From the majestic northern woodlands to the sun-drenched southern greens, California is a golfer’s dream. Here is our list of the 30 best golf courses in California that promise an unforgettable golfing adventure.
Address: 100 Shady Canyon Dr, Irvine, CA 92603, United States
Debuting in 2002, Shady Canyon emerged as one of the best golf courses in California. Tom Fazio’s visionary touch is evident in Irvine, just south of Los Angeles. Fazio’s design philosophy shines through, seamlessly integrating the course into its natural surroundings. Meandering through the canyon, the layout features indigenous flora and meandering streams, embodying an authentic ambiance. The greens, characterized by challenging slopes, demand precision to navigate distinct sections effectively. Set amidst chaparral, sycamores, and desert scrub, Shady Canyon harmonizes nature with golf. A Tom Fazio gem, it presents strategic brilliance and breathtaking aesthetics, offering golfers an exceptional experience mere minutes from Los Angeles’ bustling center.
Shady Canyon, a 2002 Tom Fazio creation in Irvine, seamlessly blends natural beauty with challenging green (source: Shady Canyon Golf Club)
Address: 1 Cordevalle Club Drive, San Martin, CA 95046, United States
Nestled in the lesser-known but golf-rich region south of San Jose, CordeValle stands out as one of the best golf courses in California. Transforming from a private club to a high-end resort, it embraces softly undulating hills adorned with ancient oaks. Notably, it hosted esteemed events like the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur, PGA Tour’s Frys.com Open, and the U.S. Women’s Open, underlining its premier status. Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., this private golf course and spa resort radiates elegance, enhancing its allure. With a course rating of 76.4, CordeValle’s legacy as a top-tier golfing haven since its establishment in 1999 remains undeniable in the realm of Californian golf.
CordeValle, nestled in California’s golf-rich region, shines as one of the state’s finest courses, hosting prestigious events and boasting stunning landscapes (source: Golf Holidays).
Address: 1001 Bolinas Rd, Fairfax, CA 94930, United States
Situated in the serene Bon Tempe Meadow on the slopes of Mt. Tamalpais, Meadow Club stands out as one of California’s premier golf courses. Revered for its historical significance as Alister MacKenzie’s maiden North American design from 1927, the course is conveniently located a short drive north of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Over time, the course underwent changes, but a meticulous restoration initiative in the early 2000s successfully recaptured MacKenzie’s original essence. Under the guidance of architect Mike DeVries, the greens were expansively reworked, and the bunkers rejuvenated to align with MacKenzie’s intended layout. Amid the backdrop of Mount Tamalpais, Meadow Club showcases sprawling, undulating greens and thoughtfully positioned MacKenzie-style bunkers, firmly securing its position among California’s most distinguished golfing destinations.
Nestled near Mt. Tamalpais, Meadow Club’s historic Alister MacKenzie design and meticulous restoration place it among California’s finest (source: DeVries Designs)
Address: 255 Palowet Dr, Palm Desert, CA 92260, United States
Embracing the mountainous backdrop, Bighorn Golf Club’s Mountains course ranks among California’s top-tier greens, celebrated for its captivating design. Its counterpart, the Canyons Course by Tom Fazio, showcases desert charm. Enhanced by a lavish $70 million clubhouse, the opulence extends. Amid the Coachella Valley, the Arthur Hills-crafted Mountains course beckons golf aficionados and seasonal visitors alike.
Bighorn Golf Club’s Canyons and Mountains courses offer exceptional golfing experiences, nestled in scenic splendor.
Address: 255 Palowet Dr. Palm Desert, CA 92260, United States
As one of the best golf courses in California, the Canyons Course at Bighorn Golf Club, a Tom Fazio masterpiece, stands out for its strategic bunkering and captivating design. Esteemed for impeccable conditioning and visual allure, the course shares its acclaim with its sibling, the Mountains course. With the recent addition of an opulent $70 million, 80,000-square-foot clubhouse in 2018, Bighorn elevates its luxury offerings. The Canyons Course’s breathtaking layout, skillful bunkering, and unwavering commitment to excellence firmly establish it as a premier golfing destination within California’s esteemed golfing landscape.
Canyons Course at Bighorn Golf Club offers strategic bunkering and Tom Fazio’s design against breathtaking desert-mountain backdrops.
