BEST GOLF COURSES IN CALIFORNIA
If you follow golf consistently, you’re probably already aware that some of the best golf courses in the world are located in California. Golf courses like Cypress Point, Pebble Beach, and Riviera are iconic golf courses that have hosted numerous PGA Tournaments.
Today we will review the best public golf courses in California and the best private golf clubs in California to give you a taste of both. If you’re looking to vacation in Cali and play some golf, let this review be your guide! Please share it!
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CYPRESS POINT GOLF CLUB
Cypress Point is Alister Mackenzie’s masterpiece woven through cypress, sand dunes and jagged coastline. In the early 2000’s, member Sandy Tatum, the former USGA president who christened Cypress Point as the Sistine Chapel of golf, convinced the club not to combat technology by adding new back tees, but instead make a statement by celebrating its original architecture. The course is a 6,542-yard, par 72 beauty.
Cypress remains timeless, although short by today’s standard. Its charm is helped in part by superintendent Jeff Markow, who re-established Mackenzie’s unique bunkering with the help of old photographs. “These are sacred grounds; a historic and remarkably amazing golf treasure.”
PEBBLE BEACH GOLF LINKS
Pebble Beach is not just the greatest meeting of land and sea in American golf, but the most extensive one too. Nine holes are placed immediately above the Pacific surf, including the 4th through 10th, plus the 17th and 18th. Pebble Beach is a 6,828-yard, par 72 trophy on any day.
Pebble’s 6th through 8th are golf’s real Amen Corner, with a few Hail Mary’s thrown in over a ocean cove on the 8th from atop a 75-foot-high bluff. Pebble will host another U.S. Amateur in 2018, and its sixth U.S. Open in 2019. Recent improvements include the redesign of the once-treacherous 14th green and a reshaping of the par-3 17th green.
SPYGLASS HILL GOLF COURSE
Having the task of designing a course only 17 miles from Pebble Beach and Cypress Point, Robert Trent Jones responded with a combination of Pine Valley and Augusta National. And he really got it right; a 6,960-yard, par 72 gem.
The five opening holes, with Pine Valley similar sand dunes, are an all-too-brief encounter with the beautiful Pacific seacoast. The remaining holes are a stiff hike through hills covered with majestic Monterey pines.
Add several water hazards that hearken back to the 16th at Augusta (a hole which Trent Jones designed), and you have what some panelists consider to be Trent’s finest work.
Others say it’s the best course never to have hosted a major event. After all, even Pine Valley and Cypress Point have hosted Walker Cups.
MONTEREY PENINSULA COUNTRY CLUB
Course designer Mike Strantz was battling cancer while transforming the bland, low-budget Shore Course into a scenic and strategic marvel that rivals next-door neighbor Cypress Point. The outcome; Monterey Peninsula Country Club’s course.
Strantz reversed direction of the 5th through 15th holes to provide a Pacific Ocean backdrop to most of them. He weaved fairways among trees, so players could “dance among the cypress,” and added native grasses for an amazing coastal prairie look.
The stunning landscape would be Mike Strantz’s last work of art. He passed away six months after completing the redesign. Former PGA Tour player Forrest Fezler, who was Strantz’s associate on the project, now serves as the club’s consulting architect in order to retain the Mike Strantz’ vision. Monterey plays as a 6,873-yard par 72 golfing treasure.
MAYACAMA GOLF CLUB
Mayacama is a bold, 2001 Jack Nicklaus design that explores every facet of the oak-dotted hillsides above Santa Rosa, Mayacama slipped off America’s 100 Greatest in 2015, to No. 101, and returned to the list this year, despite having lost its putting surface turf in early 2016
The greens, rebuilt and reseeded, are fine now, and the course has never looked better. Watersheds and gulches figure prominently in the layout, which has some intensely elevated tees and four stunning, gambling par 5’s to give your best game.
The mountainous terrain is awesome, and also provides you with a good cardio workout for 18 holes. Mayacama plays at 6,785 yards, with a par 72.
