Top 9 Most Famous and Prestigious Golf Courses in America

The United States is home to some of the most prestigious and challenging golf courses in the world. 

We will take a look at the history and establishment of each course, as well as current membership and cost statistics.

We will also explore the number of leagues that have been hosted in each course and what makes them so special. 

Whether you are a seasoned pro or just starting out on your golf hobby, these 9 golf courses will give you a taste of what the sport has to offer.

Pebble Beach Golf Links: Pebble Beach, California

Pebble Beach Golf Course

Pebble Beach Golf Links, located on the west coast of the United States of America, is one of the most famous golf courses in the world.

In fact, it's been termed the most beautiful golf course in the US.

Located in Pebble Beach, next to the cliffs of Stillwater Cove and Carmel Bay it's also home to some of the most challenging holes you'll come across.  

The course was initially a part of the Hotel Del Monte, founded by Charles Crocker in 1880. It was later expanded and revamped in 1919. 

This prestigious golf course is open to the public, but with an initial membership fee of $575. 

You'll also have to pay a $45 cart fee for each round you play and a $95 caddie fee.

Needless to say, the golf course still attracts a large majority of amateur golfers.

What makes Pebble Beach a standout is that it has hosted 5 U.S. Open championships, several U.S. Amateur and U.S. Women's Amateur championships

The Links at Spanish Bay is another popular golf course located at Pebble Beach that is known as a tough, target course.

Augusta National Golf Club: Augusta, Georgia

Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, was founded by Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts in 1932, two years before they launched the Master Tournament.

The course was designed by Alister MacKenzie and opened for play in 1933.

It's undoubtedly one of the most famous golf courses in America and the world for that matter

Amen Corner, Rae's Creek, Eisenhower Tree, colorful azaleas, dogwoods and blazing fast greens and the Green Jacket are just a few of the features this iconic golf course has become known for over the years. 

The last, in particular, is one of the most coveted prizes in all of golf.

If you have a green jacket, you are either a member of one of the prestigious golf clubs or, even better, a Masters champion.

Over the years, the club has invested millions of dollars in acquiring the real estate surrounding its courses and facilities to attract more big-name members (think Wall Street billionaires) and gain more prestige. 

To this day, this highly exclusive club does not publicly comment on its membership numbers.

However, it is widely believed that it has about 300 members, most of whom are among the richest and most influential people in the world.

The Masters' Tournament is held each year at Augusta National and is one of the four major championships in professional golf.

The other three are the U.S. Open Championship, The Open Championship, and the U.S. PGA Championship. 

For the longest time, only men were allowed to become members until Augusta National admitted its first two female members in 2012.

There is currently no process for applying for membership at this golf course, but those who are lucky enough to be invited to join must part ways with an initiation fee of $250,000 to $500,000.

Pinehurst Resort: Pinehurst, North Carolina

If you are looking for an all-encompassing golf, spa and dining destination, Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina is the place to go. 

With nine championship golf courses, a luxurious spa and an impressive selection of restaurants, the resort has something for everyone.

In addition, Pinehurst is known as the "Cradle of American Golf." It was here that golf was first played as a full-fledged sport in the United States. 

The course has hosted numerous other tournaments and championships since 1898. Many of the country's most famous golf courses were designed by its legendary architects. 

So if you are a fan of golf (or just want to try something new), Pinehurst Resort is definitely worth a visit.

Membership at Pinehurst Resort is currently by invitation only.

The resort primarily focuses on inviting local property and business owners to join as members. 

However, this should not hinder you from visiting and enjoying the resort, as overnight rates start at $195 and include plenty of complimentary services.

Bethpage State Park: Farmingdale, New York.

Bethpage State Park Golf Course is a mecca of public golf and features five 18-hole regulation golf courses, including the world-famous Black Course. 

The Black Course at Bethpage State Park Golf Course is considered one of the best golf courses in the world.

The Bethpage State Park Golf Course complex also includes four other golf courses.

The park has been in use since the early 1930s when the Bethpage Park Authority purchased Lenox Hills Country Club and other adjacent properties to establish what we know today as Bethpage State Park. 

Renowned golf course architect A.W. Tillinghast designed the three new golf courses (Black, Red and Blue) and improved the Lenox Hills Course, which now is Green Course. 

Due to the high demand for golf courses in the mid-20th century, the Yellow Course, designed by Alfred Tull, opened in 1958. 

Bethpage does not disclose much about membership details, but per-play rates at the different courses range from $15 to $160.

These fees also include cart fees, which usually start at $7-$15.

Torrey Pines Golf Course: La Jolla, California

Torrey Pines Golf Course

There are over 72 golf courses in San Diego, ranging from desert to mountain courses. But none stands out as much as Torrey Pines due to its unique features. 

