Pine Valley Golf Club
Located in Pine Valley, New Jersey, the course at the Pine Valley Golf Club is currently considered the top golf course in the country by many experts and some even claim it's the best on the planet. It also has a reputation for being extremely challenging. Some say it's the most difficult course in the world. Others say that's what makes it so great.
Pine Valley was established in 1913 and finished in 1922, and was designed by George Crump. Golf Digest claims it "blends all three schools of golf design—penal, heroic and strategic—oftentimes on a single hole." The course is 7,181 yards with a par of 70.
Augusta National Golf Club
When legend Bobby Jones set out to create the course at Augusta National Golf Club, he and designer Alister MacKenzie wanted to mimic the course at St. Andrews in Scotland as closely as they possibly could. The result was one of the most notable golf courses in the world. It opened its doors in 1932, and in 1934 the Masters Tournament was held there. It's been held there ever since. The course is 7,475 yards with a par of 72.
Augusta National has undergone some changes throughout the years, but it's still considered one of the most beautiful courses in the world. Bobby Jones once said of his first visit to the property, "The long lane of magnolias through which we approached was beautiful. The old manor house was charming. The rare trees and shrubs of the old nursery were enchanting. But when I walked out on the grass terrace under the big trees behind the house and looked down over the property, the experience was unforgettable. It seemed the land had been lying there for years just waiting for someone to lay a golf course upon it."
Cypress Point Club
Speaking of the most beautiful courses in the world, Cypress Point, which was also designed by Alister MacKenzie, also tops the list. Located along the coast at Pebble Beach, it's known for its dramatic holes and unique course structure. It even has back-to-back par-5s at the front and back-to-back par-3s at the back.
However, it's hard not to get caught up in the sight of the rocky coastline, pristine sand dunes, and views of the Pacific Ocean while playing a round at this course that was once an annual part of the PGA Tour. Cypress Point is 6,554 yards and has a par of 72.
Shinnecock Hills Golf Club
As what is believed to be the oldest incorporated golf club in the U.S., you can imagine that Shinnecock Hill has undergone a few redesigns since it was first established in 1891. The last was in 1931, led by William Flynn. Flynn has designed many courses, but Shinnecock Hills is said to be his best work to date.
Located in Southampton, New York, the course is 7,445 yards with a par of 70. A Golf Digest panelist once stated, "There might not be a better collection of par-3s in the world. And three par-4s are all-worlders: the ninth, 10th, and 14th holes. This is an American classic as fair of a test to play for tour pros and amateur players alike."
Oakmont Country Club
Oakmont isn't just one of the oldest top-ranked courses on the list, it was made a National Historic Landmark in 1987. Located in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, there are many obstacles like trees or water, but you will find some unusual bunkers and greens that make this course quite a challenge.
It was established in 1903 and initially designed by Henry Fownes, although it was renovated by Tom Fazio in 2015. Built on old farmland, it sits across the Allegheny River Valley, and holes two through eight are separated by the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Oakmont has hosted the U.S. Open more than any other golf course in the U.S. — nine times — and it is 7,254 yards with a par of 71.
National Golf Links of America
National Golf Links of America is also located in Southampton, New York on Long Island, right next to Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. It was designed by Charles B. Macdonald, who had played many rounds of golf at St. Andrews, so the goal was for it to feel like a vintage British course. Macdonald was successful.
National Golf Links is a par-72 course and plays 6,873 yards. It sits on 250 acres that overlook the Peconic Bay. The course has never hosted a major men's tournament, although it did host the very first Walker's Cup. It also has a reputation for being exclusive and has been called the "snootiest" golf club in the country.
Sand Hills Golf Club
The Course at Sand Hills Golf Club is a bit newer than most of the other entries on our list. It's also located in the middle of the country, while most of the others are located along or close to the coast. Despite its location, which is remote, even for a town called Mullen, Nebraska, it attracts attention from golfers from all around the world each year. It also attracts attention for its minimalist design. Golf Club Atlas called it, "the most natural course built in the United States since World War I." But you'll also find a variety of hazards there.
The course was designed and built by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, and they claim they didn't need to make many changes to the area's topography to implement their design. The course at Sand Hills is 7,089 yards and has a par of 71.
Merion Golf Club East
Merion Golf Club has two courses, and we believe the East Course is one of the best in the nation. Located in the suburbs of Philadelphia, the course has hosted several U.S. Opens. It was designed by Hugh Irvine Wilson, and it first opened in 1912. Bobby Jones completed a Grand Slam there and retired shortly after.
