Best Golf Destinations

The Golfer’s Bucket List: The Best Golf Trips you need to Book Now

Are you looking for the best golf trips but have no clue where to start searching? One of the many amazing things about the great game of golf is that you can play it worldwide and meet new people around the globe. There are hundreds of thousands of courses around the world for you and your golfing buddies to tee it up.

But figuring out where to start planning your next golf trip is pretty overwhelming. Depending on your location, you might only be a short drive to an incredible golf destination. Or, you might be hours away and need to catch a flight to make it happen. 

Either way, traveling to play new golf courses is almost always worth it. I suggest making a list with some of your frequented buddies and start planning 1-2 a year. Once you read this post, you’ll know exactly which trip you should tackle next.

Planning Golf Trips

Before we dive into booking these amazing golf trips, let’s talk about planning them. This way you can easily compare golf destinations and figure out which is next up for your vacation. 

Destination 

The first thing to start thinking about when planning your golf is planning where you want to go. Do you want to travel somewhere close? Or, take a flight over the pond to the home of golf for an unforgettable golf experience? Planning the two are very different tasks as you need to figure out flights, hotels, golf reservations, and a lot more. 

The first step is brainstorming with your buddies about where you want to play in the world. Is it a stop on the PGA Tour? Do you want to play a true bucket list course like Pebble Beach or St. Andrews? Or, is it just a fun trip that is solely focused on golf? 

Once you’ve narrowed your choices down, the next thing to consider is budget.

Budget

As you know, golf is not a cheap sport. From golf clubs, gadgets, and tee times, it all adds up fast. Traveling to play epic courses only adds to it (but it’s more than worth it of course).

Once you have a few selections for your next destination, do some research on the budget that is required for each golfer to go. Think about things like:

  • Tee times: Do they have more than course with different green fees? Package deals? Stay-n-play?
  • Transportation: Will you need to book flights (read here on tips to flying with golf clubs)? Will you need to rent a car? Take a train? The farther you are from your destination, the more costly it is for round trip transportation.
  • Lodging: How much will it cost to stay per night? Does the course require you to stay on premise to book tee times in advance? How many people per room? Are there houses nearby to rent? 
  • Other costs: These might include dining (is any included), other activities like sporting events, non-golf excursions (fishing, sailing, etc.). 

This step is crucial in planning an awesome golf getaway. Ideally, you’ll want to price out the trip per person or per couple so you can start pitching people on the idea and give them a ballpark price range. 

Length of Trip 

Another important factor is the length of time your golf trip will take. While longer is more fun and has more time to hit bombs and make birdies, it has downsides as well. 

First off, longer trips mean a higher budget which might not work for everyone in your group. Second, the longer the trip means more time off of work as well. While 2-3 days might be enough for some trips that are close in proximity, others (like Ireland) might mean 10-11 days to get the full experience. 

Number of People 

Finally, don’t forget to factor in the number of golfers joining you as well. While more golfers is more fun and makes for better gambling games, it is also more complicated to plan as well.

But, sometimes certain resorts and golf courses will have packages for bigger groups (like birthday parties, bachelor parties, etc.). Now that you have a better understanding of what to think about for your next trip, let’s dive into the nearly endless possibilities. 

Best Golf Trip

Best Golf Destinations in US 

While the home of golf might have originated from over the pond, there are some amazing golf vacations here in the United States as well. Here are some of our top picks:

Monterey, CA 

Monterey is such an awesome place for golfers as it has some of the most iconic courses with epic views that are rich with history. Think of Tom Watson chipping in on the 71st hole of the 1982 U.S. Open. Or, Tiger Woods pouncing on the field in the 2000 U.S. Open and beating them by 15 shots in arguably the best performance of his career! 

You can relive all of those memories and create your own at some of these amazing venues. 

Places to Play in Pebble Beach

Pebble Beach

When you think of bucket list trips in golf, it’s impossible to not add Pebble Beach to the list. The course isn’t cheap to play (one of the highest green fees on Earth) but it’s a piece of golfing history. Each hole has a ton of character, stunning views, and perfect playing conditions to make for an amazing round of golf. 

