Most everybody has heard about municipal courses like Bethpage, Chambers Bay and Torrey Pines where the U.S. Open has been played, but there are a great many fantastic muni’s that are less famous—and you may have one right in your backyard.
Below is the first 20 from GolfDay’s Top 50 Municipal courses in the U.S., listed by GolfDay rating.
1. Bethpage, Farmingdale, NY
New York State Parks
In addition to the world-renowned Black course designed by A. W. Tillinghast in 1935 and last updated by Rees Jones for the 2009 U.S. Open, Bethpage State Park also offers the Blue Course (another Tillinghast original that was updated by Francis Duane), the Green (designed by Deveraux Emmet, updated by Tillinghast and later by Francis Duane), the Red (Tillinghast and Francis Duane), and the Yellow course (designed by Alfred Tull and updated by Francis Duane).
GolfDay Rating: 100
2. Chambers Bay, University Place, WA
Built on the shores of Puget Sound, Chambers Bay is a classic links course designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. Host to the 2010 U.S. amateur and then the U.S. Open in 2015, Chambers Bay also offers a top notch practice facility as well as the Chambers Bay Academy with a variety of outstanding junior golf programs.
GolfDay Rating: 100
3. Torrey Pines, San Diego, CA
City of San Diego
With breathtaking views from the cliffs above the Pacific Ocean, the North and South courses at Torrey Pines, originally designed by William F. Bell, are something special. An annual PGA tour venue with the Farmers Insurance Open, Torrey Pines also hosted the 2008 U.S. Open where Tiger Woods had one of his most memorable victories.
GolfDay Rating: 99.9
4. TPC Scottsdale, Scottsdale, AZ
City of Scottsdale
TPC Scottsdale offers desert golf at its finest, with two great tracks designed by Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish. The Stadium course is host to the Waste Management Phoenix Open each year, one of the most popular and exciting stops on the PGA Tour. When you reach the par 3 sixteenth hole you may still hear echoes of the raucous cheering from the massive “coliseum” crowd.
GolfDay Rating: 97.4
5. Gold Mountain, Bremerton, WA
City of Bremerton
When John Harbottle III passed away suddenly in 2012 at the age of 53, he left us with two wonderful course designs to remember him by, the Olympic and Cascades at Gold Mountain Golf Club. Sculpted from the magnificent terrain and majestic pines of northwestern Washington, each course is demanding yet playable, and kept in beautiful condition by course superintendent Abel Anderson.
GolfDay Rating: 96.5
6. Trump Golf Links-Ferry Point, Bronx, NY
City of New York
Jack designed a stiff test of golf with beautiful views of the Manhattan skyline for residents of New York and visitors alike. Ferry Point also offers a manicured driving range and short game facility that is as good as it gets, as well as being home to the Michael Breed Golf Academy.
GolfDay Rating: 96.1
7. Incline Village, Incline Village, NV
Incline Village and Crystal Bay
Overlooking Lake Tahoe, the Championship course designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. and updated by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. is an experience not soon forgotten. The executive Mountain course is also an RTJ design, and while not as demanding as the championship course, every bit as enjoyable to play.
GolfDay Rating: 95.9
8. Chaska Town Course, Chaska, MN
City of Chaska
Only ten minutes from Hazeltine National (host of the 1970 and 1991 U.S. Opens as well as the PGA Championship in ’02 and ’09), Chaska Town Course is one of the finest municipal facilities in the country. Featuring an 18-hole championship course designed by Arthur Hills and a wonderful Robert Trent Jones, Sr. executive layout, Chaska also offers a complete practice facility and variety of Junior golf programs.
GolfDay Rating: 93.9
9. Haggin Oaks, Sacramento, CA
City of Sacramento
Alister MacKenzie is one of the towering figures in golf course architecture, and Haggin Oaks is home to one of his rare designs open for public play. Offering 36 holes as well as a variety of options for ladies golf, a terrific practice facility and junior golf program, the residents of Sacramento are fortunate indeed to have such a great facility available to their community.
GolfDay Rating: 93.6
10. Tanglewood Park, Clemmons, NC
Tanglewood includes two terrific Robert Trent Jones, Sr. eighteen-hole layouts as well as an eighteen-hole par 3 course. The championship course was the scene of Lee Trevino’s thrilling victory over Jack Nicklaus in the 1974 PGA Championship. A lighted grass driving range and complete short-game practice facility provide a perfect place to work on your game.
