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Best Places to Golf in California

With temperate weather and beautiful outdoor spaces, California is a golfer's paradise. Below is just a sampling of the best places to golf in the Golden State, split into the following categories: most scenic views, play like a pro, stay and play, and laid-back and family friendly.

MOST SCENIC VIEWS

Golf at the Edge of the World at the Little River Inn
The Mendocino Coast’s only golf course, belonging to the historic Little River Inn, features 180-degree views of the ocean and centuries-old redwoods. Both newbies and serious golfers can enjoy the course, which is comprised of nine holes that can play like 18, with three placements and dual greens on holes seven and nine. Designed by the present innkeeper’s grandfather as a tribute to the world’s greatest courses, the rolling hills and wooded setting present unexpected challenges. The course is an Audubon-certified sanctuary, and there is also a driving range, putting green and fully stocked pro shop.

Golf Under the California Redwoods Near Crescent City
Del Norte Golf Course, nestled between the Smith River and the mountains near Hiouchi, is only 15 minutes from Crescent City. Reopened in late 2019 after being closed for years, golfers can now putt under redwood trees at this 9-hole public USGA-rated golf course with alternate tee locations for the back nine. The 95-acre course is home to a variety of wildlife, and is open year-round for golf, weddings and special events.

Enjoy Panoramic Ocean Views From Morro Bay Golf Course
With panoramic views of the ocean from every hole and beautifully managed greens, Morro Bay Golf Course is perfect for golfers of every level. There's a beautiful driving range for beginner golfers, and for more advanced golfers there are 18 holes with rolling fairways and lines of cypress trees bordering each hole to provide the perfect balance of leisure and challenge.

Furnace Creek Golf Course at Death Valley: The World’s Lowest Golf Course
Furnace Creek Golf Course at Death Valley is a USGA sanctioned 18-hole course located within Death Valley National Park at 214 feet below sea level. Begun in 1927, the legendary course with its famous drive-through 19th hole recently underwent a massive renovation focused on water conservation and the transition of 15 acres of maintained turf to desert with low-water-use native plantings. Don’t be fooled by the wide-open fairways and the length of the course, which plays to a par of 70. From there, the course has a USGA rating of 74.7 with a slope of 128.

Two-in-One Golf Course Featuring the Highest Point in Oxnard
The only golf course in Oxnard, River Ridge Golf Club offers 36 challenging holes, two courses and four sets of tees ranging from 5,362 to 6,777 yards. More than eight acres of water features makes these championship public courses superbly beautiful. The Scottish links-style Vineyard Course is famous for its bent grass and Poa Annua greens, and holes three through six offer magnificent panoramic ocean views from the highest elevation in Oxnard. The layout plays as a par 35 front-nine and a par 37 back-nine, ending with the signature "Island hole." Amenities include an all-grass driving range, two chipping and putting greens, a well-appointed pro shop, cafe, outdoor barbecue area and more.

Golf with the View of Yosemite in Tuolumne County
The hills of Tuolumne County are both picturesque and challenging, with local course options covering a variety of landscapes and views from the lower foothills to the high country of Twain Harte or Pine Mountain Lake. Pine Mountain Lake Golf Course is a challenging 18-hole golf course that offers views of Yosemite’s peaks along with picturesque oaks and pines. Teleli Golf Club is a scenic 18-hole championship course designed by Robert Muir Graves, located in the historic gold rush town of Sonora. This course opened in 1990 and in 2019 was purchased by The Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians as a resort amenity to the Black Oak Casino as well as an amenity for the community.

Bayonet and Black Horse Golf Course
Located in Seaside lies Bayonet & Black Horse, a two-course golf course with sweeping views of the Pacific. Bayonet, a par-72, 7,104-yard course with narrow playing corridors and steep, penal bunkering, has long been considered the most difficult test of golf on the Monterey Peninsula. Black Horse, a 7,024-yard, par-72 layout, is highlighted by fescue-framed fairways, bunkers with distinctive, serrated edges and slickly-contoured greens.

Hit the Greens in Paso Robles
Hunter Ranch is set atop the highest point in Paso Robles, offering views of vineyards and rolling hills while golfers play between oak trees and natural lakes. The property also features Hunter Ranch Grill, recognized as one of the best dining experiences in Paso Robles. The newly renovated Paso Robles Golf Club is now open to the public and offers the perfect balance of challenge and fun, without overwhelming the average player. The clubhouse has panoramic views from the restaurant, bar and veranda. At Castoro Cellars, golfers can trade in their sticks for a round of disc golf. The course features 18 holes along a two-mile loop, starting near the tasting room and winding its way throughout Whale Rock Vineyard. The scenic course is perfect for all skill levels.

