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The Best Golf Courses in California
Health & Fitness

The Best Golf Courses in California

Coastal, desert, mountain; no matter what setting you end up choosing, you’ll have plenty of options to let it fly at the best golf courses.

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7 min read

June 08, 2021

What better place to view the lushest fairways and most spectacular coastal panoramas than at the best golf courses in California? As the centerpiece of the game, these verdant landscapes are typically carved through thick forests overlooking the ocean—and the masterminds behind these courses craft them for a reason. Since the game requires a lot of concentration, the courses are designed to make your golfing experience as majestic as possible. And the result? Acres of natural beauty creating a calming environment to keep your head in the game.

The likes of Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill, and Torrey Pines immediately come to mind when talking about California's best golf courses.

The State’s Best Golf Courses

When searching for places to take a swing, you’ll come to realize that many of the best golf courses in the world are located in California. And that comes as no surprise—the Golden State reigns supreme with more than 900 courses. Coastal, desert, mountain, forest; no matter what setting you end up choosing, you’ll have plenty of options to tee it up and let it fly at the best golf courses. Now that we’ve established that California is the best state for golf, are you ready to get down and hit the ‘fore’?

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Best Golf Courses in Southern California

Indian Canyons Golf Resort is a 36-hole facility and has been the jewel of Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley since 1961.

The Best Golf Courses in Palm Springs

Indian Canyons Golf Resort 

Location: 1097 East Murray Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

Are you really shocked that some of the best golf courses in Southern California are located in Palm Springs? If you’re looking for the right ‘course’ material, you’ll find exactly what you need at Indian Canyons Golf Resort. This 36-hole gem consists of the North and South Courses, designed by William F. Bell and remodeled by Casey O'Callahan. Celebrities like Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, and former U.S. presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Ronald Reagan have walked on the 550-acre grounds. Feel like a million bucks and give it your best shot at this world-famous golf course

If you like golf, savory dishes, stunning architecture, and jaw-dropping views, you'll love Escena Golf Club. Photo courtesy of Escena Golf Club.

Escena Golf Club

Location: 1100 Clubhouse View Drive, Palm Springs

Also one of the best golf courses in Palm Springs, Escena Golf Club shows you how it's meant to be done. Stunning architecture and jaw-dropping views guarantee you a tee-rrific time practicing your skills. Douglas Fredrickson designed the 18-hole facility with two putting greens, a chipping green, warm-up range, and event space. This top golf course is characterized by strategic design elements and native landscape accents. Take a swing at one of the best public golf courses and marvel at the San Jacinto and Santa Rosa Mountains in the background. 

The Best Golf Courses in Palm Desert

Desert Willow is unlike any other SoCal course, offering two of the best plays in the area. Photo courtesy of Desert Willow Golf Resort.

Desert Willow Golf Resort

Location: 38-995 Desert Willow Dr, Palm Desert

Ever wanted to experience the un-fore-gettable? Desert Willow Golf Resort offers a unique SoCal golf vacation. Designers Dana Fry and Michael Hurdzan created one of the best golf courses in Palm Desert, and their efforts resulted in two of the best plays in Coachella Valley. Desert Willow features two courses—Firecliff and Mountain View. Beginners enjoy a smooth and relaxing round on the Mountain View Course, while professionals test their skills against natural hazards and water features on the challenging Firecliff Course. Got what it takes to par-tee? Head down to the best golf resort in the state and show off your skills. 

Palm Desert Resort Country Club

Location: 77333 Country Club Drive, Palm Desert

The magnificent Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains serve as your backdrop at the Palm Desert Resort Country Club. This 6,600-yard, par-72 championship golf course features lush landscaping, spacious fairways, and enlarged greens—every game played here is both fun and challenging. A grass tee driving range, practice bunker, large putting green, and instruction from PGA professionals are also available at this top California golf course. Schedule a tee time and show your friends how you putt. 

The Best Golf Courses in Los Angeles

Rancho Park Golf Course is a par-71 course in the Cheviot Hills neighborhood. It was designed by William P. Bell & William H. Johnson in 1947.