Spyglass Hills

While Spyglass isn’t as world renowned, a lot of people actually consider it better than Pebble Beach! I know it’s hard to believe but it’s a truly iconic course that has a few ocean holes before turning back inward with tree-laced fairways. I like to think of Spyglass as the West Coast Augusta National- slick greens, tight fairways, and amazing course conditions.  

Spanish Bay

The third place to paly at the resort is Spanish Bay which isn’t as famous as the previous two but still a great track. Several holes ride the Pacific Ocean and are the easiest of the three tracks. Plus, it’s a few hundred bucks cheaper than Spyglass or Pebble which makes it more cost effective for the everyday golfer. 

Poppy Hills

Another popular option in the Carmel area is Poppy Hills. This club is a stop for the PGA Tour Champions and is a Golf Digest Top 100 Public Golf Course. Rates are around $200 per player and still provide a great golfing experience in Pebble Beach. 

Pros 

Golf History. As soon as you arrive at the resort, you can feel the golf history instantly.

When you walk through the clubhouse, pro shop, and the grounds, you can’t forget about all the iconic tournaments that have taken place at Pebble. Plus, they have all kinds of golf memorabilia, trophies, and more to remind of the truly historic events that have happened over the years.

Iconic Views. Perhaps the best part of the Monterey area are the incredible views. The first few holes of Spyglass are near the Pacific Ocean and a large stretch of Holes on Pebble are right on the ocean as well. 

Hole #7 at Pebble Beach is the short par-3 that is only 100 yards away but can play double the distance with wind. Hole #8 requires your approach to carry the ocean, and the next two holes have the ocean on your right. Make sure to hire a caddy so someone can document the trip and get some pictures with the Pacific Ocean as a truly iconic backdrop. 

Cons

Price. Don’t get me wrong, I expect bucket list trips to cost more than a normal round of golf but Pebble doesn’t make it easy for the average golfer to make it happen. Rounds are between $300 at Spanish Bay, $400 at Spyglass, and $500+ at Pebble Beach. 

Not to mention, you have to stay at the resort to make a tee time in advance. Did I mention the starting room at the resort (2-night minimum) is about $600 for a pretty standard hotel room? 

Plus, caddy fees (optional but encouraged), flights, and possibly renting a car to get to the resort. The experience costs a pretty penny but if you’re going to go, splurge and play Spyglass and Pebble to make it worth it. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed. 

Weather. While the weather is more consistent than some destinations, you could still face some weird weather as it’s located right on the ocean. Plan accordingly and expect some rain in the winter months

Bandon, OR 

One of the premiere golf destination on the West Coast is Bandon Dunes. Bandon has a total of five full size 18 holes, a par 3 (Bandon Preserve) and a 100,000 square feet putting green known as the Punchbowl. 

While it’s not easy to play all five in a single golf trip, it’s worth returning to for a second visit to play the rest and repeat your favorites. The best way to book this trip is through Bandon Dunes website directly so you can incorporate transportation, lodging, and golf with a single package. Plus, they are used to handling large groups of people which makes it easier for the person in charge of booking everything. 

Another place to play in Oregon is the Bend/Sunriver area. They have incredible options from great designers like Tom Fazio and other top designers.

Places to Play

The six options for your next golfing vacation at Bandon Dunes are:

Bandon Dunes

The original, Bandon Dunes, was founded in 1999 and received the highest of praise ever since from everyone in the golfing community. It’s consistently made top 50 golf courses (and public courses) in the world by Golf Digest and is a truly iconic links layout that isn’t very common in the US. 

Pacific Dunes

Pacific Dunes opened two years after the original design and is a very different feel than Bandon. Pacific Dunes blends beautifully with the terrain to produce firm fairways, lots of wind, and 60-foot sand dunes. Get your game ready for this course as it’s a true test of your skills! 

Bandon Trails

The third course at the resort is Bandon Trails which has more a meadow feel than a traditional dunes layout. It is built into the coastal forest and ends with a stretch of holes in a normal, links style.

Old Macdonald

The fourth option on the property is Old Macdonald. These 18 holes have massive greens and deep bunkers in a very traditional, old-school design. 

Sheep Ranch

This final full-size track at Bandon is Sheep Ranch. It just opened in June 2020 and is only a mile from the ocean with several shots directly over the water.

It was originally intended to be a private course but after sitting for nearly a decade, it is the latest design to open at Bandon. No carts allowed on this course so get ready to walk! 

