The Top 10 Golf States In America
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The Top 10 Golf States In America

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The Top 10 Golf States In America

While golf originated in Scotland, the undisputed home for the game by volume is the United States. Boasting more than 40 percent (15,963) of all the courses on the planet (38,864), 45 million Americans played on- and off-course golf in 2023, according to the National Golf Foundation.

Florida is head and shoulders above the pack with a whopping 1,262 courses. California’s approximately 2.8 million golfers are the most in the country. Don’t sleep on the Midwest as Minnesota and Wisconsin proudly offer the most public golf with 90 percent of Minnesota’s 477 courses and 88 percent of Wisconsin’s 528 courses being public.

So what constitutes a top golf state?

As someone who has driven more than 220,000 miles documenting modern-day golf culture in America, Golf In Your State founder Matt Cardis has connected with everyone from weekend warriors to PGA Tour players. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who has a better finger on the pulse of golf in the U.S.

“The U.S. is pretty interesting just because there’s so much good golf, so it’s very hard to pinpoint a place and be like, ‘This is the best place for golf,’ because there’s great golf everywhere,” Cardis said. “There’s so many things that make golf in the States special and make it stand out from other places in the world but, for me, it comes back to the people.”

While access and participation are obviously major metrics in determining the “best” golf states, we’d be remiss not to include other factors including notable courses, varying topography and layouts, community and weather in trying to nail down the top 10 golf states. An argument can be made for so many states to be included in the top 10, and everyone’s list may be different for a variety of reasons, but we tried to determine the consensus top 10 golf states in the U.S.

Without further ado, here are the top 10 golf states in alphabetical order simply to prevent chaos and any confusion regarding potential ranking. Feel free to debate among yourselves as to the selections and specific order.

Arizona

Home to almost as many average days of sunshine a year (300) as golf courses (373), it’s no surprise people in Arizona play more golf compared to the national average—16.6 million rounds were played by residents and visitors of the Grand Canyon State in 2021. The state’s golf industry supports more than 66,000 jobs while generating an estimated $6 billion in annual economic activity.

A haven for snowbirds especially during winter months, Arizona truly is a golf oasis in the desert.

“Arizona is a great spot for golfers given our 300-plus days of sunshine and year-round golf,” Bad Birdie founder and CEO Jason Richardson said. “The state’s diverse terrain offers a variety of courses amid desert and forest landscapes, challenging players with both scenic beauty and technical gameplay. Whether seasoned pros or casual players, Arizona’s golfing opportunities cater to all skill levels.”

Notable courses: Estancia Club, Troon North Golf Club, Forest Highlands Golf Club, Whisper Rock Golf Club, TPC Scottsdale, Desert Mountain Club, Quintero Golf Club

California

Unsurprisingly, the most populous state in the U.S. is also home to the most golfers. Approximately 2.8 million Californians hit the links in 2023, according to the NGF. Not only is the Golden State home to the second-most courses (961) in the country but it offers plenty of high-end golf as well with 21 courses in the top 200 per Golf Digest (including a baker’s dozen within the top 100).

Home to iconic golf history, premium experiences and an abundance of options and terrains, California clearly cements itself in the conversation for top golf states in the U.S.

“In California, where there is almost every type of golf course, it truly becomes a golfer’s dream,” Malbon co-founder Stephen Malbon said. “With the exceptional weather allowing year-round play and the presence of legendary courses, California stands as a golfer’s paradise.”

Notable courses: Pebble Beach Golf Links, Cypress Point Club, Torrey Pines Golf Course, Los Angeles Country Club, Riviera Country Club, Bel-Air Country Club

Colorado

What Colorado may lack in total number of courses (285), it makes up for with seemingly unbeatable views and diverse topography depending on what part of the state you’re playing in. Headlined by the Tom Doak-designed Ballyneal, Tom Fazio and Greg Norman courses at Red Sky and Jim Engh designs at Redlands Mesa and Lakota Links, the Centennial State is a sleeper in U.S. golf that’s garnering more and more attention.

