Best Golf Courses in the US

Types of Golf fields

For the architect, designing a golf course is a form of art. Golf courses often imitate natural settings and the way architect uses and reshapes terrain determines the landscape category of the course. In the US most top-tier golf courses fall into three main categories: Links, Parkland, and Dessert.

  • Links – Link courses, just as the golf itself, originate from Scotland. These courses imitate narrow sections of sandy land often found between coast and farmland. Link courses picture natural landscape along the Scottish coasts, lots of land slopes and turns with natural roll on the fairways. Wind can also be a big factor on link courses.
  • Parkland – Parkland golf courses are carefully landscaped and have plenty of green grass and trees. The land is precisely tailored with smooth fairways. Parkland golf courses are mostly found inland, away from the shores. This is the most common type of golf field in the US.
  • Dessert – Dessert golf courses incorporate natural sand dunes and other characteristic features of dry terrain. These types of fields are mostly found in parts of the US with a dry, desert climate.
  • Stadium/Championship – Stadium/Championship golf courses are made with the main purpose of hosting golf tournaments and championships. They are usually fairly long 18-hole fields with higher than average difficulty. Championship golf courses are designed in a way that allows easy movement and flow of the audience with lots of vantage points.
  • Snow/ice Courses – Snow golf courses are very similar to the other main field types with one main exception – they are covered in snow and ice. The greens are called the whites, carefully maintained to allow smooth play. Equipment is exactly the same with exception of golf balls – they are brightly colored to aid visibility.
  • Ocean Course – These golf courses are sitting right on the ocean coasts and provide magnificent views. Winds that blow from the open water are a major factor in the game on this type of field.

Golf Courses Access Types

Each golf course has its own rules about access and tee times. Depending on golf course ownership they can be public, private, or have mixed rules and membership privileges.

  • Municipal Course – Municipal golf courses are owned by either a city or some other municipality. These golf courses are generally the cheapest, with a pay-as-you-go system, but fees may differ for residents and visitors.
  • Daily-fee Course – Just like municipal courses, daily-fee golf courses are open to the public. The only difference is that they are operated and maintained by private owners.
  • Semi-private Course – On semi-private golf courses you can play and pay as you go, or you can purchase a membership. Players with golf course membership have preferential treatment and have unlimited access to the tee times.
  • Private Course – Private golf courses are owned by golf and country clubs. To be able to play on these courses you have to be a member of the club and pay initiation and annual fees. Members of the golf club have unlimited access to the club’s facilities.

Golf Course Size Types

Most golf courses come in standard 18-hole size but it is not uncommon to see other lengths and variations. Standard 18-hole courses are often called “regulation” courses while shorter ones are known as “executive” courses.

  • 18-hole course – A standard golf course size. The 18-hole golf courses come with a mix of par-3, par-4, and par-5 holes with a total par between 68 and 72.
  • 9-hole course – The 9-hole golf courses are half the size of regular golf courses and are often called “executive courses”. They come in the usual mix of par-3, par-4, and par-5 holes with a total par between 34 and 36.
  • Par-3 course – Par-3 golf courses can be 18-hole or 9-hole courses with a par 3 rating between each hole with a usual distance of 240 yards for men’s tees. For an 18-hole course, the total par would be 54 instead of the usual 68-72.
  • Pitch and Putt – Pitch and Putt golf courses are an amateur version of the golf field, with a 100-yard maximum distance between holes. Players can use only 3 clubs, and one of them has to be a putter.
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