Bandon Preserve

If you need a break from full-length tracks, have some fun at the Bandon Preserve. This is a stellar par-3 course that will challenge you more than most executive style courses and is in perfect condition. 

Pros 

Huge selection of golf. With five full 18 holes, a par-3, and a fun putting course, you will not get bored at this spectacular resort. Not to mention, the courses are in fantastic shape year round. Since they have so many courses, even if an 18 is closed for seasonal maintenance, you can always play the other four as well. 

Caddies. There are no shortages of caddies available at Bandon and highly suggest taking advantage of them to make the round more enjoyable. With so much terrain, wind, and weather, caddies will make the experience a lot more fun. Plus, you’ll likely play better with their local knowledge as well. 

Lodging. If you’re going with a big group of guys, Bandon has exceptional lodging options right on the resort. They have five accommodations for all your lodging needs including spacious four-bedroom cottages at the Grove.

Cons

Weather: While Bandon might have some of the best courses in the United States it also has some of the most inconsistent weather ever. Locals say the best time of year to visit is in September but it’s also peak season rates. Allegedly, February is the other secret time to visit and get to play at off-season rates. Plan accordingly!

Location: Aside from a lot of wind and rain, getting to Bandon isn’t easy. The closest major airport is Portland which is still a 90-minute drive from the resort. Unless you fly in on a small private jet to the Bandon airport, expect a little bit of a drive after you take a flight to Portland.

Florida Golf Trip

Florida

The third destination on our list of amazing golfing vacations is moving coasts to sunny South Florida. If you want to tee it up where the PGA Tour pros live, South Florida might be the destination for you and your buddies. There are tons of great golf clubs and amazing weather to make it a great place to cure your winter blues. 

Best Public Golf Courses in Florida

For the sake of this article, we’ll keep it public options that anyone can book a tee time on (even if it’s cheap). Otherwise, we’d include places like Seminole (Tiger’s home club) and others.

TPC Sawgrass

Perhaps one of the most iconic holes in the world is the island green 17th at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, located in northeast Florida. Wedged between the difficult par-5 16th and long par-4 18th, it’s one of the best closing stretches ever. Pete Dye outdid himself here!

Not to mention, the other 15 holes are incredible as well and host the PGA Tour’s 5th Major (The Players Championship) each year. Overall, it’s an amazing golfing experience with other world-class facilities close by. Let’s get real, who doesn’t want a crack at the island green? 

You can also play the other option, Dye’s Valley, which hosts a Korn Ferry event and is also highly recommended. Plus, it’s only a fraction of the price. Book these directly through the TPC site for vacation packages and the “Tour Player Experience” as well. 

Streamsong  

Another great place to tee it up in Florida is the luxury Streamsong Resort near Tampa. This golf resort offers three stellar courses (the red, white, and blue) so you can play a ton of golf without much travel. In fact, they make it easy to stay at the resort and play with amazing accommodations and packages.

Some of their offerings include a Stay and Play 18 package, the Tour package, and more. Plus, there’s tons of non golf activities that are fun too including a spa, bass fishing, archery and more. Book this directly through Streamsong so you don’t have to find a hotel, rent a car or Uber, and can have everything you need in a single place.

Trump Doral

Another gem of Florida is the Trump Doral Golf Club in Miami Florida. While most golfers know “The Blue Monster” there are three other courses there that you can play for even cheaper! 

Plus, you can stay at the stunning resort and not have to rent a car or Uber to each course. They also have fine dining, a spa and other amenities to make it an awesome experience for a moderate price. I suggest booking this directly through the website to take advantage of any offers they’re running. 

Pros of Florida Golf 

Huge amount of options. There are more than 1,200 courses in the state of Florida! Are you kidding me? This is more than other state and makes it impossible to ever get bored playing the same place. Find an area you want to go to (Tampa, Miami, etc.) and start booking ones around you! 

Weather. They don’t call it the Sunshine state for nothing! Florida has amazing beaches and consistently good weather compared to the rest of the country. But be warned, the humidity and tropical temperatures will make summer golf more challenging.

Cons of Florida Golf

I really can’t think of many since there is such a massive amount of courses it’s pretty much paradise for every golfer! 

