun State Helicopter Tour over the Sonoran desert hills and finish your trip on a (literal) high.
Myrtle Beach, SC
Boasting around one hundred golf courses, Myrtle Beach has more than earned its title of “Golf Capital of the World.” The Arnold Palmer-designed championship course at the Arrowhead Country Club spreads across 360 acres of verdant terrain, with 63 bunkers, 12 scenic lakes and an abundance of natural flora and fauna. Want to brush up your backswing before hitting the first tee? Look no further than the Classic Swing Golf School. One of the best golf trips for anyone who enjoys the ocean, you can explore Myrtle Beach’s coastal waters on a Guided Stand-Up Paddleboard Tour, where you’ll spot brown pelicans, dolphins, and even loggerhead sea turtles if you’re lucky.
Nestled into the Big Sur coastline, Monterey is home to 20 world-class golf courses. The 18-hole Del Monte Golf Course is one of the oldest in America and has been challenging golfers with its small, sloping, old-school greens since 1897. Nearby Pebble Beach hosts the annual Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, which rotates between the Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill Golf Course and Poppy Hills Golf Course. If you can drag yourself away from the greens, a Half-Day Whale Watching Tour is an amazing chance to spot some of Monterey’s humpback and blue whales as they migrate along the Pacific coast.
Coeur D’Alene, ID
Swing into the world’s only floating, movable golf greens at Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Course. The gorgeous Lake Coeur d’Alene views on nearly every hole make CDA one of the best golf destinations for anyone who enjoys life on the water. Away from the greens, ROW Adventure Center offers daily kayaking and rafting tours. For something a little more serene, book a Lake Coeur d’Alene Cruise at dusk and enjoy a gourmet dinner with views of enviable lakeside homes set against a stunning Pacific Northwest sunset.
The Waldorf Astoria Golf Course at Walt Disney World follows the contours of Bonnet Creek nature preserve, offering an 18-hole masterpiece that seems to fold into the natural terrain. With more than 150 golf courses, Orlando is probably the best golf vacation for year-round play, but there’s plenty more to enjoy in “The City Beautiful” too. Cool off snorkeling alongside manatees on a Crystal River Manatee Snorkeling Tour, which includes an airboat ride on the Homosassa River.
You’ll find nine courses to challenge your skill at the Pinehurst Resort, but Course Number 2 remains one of the world’s most celebrated. Designed by Donald Ross and opened in 1907, it has served as the site of more single golf championships than any course in America. All that golfing is bound to work up an appetite so indulge yourself on a Culinary Tour of the Pines, where you’ll visit some of the top eateries in Pinehurst Village, along with a craft beer tasting to complement each dish.
Traverse City, MI
One of the best golf destinations in the Midwest, Traverse City is home to the Arnold Palmer-designed Manitou Passage and Jack Nicklaus’s groundbreaking Bear course at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa. After dark, explore some of the city’s best breweries, wineries and distilleries on a Traverse City Wine And Beer Tour, where your chariot for the night could be anything from a sleek, black Mercedes Benz van to a tie-dye Funky Bus.
Hilton Head Island, SC
With over 33 world-class championship courses, Hilton Head Island often makes the list of best golf vacations—and for good reason. Harbour Town Golf Links, the brainchild of Pete Dye and Jack Nicklaus, is one of Golf Digest’s top 20 courses in the country. If you can drag yourself away from the greens, a Soo Locks Boat Tour is a wonderful way to explore the island’s historic Soo Locks, where freighters, barges, and tugboats traverse the 21-foot drop between Lake Superior and Lake Huron every day and night.
St. George, UT
Tee off against a backdrop of red rock vistas at the Johnny Miller signature Entrada at Snow Canyon Golf Course. The 18-hole course will excite even the most seasoned golfer, and boasts an award-winning clubhouse as well. Dixie Red Hills is a short nine-hole par-34 course built on a natural spring, but don’t let looks deceive you—it’s more challenging than it seems. Make the most of Utah’s annual 300 days of sunshine and explore Zion National Park while you’re at it with a Half Day ATV Tour of the Major Sand Dunes.
San Antonio, TX
One of the best golf destinations in Texas, TPC San Antonio at the Marriott Hill Country Resort hosts both the Valero Texas Open and San Antonio Championship. Two golf courses, designed by Pete Dye and Greg Norman, offer two very different playing experiences to accommodate golfers of all levels. The Palmer Course at La Cantera, set over 250 acres, is another favorite thanks to its breathtaking views. A Birdie Wine Tour in Fredericksburg is the ideal way to relax after a day on the greens.
Dubbed “the Palm Springs of the North,” Bend’s sunny, dry climate means it’s one of the best golf vacations you can take. Pronghorn Golf Club and Tetherow Golf Club were each ranked among America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses, according to Golf Digest magazine. For a change of scenery, book a Beginner’s Fly-Fishing Tour on Bend’s pristine lakes and rivers, where you’ll get all the guidance you need to catch beautiful alpine trout and finish the day with an authentic fish fry.
Gulf Shores, AL
There’s nothing like golfing on Gulf Shores, under a blue Alabama sky with the warm ocean breeze on your face. Kiva Dunes Golf Course, meandering 7,092 yards through natural sand dunes and lake, is rated the top public golf course in Alabama by Golf Digest. The Gulf Shores Golf Club is also popular with visitors who come to enjoy the challenging course and traditional plantation-style clubhouse. Explore the surrounding waterways by kayak on a WildNative Tour for a chance to see alligators, bald eagles, ospreys, herons, cormorants, and pelicans up close.
Thousand Hills Golf Course puts Branson on the map as one of the best golf destinations in America. Voted “Best Of The Ozarks” nine years in a row, the 18-hole course meanders through beautiful hardwood forests and across Ozark streams. Branson Hills Golf Club has also been voted the number one course in Missouri by Golf Week for six years running. Don’t leave Branson without seeing Table Rock Dam, the College of the Ozarks and other city highlights on a Small-Group Half-Day Tour of Branson via Luxury Vehicle.
Okay, so the Jack Kidwell-designed Wilson Road Golf Course is Columbus’s only executive nine-hole golf course (and well-worth a round or two), but this great city makes our list of best golf destinations for a different reason. Jack Nicklaus, the man with 18 career major championship victories, was born and raised in Columbus. You can all about his achievements at the Jack Nicklaus Museum, what reviewers call an “interesting museum, even for non-golfer [people] who are ambivalent about sports.” Discover more of Columbus’ charm and history on a thrilling Segway tour which takes in the Scioto River, the thriving Short North arts district, the vibrant Arena District and historic downtown.
For panoramic views of the Sandia Mountains, strategically placed bunkers and challenging green complexes, look no further than the Sandia Golf Club. This 7,750-yard championship course cuts through the rugged high desert landscape and will challenge and delight golfers of all levels. See the Sandias from a different angle on an Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Ride at Sunrise, the perfect way to finish an unforgettable golf vacation.
This article was originally published on the TripAdvisor blog. FlipKey is a TripAdvisor company.