LAQUINTA RESORT AND CLUB
Laquinta is located in the exclusive Palm Springs region and calls out golfers with its scenic desert setting and elegant amenities. Situated at the foot of the impressive Santa Rosa Mountains, the golf course is known for its tranquility just as the resort is regarded as a first-rate getaway.
La Quinta was rated the top golf resort in North America by the International Association of Golf Tour Operators. Designed by Pete Dye, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Greg Norman, the pristine natural scenery is what makes this course revered by all who visit. This must really be some club to experience with the above-mentioned golf legends in the design casting.
There are 5 courses at the resort, so everyone should find something they enjoy. Laquinta allows booking tee-times a year in advance. The resort also provides complimentary shuttle service, free driving range balls and will store your clubs if your vacation takes you elsewhere for a few days.
PASATIEMPO GOLF CLUB
Pasatiempo was designed by Alister MacKenzie. It’s been open since 1929, with the first group to play through including Marion Hollins, Bobby Jones, Glenna Collett and Cyril Tolley.
The club is a convenient drive from four local airports (Monterey, San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose). The course is less than an hour’s drive from Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill golf courses, making this region the perfect destination to access Golf Digest’s top 3 courses you can play in California. Registering as a 6,700-yard par 70, you’re sure to enjoy a round or two here.
Pasatiempo’s outstanding facilities include a fully stocked Golf shop, driving range, chipping green, putting green, the MacKenzie Bar & Grill and the famous Hollins House Restaurant and special event venue.
The golf history at Riviera is exemplary. The L.A. Open has been there for a
long time and the club has hosted a couple of major championships. A lot of great players, notably Hogan, have become big fans of the course, and that adds a certain mystique to the place.
The setting at Riviera is grand. From the Spanish-style clubhouse above the canyon, you can look down on the entire course and get a great feel for the layout. It really sets the tone for your up-coming round. You’ll enjoy yourself here on the 7,102-yard, par 72 course.
There are other things that make Riviera special. The eucalyptus trees give off a wonderful, sweet smell; they also figure into the strategy on several of the holes. The greens are fairly small for a course this long, so you don’t want to miss them in the wrong place.
SANTA LUCIA PRESERVE
Santa Lucia was designed by Tom Fazio, Mike Poellet and Sandy Tatum. The course allows you to play challenging golf on a walk through the full gauntlet of nature at The Preserve.
The course layout resembles a trail walk, reflecting many aspects of The Preserve’s beautiful natural landscape and breathtaking views.
Throughout 365 acres the course wanders by towering oaks, through rolling savannahs, around wetlands and across seasonal streams framed by the majestic Santa Lucia mountain range. You can rarely see the next hole, let alone other golfers.
Starting times are not required; caddies are also available. The greens are A-4 Bent Grass, while the tees and fairways are Colonial Bent Grass and Rye Grass. Santa Lucia is a 7,138-yard course at par 72.
TRUMP NATIONAL GOLF CLUB LOS ANGELES
Trump National has been labeled by some as the most spectacular golf course in America. The club is a real jewel for California’s public courses.
Trump National Golf Club is perched high on the jagged California cliffs just 30 minutes South of LAX. This course features the most beautiful views in the world from every hole. Noted as the one of the most expensive golf courses ever built, over $250 million dollars has been spent to ensure its prominence.
Gleaming white sand lines the walls of the massive bunkers, expansive lakes and magnificent ocean views adorn Trump National. This Pete Dye designed course has been greatly enhanced, tempting golfers to take risks and rewards with well-placed shots. The layout challenges experienced golfers and beginners to the best of their abilities. Trump National is a par 72, 7,242-yard course.
Trump National truly stands as a testament to the greatness of golf. You can book tee times on-line. Who knows; you may even see a United States President there!!
TORREY PINES (SOUTH) LA JOLLA
Torrey Pines was designed by legendary course architect William P. Bell and completed by his son, William F. Bell. The Pines opened in 1957. It offers two 18-hole Championship courses – the North and South courses. Our review today is for the south course.