Address: 12700 Lodge Trail Dr, Truckee, CA 96161, United States
A few miles north of Lake Tahoe, Lahontan Golf Club, a Tom Weiskopf gem, secures its place among the best golf courses in California. Weaving through the dense forest, Weiskopf crafted a balanced design with narrow tees leading to forgiving fairways and expansive greens. Amidst towering pines and wispy fescue against a mountainous backdrop, the course boasts both aesthetic charm and strategic challenge. Positioned in the stunning Martis Valley, on land once inhabited by the Washoe Indians, Lahontan Golf Club stands as a testament to Weiskopf’s mastery and holds its rightful spot in the realm of California’s premier golfing destinations.
Lahontan Golf Club near Lake Tahoe combines Weiskopf’s design with a forested landscape, earning its place among California’s finest courses.
Address: 18550 Seven Bridges Road, Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92091, United States
Nestled in Rancho Santa Fe, this private golf and country club stands as one of the best golf courses in California, offering an upscale residential layout amid citrus groves and rolling foothills. The design artfully merges sculpted architecture, cape-and-bay style bunkering, and reflective ponds against the backdrop of rugged ridges, canyons, and Pacific vistas. The course’s clever layout integrates compact residences on the front nine, transitioning to expansive estates on the back nine. Named after its signature bridges spanning valleys and the Escondido Creek ravine, this course is a harmonious blend of luxury and natural beauty.
Lush fairways and elegant design define the heart of Rancho Santa Fe at this top-tier private golf retreat (source: Golf Digest)
Address: 11480 N Torrey Pines Rd, La Jolla, CA 92037, United States
Perched atop coastal bluffs with captivating Pacific views, Torrey Pines ranks among the best golf courses in California. Renowned for Rees Jones’ South Course renovation, which made it competitive for the 2008 U.S. Open won by Tiger Woods, and subsequently for hosting the 2021 U.S. Open claimed by Jon Rahm, this annual PGA Tour venue boasts coastal canyons in play, enhancing its allure. As the more formidable counterpart of the two courses, Torrey Pines’ South Course proudly hosted two U.S. Open Championships and remains an iconic gem of the California golfing landscape.
Torrey Pines South Course boasts stunning coastal views and has hosted multiple U.S. Open Championships (source: Torrey Pines Golf Course)
Address: 75-001 Vintage Dr W, Indian Wells, California 92210, Riverside County
Perched at the foot of Eisenhower Mountain’s natural cove, the distinguished Vintage Club ranks high among California’s premier golf courses. Engineered by the talented duo George and Tom Fazio, this coveted gem in the Palm Springs region showcases a fusion of opulence and intricate design. With a price tag of $6 million, the course’s extravagant elements, notably the $175,000 cascading waterfalls on holes 16 and 17, underscore its lavish nature and unwavering dedication to fostering a distinctive ambiance. The Vintage Club echoes the Fazios’ visionary prowess and steadfast dedication, creating a lasting legacy of unparalleled golfing adventures.
The Vintage Club’s opulent design and cascading waterfalls exemplify its status as a Palm Springs gem (source: Golf Digest).
Address: 78505 52nd Ave, La Quinta, CA 92253, United States
Tradition Golf Club, harmonizing nature and luxury, unquestionably stands among the best golf courses in California. The course’s front nine winds through rolling desert and a flood-control basin, while the back nine nestles against the Santa Rosa Mountains, featuring distinctive elements like the “Coyote Canyon” bend and cascading waterfalls. Notably, Arnold Palmer’s floral tribute to his wife Winnie, seen in fields of wildflowers, adds a unique touch to this remarkable course.
Tradition Golf Club harmonizes nature and luxury, boasting unique features like the “Coyote Canyon” and scenic wildflower fields (source: Facebook)
Address: 320 W Stafford Rd, Thousand Oaks, CA 91361, United States
Renowned as one of the best golf courses in California, Sherwood Country Club showcases Jack Nicklaus’ prowess. Designed on a river valley with transplanted oaks and boulders, it boasts meticulously crafted ponds and streams, creating an exceptional layout. Despite the 2014 drought’s impact, Nicklaus’ return in 2016 brought agronomic enhancements, reducing water use while maintaining its grandeur. Situated in Lake Sherwood, the private club is nestled at the Santa Monica Mountains’ base, offering a superb golf and country experience.