Rancho Park Golf Course

Location: 10460 West Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles

To tee or not to tee? That is the question. At Rancho Park Golf Course, it’s always tee time. This top golf course in Los Angeles is an 18-hole, par-71 championship course playing at 6,839 yards. Designed by William Johnson and William P. Bell, Rancho Park has hosted the Los Angeles Open on the PGA Tour 17 times, as well as holding LPGA and Senior PGA tour events. While beginners are welcome to take lessons and work on their swing, Rancho Park is a challenging course that requires a great deal of skill. Once you’ve mastered the game, play a few rounds at one of the best public golf courses in Southern California

The Riviera Country Club has been the primary host for the Genesis Invitational, an annual event on the PGA Tour taking place every February.

Riviera Country Club

Location: 1250 Capri Drive, Pacific Palisades

Drive 20 minutes east of Downtown L.A. and you’ll arrive at the Riviera Country Club. Established in 1926, the private country club was designed by architects George C. Thomas Jr. and William P. Bell. As one of the best golf courses in Los Angeles, Riviera boasts 18 total holes with a length of 7,013 yards. Some of the most prestigious tournaments have taken place right here, including the Genesis Open, US Open, PGA Championship, US Amateur, and more. The upcoming 2028 Olympic games in L.A. are also planning to use the Riviera Country Club as the golf site. Legendary golfer Ben Hogan once said he’ll always remember Riviera not only for the quality of the course, but for the whole club and the membership.

The Best Golf Courses in Sacramento

Just 10 miles from Downtown Sacramento, you'll come across one of the coolest places to take a swing. Photo courtesy of Cordova Golf Course.

Cordova Golf Course

Location: 9425 Jackson Road, Sacramento

Looking for the best golf courses in Sacramento? Cordova Golf Course belongs at the top of your list. This 18-hole full-service facility offers affordable rates and guarantees a good time with the family. Three sets of tees are available to test all skill levels, including juniors. Cordova’s driving range provides both grass tees and mat hitting surfaces—there’s also a separate instruction area for lessons. Welcoming players, clubs, and tournaments for all ages, Cordova Golf Course is by ‘par’ the best in Sacramento.

Best Golf Courses in Northern California

Found on the famed 17 Mile Drive, the Links at Spanish Bay is a golf course famous for its spectacular coastal views.

The Links at Spanish Bay

Location: 2700 17 Mile Drive, Pebble Beach

One of the most incredible things to do in Monterey is cruising on the scenic 17-Mile Drive—and what is a Central Coast getaway without stopping by the Links at Spanish Bay? Consistently ranked among the best public golf courses in California, this Pebble Beach showstopper was designed by architect Robert Trent Jones, Jr. The Links at Spanish Bay offer unique accents, with rolling fairways found all throughout the picturesque dunescape. Monterey pines observe your progress as you try your hand at the game. Whether or not golf is your cup of ‘tee’, there’s no denying that the Links at Spanish Bay is one of the most beautiful golf courses in the state. 

Black Oak Golf Course

Location: 2455 Black Oak Road, Auburn

Black Oak may not be one of the most famous golf courses in the world, but it’s certainly one of the most beautiful. Architect John Walker designed the par-36 course with manicured fairways and nine holes stretching over 3,157 yards of lush greenery. Pro golfers know the signature hole at Black Oak is the scenic 131 yard par-3 fourth hole over water. The best part about this golf course is that it’s right between Lake Tahoe and the Bay Area. So, next time you’re planning a weekend getaway, make sure to stop by for a round of golf.

Incredible Golf Courses in the Bay Area

This Half Moon Bay course features 36 holes and is located just 30 minutes from San Francisco. Photo courtesy of Half Moon Bay Golf Links.

Half Moon Bay Golf Links

Location: 2 Miramontes Point Road, Half Moon Bay

Arguably one of the most famous golf courses in California, Half Moon Bay Golf Links offers two 18-hole courses with unmatched coastal views. The Old Course was designed by Arnold Palmer and Francis Duane in American parkland style—the course has hosted several U.S. Open Qualifiers. On the other hand, the Ocean Course was designed in traditional Scottish links-style by renowned golf architect Arthur Hills. Challenge yourself on either of the courses and let NorCal’s dramatic coastal bluffs take your breath away. 

Monarch Bay Golf Club

Location: 13800 Monarch Bay Drive, San Leandro

Golf courses in the Bay Area don’t get better than the Monarch Bay Golf Club in Alameda County. The par-71 championship, John Harbottle design offers excellent course conditions that stretches 7,015 yards. Monarch Bay features challenging yet memorable 18-hole links for pros and the nine-hole executive Marina Course for novices. With six distinct tees and first-class facilities, you’ll have a great time swinging the club at one of the best golf courses in Northern California.

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