Golfers unite! the time has come. It's officially time to start planning your golf outings for this year. With pandemic restrictions being lifted, the forecast is great to make your return to everyone's favorite pastime.
If you're looking for some inspiration, look no further. We've put together a list of 15 must-play venues this year, from well-known courses to hidden gems.
You don't need to be a pro to give them a shot, but you do need the heart to do so. Some of them are anything but easy- just ask the PROS who've come before you. But nevertheless, don't make that discourage you.
Get out there, kick-ass, and have a great time doing it with friends! Even better? Have your Whole In One Premium Whole Food Bar handy to power through your round.
Pine Valley Golf Course
Location: Pine Valley New Jersey
Course Holes: 18
Distance: 7181 Yards
Since 1966, the Pine Valley Golf Course has ranked as the number one G.C in the country over 20 times, which says something about what it offers.
Coming in at over 7000 yards, this course isn't for the faint of heart. Expect to trek over 5 miles for a round of golf, so be sure to use your cart and caddie!
Founded over 100 years ago (1913 to be exact) by a group of amateur golfers who purchased the then 184 acres of sandy pinelands, they tasked George Crump with the task of readying it as a course.
Today, the course is rated as the most difficult in the world, as no two holes are parallel, and the ground blends the three schools of gold design, namely heroic, penal, and strategic.
It's not uncommon for many except the most seasoned golfers to struggle with double bogeys on every hole, so don't feel bad if this is you!
It is important to note that Pine Valley G.C is highly exclusive; meaning that you won't be offered entry unless you are a member, or accompanied by a member. The ground also only generally admits players with a low handicap, so if you're a little too green for the green, you might need to wait a few years to play at the best of the best.
Shinnecock Hills Golf Club
Location: Southhampton New York
Course Holes: 18
Distance: 6940 Yards
As one of the founding members of the USGA, Shinnecock has been a prominent name in the golf world since it first opened its doors in 1891. It features an 18 hole links-style course, and is the oldest incorporated G.C in the US.
The course is notoriously difficult, as it's one of the only links courses in America. The ever-changing winds and elevation changes make each hole unique and challenging in its own way.
In addition to its natural beauty and challenge, Shinnecock was the first club to admit women, a rarity for the time.
This G.C is one of the five charter clubs of the USGA, and has hosted the U.S Open five times, having the distinction of being the only course to do so in three different centuries!
The course was designed by architect Willie Davis, later by Willie Dunn, and has since undergone a few redesigns; most notably in 1931 by William Flynn increasing the total yardage to bring it closer to professional standards.
The wind is considered one of the primary challenges on the course, as it is constantly blowing and can change directions quickly and without warning.
That, and the fact that once twice do holes run in the the same direction lend to it being classified as the true test of golfing might by many pros.
It is often ranked in the top ten of best golf courses in the United States, and continues to challenge players of all levels.
Location: North Palm Beach, Florida
Course Holes: 18
Distance: 7265 Yards
The Seminole golf course is a highly exclusive club consistently ranked in the top 100 courses, but more often, in the top 20 as well.
Designed by Scotland native Donald Ross and developed by Edward Hutton, the course was established in 1929 as a golf club for the elite of society, primarily corporate businessmen.
The routing of the course has been considered a masterpiece by many architects, owing to the varied topography and wind resistance at nearly every hole. The face closest to the seaside consists of sand dunes, while inland is a depressed basin that had to be drained and was previously swampland.
The western front has an elevated sand ridge that towers 40 feet over the lowest part of the basin.
If anything, Seminole is deceivingly simple at first glance. The fairways are wide, but by no means easy, as the ball will almost always blow past the hole on your first 9 or so as you become accustomed to the effect of wind.
This, when coupled with the firm and fast textures of the green makes playing a real challenge for anyone but the most experienced.
Guests who wish to play the legendary course must be accompanied by a member, so you need to be well-connected for a chance to play here. Nevertheless, it is the opportunity of a lifetime that you should strive for.
Pebble Beach Golf Links
Location: Pebble Beach, California
Course Holes: 18
Distance: 7075 Yards
If you reside in the Western United States, and can't travel for one reason or another, then how about a top tier course in your neck of the woods? Pebble Beach is located two hours South of San Francisco, and ranks as one of the most popular and expensive golf courses in America.
Opened in 1919, The course is set along the ocean, providing some of the most stunning views in all of golf.
Pebble Beach has won more major championships than any other course on the West Coast, and continues to be a favorite of both professionals and amateurs alike.
The fairways are narrower than most, and the wind is nearly always a factor making club selection more difficult than usual. The rough is also very thick, so accuracy off the tee is paramount.
It is also home to one of golf's most iconic holes, the par-3 7th, which is played over a rocky cove and crashing waves to a small, elevated green. You are essentially playing into the Pacific Ocean!
Pebble Beach is one of the most scenic and beautiful places in all of golf, let alone the United States. Plus, what makes Pebble Beach G.C highly desirable and different from many other top tier courses is the fact that the course is open to the public. Doesn't mean free, but for people who would otherwise never get to play at a top tier course, Pebble Beach stands out as a major fan favorite.