One of California’s premier courses, Sherwood blends natural beauty with meticulous design, overseen by Jack Nicklaus (source: Ventura County Star)
Address: 1240 MAYACAMA Club Dr, Santa Rosa, CA 95403, United States
Recognized among California’s finest golf courses, Mayacama Golf Club reveals Jack Nicklaus’ adaptability. Tailored for average golfers, the design is comfortably walkable, emphasizing the oak-strewn hills above Santa Rosa. Highlighting watersheds, elevated tees, and four strategic par 5s, Mayacama presents a bold layout. A private golf course with a fractional real estate community, it harmonizes a vibrant club life with an active sporting experience in California’s captivating surroundings.
Among California’s best, Mayacama offers a comfortable and strategic layout, showcasing Jack Nicklaus’ adaptability and design finesse (source: Golf Digest)
Address: 10768 Bellagio Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90077, United States
Standing among California’s best golf courses, Bel-Air CC impresses with diverse, well-manicured fairways winding through mansion-studded canyons. Completing a trio of George C. Thomas designs, the course’s steep terrain requires unique navigational features like an elevator, tunnel, and suspension bridge. Over the years, its design saw alterations from renowned architects, but Tom Doak’s 2018 restoration recaptured Thomas’s original vision, showcasing splashy bunkering and erasing phony water hazards. With Hollywood Hills as a backdrop, Bel-Air invites you to tee off among stars.
Among California’s elite, Bel-Air CC enchants with diverse terrain, unique features, and a storied history (source: Top 100).
Address: 7951 Fleur Du Lac, Truckee, CA 96161, United States
Ranked among California’s premier golf courses, Martis Camp captivates with Tom Fazio’s remarkable design on a natural forested canvas. Pine, fir, and hemlock-dotted fairways feature rocky outcroppings, with the 18th hole adorned by a granite wall. The course boasts broad fairways, creative bunkering, and proximity to towering Ponderosa pines, creating a private-gated national park experience. Martis Camp Club offers a distinctive multi-generational membership, reflecting its allure as a captivating golfing haven.
Regarded as one of the state’s finest, Martis Camp offers a picturesque canvas with Tom Fazio’s masterful touches (source: Martis Camp)
Address: 72500 Stone Eagle Dr, Palm Desert, CA 92260, United States
Earning its place among the best golf courses in California, Stone Eagle boasts a remarkable Tom Doak design. Perched a thousand feet above Coachella Valley, the course gracefully incorporates rugged terrain, allowing shots to play over low ridges onto bold greens, simulating the region’s topography. Tom Doak ingeniously integrates rock-laden hillsides, evoking Old Country architectural techniques.
With Tom Doak’s ingenious design and rugged landscape, Stone Eagle stands out among Palm Springs’ finest courses (source: Foretography)
Address: 53035 Meriwether Way, La Quinta, CA 92253, United States
Redefining old-line country clubs, The Madison Club thrives in La Quinta. Designed by Tom Fazio, the course transcends typical residential layouts by seamlessly integrating homesites with meticulously sculpted fairways, channels, mature trees, and streams. This contemporary interpretation stands as a unique gem in California’s golf landscape.
The Madison Club’s modern approach fuses homesites with meticulously crafted fairways and streams, redefining California’s country club experience (source: Golf Digest)
Address: 19 E Pronghorn Run, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923, United States
As one of the best golf courses in California, The Preserve boasts a serene Tom Fazio masterpiece set within a 20,000-acre expanse of gentle hills and mammoth oaks. The unique layout seamlessly integrates into the landscape, providing an atmosphere of tranquility. Complemented by a comprehensive Practice Facility, including multiple tee driving range and short game area, The Preserve stands apart from its Monterey Peninsula counterparts like Pebble Beach and Cypress Point with its natural charm and understated elegance.
Nestled within expansive hills and oaks, The Preserve’s Tom Fazio design harmonizes with nature, offering tranquil golfing experiences (source: Top 100 Golf Courses)
Address: 20 Clubhouse Rd, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, United States
Situated in Santa Cruz, Pasatiempo Golf Club offers spectacular views of Monterey Bay, standing as one of the best golf courses in California. Alister Mackenzie’s favored design features elaborate greens and restored bunkering by Tom Doak and Jim Urbina. The course presents challenging yet delightful par 3s, culminating with the iconic 18th hole over a canyon. Hosting USGA championships and receiving environmental awards, Pasatiempo showcases a storied history and commitment to sustainable practices.