Prices. Prices aren’t all bad but it’s worth noting there are some expensive green fees in Florida. However, with over 1,000 options, there is a budget for everyone. But more famous courses like Doral and others will set you back more than others on this list.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Moving north from Florida is another iconic destination in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. If you’re on the east coast and looking for an ultimate golfing experience, look no further than Myrtle Beach. 

With over 100 options in the area, you will have more options than you have time. Not to mention, it’s close to the beach, has plenty of nightlife, and amazing resorts to stay at. Since there are so many places to play, I suggest booking through Myrtle Beach Golf as they have a lot more details on each venue, packages, and provide instant quotes for your trip.

Places to Play

With over 100 different venues, it’s hard to narrow down just a few but here are some of the top rated by Golf Digest and Golf Magazine. 

Dunes Golf and Beach Club

The Dunes Golf and Beach Club was ranked #54 in America’s Top 100 Greatest public courses in 2019. Originally launched by Robert Trent Jones in 1992, it’s had several multi-million dollar renovations to give you an unbelievable experience. If you play this one, enjoy the hole named “Waterloo” where Lake Shingleton comes into play and received numerous awards as one of the greatest golf holes ever.  

Caledonia Golf and Fish Club 

Another top pick and highly acclaimed option is the Caledonia Golf and Fish Club. It’s been featured in top publications and magazines for it’s classic design, rich history, and amazing conditions.

True Blue Golf Club 

The final “must play” course in the Myrtle Beach area is the True Blue Golf Club. It was ranked in Golf Magazine as a top resort for you and your golfing buddies in 2019. It’s huge fairways and undulating greens paired with elevation make for a spectacular day of golf! 

Pros 

Tons of places to play. With more than 100 tracks in the Myrtle Beach area, you will have no shortage of golf options in a very short distance. 

Price. Compared to some of the other destinations, the full Myrtle Beach experience is a smaller price tag. 

Cons

Inconsistent weather. While you can get some good weather in December even, it’s pretty spotty at times. Plus, with a ton of humid conditions, it’s not an ideal fit for a lot of golfers.

Pinehurst, North Carolina

While Myrtle Beach has 100 courses, North Carolina has some great venues as well. But the crown jewel of them all is Pinehurst Resort. 

If you’re like most golfers, when you think of Pinehurst golf resort you probably think of the late Payne Stewart and his heroic showing in the 1999 US Open. His legendary performance topped Phil Mickelson in one of his many crushing major defeats.  

When booking, I suggest going through the official Pinehurst website as they have different accommodations including the Donald Ross golf package, Bed & Breakfast, and custom packages. 

Places to Play at Pinehurst 

There are nine full-length (yes, nine) courses at Pinehurst (named Pinehurst #1, #2, etc.). They also have “The Cradle Short Course” which is a nine hole par-3 as well. All of them have gotten rave reviews from golfers and media but make sure that you play: 

Pinehurst #1

This is the original design from 1898 that will test your game despite being more than a century old. 

Pinehurst #2

Pinehurst #2 allows you to play where tons of majors have been hosted and see championship golf first hand. According to the website, “Pinehurst #2 has served as the site of more single golf championships than any course in America and hosted back-to-back U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open Championships for the first time in 2014. The U.S. Open will return in 2024.”

Pros

Amazing venues. All nine options live up to the high standard of Pinehurst #1 from the late 1800s. They’ve created such a great experience for golfers who truly love the history of the game.

All-in-one. With nine options available and amazing lodging, you can book it all together for an unbelievable golfing package .

Cons 

Price. While it’s less than Pebble Beach, rates are still between $300-$400 per player per round (on #1-5). Booking as a package does save some money but overall, this trip won’t be a cheap one.

Mesquite, Nevada 

Moving back West, let’s not forget about the scenic views in Mesquite, Nevada. Less than an hour from Las Vegas, you have tons of amazing places to paly at very affordable prices. Plus, you’re not far from Sin City so you can hit the tables and have more fun on the strip as well. When booking, look for package details on Mesquite Golf Courses

Places to Play in Nevada

Wolf Creek

The top palce to play in Mesquite, Nevada is Wolf Creek. The course has received a ton of accolades and is considered the ultimate golf experience. It’s incredibly scenic and provides some of the best views you’ll ever have with elevated tee shots and beautiful scenery.

