Traveling to the Most Interesting and Challenging Golf Courses in the U.S

October 29, 2021

Tired of playing golf at the same old places? If you're ready to get away and also play some fantastic golf, here are our suggestions for traveling to the most exciting and challenging golf courses in the U.S. 

These are by no means the only fantastic golf courses in the country. But if you're going to be in any of these areas, they're a must-play. So grab your clubs and best golf accessories and get ready for excellent golf! 

Man post golf swing on the green

Saddlebrook Golf Club: Tampa, FL

It's always summer in Tampa, and what better thing to do than get in a round of golf? Saddlebrook Golf Club houses two of Tampa's best 18-hole golf courses, and both are designed by golfing legend Arnold Palmer. 

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Both courses are challenging, featuring fast greens, tight rough, a variety of sandy hazards, and towering cypress trees lining the fairways. However, the Palmer course is the more beginner-friendly of the two. 

Not only is the golf excellent on both courses, but the scenery is something to behold. The natural beauty of the surroundings includes both flora and fauna. Palm trees and pine trees are scattered amongst the cypress, and chances are high you'll see herons, storks, turtles, and even gators. 

ground view of palm trees along golf course with ocean in the background at Dunes Golf and Beach Club in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, USA

photo credit: Dunes Golf & Beach Club/Facebook

Dunes Golf & Beach Club: Myrtle Beach, SC

Dunes Golf Club is a top-notch course that has hosted multiple PGA and LPGA events in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It was designed back in 1948 by Robert Trent Jones, who has since become known as one of the best golf course architects to have ever lived. 

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Guests are allowed, but it may be a good idea to find a local member to get you in. The oceanside course is a gem to play, and even if the golf isn't going well, the spectacular surroundings are worth marveling over. 

Rolling,tree-lined fairways, and speedy greens make for challenging gameplay. The signature 13th hole, "Waterloo," features a tricky dogleg and a water hazard. It's been named one of the best holes in the world to play. 

aerial view of water and greens at Legends on Niagara Golf Course in Niagara, Ontario, Canada

photo credit: Legends on Niagara Golf Course/facebook

Legends on the Niagara: Niagara Falls, ON

Two top-quality championship golf courses and a par-3 course reside in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Designed by golf architects Thomas McBroom and Douglas Carrick, you can look forward to interesting play for newbies, mid-handicappers, and pros.

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The Battlefield Course is a links-style layout with forest-bound greens, which are deceiving at the end of open, wide fairways. Ussher's Creek requires your full attention, as the hazards include wetlands, thick rough, and closely-packed clusters of trees. 

The Chippawa Executive course may be a par-3 course, but it has its fair share of trickiness. You'll need to be on your best performance to make par on this course. 

ground view of golf course at Lakewood Golf Club in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

photo credit: Lakewood Golf Club/facebook

Lakewood Golf Club: New Orleans, LA 

If you're in New Orleans and need something to do between the nightlife and the music, the Lakewood Golf Club welcomes residents and non-residents to play on its rolling green fairways. 

At 60 years old, the club has hosted 26 New Orleans Opens and is a firm favorite in the area. Designed by Ron Garl, the par-72 course is unique and fun to play. 

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The signature 18th hole, known as "Fire in the Hole," features bunkers of red sand in the shape of flames. These are a tribute to New Orleans firefighters and have made this course one-of-a-kind. 

man teeing off at golf course on cloudy day

Philadelphia Cricket Club Golf Course: Philadelphia, PA 

Don't be fooled by the fact that this club has "cricket" in its name. It's the only golf club in the country to have a golf course built in each of the last three centuries. 

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The St. Martins course is a quick but pleasant 9-hole course. The Wissahickon course was initially designed and built in the 1920s and underwent a revamp almost a century later, in 2013. 2002 saw the latest course open, Militia Hill championship 18-hole course. 

ground view of Red Tail Golf course on sunny day in Boston, Massachusetts, USA

photo credit: Red Tail Golf Club/facebook

Red Tail Golf Club: Boston, MA

This course is a little more expensive than others and a bit of a drive from the city, but it's worth the cost and the trip. Not only is it gorgeous, being built in a forest setting and named after red-tailed hawks that inhabit the course, but the golf is excellent for golfers of all skill levels.

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The woods, meandering hills, tall grass, and a variety of ponds and streams make it both beautiful and exciting to play. Surrounded by tightly packed trees, you'll need to be very precise to get a good score on this course. 

ground view of flowers along the greens with mountains in the background at Mountain Course at La Quinta in Los Angeles, California, USA

photo credit: Mountain Course at La Quinta/facebook

Mountain Course at La Quinta: Southern California 

If you aren't distracted by the beautiful view of the Santa Rosa mountains' blend of rocky outcrops and lush greenery, you'll enjoy the golf on this gem of a course in Southern California. 

Two holes stand out on this course. The 7th is a deceiving par-5 with an undulating, raised green. There's a chance for an eagle, but be careful of the giant water hazard. 

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Don't get distracted by the fantastic view of La Quinta on the signature 16th hole. Take your eyes off the hole, and you'll miss this par-3. The green floats in the surrounding desert and your only chance of par is to land in the middle of it. 

Avery Ranch Golf Course: Austin, TX

A visit to Austin, Texas, wouldn't be complete without a round at Avery Ranch. It's open to the public and has a variety of other activities nearby, including hiking and fishing. 

Stunning wildlife abounds, thanks to the neighboring trail and lake. In terms of golf play, there's a variety of different holes that will keep you interested and challenged. 

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The par-3 13th hole is a challenger, set in the narrow space between a limestone cliff and a deep creek. Get a shot slightly wrong, and you'll find yourself in trouble. 

But the signature 18th hole is considered to be one of the best course finishers in the state. Steer too much to the left, and you'll be stuck. You'll need a straight shot as you approach the green on this 477-yard par-4. 

overlooking golf course at sunset with pink and orange skies in Stonelick Hills Golf Club in Cincinnati Ohio, USA

photo credit: Stonelick Hills Golf Club facebook

Stonelick Hills Golf Club: Cincinnati, OH

Stonelick Hills is widely regarded as the best public course in the Cincinnati area. No matter your skill level, you'll find fun and excitement on this course, with just some of the hazards, including lakes, wooded areas, and an island green. 

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The 9th hole has been called the most fun golf hole in Ohio. This is where you'll find the island green, although it's a helpful 11,000 square feet in size. Don't get complacent, though. If you hit your drive too much to the right of the green, the sloping fairway will land your ball somewhere else entirely. 

ground view of golf course at Bent Creek Golf Course in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, USA

photo credit: Bent Creek Golf Course facebook

Bent Creek Golf Course: Gatlinburg, TN

This Gary Player-designed course is a mountain-and-valley split. The front nine plays flatter along the valley floor, while the back nine is set in exciting mountainous terrain. 

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Water hazards feature on almost every hole, and strategically-placed sand traps can trip you up if you aren't precise. 

Enjoy the scenery as well as the gameplay, but try not to get distracted, or you'll end up in the water. 

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