Overlooking Monterey Bay, Pasatiempo’s restored design and iconic holes contribute to its reputation as a top-tier California course (source: Pasatiempo)
Address: 1 Quarry Ln, La Quinta, CA 92253, United States
As one of the best golf courses in California, The Quarry enchants with its serene setting and diverse terrain, ranging from the flatlands to elevated areas. Developed with the intent to surpass Shadow Creek, Tom Fazio wisely tailored the design to the natural landscape, resulting in a course offering more variety and striking visuals. From the gravel quarry turned lush landscape to high desert vistas and nestled valley holes, The Quarry is a masterpiece with consistently high Conditioning scores.
Characterized by diverse terrain and stunning visuals, The Quarry is a serene masterpiece among California’s best golf courses (source: Golf Digest).
Address: 3000 Club Rd, Pebble Beach, CA 93953, United States
Within California’s finest golf courses, the Dunes course stands out. Originally designed by Seth Raynor and completed by Robert Hunter, the course underwent Rees Jones and Tom Fazio’s transformations, leading to a MacKenzie-inspired layout. Famed for its sandscapes, zigzagging fairways, and diagonal greens, the Dunes Course now fully embodies its name, capturing the essence of California golf.
A transformational journey from Raynor to Fazio, the Dunes Course captivates with its MacKenzie-inspired design and sandscapes (source: GolfPass)
Address: 1901 E Valley Rd, Montecito, CA 93108, United States
Renowned as one of the best golf courses in California, The Valley Club offers an hourglass routing featuring a diverse array of holes. Notable challenges include the third hole along a barranca, the imposing 10th mountainous hole, the captivating canyon-carry 14th, and the sweeping serpentine 15th. While the fairways provide generous landing areas, the greens’ undulating slants demand precise angles of approach. Restored MacKenzie bunkers harmoniously fit, enhancing the course’s allure. The club’s advantageous location provides excellent golfing weather, although the surrounding dry hills have faced erosion challenges, with mudslides in 2018 prompting an extensive effort to restore the grand golf holes.
Its unique design, set against a backdrop of rolling hills and canyons, offers both challenge and beauty (source: Club + Resort Business)
Address: 844 W Orange Ave, South San Francisco, CA 94080, United States
Established in 1918 and widely recognized as one of the best golf courses in California, the California Golf Club of San Francisco, affectionately known as “Cal Club,” has undergone transformations to align it with its esteemed neighbors. Originally featuring Alister Mackenzie’s bunkers, the course faced obscurity due to its claustrophobic nature and truncated front nine. Architect Kyle Phillips revitalized the layout by clearing trees, creating new holes, and reintroducing Mackenzie’s elegant bunkers, repositioning Cal Club among top-ranked courses.
Recognized as one of the best golf courses in California, Cal Club has undergone transformation to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with its renowned neighbors (source: Cal Club).
Address: 3206 Stevenson Dr, Pebble Beach, CA 93953, United States
Regarded as one of the best golf courses in California, Spyglass Hill in Pebble Beach is celebrated for its hosting of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and its fusion of Pine Valley and Augusta National design elements. The course’s initial holes in the Pine Valley-like sand dunes offer a fleeting coastal experience, followed by a challenging journey through hills adorned with majestic Monterey pines and Augusta-inspired water hazards, making it a standout in Robert Trent Jones’ portfolio.
Renowned among California’s best, Spyglass Hill blends Pine Valley and Augusta National styles, offering a memorable, challenging round.
Address: 3000 Club Rd, Pebble Beach, CA 93953, United States
Often ranked among the best golf courses in California, the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula Country Club underwent a transformative redesign by Mike Strantz. His innovative approach, weaving fairways among cypress trees and offering panoramic ocean views, turned this once-modest layout into a strategic gem reminiscent of Cypress Point. Strantz’s visionary work left a lasting mark on the course, providing players with a memorable and visually captivating experience.
Recognized for its redesign by Mike Strantz, Shore Course offers stunning coastal views and strategic play (source: Golf Digest).