Golf Among the Vines at The Course at Wente Vineyards
The Course at Wente Vineyards is the San Francisco Bay Area’s premier golf course and the only golf course to weave through vineyards. The 18-hole championship course is a picturesque 7,181-yard, par-72, upscale, daily-fee golf course tucked away in the scenic Livermore Valley. Designed by the golfing great Greg Norman, the course features three distinct topographies, native woodlands, mature vineyards and rolling hills of natural grasslands. The Grill, featuring special hours for golfers only, offers a delicious menu paired with local wines. Groups of 16 or more may book tournaments up to a year in advance.

Best Places to Golf in North Lake Tahoe
North Lake Tahoe has a range of breathtaking golf courses to choose from, located lakeside or among the pines. The nine-hole Tahoe City Golf Course was designed by May “Queenie” Dunn Hupfel, where she served as a pro and manager. This family-friendly 2,700-yard par-33 golf course also permits dogs. Old Brockway in Kings Beach is where the famous Rat Pack played-regularly. The nine-hole par-36 course is a local favorite with its stunning lake views and eclectic history. The Links at Squaw Creek are surrounded by six majestic Sierra peaks in Olympic Valley. This championship course designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. is the culmination of 10 years of extensive planning and careful handling of the environment.

Lake Tahoe Golf Course in South Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe Golf Course is located in a natural mountain meadow just minutes from the southern shoreline of Lake Tahoe in the Lake Valley State Recreation Area. The course’s spectacular William Bell-designed championship layout, combined with breathtaking scenic views of the Sierra Nevada mountains, extensive amenities and attentive service make it one of South Lake Tahoe’s best public golf facilities and the best championship golf value in the area.

Sonoma County: Golf in the Redwoods, Along the Coast, or with Vineyard Views
Sonoma County features a mild climate that encourages year-round play, fantastic off-the-fairway diversions and a stunning natural setting. The Links at Bodega Harbour is perched along the Pacific, and combines natural beauty with the award-winning design of Robert Trent Jones II. The Sonoma Golf Club at the Sonoma Mission Inn is a treasured "core golf" experience set on 177 acres of rolling terrain highlighted by massive oaks, lakes and sweeping vistas of the Mayacamas Mountains and neighboring vineyards. Northwood Golf Club in Santa Rosa is a one-of-a-kind course built by Alister MacKenzie – known for his work at Augusta National – featuring challenging fairways in a redwood forest.

Sustainable Swings at The Ranch at Laguna Beach
Ben Brown's at The Ranch at Laguna Beach is the only golf course in the city and is one of the most sustainable courses in California. Greens are watered using reclaimed water and the course's bunkers are filled with fine silica-style sand created from recycled glass bottles. This historic 9-hole Geo-Certified course is carved into the naturally dramatic and lush walls of Aliso and Wood Canyons, creating an ultra-private experience with stunning views and elevation changes. Ben Brown's is a laid-back course and even includes three-clubs barefoot tournaments for novices, families and avid golfers alike.

The Links at Terranea
The Links at Terranea is a dramatic nine-hole, par-3 Southern California oceanfront golf course, with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island. Artful bunkering, unobstructed sightlines and a wide range of classic strategic elements deliver an unparalleled golf experience on the Los Angeles coast. Perhaps best of all, golfers at The Links walk and take in the magnificent coastal setting, just as the game was intended to be enjoyed. The Links offers a collection of championship-caliber holes, an expansive short game practice facility and professional instruction for golfers of any level.

The Complete Golfing Experience in Dana Point
One of the few oceanfront golf courses along the California coast with pristinely-kept scenic oceanfront fairways, the award-winning Monarch Beach Golf Links in Dana Point is a Scottish links-style par-70 championship resort golf course. Players can take their game to the next level by booking a Waterman Caddie for expert mentorship on each hole, and reserve a GolfBoard or Phat Scooter to get around. With flexible renting sets and a driving range, the course welcomes drop-ins in and permits tee times to be booked months in advance. Monarch Beach Golf Links will be hosting the inaugural Swish CoLabs Classic, a fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, on Aug. 27, 2021.

Golf in Irvine, the Center of Orange County
Irvine boasts a warm Mediterranean climate, enabling golfers to enjoy its courses year-round. Strawberry Farms Golf Club is a par-71, 6,700-yard course set amid canyons and wetlands. The 18-hole course offers picturesque vistas across the 35-acre reservoir and rolling greens surrounded by wildlife. Oak Creek Golf Club is an 18-hole masterpiece designed by Tom Fazio, featuring eucalyptus trees, meandering creeks and soft rolling hills. The par-71 course comes in at 6,850 yards. Rancho San Joaquin is set along a coastal inlet with three different lakes as a backdrop, and is home to some of South Orange County’s finest and most challenging greens. The course was designed by William Francis Bell.

