Diversity could be California golf's middle name. No other state boasts courses with such wide-spread terrain. From beach to valley to mountains, the Golden state has it all.
1. Cypress Point
Exclusive? You bet. So much so, it is rumored that John F Kennedy was once denied entry to the club's restaurant. But few courses are as revered as Cypress Point. Created by well-known designer Alister Mackenzie and opened in 1928, Cypress Point is consistently rated by all major publications as one of the top three golf courses ever created.
2. Pebble Beach
Cypress Point's less pretentious sister course. Pebble Beach is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful courses in the world. In laying out the course, Jack Neville attempted to bring as many holes to the rocky coastline as possible. The first two holes are inland, the third runs toward the ocean, and the fourth and fifth holes run along the coast. This arrangement allowed Neville to make use of a peninsula which juts straight out into the Pacific Ocean.
3. Yocha Dehe Golf Club
Yocha Dehe Golf Club which means "home by the spring water" in the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation's native language. One of Northern California's true hidden gems, the course is set in the rolling hills of Capay Valley - midway between Sacramento and San Francisco. A few of the golf holes are bordered by vineyards. The course is so well designed it doesn't just have one signature hole, but several.
Cost: $45 - $126
4. Rams Hill
Renowned designer Tom Fazio created an exceptional golf course, truly a masterpiece on a remote Southern California mountain hillside overlooking the desert floor and nestled in the center of the immense Anza Borrego State Park. Blessed with great Terroir, the French word for "exceptional earth," Fazio used the natural elevation changes to make each hole distinctly different: not too steep, and not too flat.
5. Los Angeles Country Club (North Course)
This club traces its roots to 1897. The true appeal of the North Course is the quality that ranks it among the nation's best is the land upon which it sits. This course will host the 123rd U.S. Open in 2023.
6. Maderas Golf Club
Rated one of America's top 100 Greatest public courses by Golf Digest, this Johnny Miller masterpiece offers beauty and challenge as it winds through the cliffs, rock outcroppings, creeks, and forests of the inland hill country of north San Diego.
Cost: $85 - $210
7. Torrey Pines
Torrey Pines bills itself as "the nation's foremost municipal golf course." Indeed, with the magnificent views of the Pacific, few courses can challenge Torrey Pines' majestic beauty. And the course, home to the 2008 U.S. Open, offers a myriad of challenges.
Cost: $61 (residents) - $183
It doesn't get much better than this Robert Trent Jones, Jr.-designed course. It is ranked No. 8 by Golf Magazine for Best Public Courses in the state. The downside? The course is open to resort guests only. It sits in a valley bordered by the Santa Cruz Mountains. The signature hole is the 450-yard, par 4, 17th.
9. TPC Harding Park Golf Course
Host of the 2009 President's Cup, TPC Harding Park is ranked 14th and 25th in California respectively on Golf Magazine's and Golfweek's 2012 Best Public Courses list. Ask anyone around San Fran about golf and they'll immediately focus on Harding Park's historic layout, now part of the TPC network. Towering Monterey Cypress trees frame the fairways. According to the club's web site, "the finishing stretch of holes, 14-18, plays along Lake Merced and offers some impressive views beyond the tree line." The signature hole is the 440-yard, par-4 18th.
Cost: $52 - $175
10. Eastlake Golf Club
Another Ted Robinson gem. This 18-hole, par 72 championship course includes 72 sand traps, four sets of tees, and colorful bluegrass and rye fairways. EastLake Country Club features almost 1,000 trees, six lakes and three waterfalls.
Cost: $69 - $89
11. Crosscreek Golf Club
This Arthur Hills-designed course provides plenty of challenges as well as majestic splendor. But don't let the serene atmosphere fool you, this course is not to be triffled with. It is as challenging as it is scenic. It is a rare gem tucked way, way off the beaten path, but well worth the trek.
Cost: $18 - $33
12. Saddle Creek
This gem, located in the Sierra foothills, was designed in 1996 by Carter Morrish. The resort features 18 scenic holes and is ranked 8th by Golf Week Magazine for Best Public Access Courses in California.
13. Lincoln Park Golf Course
You won't be disappointed with the views from this 1902-built course. Lincoln Park, once a cemetery, has had several major architects reshape its greens and fairways, including: Jack Neville of Pebble Beach fame, Herbert Fowler (Royal Lytham) and years later, Jack Fleming.
Cost: $16 - $44
14. Presidio Golf Course
One of the oldest golf courses on the west coast, Presidio Golf Course was first laid out in 1896. Formerly, the course served as a military/private course. And, over the years, it has played host to its share of VIPs, including several U.S. presidents. After the base was decommissioned in 1995, Presidio became part of the 77,000-acre Golden Gate Recreation Area. The course's storied history includes President Theodore Roosevelt reviewing the troops on the links in May 1903 and, just three years later, the course being used as a refugee camp for survivors of the 1906 earthquake. Presidio Golf Course has hosted some of the world's most famous golfers. Babe Ruth, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Charles Schulz, and Joe DiMaggio all have played here.
Cost: $49 - $145
15. Colina Park Golf Course
This 18-hole, par-3 golf course offers something for those of all ages. With a variance in elevated tee boxes and severe contours in the greens, the course plays more difficult than the yardage would appear.
Cost: $10 - $15