Despite the game originating in Scotland, Golf Courses in America can boast about its own litany of world class courses. These have hosted everything from majors to Ryder Cups and are held in the highest of esteem in the golfing world.
Augusta National Golf Club
There are few sporting arenas that transcend sports and make it into the public psyche. Names like Madison Square Garden, the Roman Coliseum and Wimbledon are just a few that do.
Add Augusta National Golf Club to that list.
Augusta National golf course is easily one of the most famous golf courses in the world with the only course potentially better known being the Old Course at St Andrews. It has become synonymous with the Masters and its name is used almost interchangeably with the event.
The club was founded in 1932 and held its first Masters in 1934. It has hosted the event every year since with the exception of 1943-1945 when it wasn’t played due to World War 2.
Membership with the club is private and while its numbers are not fully known, it sits somewhere around the 300 mark. Members are only accepted through invite and a rigorous vetting process. The initiation fee is said to be in the realm of $40,000.
TPC Sawgrass is one of those courses that golfers and non-golfers alike have seen, even if they don’t know it.
The Pete Dye design opened in 1980 and from 1982 has hosted the Players Championship, which at one point had the largest purse of any tournament in golf at $20 million.
The course’s fame comes from its famous 17th Island green and is the most pictured hole in golf. A short par 3 surrounded by water with nowhere to miss other than a small bunker and a walkway. Although it may be short, it throws up some of the most exciting finishes in golf, especially if the wind is blowing.
The course has no membership and is open to the public to play. Unfortunately, tee times book up months in advance and the cost per person varies between $450-$800.
Founded in 1919, Pebble Beach has a long and distinguished career. It is located in California and sits along a rugged coastline opening up to the Pacific Ocean on the south side of the Monterey Peninsula.
It has hosted the U.S. Open on 6 occasions, the PGA Championship once and is one of three courses that plays host to the annual AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Membership is expensive with a non-refundable initiation fee of $47,500 and ongoing fees of $315 per month.
Green fees are available to the public with a round costing $595 per person, a high price for 18 holes of golf.
Oakmont Country Club
Founded in 1903, Oakmont Country Club also has a supremely impressive past. It is located in the suburbs of Pittsburgh in western Pensylvania.
It has hosted the U.S. Open on 9 separate occasions, the PGA Championship 3 times, the U.S. Amateur 5 times and the U.S. Women’s Open twice.
A fun fact is that the stimpmeter, the device that measures the speed of greens, was developed after its creator Edward Stimpson attended the 1935 U.S. Open at Oakmont.
Oakmont is a private club and membership is available through invitation only. The initiation fee is $70,000 while annual fees are $12,000.
Shinnecock Hills Golf Club
Shinnecock Hills was established in 1891, making it the oldest golf club on this list and the fourth oldest in America.
The links style course is frequently voted amongst the best in America and is located in New York, between the Peconic Bay and Atlantic Ocean.
It has hosted a number of notable events throughout its history, including 5 U.S. Opens, a Walker Cup, a U.S. Women’s Amateur and a U.S. Amateur.
The club is private and little is known about its membership procedures. You must be invited to be able to play at the club and guests can expect to pay up to $350 per round.
A unique fact about the course is that golfers must hire a caddy. Walking the course is mandatory so don’t expect to see any buggies if you get the chance to play it.
Pine Valley Golf Club
Ok, so as far as famous golf courses go, Pine Valley may not be up there. You won’t see it hosting a major championship or a Ryder Cup. You won’t see it on the PGA Tour schedule. And unless you watch golf from decades ago, you will never see it televised.
Located in New Jersey, the course is consistently rated as the top course in America, if not the World. Pine Valley has secured the number one spot in the last two of Golf Digest’s biennial ‘Top 100 Golf Courses in America’ rankings.
The course has not held a notable event for decades, although it played host to the Walker Cup in 1936 and 1985 and was the venue for a match of Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf between Gene Littler and Byron Nelson in 1962.
Pine Valley does, however, host the Crump Cup. The Cup is an annual event between elite amateur golfers. The final day of the event is the only day of the year when the course opens up to the public, though no phones, cameras or recording equipment is allowed.
Pine Valley has around 930 members and acceptance into the club is by invitation only from the Board of Directors. It isn’t clear how much the initiation and annual fees are.
Bethpage Black, New York
Cypress Point, California
Torrey Pines, California
The Ocean Course, Kiawah Island, South Carolina
TPC Scottsdale, Arizona
And there you have it. The 6 Most Famous Golf Courses in America (plus some honourable mentions). Most golfers will never get a chance to play any of these courses so if you are fortunate to tee it up around one or more of these magnificent tracks, be sure to savour every swing.