This particular course has been the site of many professional tournaments, including 6 U.S Opens, and will host again in 2027. Pebble Beach is a par 72 that runs 7,075 yards, give or take depending on which set of tees you play from.
The course is situated right on the Pacific Ocean front, so you can expect some pretty gusty conditions depending on the time of day. Even when there's no wind, the oceanic air will dry out the greens and make them lightning fast.
What it lacks in length, it makes up for in difficulty. Pebble Beach should be on every avid golfer's bucket list.
Bethpage State Park (Black Course)
Location: Farmingdale, New York
Course Holes: 18
Distance: 7468 Yards
The Bethpage Black Course was established in 1936, and designed by A.W Tillinghast. It is one of five courses located within Bethpage State Park, which is situated on Long Island approximately 30 miles East of New York City.
The Black Course is the most well-known and difficult of the bunch, hosting multiple professional tournaments over the years including the U.S Open in 2002 and 2009. It is a Public course as well and ranks
What separates the Black Course from other top tier tracks is the fact that it is a public course, meaning that anyone can play there…for a price.
Bethpage Black is a par 71 that tips out at 7,468 yards, and like Pebble Beach features very narrow fairways lined with thick rough.
Accuracy is at a premium, as is distance off the tee. The greens are large and undulating, so hitting it close is no easy feat.
Bethpage Black is not for the faint of heart, but if you're up for the challenge it is definitely worth checking out. Notoriously visible is a warning sign at the 1st tee that reads "The Black Course Is An Extremely Difficult Course Which We Recommend Only For Highly Skilled Golfers."
The course is due to hold its first Ryder Cup in 2025, testament to its growing popularity and challenging nature.
Sand Hills Golf Course
Location: Mullen, Nebraska
Course Holes: 18
Distance: 7089 Yards
Sand Hills Golf Club is a relative newcomer to the scene, having only opened in 1995. It was designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, and is widely considered to be one of the best courses in America. It is sometimes coined the best course developed since 1950, or most natural golf course.
The course is said to have been "discovered", instead of developed, since there was actually very little land remodeling that went into the course. Rather, with just 4000 cubic yards of earth removed, it was molded by the winds that naturally shaped the bunkers.
The winds became so dominant, in fact, that the bunkers would routinely be remodeled naturally, which became somewhat of a nuisance. This led to covering of the sand with a solution that promotes crusting in the off season, in order to maintain its topography.
While it maintains an exclusive membership only policy, they have been shown on occasion to entertain requests from avid golfing fans or those in training.
Cypress Point Club
Location: Pebble Beach (Del Monte Forest), California
Course Holes: 18
Distance: 6554 Yards
Cypress Point Club is one of the most exclusive and difficult golf courses in America. It is a private club, with membership only offered to those who are well-connected.
The course was designed by Alister MacKenzie and Robert Hunter and first opened in 1928.
Cypress Point Club is a par 72 that runs 6,554 yards, give or take depending on which set of tees you're playing from. While it's not the longest course around, don't let that fool you.
The fairways are extremely narrow and lined with thick rough, and the greens are small and well-protected. The course is located right on the Pacific Ocean, so wind is always a factor.
And if there's no wind, well, then you're dealing with one of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring settings in all of golf. Either way, Cypress Point Club is a true test of your skills.
But it wasn't always considered a top-tier course. Early on, it was regarded as no challenge, but in the 2000's golf's collective opinion changed and it's now regarded as the "Sistine Chapel" of golf.
Oakmont Country Club
Location: Oakmont, Pennsylvania
Course Holes: 18
Distance: 7255 Yards
Fun Fact: Oakmont club is actually mostly located in Plum, PA, with a much smaller fraction in actual Oakmont.
Oakmont Country Club is one of the oldest and most prestigious golf clubs in America. It was founded in 1903 and has been the site of more major championships than any other course in the country's golf history.
The course was designed by Henry Fownes and is a par 70 that tips out at 7,255 yards. More recently (2015), it was renovated by Tom Fazio.
The fairways are extremely narrow and lined with thick rough, and the greens are small and very undulating. Oakmont is known for being one of the toughest courses in the world, especially when the conditions are firm and fast.
But that's not all. Its said to have the nastiest and most notorious bunkers, which sit in wait around the green like a trap to be sprung on unsuspecting prey.
In fact, the USGA has called Oakmont the "toughest test in golf."
But it's not all doom and gloom. The course is absolutely stunning, set amid rolling hills in the Allegheny Mountains, and has no real water hazards. And if you can navigate your way around Oakmont, you can take solace in the fact that you've conquered one of golf's toughest challenges.
Is this an all-encompassing list of great golf courses? Not at all. There are just so many that exist right under our noses, but others that might require extensive travel to accomplish, such as Kuki’o G. & Beach Club, Kailua-Kona, or many others in Hawaii.
Our advice? Start by approaching the courses closest to you. Having difficulty keeping your energy level up? That's why there's the Whole In One Bar. Keep your game up the back nine.
That way, you can conquer the East in one go, before moving to the West and everything in between.