November 8

Top 10 Golf Courses In California (#6 Might Surprise You)


Here are the top 10 golf courses in California. Where’s Pebble Beach you might ask? It’s not on the list.

It’s far and away the number one course to play. Everyone knows that already. Here are the other great golf courses.

1. Cypress Point Club at Pebble Beach

Beautiful Cypress Point, at Pebble Beach, was not always considered one of the top courses in California.

In the early 1970s, Golf Digest thought the course was lacking – due to the course’s “several easy holes.”

And, the publication also considered the course a “”weak finisher.”

However, the collective opinion, now, is far different. 

Showing off spectacular scenery, the course is home to grazing deer and diverse vegetation.

Additionally, some of the holes represent dune play while others seem like you have arrived in a forested and mountain setting.

Finishing up by the famous seaside is also a nice way to end game play. When you escape to Cypress Point, you can easily believe you have arrived in a golfer’s paradise.

2. The Riviera Country Club at Pacific Palisades

The layout of the Riviera Country Club was the brainchild of George C. Thomas Jr. and William P. Bell.

Riviera is home to an array of interesting features, including a bunker in the middle of a green and optional-fairway.

Its 18th green sits at the base of a natural amphitheater and the main rough contains club-snatching Kikuyu grass. 

The club, which hosted a PGA Championship in 1995, also welcomed older golfers to the U.S. Senior Open in 1988 and allowed amateurs to try their skills at a U.S. Amateur in 2017.

It’s no secret that many golfers like the donut bunker at the 6th hole – a purely fun experience.

Some of the best holes in the world of golf are found at the Riviera, including the Redan fourth, the par-3 sixth hole, the short par-4 tenth hole and the 18th hole.

3. The Spyglass Golf Club at Pebble Beach

Robert Trent Jones designed the Spyglass Golf Club in 1966.

The course, which is a 17 mile drive from Cypress Point, is a mix of the Augusta National course and Pine Valley.

The course’s five opening holes give you a brief encounter with the Pacific coast.

The rest of the holes require a trek through hills of Monterey pines and cypresses.

Some of the water hazards remind you of the 16th at Augusta, another Trent Jones feature.

The course has never hosted a major golfing event. 

4. The San Francisco Golf Club

Three club members primarily staked the layout for the San Francisco Golf Club in 1918.

In 1923, A.W. Tillinghast renovated the course and established bunkers and the course’s signature greens.

He also added the par-3 seventh hole.

Three of the course’s holes had to be replaced in 1950 to make way for a street widening project that ultimately did not occur.

The original holes were eventually re-established by Tom Doak and his associate, Jim Urbina.

Golfers who play the course rave about its diversity and rolling greens.

Generous landing areas abound and the bunkering is well placed among the course’s fairways – ready to capture mishit drives.

The greens are both firm and fast – a true gem in the world of golf.

5. Los Angeles Country Club (North)

Sitting at the edge of Hollywood, the Los Angeles Country Club was restored in 2010 by Gil Hanse, Hanse’s associate Jim Wagner, and their colleague Geoff Shackelford.

The new and improved course provides a more optically entertaining style – something to look forward to when the club hosts the 2023 U.S. Open.

Golfers like the natural-looking bunkers of the new LACC facelift, where each hole stands out individually and the terrain features charming twists and turns.

Golfers can see a backdrop of downtown LA on one side and Hollywood Hills on another side – great aesthetics for championship golf play.

6. The Quarry at La Quinta

Tom Fazio was hired in the early 1990s to develop the layout for the Quarry at La Quinta.

Developers wanted Fazio to better his Shadow Creek design at Las Vegas.

However, Fazio could see the topography of The Quarry already had more variations, so he knew the task would not be as challenging as expected.

The course begins and ends in a gravel quarry that has since been lushly landscaped.

The golf enclave offers high desert scenery, part of which is tucked within the Santa Rosa Mountain range.

Golfers appreciate the smooth and firm terrain and the well-maintained fairways.

The holes, each of which feels different, are nicely incorporated into the terrain.

7. The Valley Club of Montecito

Designed in 1929 by Alister Mackenzie and Robert Hunter, The Valley Club of Montecito features a variety of interesting holes, including the mountainous 10th hole and the serpentine 15th.

The course’s fairways are generous. However, the incline of the greens require specific angles of approach. 

Restored to look like jigsaw puzzle pieces, the course’s bunkers seem to fit nicely with each other.

The location cannot be beat either, as it offers golfers some of the best weather in the U.S. 

8. The Preserve

The natural setting of the course is truly spectacular.

Located close to great courses, such as Spyglass and Cypress Point, The Preserve rests inside 20,000 acres of gently rolling hills featuring large and impressive oaks.

The bunkers are low key and the greens subdued, with the surrounding ambience spelling out total tranquility. 

You might say that The Preserve offers the ideal mix of nature and golf with its sprawling hills and greens, which are set into the valleys and hills.

The course makes nice use of changes in elevation against the prevailing breezes coming from the sea. Each nuance of the greens is truly a treat.

There is plenty to see for golfers and nature lovers alike.

9. The Mayacama Golf Club in Santa Rosa

This Jack NIcklaus designed course is made for the average golfer.

Therefore, the course covers under 6,800 yards and has been designed to offer a nicely comfortable walk.

This factor is important, as the course does not have golf carts.

Gulches and watersheds are featured in the rambling landscape, which is also home to stunning par fives and dramatic and elevated tees.

The well-manicured grounds also teem with wildlife, which adds to the charm of the private and peaceful property. Holes are secluded from each other, only adding more to the tranquil setting.

A walk through the hills of the course provides a good cardio workout.

10. Stone Eagle Golf Club in Palm Desert

This remarkable course in the Palm Springs area sits on top of a rocky plateau above the Coachella Valley.

A Tom Doak designed course, Stone Eagle features a terrain where you can play shots over low ridges onto greens that replicate the course’s rugged topography.

Doak created a course where rocky hillsides are used in the same way other architects use sand dunes – the difference being that sand is the softer material.

The rocky outcroppings present optically intimidating visuals, especially when combined with narrow landing areas. While you may perceive, from sight lines, that the course is a driving course, it really is considered a second shot course.

Therefore, you need to be concise with your approaches as the greens display major undulations that makes two-putting a challenging activity.


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