7 Golf Courses In The USA You Have to Play Once In Your Life

7 Golf Courses In The USA You Have to Play Once In Your Life

Jack Slade
Jack Slade


This article is part of a series celebrating Boss Hunting’s favourite corners of the United States. Click here to see more.

For Aussie golf enthusiasts with a penchant for international fairways, the United States is an absolute treasure trove of publicly accessible golf courses that stand tall amongst the global golfing elite. From the iconic Pebble Beach to the untamed beauty of Bandon Dunes, each course offers a unique slice of golfing paradise. From the challenges of iconic layouts to the breathtaking vistas, here’s a guide to seven of the best golf courses in the USA, beckoning every Australian golfer for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

1. Bethpage Black – Farmingdale, New York

Bethpage Black, nestled in the heart of New York State, has etched its name as a golfing crucible that demands respect. Having hosted the 2002 and 2009 U.S. Open, as well as the 2019 PGA Championship (among others), this public access gem is renowned for its challenging layout and unapologetically tough terrain. The sprawling fairways, demanding greens, and strategically placed bunkers make Bethpage Black a destination for the low-handicap golfer seeking not just a round, but a true test of their skills. 

The unmistakable and iconic warning sign at the entrance sets the tone, ensuring you know you’re stepping onto a hallowed and slightly daunting golfing ground: “WARNING The Black Course Is An Extremely Difficult Course Which We Recommend Only For Highly Skilled Golfers”.

Beyond the Bethpage Black Course, the immediate vicinity is home to five 18-hole golf courses, making it a haven for golfers of all skill levels. The Bethpage State Park also offers a range of recreational activities, including hiking, biking, tennis, and picnicking, while the nearby area of Farmingdale and nearby towns are rich in history and home to the Cradle of Aviation Museum and the beautiful beaches of Long Island.

2. Pebble Beach – Pebble Beach, California

Aside from the extremely private Augusta National, Pebble Beach stands atop the list of the most recognisable and revered courses in the USA. Ranked 14 on this year’s Golf.com World’s Courses list, the beauty of California’s Carmel coastline unfolds differently on every hole at Pebble Beach. 

It’s not just a golf course; it’s a canvas where nature and golfing prowess seamlessly blend. With each swing, you’ll be greeted by 180-degree views of the Pacific Ocean, making Pebble Beach a must-play destination for those seeking a world-class course in a serene and picturesque environment.

If you can’t manage to book a tee time, Pebble Beach is part of the legendary 17-Mile Drive scenic road that offers stunning views of the Pacific coastline, as well as natural attractions along the drive such as the Lone Cypress, Bird Rock, and Fanshell Beach. The Pebble Beach Resort offers luxurious accommodations and amenities, including spas, restaurants, and additional golf courses like Spyglass Hill and The Links at Spanish Bay.

3. Bandon Dunes – Bandon, Oregon

Venture to the remote Oregon coast in the Pacific Northwest, and you’ll discover Bandon Dunes – a golfing sanctuary that feels like a pilgrimage for any avid golfer. With four distinct courses offering unique challenges, Bandon Dunes is a playground for those craving a raw and untamed golfing experience. 

The rugged landscape, devoid of modern distractions and enjoyed without the electric hum of a golf cart, immerses golfers in a no-frills experience focused solely on the game, and the sheer joy of playing in a natural setting. It’s a course reminiscent of Tasmania’s very own Barnbougle Dunes, but with a distinctly USA flavour.

It’s exactly this rugged beauty that makes the area a destination in its own right, with the Southern Oregon Coast rich with opportunities for hiking, fishing, and wildlife viewing — including whale watching at the right time of year. Likewise, the charming town of Bandon is home to artisanal shops and art galleries, while its coastal location ensures plenty of seriously high-quality seafood to enjoy. 

4. TPC Sawgrass – Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

If you play golf, you know the 17th at TPC Sawgrass. The iconic island green on the 17th hole is a test that every golfer dreams of conquering. From toilsome fairways to challenging water hazards, TPC Sawgrass demands strategy, precision, and nerves of steel. 

