North America is home to the most golf courses in the world. Yet, not all of them are equal; depending on your experience, skill, equipment as well as personal preference, you might prefer certain locations over others. In this article, we spoke with a few PGA players to get their feedback on America’s greatest golf courses.
Karsten Creek Golf Club, Stillwater
One of the most underrated public courses in the United States is the Karsten Creek Golf Club located outside the city of Stillwater, home to Oklahoma State University. Created by Tom Fazio’s team, Karsten Creek is an experience that ranks alongside a round at Bethpage Black or Pinehurst.
What I love about playing Karsten Creek is how encompassing nature enhances the layout. When the course was built, the budget for Karsten Creek wasn’t high enough to move a lot of earth around, so the designers had to get creative and maximize their resources. The resulting 18 holes are so delightful that as you play, you can see and feel that inventiveness.
Southern Hills Country Club, Oklahoma
The most prestigious golf course in Oklahoma is the exclusive members-only Southern Hills Country Club. Regularly listed among the best golf courses in the United States, Southern Hills has been host to seven major championships, with the last being the 2007 PGA Championship won by Tiger Woods. It’s a perfect destination for a vacation if you can manage to use your network to get in.
Pro Tip: “I think all the players will really like it. The rough is not as high as it was in ‘01. The only difference is the fairways are narrower than they were in ‘01. I always found it to be just an extraordinary golf course and one difficult test,” says Tiger Woods.
Mangilao Golf Club, Guam
Located on the eastern side of the island, Mangilao has been crafted using the natural surroundings to create a design that will have you reaching for the camera on the tee box of every hole.
For anyone looking to make a golfing vacation to Guam, the 12th hole at Mangilao almost makes the trip worth it just to play this hole. Golfers who reach the green on their tee shot receive a souvenir certificate. For the stunning sights and the top-notch golf, Mangilao is one of the most beautiful courses I have ever played.
Pro Tip: “One of the most unique pre-shot routines on the PGA Tour is from 2015 PGA Champion Jason Day. Before Day approaches the golf ball, he stands behind it and closes his eyes in an attempt to calm his mind and visualize his shot. His pre-shot method is an excellent way for amateurs to slow down their mind and hit better shots more consistently on the course.”
Nicklaus North Golf Course, British Columbia
In the town of Whistler, the great Jack Nicklaus has designed a very entertaining 18-hole course known as Nicklaus North. Wide fairways and soft greens made this a course I will definitely look to play again during the upcoming golfing season.
The Nicklaus North experience isn’t cheap as green fees do run a few hundred dollars for a party of two. But cost aside, the excellent conditions of the course make this a destination that is worth your time and money particularly to improve your golf swing.
Alderbrook Golf Course, Washington
Along the banks of the Hood Canal in northwest Washington, there is Alderbrook Golf and Yacht Club and the stunning Alderbrook Spa and Resort. These two destinations have varying activities that can be enjoyed by the visitors and guests. They are known for their hospitality. Due to its wonderful scenery, it’s as if one of the best National Parks in America is right outside your door. Twenty minutes away from this golf course is the Olympic National Park that gives you the views of mountains, glaciers, wildlife, rainforests and the ocean, which gives you a breeze of fresh air that is perfect to unwind and relax. You can see all of that at the Olympic National Park. Perfect before or after a game of golf.
Vista Vallarta Weiskopf Golf Course, Mexico
One of the most stunning resorts in Puerto Vallarta is just a few minutes from the city. With breathtaking beachfront views of the Bahía de Banderas, the Garza Blanca Resort and Spa offers a luxury experience that will delight all five of your senses.
Vista Vallarta Weiskopf is routinely awarded as one of the best places to play in Puerto Vallarta, The course runs close to 7,000 yards from the tips. And after playing the Weiskopf, I can attest that if you aren't bringing your best golf game then prepare for an afternoon reaching into your bag for extra balls.
Pro Tip: “My favorite hole at the course is the par-3 15th, which involves an uphill tee shot that must clear a broad water-filled valley before resting on a multi-level green. My GPS watch came very handy to measure swing distance because it was far away and definitely the most challenging shot the course demands from you and easily the most exciting.”
Forest Ridge Golf Club, Broken Arrow
When I am in Tulsa, one of my absolute favorite courses in the area is the Forest Ridge Golf Club, located in the suburb of Broken Arrow. With an impressive and beautifully manicured layout, the golf at Forest Ridge isn’t stuffy or overrated like you might find at other Tulsa courses with twice the green fees.
For value and exciting golf, Forest Ridge is tough to beat. Do yourself a favor and make the trip to Broken Arrow.
Pro Tip: “At Forest Ridge, it would be wise to stay in the fairway. The second cut of rough can be punishing for the golfer who is off their game. When I do my best at Forest Ridge, it is always because I kept my tee shots in the fairway.”