Coyote Springs

Another great options in the desert of Nevada is Coyote Springs which was ranked a top course in the state and is a Jack Nickalus design. 

Conestoga 

Conestoga is another place I’d highly recommend as it has tons of scenic views, fast greens, and gorgeous scenery. 

Pros

Price. For a bucket list experience, it’s a fraction of the price of playing Pebble or Pinehurst. Plus, the other venues aside from Wolf Creek are even less expensive and usually can find tons of great deals.

Location. Getting to Las Vegas is easy and having regular shuttles from Vegas to Mesquite make it wildly convenient.  

Cons

Weather. Being that it is a desert, you will have some extreme low temperatures in the winter and temperatures of 100 degrees or more in the summer. 

Southern California

It’s hard to beat Southern California. Beaches, amazing courses, tons of activities, and perfect weather year round. Southern California is home to some of the best players ever and where Tiger Woods and Phil Mickeslon got their start in the game. 

Not to mention, Tiger had his iconic win at the 2008 US Open where he beat Rocco Mediate in an 18-hole Monday playoff. Somehow, Tiger played through a torn ACL to win the major before his drought that finally ended at the 2019 Masters. 

If you do want to play Torrey with a tee time in advance, you’ll want to book and stay directly at “The Lodge.” These are amazing accommodations right on the course and will ensure you can book a tee time more than a day in advance.

Places to Play in San Diego

Torrey Pines (North and South)

Torrey Pines has two championship courses that play host to a PGA Tour event every year as part of the West Coast swing. Players compete a round on the North and three rounds on the more challenging, South. The North was recently updated and has made it nearly as good as the South 18 holes. 

La Costa Resort and Spa

While not as iconic as Torrey Pines, La Costa is another amazing experience and has hosted PGA & LPGA Tour events. Plus, they have two 18 holes, an amazing spa, and incredible lodge to enhance your stay. 

Pros

Cost. Compared to Pebble Beach, this place is a bargain! While it might not be quite as iconic as Pebble, it’s still incredible golf and an amazing destination year round. 

Cons

Not as many options. While there are some gems like Torrey Pines and La Costa, overall it’s not like Pinehurst, South Florida, or Scottsdale.  It’s harder to book a golf vacation as you’ll have more driving and commuting to play great tracks.

Scottsdale, AZ

Scottsdale is another great place to play some golf with your buddies and make some awesome memories. First off, the Phoenix area gets more sun than pretty much anywhere in the world.

It’s either hot or hotter pretty much everyday of the year. Luckily, it’s a very dry heat so you don’t have to worry about tons of humidity like South Florida and other golfing destinations. 

Places to Play in Scottsdale/Phoenix

TPC Scottsdale

Another fan favorite to watch every year is the Waste Management which is held at the TPC Scottsdale Stadium course. Thousands upon thousands of fans cheer, harass, and get rowdy with every single shot that’s played on the iconic par-3 16th hole. 

You can play there and experience the shot as well (minus the 50,000+ screaming fans). Sadly, they do take the grandstands down after the event but if you time it right, you might get to play with them. They also have another 18 hole championship course that won’t dissapoint.

Quintero

Quintero is tucked away slightly north of Phoenix but worth the drive. It has tons of elevation changes which create some memorable but challenging holes. 

Pros

Lots of activities. Not only is Scottsdale home to some great golf tracks, but there are tons of events going on year round. Arguably the best time to visit is in February-March where they have spring training for the half the MLB. Plus, hockey, football, and tons of other entertainment (like TopGolf, casinos, etc).

Weather. Unlike most golfing destinations on this list you don’t have to worry about weather when visiting the Phoenix area. It’s pretty much always sunny year round with a very dry heat. 

Convenient. Phoenix Sky Harbor airport is positioned perfectly and only a short Taxi, Uber or drive to Scottsdale. With direct routes to every major airport, this makes it a huge perk of visiting Scottsdale.

Cons 

Prices. Sometimes the valley of the sun does get a little pricey in peak season. Since most of the world is freezing cold, Scottsdale charges a pretty penny for lodging and golf November – March.  

