9 Best Public Golf Courses in the U.S.

For most golfers, the local course is all they can afford on a regular basis, but every golfer dreams about playing a challenging game surrounded by beautiful scenery one day.

Here are 10 of the best public courses available in the United States.

1. Pebble Beach, Pebble Beach, Calif.


Frequenting the top of any list of top courses, Pebble Beach offers nine holes right on Carmel Bay. The design isn’t perfect, but some of the holes are the best in the world, and with such incredible scenery it’s hard to beat. Every golf fan will want to play this course once in their lifetime.

2. Bethpage Black, Farmingdale, N.Y.

Bethpage Black anchor

This advanced course has been a U.S. Open stop, and you will need a reservation in order to get a tee. The green is walking only, and with its frequent twists, turns and elevation changes, you’re sure to get a good hike. The best part may be the price set at $150 on weekends for out-of-towners.

3. Pacific Dunes, Brandon, Ore.


Pacific Dunes easily makes the top list for the best use of the natural land, and visitors are hard pressed to determine between what is natural and what isn’t.  The course emerges from shore pines to incredible 60-foot sand dunes, some natural some not. Even the sand pits seem like they were made from the ocean itself and not the designer.

4. Whistling Straits, Haven, Wis.


With the best par-3 holes, Whistling Straits was transformed by Pete Dye from a dead-flat two-mile stretch off Lake Michigan. The course features tumbling golf holes, ragged sand blowouts and howling wind next to the enormous Lake Michigan backdrop.

5. Pinehurst Resort (No.2), Pinehurst, N.C.


Recently restored by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, Pinehurst is considered a great second-shot course due to its convex greens that demand precise iron play. As part of the restoration, hard pan rough and distressed turf were introduced off every fairway making it a great test of tee shots.

6. Spyglass Hill, Pebble Beach, Calif.


Spyglass is a tough but fair course that serves as the perfect double to Pebble Beach. The course features two distinct types of terrain with the first five holes rolling through sandy seaside dunes and the following 13 through pines and elevated greens.

7. Bandon Dunes, Bandon, Ore.

Bandon Dunes Putting Course Coming Fall 2013

With references to Scotland’s ancient links,Bandon stays true to Oregon’s rugged coastline with the course designed in harmony with the natural environment. Playing a round at sunrise is a must, and if you time your afternoon rounds right, you will be playing your finishing rounds along the water at sunset.

8. Shadow Creek, Las Vegas, Nev.


One of a kind, Shadow Creek was originally a private course that has become a must-see destination for golfers. With towering waterfalls and lush gardens framed by the mountains, the course lives up to its name with shadows sliding across the landscape in various shapes and contours.

9. Forest Dunes Golf Club, Roscommon, Mich.


Nestled within the Huron National Forest, Forest Dunes offers a quiet escape. With everything from open meadows and century old red pines to dunes and sandy waste, golfers will face a variety of challenges on this course.

Bonus Course: Erin Hills, Erin, Wisc.


Slated to host the U.S. open in 2017, Erin Hills embraces the natural contours formed by glaciers in the area 10,000 years ago. As a relatively new course, Erin Hills is still being refined, but already offers one of the best games in the U.S.

Phil Oscarson is an avid golfer and golf analyst who writes for BleacherReport and AmericanGolf.com. He’s still trying to convince my wife to let him install a putting green in his backyard.

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