Traveling to the Golden State? Read Essential Golf’s list of the best golf courses in California.
California is home to some of the most famous golf courses anywhere in the United States. If you’re planning on enjoying a vacation in the west coast then there is plenty of choice over where to get your clubs out and play.
Along the shores of the west coast are many PGA TOUR regulars including Pebble Beach, home to the annual Pro-Am; Riviera Country Club; Torrey Pines and The Olympic Club; and Cypress Point. You are literally spoilt for choice when it comes to deciding which courses to play.
We’ve picked out the five best golf courses in California.
When it comes to settings, Pebble Beach has one of the most stunning sceneries in golf anywhere in the world—let alone in California. Pebble Beach Golf Club has hosted the PGA TOUR National Pro-Am tournament since 1947, as well as five U.S. Opens and one PGA Championship. The course is a true test for golfers of all abilities. Tee times don’t come cheap, but if you do play Pebble Beach you’ll be treated to some of the most famous holes including the stretch along the Pacific Ocean with holes 7-10 the ones that catch the attention most.
Cypress Point is as secret as golf gets in this part of the world. The superb course is a semi-private members-only club situated on some of the most impressive coastal terrain on the Monterey Peninsula in Pebble Beach. Only a select few get to play Cypress Point, but if you do get to tee it up in the foothills of the Santa Lucia Mountains, it will no doubt be special. The clifftop course is spectacular, with a dramatic trio of holes along the Pacific Ocean on the closing stretch, so much so that the 15th, 16th and 17th are regarded among the best holes in the world. If you somehow manage to get a round here, you’ll have a caddie to help you plot your way around.
Riviera Country Club
Located in the south of California state in Pacific Palisades, Riviera Country Club offers a real test for any golfer—it’s high on the list of the best golf courses in California. It is home to the Genesis Open every year on the PGA TOUR and a former host of both the U.S. Open and PGA Championship. It will also stage golf at the Olympic Games in 2028. The course offers a real treat with the 4th hole described as the “best par-3 in America” by Ben Hogan and the 6th having a bunker in the middle of the green. There’s even a tree named after Humphrey Bogart!
One of California’s best public courses which hugs the Pacific Ocean, Torrey Pines is located in San Diego and owned by the city. There’s 36 holes and two courses—the North and the South—built on a former Army camp. PGA TOUR stars head to the venue each year for the Farmers Insurance Open. It is first-come first-served when it comes to tee times, so turn up early on a weekend if you want to play Torrey Pines and sample a past U.S. Open venue.
The Olympic Club
When it comes to views, The Olympic Club has some of the most impressive, with the San Francisco venue not only winding along the coast of the Pacific Ocean but also offering vantage points to see the Golden Gate Bridge too. There are three courses at The Olympic Club with the Lake the most renowned as well as the Ocean and the Cliffs, a nine-hole option. The Lake Course has hosted five U.S. Opens and will stage the Ryder Cup in 2032. You’ll need plenty of length, the ability to play from sloping fairways and not be daunted by trees because there’s more than 40,000 of them the Lake Course!
If you’ve enjoyed this feature on the best golf courses in California, click here to read about a selection of excellent courses in Italy.
See also: Big Cedar Lodge