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The 11 Best Golf Courses in Northern California
Health & Fitness

The 11 Best Golf Courses in Northern California

The Golf Capital of the World may be in SoCal, but NorCal doesn’t shy away from having tee-rrific golf courses. Check out these courses now.

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6 min read

May 16, 2021

Lush fairways, year-round sun, and acres of beautiful pine—is there anything better than golfing in California? Dotted with 900-plus spectacular courses, the Golden State knows what every golfer wants. The Golf Capital of the World may be in SoCal, but Northern California doesn’t shy away from having tee-rrific golf courses. 

When you’re road tripping to your next NorCal vacation, the sheer amount of courses will put you in a daze. If you have trouble choosing, don’t worry—we’ve prepared a list of the very best golf courses in Northern California. Start perfecting that million-dollar swing and may the course be with you.

The Top Golf Courses in Northern California

Spyglass Hill Golf Course has been featured in the popular Tiger Woods PGA Tour series of video games. Photo courtesy of Channing Benjamin.

1. Spyglass Hill Golf Course

Location: 3206 Stevenson Drive, Pebble Beach

Spyglass Hill Golf Course is one of the top golf courses in California. Designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., this course is a part of the Pebble Beach Company. Here, golfers have the opportunity to take a swing at one of the toughest courses in the country while sweeping views of the ocean give way to Pebble Beach’s unmatched beauty. The 18-hole public golf course has a total par of 72. Most golfers take advantage of the four par-fives, two of which measure less than 520 yards. Whether you visit in the morning or afternoon, it’s always a beau-tee-ful day to play golf at Spyglass Hill.

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2. Bayonet and Black Horse 

Location: 1 McClure Way, Seaside

Looking for unique things to do in Monterey? Make your way to Seaside to check out the coolest golf course in the area. This unsung course in the Monterey Peninsula is perhaps the area’s toughest. Bayonet and Black Horse shines as one of the best golf courses in Northern California—the par-72 course has 36 holes and is un-fore-gettable in every way. With narrow, steep grounds, you can perfect your swing over 7,100 yards of cypress-lined fairways designed by General Robert McClure. Topped off by the views of Monterey Bay, this golf course is guaranteed to get you in the zone.

Five minutes from Truckee lies Old Greenwood, the only Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course, situated on 600 acres of forest and meadowland.

3. Old Greenwood Golf Course 

Location: 13051 Fairway Drive, Truckee

If you’ve been to Truckee, then you know the area is home to a fantastic golf course to practice your swing. The area’s finest—Old Greenwood Golf Course—is nestled among 600 acres of lush pine trees. This 18-hole, 7,518-yard course is a Jack Nicklaus signature, surrounded by mountainous vistas of North Lake Tahoe. Add this golf course to your bucket list and score an ace at the ample landing areas, where thick forests and water features enhance your experience.

TPC Harding Park is a municipal golf course in San Francisco that hosted the PGA Tour's Lucky International Open from 1961 to 1969.

4. TPC Harding Park

Location: 99 Harding Road, San Francisco

Just six and a half miles southwest of Downtown San Francisco, TPC Harding Park is where you’ll play the best golf in Northern California. Designed by Willie Watson and Sam Whiting, the municipal golf course is surrounded by the tranquility of Lake Merced. The par-72 course has 18 holes spanning 7,169 beautiful yards. Whether or not golfing is your cup of tee, you’re going to love visiting TPC Harding Park. 

The Best Public Golf Courses in Northern California 

Regarded as one of the most beautiful courses in the world, Pebble Beach Golf Links hugs the rugged coastline. Photo courtesy of Gray Malin.