This course is designed with tight fairways, lush rough, plenty of bunkers and exceptional length that will test players of all skill levels, including the best players in the world.
In 2001 celebrated golf course designer, Rees Jones was given the task of remodeling the South Course, a task that has been met with almost universal praise. Now as an impressive 7,607-yard par 72, the Torrey Pines South Course has been selected to host the 2021 United States Open Championship.
Torrey Pines is a municipal course, owned and maintained by the City of San Diego. In addition to the North and South courses, facilities also include a driving range, practice putting greens, food and beverage carts and a nice restaurant.
COYOTE MOON GOLF COURSE
The Coyote Moon Golf Course is one of the finest mountain golf experiences in the country. Residing in the beautiful Lake Tahoe area, Coyote Moon sits on 250 acres of secluded rolling hills among towering pines, enormous granite outcroppings, wildflowers and the beautiful Trout Creek. Without a single hole to spoil the view, playing Coyote Moon offers an experience seldom found in golf today.
The course is a challenging but fair test of Lake Tahoe golf. All golfers will be tested, yet all will enjoy their round. Most tee shots offer ample landing areas as there are only a few forced carries. From the landing areas, most holes funnel down to medium-sized, undulating greens that are well protected by trees, sand and water.
The golf course was designed by Brad Bell, a former PGA Tour player, well known for creating highly praised golf courses around the central valley. Coyote Moon plays as a 7,177-yard par 72.
Coyote Moon is located in the historic town of Truckee, California just minutes away from the shores of Lake Tahoe including Tahoe City, Squaw Valley and Incline Village. It is easily accessed from both Sacramento and Reno and is about an hour drive from South Lake Tahoe. Enjoy Lake Tahoe and Truckee Golf at its best!
THE MADERAS GOLF CLUB
The Maderas Golf Club in San Diego is a Johnny Miller masterpiece. The top-rated Golf Course in San Diego County offers beauty and challenge as it winds through the cliffs, rock outcroppings, creeks, and forests of the inland hill country of north San Diego.
Golf in San Diego has never been better. Maderas is home to some remarkable golf. Step onto the first tee and enjoy the course’s three lakes, waterfalls, and over forty acres of native plants and habitat. Maderas Golf Club is the number one golf course in San Diego for a reason. The 7,167-yard, par 72 awaits you; come give it a try for yourself.
As San Diego’s top-rated golf course, Maderas is quietly tucked away among the rolling hills of north San Diego, just minutes from downtown. Designed by Johnny Miller and Robert Muir Graves, Maderas offers a unique combination of golf course strategy and design mastery, while taking the concept of upscale golf in San Diego to exhilarating levels. On top of all that, the Maderas Golf Shop was recently voted the Best of the Best of all retail golf outlets in the U.S.
Our review today concludes with all the courses grouped as private or public. These are listed in no particular order; they’re all super courses.
TOP PRIVATE COURSES
- CYPRESS POINT CLUB
- MAYACAMA GOLF CLUB
- MONTEREY PENINSULA COUNTRY CLUB
- THE RIVIERA
TOP PUBLIC COURSES
- PEBBLE BEACH GOLF LINKS
- TRUMP NATIONAL GOLF COURSE LA
- THE MADERAS GOLF CLUB
- TORREY PINES (SOUTH) LA JOLLA
- LAQUINTA RESORT AND CLUB
- SPYGLASS HILL GOLF COURSE
- PASATIEMPO GOLF CLUB
- SANTA LUCIA PRESERVE
- COYOTE MOON GOLF COURSE
Golf Practice Drills & Plan to Follow
Before you go, make sure to check out these golf practice plans! Each has proven drills to help you improving your scoring and build a strong short game!
- The Short Game Practice Plan with 10 Levels
- How to Break 70 Golf Training Plan
- How to Break 80 Golf Training Plan
- How to Break 90 Golf Training Plan
- The Bundle: Access to All 3 Training Plans
- 21 Day Indoor Golf Training Plan
- How to Coach High School Golf eBook
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