State of Play: The 10 Best States if You Want to Play Golf

The sport of golf generates $20 billion annually, according to Tourism Review. Much of that money comes in the form of travel, tourism, and vacation spending. 

So, where to play golf occupies a good number of people’s minds. And while all 50 states have public and private golf courses, there is a wide chasm between the have and have nots. 

With so many options and world-class courses, it can be hard to narrow down which state you should explore next.

In the following article, we’ll discuss the ten best states for golf and which ones might have just what you’re looking for in your next vacation. 

10. Play Golf in Georgia

The Masters—do we need to say more? No, but we will. There’s much more to Georgia than the world-famous Augusta National. A top find, best public course resides at Sea Island. And Reynolds Plantation enjoys a reputation as one of the state’s standouts. These courses alone bring golfers from all around the world to the Peach State.

Come in April to experience the best of what Georgia has to offer. 

9. New York

The Empire State has some of the best golf courses in the country but is lower on our list because prices are higher and crowds are sometimes thick. However, no list of the nation’s best golf states is complete without mentioning the home of Oak Hill and Winged Foot. And if you don’t have the in to set foot on private courses like those or Shinnecock Hills, New York also has excellent public courses.

New York has hosted 18 of the U.S.’s national championships, and the Open and the Ryder Cup loves to compete on Bethpage Black.

With great golf fans and courses like Trump Ferry Point, New York is an upscale golfer’s playground.

8. Illinois

Oh, that Tumbling Town! From Walker Cups and PGA Championships and U.S. Opens and Ryder Cups, the Land of Lincoln is a scratch golfer’s dream. The cream of the crop is probably Chicago Golf Club, but Butler National and Medinah are not far behind.

But there are hundreds of other courses throughout Illinois that don’t cost as much as these. Illionois boasts challenging courses, beautiful surroundings, and top-notch facilitates throughout the state.  

7. North Carolina

Ten of Golf Digest’s 100 greatest courses are in the Tar Heel State. Many consider North Carolina the birthplace of American-style golf, with famed course architect Donald Ross contributing to dozens of North Carolina courses.

Wade Hampton is considered the best course in the state but others like Pinehurst, Diamond Creek, and the world-class Quail Hollow will capture the imagination and are a delight to play.

6. Colorado

Colorado is famous for the Open play of Annika Sorenstam and Arnold Palmer. But more enticing are the amazing views and swinging hard a mile high. These are just some of the rewards of playing golf in the heart of the Rocky Mountains.

Ballyneal and Castle Pines are among the nation’s best courses, and Cherry Hills in Denver and Broadmoor in Colorado Springs are legendary for their beautiful scenery and challenging layouts. 

5. Michigan

To many, Michigan is golf’s summer home due to the sheer number of courses. It has the most courses per capita, and many of the best are five-star affairs. With often gorgeous views and challenging layouts, courses like Oakland Hills, Greywalls, TimberStone, and Sweetgrass are some of the nation’s premier golf destinations. 

However, northern Michigan has just as many courses as its southern sister but for less money and, in many cases, just as many five-star reviews. 

4. South Carolina

Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand are home to more than 100 public courses. The incredible convenience and variety of these coastal courses is a huge attraction to visitors. Also, beautiful courses abound in and around historic Charleston. One of the most famous is the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, where a legendary Ryder Cup was fought in 1991. 

Yeamans Hall, Secession, Congaree, the Dunes, and Sage Valley are a few South Carolina standouts. 

Oh, and did we mention Hilton Head? It’s only one of the most sought after golf destinations in the country. Add playability throughout much of the year, and the Palmetto State is one of the nation’s great golf destinations. 

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3. California

For the hundreds and hundreds of golf courses that California has to offer, it still boggles the mind that it is not easier to get a tee-time. But when golf is as popular as it is in California, maybe it’s no wonder that the courses are in demand. 

With its fantastic weather and eye-popping scenery, the Golden State is a world-class golf destination. Public courses like Torrey Pines and Pebble Beach are bucket-list destinations. Other world-renowned courses in California include Riviera, The Quarry, Mayacama, and the Stone Eagle. These courses all rank high on Golf Digests 100 Greatest Courses

Hey, the state must be doing something right to produce pros like Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods.

2. Arizona

The Grand Canyon State has the perfect weather for golf, if not a plethora of grass — at least off the greens! With eye-popping views, cactus, and lots of sun, Arizona is a golfer’s dream and a one-of-a-kind destination. 

The Estancia Club and Forest Highlands are a few of the state’s premier courses worth a visit. Also, Scottsdale is a world-class golf city with lots to do and many courses to enjoy.  

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1. Florida

All the pros live and play in the Sunshine State, so why shouldn’t you? Florida has more courses than any other state in the country, and one of them is sure to be the perfect price for your budget.

Seminole, TPC Sawgrass, and Calusa Pines are all practically household names. Fantastic facilities, unforgettable views, and almost perfect weather all year make Florida our best golf state in America. 

And the Worst

Now that we’ve highlighted the best placed to play golf, we’ll buzz by the worst. Alaska is a bust for its poor facilities and few courses, and New Hampshire is lame because of its plethora of dog tracks. 

But our biggest boondoggle is Hawaii. The quality of golf in the Aloha State is severely wanting, considering it should be amazing. Poor public facilities and amenities, coupled with astronomical prices, make Hawaii one of our biggest golf busts. 

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