Best Golf Courses In California
Best California Golf Courses
When it comes to finding an amazing golf course in the Golden State, there’s no need for heavy mining. Blessed by a phenomenal landscape that ranges from temperate seaside cliffs to arid deserts and from rolling hills to rugged mountains, California has proven to be the perfect piece of land for golf course architects like Palmer, Dye, Nicklaus, Doak, Faldo and MacKenzie to sculpt a variety of 24-karat masterpieces that are certain to amaze golfers for forever.
- Palm Desert, California
- Designed by six-time major winner, Nick Faldo, Shadow Ridge Golf Club is a manifestation of Faldo’s world travels and his undeniable commitment to detail. The layout is crisp. The course conditions are perfect. And unlike other traditional desert courses in the Palm Springs area, Shadow Ridge mixes up the standard equation by framing mint green fairways with tall, rust-colored grasses to mimic the same links courses where Faldo did his finest work.
- Dana Point, California
- When it comes to playing golf in Orange County, it’s tough to get any better than Monarch Beach Golf Links. Located on the sand in Dana Point, California, Monarch Beach is a Robert Trent Jones, Jr. track that features amazing views of crashing waves, undulating greens and a signature hole (#3) that is guaranteed to take your breath away.
- Brooks, California
- A stone’s throw from the state capital, Yocha Dehe Golf Club gets our vote as the best place to play on any and all trips to the Sacramento area. Home to stunning vistas, several lakes and active streams, Yocha Dehe is a postcard for the rest and relaxation mantra of central California, but you best have a jolt of energy before the beastly 482-yard par 4, 3rd hole, because it demands nothing short of the best!
- San Diego, California
- Maderas Golf Club is an award-winning Johnny Miller designed gem that’s laid out in one of San Diego’s 200 canyons. Maderas’ sporty layout features significant elevation changes, five waterfalls and over 40 acres of wildflowers. “It’s pretty chalky,” as one local recently put it, “and the 5th hole might be the best par 4 you’ll ever play.”
- Palm Desert, California
- Continually lauded as one of the best places you can play in all of California, the Players Course at Indian Wells Golf Resort is a special track in a special place. Set up much like its sister course, Celebrity, the Players Course offers the same endless views of the San Jacinto, Santa Rosa and San Bernardino mountain ranges, but it ups the challenge by adding yardage and several strategically placed hazards.
- Carlsbad, California
- Set up in a remarkable, lagoon-based setting, Aviara is an Arnold Palmer design that features a vast variety of native fauna, phenomenal course conditions and an elite country club feel at a fraction of the cost. The 11th hole at Aviara is particularly memorable and one of the finest golf holes in Southern California—just make sure you hit the right club!
- Pebble Beach, California
- As the lone parkland layout on the Monterey Peninsula, Poppy Hills invites its golfers on an exploratory journey on fast, sand-capped fairways that weave through stately pines before blending into perfect bentgrass greens (a rarity for Pebble Beach). As one local recently chirped, “Poppy has always been special. But after the 2014 renovation, it’s like Pinehurst in NorCal... So much faster. So much better.” And we 100% agree!
- Los Angeles, California
- Trump National Golf Club Los Angeles in Palos Verdes, California, ups the ante on ocean views with a links style course that prominently features the bountiful blues of the Pacific Ocean on all 18 holes—Yup, all 18 of ‘em. From the moment you slap driver off the 1st tee of this Pete Dye design ‘til you sink your last putt on the 18th hole, the world’s largest ocean stands by as a spectator that steadily supplies rhythmic white noise and a salty mist that tastes like vacation.
- La Quinta, California
- Golf is king in Palm Springs, and if you’re fortunate enough to make it out to La Quinta, The Stadium Course at PGA WEST is a Pete Dye design that can’t be missed. The Stadium Course is often considered one of the best tests in the country, and the uber-difficult 17th hole does a phenomenal job of living up to its name of Alcatraz. Trust us, there’s no escape from having to hit a great shot on that par 3!
- Santa Cruz, California
- Pasatiempo Golf Club will forever be known as Alister MacKenzie’s favorite design, and some will argue, it’s his best. And with a resume that includes Augusta National, Cypress Point, Lahinch, and so many other amazing tracks, the significance of MacKenzie’s position can’t be overlooked. Views of huge free-form bunkers and a narrow undulating green say, “MacKenzie,” the moment you step on the 1st tee at Pasatiempo, and by the time you tap in on the 18th hole, you’ll quickly understand why the 45-mile drive from Pebble Beach was the best decision you’ve ever made.