Address: 599 CA-35, San Francisco, CA 94132, United States
Established in 1860, The Olympic Club is a historic and prestigious athletic and social club in San Francisco, California. The Lake Course, one of its golfing gems, has a storied history as a challenging championship layout. Over the years, it has undergone changes, including forest clearing, redesigned greens, and the addition of a new par-3 hole. The Lake Course has hosted several U.S. Opens, known for their drama and challenges. In 2023, the course is undergoing further renovations by Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner in preparation for the 2028 PGA Championship, raising anticipation for its future iteration.
The historic Olympic Club offers a challenging and evolving experience, with forest clearing and redesigns to host prestigious events (source: Top 100 Golf Course).
Address: 1310 Junipero Serra Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94132, United States
Nestled in San Francisco, California, San Francisco Golf Club is an esteemed and exclusive private membership club with a rich history. Designed by A.W. Tillinghast and later restored by Tom Doak and Jim Urbina, the course features Tillinghast’s signature greens and bunkering. Notably, the par-3 seventh hole marks the site of the last legal duel in America. The club’s layout has seen changes over the years, with original holes restored and a unique heritage preserved. With its iconic design and storied past, San Francisco Golf Club remains a testament to classic golf course architecture.
A prestigious and exclusive club with a rich history, San Francisco Golf Club boasts Tillinghast’s iconic design and unique heritage (source: LINKS magazine)
Address: 1250 Capri Dr, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272, United States
Located in the Pacific Palisades of Los Angeles, Riviera Country Club is among the best golf courses in California. Crafted by George C. Thomas Jr. and William P. Bell, its design showcases captivating features like a Redan par 3 and a green with a central bunker. Known for hosting significant events, including a PGA Championship and U.S. Senior Open, Riviera’s renowned reputation is set to shine further with upcoming U.S. Opens and the 2028 Olympics.
An elegant private club in Los Angeles with a unique layout designed by George C. Thomas Jr. (source: Golf Monthly)
Address: 10101 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024, United States
Nestled near Hollywood, Los Angeles Country Club’s North Course is a golden masterpiece, revitalized by architect Gil Hanse. The course stands as a paragon of design, with distinct elements like rustic canyon play on the front nine and exciting strategic elements across the back nine. Hanse’s enhancements, which echo William P. Bell’s style, make it a stunning stage for golf. The North Course’s upcoming role as host for the 2023 U.S. Open promises sensational golf moments in the heart of Tinsel Town.
A Gil Hanse-renovated gem offering captivating holes and canyon terrain near Hollywood.
Address: 1700 17 Mile Dr, Pebble Beach, CA 93953, United States
Among the best golf courses in California, Pebble Beach Golf Links is renowned for its unmatched blend of ocean and land. This iconic public course features breathtaking holes near the Pacific surf, including the famous sixth through eighth, forming golf’s version of Amen Corner. Host to U.S. Opens and other prestigious events, Pebble Beach continually evolves, with recent changes enhancing greens and iconic holes. In 2023, it hosted the Women’s U.S. Open for the first time.
Pebble Beach Golf Links is America’s iconic public course, with breathtaking ocean views and storied history.
Address: 3150 17 Mile Dr, Pebble Beach, CA 93953, United States
Located in Pebble Beach, Cypress Point Club is a private gem celebrated for its sculpted beauty along the Central Coast. It has always ranked 1st in every state and country ranking list. Crafted by Alister MacKenzie, this masterpiece offers diverse playing options on each hole, promoting strategic creativity. The restoration of MacKenzie’s original bunkers by Jeff Markow honors the course’s timeless philosophy. Cypress Point’s splendid design, set against the California coast, presents an argument against the notion that modern technology overshadows classic architecture
Cypress Point Club is a private masterpiece in Pebble Beach, showcasing MacKenzie’s philosophy amid natural beauty and stunning coastline (source: Top 100 Golf Courses).
In conclusion, California boasts a rich tapestry of golf courses that cater to a diverse range of preferences and skill levels. From the stunning landscapes of Pebble Beach to the fairways of Torrey Pines, these 30 best golf courses in California exemplify the state’s commitment to providing exceptional golfing experiences. The allure of well-maintained greens, breathtaking views, and renowned designs draws golf enthusiasts from around the world to the Golden State.