Torrey Pines Golf Course is owned by the city of San Diego and located in La Jolla, California, is home to two 18-hole championship courses. 

The North Course is known for its ocean views overhanging the cliffs, while the South Course is known for its tight fairways and fast greens. 

This makes it an incredible golf course for anyone looking to polish up their golf skills while relaxing and enjoying the outdoors.

Membership at Torrey Pines Golf Club is $500 for the first year. with membership renewals for subsequent years following at $175.

Oakmont Country Club: Oakmont, Pennsylvania

Oakmont Country Club

Oakmont Country Club is one of the most highly respected golf courses in the world.

It is ranked #5 on the Business Times list of the 100 greatest golf courses in the United States. 

What makes this course so special?

With awkward tee shots, pitched fairways and lightning-fast greens, it is known for being one of the most difficult courses to play. 

It also had the rare privilege of being designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987. If you want to challenge yourself, Oakmont is definitely the course for you.

Oakmont is not only a world-class golf course but also a popular destination for events and tournaments.

It will host the U.S. Open in 2034 and has hosted numerous PGA and LPGA tournaments over the coming years. 

Membership initiation fees start at a mind-boggling $75,000.

Shinnecock Hills Golf Club: Southampton, New York

Shinnecock Hills Golf Club

Shinnecock Hills Golf Club is a private golf club in Southampton, New York. It was founded in 1891 and designed by William Flynn.

The course has hosted five U.S. Opens and is currently ranked fourth on Golf Digest's list of America's 100 Greatest Golf Courses.

The original twelve-hole golf course was designed by Willie Davis and later expanded to eighteen holes in 1895.

Shinnecock utilizes its natural terrain of the Shinnecock Hills and is said to resemble a number of the British Isles. 

It has been recognized by multiple publications as one of the finest golf courses in the United States and has been host to major U.S.G.A. events since its inception. 

These include several U.S. Open Championships, the U.S. Amateur, the Women's Amateur and the Walker Cup Match.

The 2026 U.S. Open Championship is set to be held at Shinnecock.  

Not much is revealed about membership fees but per-course rates at the club start at $70.

Merion Golf Club: Ardmore, Pennsylvania.

Merion Golf Club

If you are looking for an elite golfing experience, look no further than the Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pennsylvania.

This prestigious club was ranked the sixth best golf course in the nation by Golf Digest and many golfers (pro and amateur alike) consider it one of the very best in the world. 

When it hosted the 2013 U.S. Open--Merion Golf Club's first since 1971-- it displayed all of the best ideas and innovations in recent golf architecture.

One of the most notable features of the Merion Golf Club is the absence of traditional flagsticks.

Instead, willow baskets are used. No one knows the true origin of the wicker basket but there are a number of theories. 

One is that golf course architect Hugh Wilson happened upon local sheep herders in England while studying golf courses in the area.

They used wicker baskets to store their lunches in so the animals could not steal them.

He liked the idea, so he kept it! How true this, we don't know.

Either way, expect Merion to live up to high expectations, and quite possibly even exceeded them.

According to Forbes, initiation fees match the luxurious nature of the course and start at $70,000. Annual renewal fees start at $6,000 and tend to go higher.

National Golf Links of America: Southampton, New York

National Golf Links of America

The private golf course spans 253 acres and was designed by Charles Blair Macdonald, who is credited with shaping the sport of golf as we know it.

Through his trips to Great Britain in 1902 and 1904, 

Macdonald gained an understanding of what made some golf holes more special than others.

His motivation was to uncover the design strategies that ensured that holes were just as delightful the 100th time as they were the first.

He concluded that sandy soil was a must for the 'ideal' course, that wind was critical, and that the environment should be predominantly tree-free because trees reduce the challenge by blocking the wind.

Convinced of the merits of his belief, he set out to eastern Long Island in search of a site that would allow him to capture the playing characteristics of the most famous holes he had seen overseas.

This gave birth to the National Golf Links of America, a renowned golf course in Southampton, New York.

Opened in 1911 and it has hosted numerous leagues and competitions over the decades.

Macdonald’s life-long involvement with National Golf Links of America raised golf course architecture to a greater stand than it had before. 

This exemplary facility has an initiation fee of $150,000, in addition to the $10,000 annual membership renewal.

Despite the high price tag the club continues to attract new members (by invitation only).


Each of these golf courses offers its own unique features and challenges and boasts an impressive history dating back to the early days of the sport.

From California to New York, these courses offer something for everyone.

So if you are looking for a challenging round of golf or just want to experience some of the most beautiful scenery in the country, these are your top 9 courses.

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