Tee Off in Palm Springs
There are four scenic golf resorts in Palm Springs. Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort features two championship golf courses and is close to both the Palm Springs International Airport and Downtown Palm Springs. Indian Canyons Golf Resort features the lake-rich South Course or the more traditional North Course rimmed by mid-century modern homes. Escena Golf Club has been rated the #6 Public Course in California by PGATOUR.com and features wide-open spaces, generous driving corridors and a largely minimalist design. Mesquite Country Club features a traditional and mature 18-hole championship layout designed by Bert Stamps in 1985. Mesquite Golf & Country Club also provides a large grass practice facility and driving range, and sprawling Spanish-style clubhouse.


PLAY LIKE A PRO

New Golf Opportunities at Pebble Beach Resorts

World-renowned Pebble Beach Resorts features several nationally recognized courses, including Pebble Beach Golf Links – the No.1 public golf course in the country – Spyglass Hill Golf Course, The Links at Spanish Bay, and a new short course designed by Tiger Woods opening in spring 2021. The new short course is comprised of nine par-3 holes, a 20,000-square-foot putting course, and a food and beverage venue featuring the resort's largest outdoor patio positioned for expansive views. The resort also offers a Stay & Play golf package, including accommodations at the new Sloat Building at The Lodge, overlooking Stillwater Cove and the famed 18th hole at Pebble Beach Golf Links.

Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad
Secluded amid 200 acres of verdant rolling valleys, Aviara Golf Club overlooks the Batiquitos Lagoon nature preserve and features a memorable 7,007-yard, 18-hole layout sculpted around rolling hillsides and native wildflowers. It is the only coastal California course designed by Arnold Palmer and is also home of the annual LPGA Kia Classic professional golf tournament. The golf course is part of the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, a Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five Diamond resort, which reopened October 2020 following a $50 million total transformation. In addition to many other new amenities, guests can enjoy the Topgolf Swing Suite, an immersive social experience.

The 2021 U.S. Open Returns to Torrey Pines in La Jolla
Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla is recognized as one of the nation's top golf courses, and features views of the coastline from cliffs towering above the ocean. The prestigious 2021 U.S. Open returns to Torrey Pines from June 17-20, 2021, marking the second time Torrey Pines’ South Course will host the national championship. Famed for renovating courses prior to major championships, architect Rees Jones brought his skill to the legendary South Course in 2001 in preparation for the 2008 U.S. Open. A complete renovation was done in which all greens, tees and fairway features were rebuilt, and many greens were relocated to the edge of the canyon, which is a prominent feature of the landscape.

Golf in Gilroy
There are a wide range of courses in and around Gilroy, perfect for novice and experienced golfers alike. CordeValle Golf Club and Resort was declared by renowned architect Trent Jones Jr. to be his "finest creation," and the championship-level golf course hosted the 2016 U.S. Women's Open. Eagle Ridge Golf Club is one of South County's premier public golf courses, with a challenging course that travels through Gilroy's golden oak-studded foothills. Golfers will enjoy tree-lined fairways, dramatic bunkers and diverse water features – and may encounter wild turkeys, deer, falcons and foxes. Gilroy Golf Course has been dubbed "the best 11-hole course in the United States."

Santa Clarita Golf Courses Feature Breathtaking, Natural Settings
Just 20 minutes north of Hollywood Burbank Airport, Santa Clarita’s courses offer wide fairways, rolling hills, long driving ranges and challenging play. Surrounded by the Angeles National Forest, Sand Canyon Country Club is a 27-hole public course spanning 400 acres. Plans are in the works to develop a five-star family-oriented destination resort on-site. Built from the vision of acclaimed golf course architect, Robert Trent Jones, Sr., Valencia Country Club offers members an 18-hole championship golf course, ranked by Golf Digest as one of the top 25 golf courses in the state. The Oaks Club at Valencia offers breathtaking play with a par-72 championship course complemented with panoramic views and alfresco dining.

Yocha Dehe Golf Club: #1 in the U.S. by Golf Advisor
Yocha Dehe Golf Club, located at the Cache Creek Casino & Resort, means "home by the spring water" in the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation's native language. From impeccable playing surfaces and gorgeous scenery, to remarkable facilities and a first-class staff, Yocha Dehe Golf Club was voted into the Top 100 courses by Golf Weekly and voted #1 in the U.S. by Golf Advisor.