Several obstacles make up the East Course at Merion, including creeks and an old, abandoned quarry. It's said to be one of the more challenging courses in the U.S. Another unique feature is the wicker basket placed at each hole in place of a flag. Legend has it that they were inspired by British shepherds, but either way, they make Merion stand out. The course is 6,946 yards and has a par of 70.
Pebble Beach Golf Links
Pebble Beach Golf Links has a reputation for being something of a golf paradise. Imagine golfing on a 75-foot bluff that overlooks the Pacific Ocean, and you'll understand why it's so notable, particularly for its scenic beauty. It's also one of the few public courses on the list.
Pebble Beach hosts several PGA Tour events every year and because it's the quintessential golf course, it's served as the backdrop for several video games and movies. It was designed by Jack Neville and Douglas Grant and first opened in 1919, although it was revised about a decade later. It is 7,075 yards and has a par of 72.
Fishers Island Golf Club
Designer Seth Raynor died before his vision was completed at Fishers Island Golf Club in 1926, but many experts say this course is his best work ever. Located on Fishers Island, New York, an island that sits off the coast of Connecticut, the course is stunning but don't let its beauty fool you. It's also quite challenging.
Sometimes called the "Cypress Point of the East," Fishers Island is 6,616 yards and has a par of 72. Golf Digest says of the course, "steeply-banked bunkers and geometric greens harmonize perfectly with the linear panoramas of the Atlantic Ocean and Long Island Sound."
Pinehurst Resort Number 2
The Pinehurst Resort in Pinehurst, North Carolina is home to nine 18-hole golf courses, but Number 2 is regularly considered one of the best in the country by many publications and experts. Built in 1907 and designed by Donald Ross, it has hosted multiple top golf tournaments, including three U.S. Opens. It's also used as the backdrop for several video games.
Pinehurst Number 2 sits among a landscape of Southern pine trees and it features what Golf.com calls "legendary inverted-saucer greens." Many others have said that Pinehurst doesn't look challenging, but once you play a round, it surprises you. The course is 7,588 yards with a par of 72.
Seminole Golf Club
Located in North Palm Beach, Florida, the course at Seminole Golf Club is also designed by Donald Ross. It was established in 1929, and it's 7,265 yards with a par of 72. It's also known for its elite membership, which has included everyone from presidents, kings, and dukes to businessmen like Henry Ford II and Robert Vanderbilt.
However, nonmembers got a glance inside when it was the setting for a COVID-19 relief fundraiser that aired on TV in 2020. Seminole sits along the Atlantic Ocean, and it is cleverly designed so that each hole experiences a different direction of the coastal winds. Golf.com calls it the "finest site on which Donald Ross ever worked."
Winged Foot Golf Club West
Winged Foot Golf Club, which is located in Mamaroneck, New York, just outside New York City, is also home to two golf courses, and both often make Top 100 lists. However, the West course is considered superior. It was the last course designed by A. W. Tillinghast and opened in 1923. Today, it's listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The West course at Winged Foot is said to be quite challenging and has stumped even some of the greatest golfers in the world. It has hosted the U.S. Open six times and the PGA Championship once. Winged Foot's West course is 7,477 yards with a par of 72.
Chicago Golf Club
Located in Wheaton, Illinois, a Chicago suburb, the Chicago Golf Club is one of the five founding clubs of the U.S. Golf Association (USGA). It's also on the National Register of Historic Places. The course here opened in 1894 and has since hosted numerous prestigious tournaments, including several U.S. Opens and Walker Cups.
Designed and founded by Charles B. MacDonald, it's thought to be the first 18-hole golf course built in the U.S. It was redesigned in 1923 and hasn't been touched since. The course is 6,877 yards with a par of 70.
If you travel to the midwest—Kansas to be exact—you will find a real destination golf course. Prairie Dunes Country Club opened in 1937 with 9 original holes. In 1957, 9 more holes were added by Perry's son, making a full 18 holes. As architect Perry Maxwell concluded, "There are 118 good golf holes here. All I have to do is eliminate 100 of them."
The swells and ripples of this course put any golfer to the test. With a links-style course and rolling hills not unlike the seaside courses in Scotland, Prairie Dunes is certainly unique. It measures 6,759 yards with a par of 70.