5. Pebble Beach Golf Links 

Location: 1700 17 Mile Drive, Pebble Beach

Pebble Beach Golf Links is your ticket to sweeping vistas and undeniable luxury. Designed by Douglas Grant and Jack Neville, this golf course is by far the best in the region. The NorCal golf course has hosted five U.S. Opens, including the one where Tiger Woods tied the record for the lowest 72-hole score ever in the national championship. The 18-hole, par-72 Pebble Beach Golf Links is located on 7,075 yards. If you’re making a list of things to do in Monterey, include this stop on your 17-Mile Drive itinerary

Pasatiempo Golf Club is about an hour's drive from Cypress Point and was designed by famous Scottish architect Alister MacKenzie.

6. Pasatiempo Golf Club

Location: 20 Clubhouse Road, Santa Cruz

Torn on what to do in Santa Cruz? Swing it back at one of the best public golf courses in Northern California: Pasatiempo Golf Club. This golf course is complete with a driving range and a practice facility—individualized golf instruction included. Pasatiempo Golf Club even offers public access at designated tee times, so vacationers don't have to miss out. Try your luck at this 18-hole golf course and indulge your senses in the great outdoors; this Alister Mackenzie masterpiece is super worth it. 

7. The Links at Spanish Bay

Location: 2700 17 Mile Drive, Pebble Beach 

While it’s usually overshadowed by Pebble Beach and Spyglass, The Links at Spanish Bay boasts rolling fairways and serene vistas. Ranked among the best public courses in Northern California and beyond, this Central Coast attraction is yet another stop to add to your 17-Mile Drive road trip. The gorgeous dunescape is dotted with 18 holes—Monterey pines and white sand beaches create the ideal setting to golf along the wind-swept coast. Grab your club and get the par-tee started at The Links at Spanish Bay. 

Northern California’s Best Golf Resorts

Pristine playing surfaces, incredible hospitality, and excellent amenities make your golfing experience at Yocha Dehe Golf Club memorable.

8. Yocha Dehe Golf Club

Location: 14455 Highway 16, Brooks

Travel northwest of Sacramento to reach Yocha Dehe Golf Club, one of the best golf resorts in Northern California. The name of the golf club translates into “home by the spring water” in the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation’s native language. Unparalleled scenery, manicured greens, and pristine playing surfaces make this stunner the region’s leading golfing resort. Once you’re there, don’t forget to take advantage of the GPS-enabled golf carts and the other top-notch amenities that can make your experience one for the ages.

9. Quail Lodge and Golf Club

Location: 8205 Valley Greens Drive, Carmel-By-the-Sea

It’s always tee time at the Quail Lodge and Golf Club. Located in Carmel Valley, Quail Lodge and Golf Club boasts an award-winning 18 hole championship golf course that offers a sporty spin on the traditional Monterey getaway. The late Lawson Little III—winner of the 1940 U.S. Open—served as the president of the golf club for many years. Designed by Robert Muir Grave, this golf resort features pristine conditions and beautifully manicured greenery, so it's easy to enjoy the round of a lifetime. 

Nakoma Resorts' 18-hole championship course is one of the best in the Tahoe region, far away from the ski resorts and water-related activities.

10. Nakoma Resort 

Location: 348 Bear Run, Clio

Nakoma Resort is undoubtedly one of the best golf resorts in Northern California—and one of the toughest, too. Also known as the Dragon, the 18-hole championship course is considered one of America’s Top 75, according to Golf World. Robin Nelson is the mastermind behind this gorgeous golf course; he also designed the famous Dunes at Mauna Lani on the Big Island of Hawaii. Whether you’re taking a swing or admiring the Frank Lloyd Wright architecture, Nakoma Resort is here to remind you that it’s different up here in the Lost Sierra.

11. Whitehawk Ranch

Location: 985 Whitehawk Drive, Clio

Another wonderful destination for golfers is Whitehawk Ranch. Designed by Dick Bailey, this golf course just might be the best-kept secret in Plumas County. Pine-covered meadows with magnificent views dot the par 71 course. With outstanding practice facilities, this golf course features multi-level grass tees, putting green, and practice bunkers. Work on your swing and perfect your golfing skills—putter late than never!

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