STAY AND PLAY

Unlimited Golf at Nakoma Resort this Spring

Nakoma Resort in the Lost Sierra is offering Spring Stay & Play Golf Getaways featuring unlimited golf. Located just 45 minutes north of Truckee, Nakoma Resort features the singular Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Lodge – home to Restaurant Fifty44 and the Spa at Nakoma – along with Altitude, Nakoma’s recreation center. Guests can choose a one-night midweek stay or a two-night weekend getaway and enjoy unlimited golf for two players and exclusive access to Altitude. Weather permitting, the package is available May 15 through June 30.

The Resort at Pelican Hill
Situated on 504 acres, The Resort at Pelican Hill in Newport Beach is home to Pelican Hill Golf Club – a world-class experience designed by Tom Fazio featuring two courses. The Ocean North Course provides players with ocean views on the nearly 7,000-yard layout and the Ocean South Course provides 270-degree views of the sea and Catalina Island. The Pelican Hill Golf Club also features a clubhouse with a signature restaurant, an expertly appointed practice facility and dramatic architecture.

Stay and Play at The Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort in Solvang
The Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort features ancient oaks, manicured fairways and greens, and panoramic views of the Santa Ynez River and nearby Santa Ynez Mountains. Designed by legendary Billy Bell, Jr., the two 18-hole championship courses are open year-round. The challenging 6,550-yard, par-72 Ranch Course is exclusively for guests and club members. The Alisal River Golf Course is a 6,800-yard, par-72 course located along the Santa Ynez River, with mountain views in the distance. The River Course is available for the public to enjoy and is ideal for beginners, as well as families.

Rancho Bernardo Inn in Secluded North County
Rancho Bernardo Inn's challenging and beautifully maintained 18-hole championship golf course rolls right up to the Inn’s award-winning pro shop and allows guests to take advantage of guaranteed tee times and professional tournament management. JC Golf has invested over $4.5 million in new green complexes, reconstruction of course bunkers and more. Players can enjoy these amenities in addition to New Club Car golf carts with GPS technology.


LAID-BACK AND FAMILY FRIENDLY

Golfing in Concord

Diablo Creek Golf Course is a spectacular course offering lush, manicured greens along a public 18-hole course. A video tour of all 18-holes along with tips to play each hole is on the course’s website. Diablo Creek also features Legends Sports Bar and Grill. Buchanan Fields Golf Club is the course for golfers seeking a quicker game. The shorter 9-hole layout offers three sets of tee boxes for a fun-for-all-levels golfing experience. An NCGA member club, the course encourages men and women golfers of all skill levels, along with discounts on merchandise and green fees.

Casual Golf at Adams Springs Golf Course
At 3,000 feet in elevation, Adam Springs Golf Course offers a relaxing game in the heart of the Mayacamas Mountains. Here, golfing is all about having fun and leaving the scorecard behind. Located only two and a half hours away from Sacramento and the Bay Area, at Adam Springs golfers probably see more wild turkeys and deer on the green than people. The newly rebuilt lodge takes pride in its hospitality, offering fresh local food and beverages.

Canyon Lakes Golf Course & Brewery
Canyon Lakes Golf Course & Brewery is East Bay's luxurious public golf course, overlooking San Ramon Valley. The course has a full-service kitchen, and a microbrewery featuring award-winning beers. Beyond golf, family friendly options include bocce ball (courts may be reserved), corn hole and ladder ball. The 18-hole golf course, designed by Ted Robinson, provides a demanding yet enjoyable course; golfers can walk midday and after twilight on weekdays, or enjoy the brand new fleet of electric carts.

Journey at Pechanga in Temecula Valley
Journey at Pechanga offers a unique and challenging golfing experience in Temecula Valley. The course’s tee box and a green are intersected by a giant lake, and the babbling brook washes wayward balls downstream. On a clear day, players can see out to the next county from the 300-foot drop down to the green. Pechanga’s course also features Native American artifacts, and lessons for kids.

Goat Hill Park Oceanside
Set among the hills with ocean views, Golf Channel has named Oceanside’s laid-back Goat Hill Park one of the top five short courses in the country. There’s no dress code, music is often playing around the clubhouse and the course is dog friendly. With rates starting at $35, the course is accessible to all golfers. Goat Hill Park is also home to a championship disc golf course; three-hole kids course called the Playground where kids and parents can play for free; and the North County Junior Golf Association, geared to making golf fun, affordable and educational for children.

Note: As communities re-open after COVID-19-related closures, some parks, businesses and attractions may still be closed or have new protocols in place. Please verify local guidelines and regulations for all destinations and hours and availability of individual businesses before publishing. Check out Visit California’s Responsible Travel Hub for guidance on how visitors can travel within California safely.

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