GolfDay Rating: 93.4
11. Moody Gardens Golf Course, Galveston, TX
City of Galveston
Designed by Donald Ross in 1921 and updated by Jim Hardy and Peter Jacobsen in 2008, Moody Gardens is a true classic. The Dallas Morning News ranked Moody Gardens number 13 among all public courses in the state of Texas. A quality range and short-game facility is available and junior golf programs are offered throughout the summer.
GolfDay Rating: 93.3
12. Pinon Hills, Farmington, NM
City of Farmington
Southwest golf at its best, this Ken Dye masterpiece uses every feature of the beautiful New Mexico Landscape. Pinon Hills is also home to the First Tee of San Juan County, with a first-rate practice facility where junior golfers can develop their game.
GolfDay Rating: 92.9
13. Galloping Hill, Kenilworth, NJ
Robert Trent Jones, Sr. remodeled this Willard Wilkinson layout in 1949, and it has been updated by notable course architects such as Alfred Tull and Stephen Kay. The latest update, by Rees Jones, was completed in 2014. Galloping Hill also offers a nine-hole executive learning course, all-weather practice facilities, and a golf academy.
GolfDay Rating: 92.5
14. Maumee Bay, Oregon, OH
Ohio State Parks
A gorgeous Arthur Hills links-style layout through the Lake Erie wetlands, Maumee Bay also offers a grass driving range, complete short game practice facility, and first-rate accommodations at the Lodge and Conference Center.
GolfDay Rating: 92.0
15. Bryan Park Golf Club, Browns Summit, NC
City of Greensboro
Bryan Park offers 36 holes of golf with a demanding Rees Jones design (Champions) and classic George Cobb/John LaFoy layout (Players). In addition, the Bryan Park Golf Practice & Learning Center with Robert Linville Precision Golf School is among the top facilities in the country. Expansive grass driving range with twelve target greens, as well as putting and chipping greens with multiple bunkers provide low handicap and novice golfers alike the perfect place to hone their game.
GolfDay Rating: 91.9
16. Inniscrone, Avondale, PA
London Grove Township
Inniscrone was designed by Gil Hanse, opening to rave reviews in 1999. The classic layout provides a stiff test of golf for the most accomplished player, while additional tee boxes make the course fun for golfers at every level. Inniscrone also offers a grass range and short-game facility with warm-up balls included with your greens fee.
GolfDay Rating: 91.6
17. Lassing Pointe Golf Course, Union, KY
Less than half an hour from Cincinnati, Lassing Pointe is a wonderful Michael Hurdzan design laid down in the beautiful northern Kentucky countryside of Boone County. Golfweek ranks Lassing Pointe as the best public course in the state, and we certainly agree. In addition to a great course, Lassing Pointe offers a high-end practice facility and first-rate junior golf programs.
GolfDay Rating: 90.2
18. Neshanic Valley Golf Course, Branchville, NJ
When Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry completed these wonderful 27 holes in the farmlands of western New Jersey, their next project was Erin Hills, a true masterpiece and site of the 2017 U.S. Open. In addition to three splendid 9-hole courses, Neshanic offers a 9-hole executive “Academy” course as well as a grass driving range, putting and chipping greens with bunkers and 2 additional practice holes.
GolfDay Rating: 89.8
19. Normandy Shores Golf Club, Miami Beach, FL
City of Miami
Designed and built by the legendary architectural firm of Toomey & Flynn, Normandy Shores opened for play in 1941. Other notable courses designed by William Flynn include The Country Club in Brookline, MA, Shinnecock Hills in Southampton, NY and Merion (East) in Ardmore, PA. In 2008 Arthur Hills was commissioned to bring Normandy Shores back to its former glory, and he did so magnificently.
GolfDay Rating: 89.8
20. TPC Harding Park, San Francisco, CA
City of San Francisco
PGA Tour architect Chris Gray has done a masterful job bringing the TPC course at Harding Park back to the original vision of Willie Watson, who also designed the Olympic Club and holds a special place in golf history. In addition to the TPC course, Harding Park includes The Fleming Nine, an executive nine-hole course designed by Jack Fleming, an outstanding course designer in his own right and one of the most important figures in the history of San Francisco golf.
GolfDay Rating: 88.9
Are you looking for a great golf course? There may be a municipal jewel right around the corner that you didn’t realize was there. Don’t waste your time at a dog track!! Check out the GolfDay website for more information about the best golf courses around.