The allure of standing on that tee box, surrounded by Floridian sunshine, mirrors the pressure faced by golfing legends like Adam Scott and Jason Day. It’s a unique blend of challenge and spectacle, inviting golfers to embrace the spirit of the game and go for broke.

When you’re finished soaking in the spectacle, Ponte Vedra Beach is known for its beautiful beaches, luxurious resorts, and excellent dining options, while just a short drive away is one of the oldest cities in the United States — St. Augustine. The area is also known as a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, with opportunities for fishing, kayaking, surfing, and beachcombing along the scenic coastline.

5. Whistling Straits – Sheboygan, Wisconsin

For fans of links-style golf, Whistling Straits in Wisconsin offers an unforgettable experience. Located at Destination Kohler, the luxury golf resort boasts two courses – Straits and Irish. Stark and beautiful, ‘The Straits’ hugs the shores of Lake Michigan, offering a symphony of undulating fairways, fescue grasses, and strategic bunkering, creating a true links masterpiece. 

The Pete Dye-designed course is intricate, confronting, and sometimes cruel — a true test of spirit. Allocate a day to take in all the course has to offer. Visit the pro shop for merch, indulge in the complimentary massage at the driving range, and enjoy a well-earned beer on the restaurant patio overlooking the course to finish. 

If you’re lucky enough to have a spare day to spend away from the Whistling Straits, nearby Sheboygan is known for its vibrant arts scene, beautiful lakefront, and culinary offerings. Additionally, the Kettle Moraine State Forest is the perfect spot for a wealth of outdoor activities like hiking and biking, while kayaking and fishing on Lake Michigan are unforgettable experiences.

6. Shadow Creek – North Las Vegas, Nevada

Just a 20-minute drive from the iconic Las Vegas Strip, Shadow Creek emerges from the Nevada desert as a golfing oasis that defies expectations. Designed by Tom Fazio, this course is surrounded by lush greenery, pristine lakes, and an ambience that feels like a departure from the lights of Sin City just a few miles away. 

Owned and managed by MGM Resorts, Shadow Creek is renowned not only for its golf (regularly ranked in the top 100 courses in the world), but also for its incredible hospitality and service. Leave your poker chips at the hotel and bring your ball marker to indulge in the allure of Shadow Creek’s unmatched beauty.

When you return, however, you’ll need those chips to make the absolute most of what Las Vegas has to offer, from truly world-class entertainment to some of the best dining and shopping you’ll ever experience. Beyond the bright lights is the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area which offers hiking, rock climbing, and scenic drives through the remarkable Nevada landscape.

7. The Ocean Course – Kiawah Island, South Carolina

The Ocean Course on Kiawah Island, South Carolina, is a golfing marvel that blends challenging play with stunning ocean views. Having hosted major championships, this course is also designed by the legendary Pete Dye (along with Whistling Straits and TPC Sawgrass) and is a testament to Southern hospitality and a test of golfing skill. 

The breezy coastal atmosphere, shifting sea winds, and an ever-present challenge make every round at The Ocean Course a unique adventure. So tough in fact, The Ocean Course has the highest slope rating of any course in America from the professional tees.

Obviously, a location as scenic as Kiawah Island has more on offer than immaculate golfing, with opportunities for wildlife observation including deer, alligators, sea turtles, and a wide variety of birds. The plethora of other outdoor activities includes kayaking, paddleboarding, fishing, and biking, while the island’s 10-mile-long beach is perfect for sunbathing and swimming.

This article is sponsored by VisitTheUSA.com.au and is part of a series celebrating Boss Hunting’s favourite corners of the United States. Click here to see more, and thank you for supporting the brands that support Boss Hunting.

Jack Slade
Jack Slade is the founder of Boss Hunting. Originally hailing from Melbourne, Jack started Boss Hunting from his bedroom while working at a digital agency. Jack manages strategy and sales at Boss Hunting, and still enjoys the odd bit of writing on his favourite topics – including technology, flight deals, travel, and champagne.



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