Top 7 Bucket List Golf Courses You Must See in Person
Published 14 days ago
Bucket list items are places or adventures you simply have to experience before you die. For some, it’s museums. For others, it’s major league baseball stadiums or NFL arenas. Still, for others, it’s national parks and landmarks. But for the diehard golfer, it’s the bucket list golf courses on this list. Each course stands out because of its beauty, its history, and the opportunity to walk the same fairways as past PGA Tour legends like Jack Nicklaus or Tiger Woods.
But nearly all of these are more than just 18-hole courses. Whether it’s a wedding, family reunion, corporate reward trip, or some other gathering, experiences can be built around these famous golf clubs. So, without further adieu, and in order of importance, we present our list of bucket list golf courses you must see.
1. TPC Sawgrass — Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
Home to golf’s unofficial fifth major — the Players Championship — TPC Sawgrass and its famed stadium course are accessible to the public. It won’t be a cheap endeavor, however. Getting a shot at hitting the infamous 17th hole island green will run you $450 per player in the off-season and $600 per player in peak season. At that price point, perhaps it’s almost worth dunking a few in the water and hanging on the tee a few minutes longer.
2. Pinehurst Resort — Pinehurst, North Carolina
Arguably one of the most famous hot spots for golf in America, Pinehurst Resort has everything you could desire in a golf destination trip. Specifically, Pinehurst No. 2, designed by Donald Ross, was recently named the first anchor course for the U.S. Open tournament. As such, it will be played there about every five or six years for the foreseeable future.
While there’s plenty to keep you busy with Pinehurst’s nine masterfully designed courses, guests are also encouraged to try their hand at the resort’s short course, The Cradle, and putting challenge, Thistle Dhu. If the golf wears you out before the trip’s finished, there’s also a world-class spa, 10 unique dining experiences, as well as several nearby shops and boutiques.
3. Bandon Dunes — Bandon, Oregon
Much like Pinehurst, Bandon Dunes is easily a week-long endeavor. With five full-length golf courses, a pristine practice facility, and views upon views, even the non-golfers can appreciate the aesthetic environment you are immersed in when you step on this property. Home to one of the most robust caddie programs, what better place to work and play?
Bandon Dunes Golf Resort includes six lodging options and seven eateries. There is little to no reason to leave all week! Your golf options include Bandon Dunes, Pacific Dunes, Bandon Trails, Old MacDonald, and Sheep Ranch. But there’s also Bandon Preserve — a quaint par-3 course of only 13 holes, perfect for a pre-meal round. Like Pinehurst, Bandon also provides a putting challenge course as well as Shorty’s, a practice range in case you’re a real addict.
4. Bethpage — Long Island, New York
The full name of this northeastern gem may allude to less-than-ideal conditions — Bethpage State Park Golf Course. But don’t let the municipal ties bind you. Bethpage Black, specifically, consistently ranks on Golf Digest’s Top 100 public courses in the country. On top of that, all five of the color-coded courses are affordable, relative to the other courses on this list.
As a non-resident of the state of New York, you can play the Green, Yellow, or Blue course for under $50 any day of the week. If you’re up for the challenge (and it is one of the toughest in golf — complete with a warning sign), the Black course comes in at an average of $140 for non-residents and only around half that if you happen to live in the state. That ranks it as one of the most affordable PGA Tour venues open to the public; Bethpage Black hosted the 2019 PGA Championship and is set to play home to the 2024 Ryder Cup.
5. Augusta National — Augusta, Georgia
This one goes without saying for most, if not all, golf fans. However, Augusta National makes this list more because of the event that it is home to than the fact that it’s one of the best golf courses in the world. (Although it is.)
Each April, those who are lucky enough to have their application for tickets approved flock to Augusta, Georgia for the Masters Tournament. Arguably, gaining entrance to the major is easier than a tee time at this American golf staple.
The experience starts as soon as you lay eyes on the famous clubhouse and doesn’t end so long as you’re inside the gates. From the perfectly manicured bunkers and checkerboard fairways to those shockingly low prices at the concession stands, there’s so much magic that goes into crafting the Masters experience, you may not even realize it. Your golf bucket list is simply incomplete without a trip down Magnolia Lane.
6. Pebble Beach Golf Links — Pebble Beach, California
Situated along the Pacific Ocean, Pebble Beach is undoubtedly one of the bucket list golf courses with the best views from sun up to sun down. In fact, the views are so good that they are just as much of an attraction as the golf courses are. The scenic 17-mile drive runs right along the water and provides several overlooks and stops to see famous landmarks, like the Lone Cypress which serves as the backdrop for Pebble Beach’s logo.
Another home to several past and future PGA Tour major championships, Pebble Beach includes everything from on-site lodging, a 5-star spa, and a pro shop so expansive you may have to take a break and have lunch before your shopping spree is complete.
7. St. Andrews — St. Andrews, United Kingdom
This collection of bucket list golf courses wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t cross the Atlantic Ocean at least once. There’s no better golf course to leave the country for than the undisputed home of golf, St. Andrews. While the destination has seven courses, tourists from across the globe make the trip for one reason — the Old Course. Golf has been played there for over 600 years and still today, 45,000 rounds come through the links course located in Scotland, annually.
Though the Open Championship has been played at a variety of courses across England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, there are a few that are just more nostalgic than others. With ties to what’s now the governing body of European golf (the R&A), the Open returns to one of the seven St. Andrews properties every other summer.
Check Off These Bucket List Golf Courses
What are you waiting for? You have so many miles to travel near and far to experience these absolute must-see golf resorts. If this list made you eager to get something on the calendar right this minute, we can help. Let Perennial Events plan your Masters trip. From tickets to housing and transportation, we have you covered. Contact us today so you can check off at least one item on your bucket list ASAP!