Weather. That’s right, weather is a pro and a con for golf in Scottsdale. If you struggle with intense heat, I would recommend skipping May – September as it’s insanely hot. Sometimes the temperatures crack 110 degrees in the summer without ever cooling down below 85 degrees. Paired with the monsoon season in July-August, it’s not always the most ideal golfing conditions. 

St. Andrews Golf Trip

Europe Golf Trips

While the US has tons of golf trips around the country, we can’t forget over the pond. The UK is the home of the great sport that we all love. There are hundreds of link style venues that will help you create a bucket list trip that you’ll never forget. 

Scotland & Ireland 

Scotland has over 100 iconic courses so I can’t list them all but here are some of the best ones that we highly recommend. When booking, I suggest finding a company to help you sync it all together. Since you’re traveling internationally, there are a lot more moving pieces (time difference, transportation, lodging, etc.). This way you make sure everything gets booked properly and have the best experience possible.

Trump Turnberry

Trump Turnberry is one of the most iconic places to play in the world. It’s consistently ranked as a top top course in Scotland and will test your game unlike any other. 

St. Andrews

Known as “The Home of Golf” you won’t want to miss this amazing, old school links golf course. The Old Course at St. Andrews has hosted 29 Open Championships and featured some of the most amazing shots in golf history. Not to mention, amazing holes like the Roadhole bunker and an iconic 18th will create memories that will last a lifetime. 

Muirfield

According to golf historians, Murfield is the oldest golf course in the world and founded in 1744! If you’re looking for a golf course that is rich with golf history, this is the one for you. 

Carnoustie 

Carnoustie has four courses and hosted the Open Championship eight times, senior Open Championship, and the Women’s British Open in 2011. This course was founded in 1842 and is the scene of the infamous meltdown by Jean Van De Velde in the 199 Open Championship. 

Ireland Golf

If you want to venture to Ireland instead of Scotland, you’ll have no shortage including:

  • Lahinch 
  • Ballybunion
  • Waterville
  • European Club
  • Portmarnock Championship
  • Trump International Golf Links 

And hundreds more!

Pros

Historic. These old school courses have been around for hundreds of years and have a rich history for anyone who appreciates the game.

Links style. This style isn’t for everyone but it’s fun to play the game like they did in the old days. 

Cons

Weather. Golf over the pond doesn’t tend to bring sunshine and good weather, quite the opposite. This will tend to yield lots of wind, rain, and cold harsh conditions. 

Costs. Traveling to Europe isn’t cheap but if you do make the journey, go for a long enough time to make the most of it. 

Other Notable Venues

While the destinations above will provide truly amazing golf trips, there are some one off golf courses that I had to add to this list as well.

Whistling Straits

Whistling Straits is one of two luxury golf courses in Wisconsin. It’s hosted several major championships and set to host the 2020 Ryder Cup. There are nearly 1,000 bunkers so you’re in for some entertaining shots during your round. Plus, the other course, Blackwolf Run, is also a highly acclaimed golf course too.

Wynn Golf Course – Las Vegas, NV

The Wynn Golf Course is located right on the strip and provides an experience unlike anything else. It’s always been a gem for high rollers but was closed for nearly two years as the resort was planning on building a new entertainment center. Things changed and the course reopened in 2019 giving guests a chance to tee it up steps from Las Vegas Blvd. 

Fair warning, this course isn’t easy to get a tee time on. You need to stay at the Wynn resort or have a connection to make it happen. Not to mention, the green fees are ridiculously high at around $550 per round (when in Vegas right?). But, you do get a caddy, full service locker rooms, carts stocked with beverages, and an amazing facility. 

Calusa Pines Golf Club

Another top course in Florida is the Calusa Pines Golf Club. This course regularly earns a spot in the top five courses in the state and is only a short 2 hour drive from Miami and Fort Lauderdale. They have some of the fastest fairways and greens in the state so it makes for some fun golf! 

Final Thoughts

As you can tell, there is no shortage of amazing golf trips around the globe. It really depends on what your budget is, how many days you want to spend, and who you want to make the journey with. Some trips will be easy to book while others will require a little more planning on your end.

At the end of the day, while some of these might seem like a small fortune to play, go ahead and purchase a travel bag and plane ticket because these trips will create memories you will cherish forever. Whether you’re going with golfing buddies or family, I don’t think you will be disappointed with any of these destinations.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: Alert: Content is protected !!