The best golf courses in America aren’t much of a secret. Pinehurst, Bandon Dunes, and Pebble Beach occupy every golfer’s bucket list. But there are so may high-quality greens and fairways out there that there’s no reason for all of us to obsess over the same handful of courses.
So, we’ve dug up seven underrated golf destinations that have all of the golf you could hope for and a fraction of the crowds. Now you can repopulate your must-visit list with far more attainable options, from lakeside resort courses to cities with the best value golf courses municipal links to mountain courses that are linked together by a single highway.
Grab your golf shoes and hit the road.
Best Golf Trips to Beat the Crowds
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (The U.P.) is a rugged and remote spit of land sticking into Lake Superior that’s best known for its outdoor adventure and resourceful locals dubbed “Yoopers.” People traveling to the U.P. bring their skis and mountain bikes, depending on the season, but I’d argue it’s worth carrying your clubs as well; there are more than 50 golf courses in the area, offering a staggering diversity of terrain.
This former railroad hub in East Washington is a haven of high-quality public courses, with four municipal courses scattered throughout the city and three more county courses in the outskirts. It also might be one of the most affordable golf destinations in the West, with the majority of greens fees hovering around the $50 range.
The landscape surrounding Grand Junction, in Colorado’s Western Slope, is a wild mix of canyons, towering sandstone outcroppings, and The Grand Mesa—the world’s largest flat top mountain. It’s also a sneaky good golf destination, with a handful of affordable courses that make the most of the surrounding terrain for an unforgettable experience on the links.
Hickory Nut Gorge, a 14-mile-long canyon in the foothills of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains has a lot going for it. It has tons of rock to climb, a lake to paddle, and a burgeoning system of trails to hike and bike.
Gull Lake is the largest in a chain of natural spring-fed lakes, with 2,300 acres of water that’s considered one of the best bluegill and walleye fisheries in the Midwest. It’s also a popular resort area with several courses in close proximity designed by well-known course architects like Robert Trent Jones Jr. and Arnold Palmer.
Golf in the Mountain State? Absolutely. Not only do most of the state parks have legitimate (and affordable) courses, West Virginia is home to some of the best resort courses in the country.
Vermont’s Route 100 cruises by an even dozen ski resorts in just over 200 miles, which obviously makes it a key winter destination. Less obvious? A number of those ski resorts have invested heavily in golf to help attract the summer crowd, building courses that make the most of the Green Mountains’ rugged terrain. The highway is essentially bookmarked by Jay Peak on the north end and Mount Snow to the south, both of which have quality courses.