Top 10 Golf Courses of 2022 in the U.S.
Across the country, there are over 15,500 golf courses, but the number is always changing due to renovations, closings, and the emergence of new ones. The state with the largest number of golf courses is Florida, followed by California and Texas. If you have been playing this stimulating game, whether you are a beginner or a professional, you may wonder what the elements that make a golf course good are.
Perhaps the most important factors when it comes to what makes a golf course rank high in a top list are the location of tees, the green sizes, the depth of bunkers, the turf types, and the water hazards. Furthermore, the general atmosphere you can sense while playing is also important, as some golf courses can make players feel the dread of a hazard without understanding why.
Another factor contributing to the quality of a golf course is how challenging it is, as it should ideally be reasonably challenging. If it is too challenging, you might lose interest and become frustrated, whereas if it is too simple, you might not feel like playing a real, complex game designed to put your golf skills to the test. Consequently, there should be a balance between difficulty and playability to motivate players.
Depending on these factors and even more, there is a top list of the best 100 golf courses in the country experts compile every year. First established in 1966, the biennial ranking of America's 100 Greatest Golf Courses provides you with the information you need about each golf course on the list. However, you should keep in mind that a lot of these golf courses are private and for VIP players only. The following are the top 10 golf courses of 2021 and 2022 from the Golf Digest list.
1. Pine Valley Golf Course, New Jersey
This golf course was designed in 1918 by George Crump and H.S. Colt, and it has been on the top 100 golf courses in the country for multiple years. It is a private club, which means that people who are not members can play only if they are invited, as well as accompanied by a member. In 1936 and 1985, the Walker Cup took place on Pine Valley Golf Course.
The slope of this golf course is 155, the rating 72.8, the yardage 6,532, and the par 70. Pine Valley Golf Club is a distinctly exclusive club. You can obtain a membership by invitation only from the board of directors. On April 30, 2021, the club voted to remove all gender-restricted language from its bylaws. Before this, women were only allowed to play the course on Sunday afternoons.
2. Augusta National Golf Course, Georgia
One of the most interesting things about Augusta National Golf Course is that, unlike most private clubs, which operate as non-profits, it is a for-profit corporation, and it never discloses its income, holdings, membership list, or ticket sales. The golf course was founded by Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts and priorly designed by Jones and Alister MacKenzie. Augusta National Golf Course opened for play in 1932.
Ever since 1934, the golf club has been hosting the annual Masters Tournament, one of the 4 men's major championships in professional golf and the only major played every year at the same course. In 2019, it began co-hosting the Augusta National Women's Amateur with Champions Retreat Golf Club. Augusta National Golf Club is renowned for its well-maintained, impeccable appearance – pine needles are imported, bird sounds are played on inconspicuous speakers, and even the ponds were once dyed blue.
3. Cypress Point Club, California
As a private golf club on the West Coast, along the Central Coast of California, this golf club is renowned for a series of dramatic holes along the Pacific Ocean deemed some of the best in golf. Cypress Point Club opened 94 years ago, in 1928, and was created by the well-known designer Alister MacKenzie.
The golf course offers natural beauty that is unmatched anywhere. The approach to MacKenzie's achievement is that he did not overpower the natural terrain, allowing the course to take shape organically. Cypress Point Club was once a co-host for the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, priorly known as The Bing Crosby Tournament, last taking place there in 1991. The golf course also hosted the only Walker Cup on California soil in 1981.
4. Shinnecock Hills Golf Course, New York
This golf course is located in one of the unincorporated areas of the Town of Southampton on Long Island, New York, between the Peconic Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Shinnecock Hills Golf Course is believed to be the oldest incorporated golf club in the country (1891), the oldest golf club in America (1892), and the first golf club in the country to allow women members, which it did from the beginning.
Shinnecock Hills Golf Course has hosted multiple important events, more specifically five U.S. Opens, the most recent being in 2018, which was won by Brooks Koepka. It is scheduled to host a sixth in 2026. The golf course became part of the National Register of Historic Places in 2000. Unsurprisingly, it is routinely ranked as one of the greatest golf courses in America and in the world.
5. Oakmont Country Club, Pennsylvania
Located mostly in Plum with just a very tiny portion of the property in Oakmont, the suburbs of Pittsburgh in western Pennsylvania, Oakmont Country Club was founded in 1903. It was deemed a National Historic Landmark in 1987. The course is noted for its slope, in particular on holes 1, 3, 10, and 12, with the greens pitch away from the fairway.
