The 10 Best PGA Tour Courses You Can Play In 2017

One of the great beauties of the sport of golf is that you can literally follow in the footsteps of the game’s greatest players — walking the same fairways on many of the same courses. How you hit the little white ball is entirely on you though.

With the PGA Tour on the Monterey Peninsula for the annual fun-fest that is the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, it’s another reminder that one of the world’s greatest courses is open for anyone to play (if they pony up the greens fee that can top $500). But the scenery is unmatched; there’s a reason Scottish novelist Robert Louis Stevenson once called the Pebble Beach area “the most felicitous meeting of land and sea in creation.”

Yes, the majority of PGA Tour events this season will be played on private clubs — from Waialae Country Club in Hawaii to East Lake in Atlanta. But there are still about 20 public or resort courses that welcome both the pros and average Joes.

Following are 10 of the best PGA Tour courses you can play. The only caveat, it’ll cost you upwards of $3,300 for the 10 tee times, not to mention the cost of travel and, in many instances, lodging.

1 – Pebble Beach Golf Links

This is simply one of the ultimate bucket list courses in golf. Yes, it’s pricey. Yes, it can be crowded. But any true golfer can practically count off the holes by memory, especially the tiny and terrific par-3 seventh and the majestic par-5 18th — two of the most iconic waterfront holes in the game. Pebble Beach, which hugs the rugged California coastline and features cliff-side fairways and sloping greens on the water, has been the site of five U.S. Open championships (No. 6 is coming in 2019) and is the annual host of the Pebble Beach Pro-Am. It’s a must-play, at least once.

2 – Kapalua Plantation Course

Perhaps no course elicits as much annual golfer envy as the Plantation Course at the Kapalua resort on the Hawaiian island of Maui. Each January, as golfers in cold climates are longing to break their clubs out of a long winter slumber, the PGA Tour’s champions from the previous year gather at warm and welcoming Kapalua. The par-73 course, one of the earliest designs from the expert team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, sits high on the slopes of the West Maui Mountains and offers dramatic ocean views from just about every hole. And it can really make you feel like a pro when you bomb a drive on the downhill 17th and 18th holes.

3 – Spyglass Hill

Even in the shadow of Pebble Beach, this relentlessly-challenging course is widely regarded as one of the best in the country. The Robert Trent Jones Sr. design has one of the finest opening stretches anywhere, with five holes that climb up and down the dunes along the ocean. The views of the ocean disappear as the course climbs into the natural beauty of the Del Monte Forest, but the challenge remains. Spyglass is one of the three courses used each year in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am and many visitors to the Monterey Peninsula even prefer it to Pebble.

4 – Harbour Town

One of the most recognizable images in golf is the red-and-white striped lighthouse that provides a backdrop for the 18th green at Harbour Town Golf Links at the Sea Pines Resort in South Carolina. The course, built by Pete Dye and reworked by Jack Nicklaus, puts a premium on finesse, shot-making and strategy. It’s a perennial favorite among PGA Tour players when the RBC Heritage rolls into Hilton Head every year.

5 – TPC Sawgrass

The alluring island green, par-3 17th hole is invariably the first thing that springs to mind when one thinks of TPC Sawgrass. But this Pete Dye design built in Florida swampland is noteworthy as being the first true Stadium Course, with a layout created to improve the on-site fan experience. It’s the site of the annual Players Championship, the PGA Tour’s flagship event,  and tests the world’s best players with tight fairways, hard and fast greens and hazards lurking everywhere. Bring some extra balls.

6 – Sea Island

The host of the Fall Series’ RSM Classic, the Seaside Course is one of the three championship 18-hole golf courses at Sea Island, the Georgia resort that’s also a home to many PGA Tour pros. Built in the Scottish links style, the Seaside Course is surrounded by tidal creeks, dunes, salt marshes and the Atlantic Ocean. This is where Bobby Jones practiced during his Grand Slam season of 1930 and where Davis Love III learned the game from his father. The golf ties and traditions run deep in Sea Island.

7 – Old White TPC

Old White was the first of the 18-hole courses at the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia, designed by C.B. Macdonald and opened for play in 1914. Today, the course (and sprawling resort) plays host to the Greenbrier Classic. The annual PGA Tour stop was canceled in 2016 due to severe flooding, but the course has been reborn. Old White has now re-opened after a comprehensive restoration that included the rebuilding of every green complex on the course.

8 – Torrey Pines South

This brute of a municipal public course outside San Diego balances its challenging nature with dramatic coastline views every year at the Farmers Insurance Open. The course is named after the rare tree that grows only on this stretch of coastal cliffs that are popular among hang-gliders. Much like Bethpage Black in New York, Torrey Pines is a true public golf facility, not a resort, and is immensely popular with California-bound golfers.

9 – Bay Hill

The King’s course in the Orlando area is a testing layout that hosts the Arnold Palmer Invitational each March. Lengthy and visually intimidating, Bay Hill is open to outside play by guests of the Bay Hill Club & Lodge who want to tackle its array of bunkers, lakes and forced carries. Palmer simply loved to tinker with this gem of a course spread across 270 acres along the shores of the Butler Chain of Lakes.

10 – Innisbrook

The pros love coming every year to the Valspar Championship at the Copperhead course, which is one of four 18-hole layouts at this celebrated Tampa golf resort. The scenery is often more reminiscent of the Georgia foothills and Carolina sand hills than your typical Florida terrain. But it’s the Lawrence Packard-designed course that keeps them coming back.

Not on this list is this year’s U.S. Open site, Erin Hills, as it’s an event run by the U.S. Golf Association rather than the PGA Tour. But it’s rightfully among the best public golf facilities in the U.S. and well worth a side trip if you’re in Wisconsin.


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