Golf courses

The best golf courses in California

When it comes to golf destinations, California offers an abundance of options. From San Diego to Napa, golf courses showcase the state’s natural beauty and provide opportunities for relaxation, camaraderie and exercise.

You don’t have to be a golfer to enjoy California’s many golf courses. While the focus may be on play, most also offer amenities for all to enjoy, including restaurants, pools, tennis courts, spas, and scenic surroundings. Here are 14 of the best golf courses and clubs in California.

Southern California Golf Courses

Torrey Pines Golf Course, La Jolla

Steve Proehl/Getty Images

Located in La Jolla on coastal bluffs overlooking the Pacific, Torrey pines offers two 18-hole championship golf courses. The South Course hosts the PGA Tour’s annual Farmers Insurance Open, and two US Open championships have been contested at Torrey Pines. Both courses are open to the public, and a stay at The cottage makes for the perfect golf vacation.

Aviara Golf Club, Carlsbad

Designed by Arnold Palmer, the beautifully landscaped Classes overlooks the Batiquitos Lagoon and features rolling fairways, native wildflowers, challenging bunkers and water hazards. Open to the public and guests of Park Hyatt Aviarathe course hosts an annual LPGA tournament and features a steakhouse by chef Richard Blais, embers & ryeoverlooking the 18th green.

Pelican Hill Golf Club, Newport Beach

Of them 18-hole course designed by Tom Fazio Located close to the Pacific, it offers stunning scenery and a challenging golf course. The Ocean North course offers sea views from every hole, with canyons and raised plateaus. The Ocean South course has scenic terrain, wide fairways and large greens. Classes are open to the public as well as guests of the elegant Resort at Pelican Hill.

PGA West, La Quinta

Jean Henebry

Against the mountains of Santa Rosa, PGA West is home to five resort courses and four private courses, each with its own style of desert golf. Pete Dye Stadium’s famous course, one of the toughest in the country, features an island green and water hazards. The Nicklaus Tournament Course also challenges players with two island greens. The Pete Dye Mountain course features bunkers, rock formations and elevated tee boxes.

Search Indian Wells Golf Resort

A magnificent clubhouse and two 18-hole courses municipal courts make Indian Wells a popular destination for desert golf enthusiasts. The Celebrity course offers mountain views, streams, lakes, waterfalls and rolling fairways. The Players Course offers stunning views of several mountain ranges, and its mature trees and sculpted bunkers add both beauty and challenge.

Search Desert Willow Golf Resort

Two championships golf course, Firecliff and Mountain View, offer distinct golfing experiences. The challenging Firecliff course features over a hundred bunkers and numerous water hazards. Considered equally beautiful but a little less rigorous, the Mountain View course features rolling fairways, eight tee options and natural desert landscaping.

Central Coast Golf Courses

Sandpiper Golf Club, Santa Barbara

Courtesy of Sandpiper Golf Club

With ocean and beach views from most of its holes, this public golf course is located on a cliff directly above the Pacific. The well maintained course features rolling fairways and challenging greens. Several PGA and LPGA tournament events have been played on the scenic links-style course.

La Purisima Golf Course, Lompoc

This passable public golf course is set amongst mature oak trees and gently rolling hills. There is no residential or commercial development around the course, so players can enjoy the views in all directions. Located near the historic Spanish Mission and amid the vineyards of the Central Coast, La Purisima is a beautiful addition to the destination.

Pebble Beach Golf Course, Pebble Beach

Evan Schiller

Probably the most famous golf course in the world and considered the best public course in the country, pebble beach is both challenging and scenic. Many holes line the rugged Pacific coast, and on the last hole players face a large tree in the middle of the fairway and the ocean to the left. A stay at The Lodge at Pebble Beach is a real luxury.

Bayonet & Black Horse, Seaside

These two 18-hole course are some of the most scenic and challenging in Monterey Bay. Bayonet is considered the most difficult, with graceful greens, abundant trees and plenty of white sand bunkers. Located on the site of the old Fort Ord, the course is named in honor of the 7th Infantry Light Fighter Division, nicknamed “Bayonet Division”. The Black Horse offers views of Monterey Bay and an open, flowing landscape.

Search Quail Lodge & Golf Club

The 6,500 yards passable route features manicured greens, lush landscaping and tree-lined fairways. Originally designed by Robert Muir Graves in 1964, the course was updated in 2015. The Quail Lodge offers a variety of accommodation and restaurants.

Northern California Golf Courses

Pastime, Santa Cruz

Designed by renowned golf course architect Alister MacKenzie who also created Augusta National and Cypress Point, the semi-private lesson opened in 1929. Located in the foothills of Santa Cruz, the layout features tree-lined fairways, ravines, well-placed bunkers and views of Monterey Bay.

CordeValle, Saint Martin

Courtesy of CordeValle

Located in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, the lesson was designed by renowned architect Robert Trent Jones Jr. The layout features oaks, sycamores, streams and canyons, as well as spectacular views and long challenging par threes. The fluff seaside resort includes a winery, spa and swimming pool.

Silverado Resort, Napa Valley

The resort two routes within walking distance located in the heart of wine country have been reimagined by PGA Hall of Famer Johnny Miller. Oak-lined fairways, waterholes, rolling hills and mountain views make the north and south courses beautiful and challenging. The seaside resort offers a variety of guest rooms, tennis and a spa.