One of the most famous hazards of Oakmont Country Club is the Church Pews bunker that appears on the 3rd and 4th holes. It measures roughly 100 by 40 yards and features twelve grass-covered traversing ridges that resemble church pews. For numerous years, the golf course bunkers were groomed with a rake with wider than normal tines, creating deep furrows. The rakes were last used in U.S. Open competition in 1962 and eliminated from the club in 1964.
6. Merion Golf Club, Pennsylvania
Merion Golf Club is a highly exclusivist golf club situated in Haverford Township, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, a township that borders Philadelphia to the northwest along the historical Main Line. The golf club has two courses – the East Course and the West Course. On the East Course, the pins are topped with wicker baskets instead of the usual flags present on the West Course.
The switch to wicker baskets occurred when Hugh Wilson, a 32-year-old Princeton University graduate and member of the club, was asked by the higher-ups to improve the course. As the story goes, when he was in England studying their golf courses, he saw local sheepherders and their flocks. These shepherds held staffs that they used for herding and the staffs all had wicker baskets at the top. In those baskets, they kept their lunch so that no animals could get it.
7. National Golf Links of America, New York
This prestigious links-style golf course is located in Southampton, New York, on Long Island between Shinnecock Hills Golf Club and Peconic Bay. National Golf Links of America is renowned for hosting the initial Walker Cup in 1922, in which the U.S. won 8 and 4, but it has never hosted a major men's championship. The private club is also known as "America's snootiest golf course" due to its exclusive nature.
National Golf Links of America covers over 250 acres. The course is a par 72 and covers 6,873 yards from the back tees. Plenty of holes were patterned from famous golf courses in the British Isles and adapted to fit the local setting. All the holes have names, such as Sahara, Redan, Bottle, and Eden. The 14th hole was named "Cape" because the green was located on a small peninsula that jutted into a bay.
8. Pebble Beach Golf Links, California
As a public golf course, Pebble Beach Golf Links is located on the West Coast in Pebble Beach, California. Often viewed as one of the most exquisite golf courses globally, it hugs the rugged coastline and has wide-open views of Carmel Bay, opening to the Pacific Ocean on the south side of the Monterey Peninsula. The PGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions play yearly events at Pebble Beach, AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and the First Tee Open.
Four of the courses in the community of Pebble Beach, including Pebble Beach Golf Links, belong to the Pebble Beach Company, which also operates 3 hotels and a spa at the resort. The other courses are The Links at Spanish Bay, Spyglass Hill Golf Course, and Del Monte Golf Course. If you wish to play on this delightful, otherworldly golf course, we have several offers for you that you can choose from depending on your preferences and budget.
9. Fishers Island Club, New York
Established in 1926, this golf club is a country club situated near the eastern end of Fishers Island in New York. Fishers Island Club is often called the "Cypress Point of the East" and is also referred to as "The Big Club" to differentiate it from the Hay Harbor Club, another country club on the western part of the island. Most holes have water views of Block Island Sound or Fishers Island Sound.
The facilities of Fishers Island Club also include 5 tennis courts, a beach club with a full snack bar, an ocean beachfront for member use, and the main clubhouse with 2 dining rooms. Fisher Island Club measures 6,566 yards from the tips, so the length is not the issue – the essential thing is to keep the ball in the play. The golf course might seem brutal, and the bunkering is profound and often penal. If you wish to play golf at Fishers Island Club, you will have to befriend a member, as it is a private golf club.
10. Sand Hills Golf Club, Nebraska
Notable for the remote location and minimalist design among the sandhills of Nebraska, this golf course is often ranked among the top golf courses in the world. The golf course is open between Memorial Day and Labor Day, and playing is limited to 50 rounds a day. If you are unaccompanied, you can only visit Sand Hills Golf Club once without a member.
Ranking among the most exclusive, private courses in the country, the golf club has fewer than 200 members from across the country, with almost none residing in Mullen, Nebraska. Most members fly into Denver, Omaha, or nearby North Platte when they want to play at the golf course and use one of the accommodations that can host about 55 people.
While you may understandably be discouraged to see that most of these golf courses and clubs are private and allow only members, if you have been playing for a while and if you make sure to visit as many golf destinations as possible, chances are you will meet a member who can facilitate your access to one of these exclusivist golf clubs. It is very important to be open to communication, as you never know whom you share a regular golf course with!