While it’s known for being home to some of the best winter sports, Colorado can also claim a spot among top golf states.

Notable courses: Ballyneal Golf Club, Castle Pines Golf Club, Cherry Hills Country Club, Colorado Golf Club, Red Sky Ranch and Golf Club

Florida

It’s hard to argue against the Sunshine State being the unofficial home of golf in the United States. In fact, Florida has all of the metrics to back it up. Not only does the state boast the most courses (1,262), Florida had the most rounds played, most new courses opened and most courses under construction or in planning in 2023, according to the NGF.

Home to the PGA Tour, iconic courses and great weather most of the year (especially during winter months), Florida proudly flies the golf flag in the U.S.

Notable courses: Seminole Golf Club, TPC Sawgrass, Panther National, Bay Hill Golf Club, Calusa Pines Golf Club, Streamsong Resort, Shell Bay

Michigan

Nicknamed “America’s Summer Golf Capital,” Michigan is home to the third-most courses in the country. Trailing only Florida and California, the state’s 859 tracks have hosted multiple majors as well as the 2004 Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills Country Club. Similar to golfing in neighboring states like Ohio and Wisconsin, accessibility is weather-dependent whether you’re playing on the Upper Peninsula or elsewhere across the state. 

As one of golf’s most underrated destinations in the U.S., don’t sleep on Michigan. 

Notable courses: Crystal Downs Country Club, Oakland Hills Country Club, Kingsley Club, Arcadia Bluffs Golf Club, Lost Dunes Golf Club

New York

Boasting three gems inside the top 10 of America’s 100 Greatest from Golf Digest (Shinnecock Hills, National Golf Links of America and Fishers Island Club) as well as 15 courses inside the top 100, could New York be the best golf state in the country?

While those first three tracks are private, don’t overlook the public courses in the Empire State, especially around New York City, including the much-heralded Bethpage Black, site of the 2025 Ryder Cup.

Notable courses: Shinnecock Hills, Bethpage Black, National Golf Links of America, Fishers Island Club, Winged Foot, Oak Hill Country Club, Friar’s Head Golf Club, Sleepy Hollow Country Club

North Carolina

Home to 10 of the top 200 golf courses in the U.S. according to Golf Digest, North Carolina earns an automatic spot on this list because of Pinehurst, the “Cradle of American Golf.” While Pinehurst No. 2 (host of the 2024 U.S. Open), No. 4 and the newly opened No. 10 will earn most of the plaudits, don’t overlook other gems throughout the state, which offer a variety of options from mountainside to seaside golf.

With nearly 200 more courses than its southern sister state (521 to 351), it’s hard to argue against the impact the Tar Heel State has had on American golf of yesteryear, today and tomorrow.

Notable courses: Pinehurst, Old Town Club, Tobacco Road Golf Club, Wade Hampton Golf Club, Diamond Creek, Quail Hollow Club, Eagle Point Golf Club

Ohio

Despite being the 35th largest state in area at 40,847.9 square miles, Ohio boasts the seventh-most golf courses in the U.S. with 648. Home to Jack Nicklaus and notable courses including Muirfield Village, Inverness, Camargo and Scioto, Ohio cements itself as one of the top golf destinations in the Midwest. In fact, the Buckeye State’s eight courses inside the top 200 according to Golf Digest is tied with Illinois for the most of any Midwest state.

Hosting 18 major championships (and launching the legend of the Golden Bear) is more than enough reason to consider Ohio a top golf state in the U.S.

Notable courses: Muirfield Village Golf Club, Inverness Club, Camargo Club, Firestone Country Club, The Golf Club, Scioto Country Club

Oregon

Like Pinehurst on the East Coast, Bandon Dunes in southwest Oregon is a golf haven with four world-class courses designed “true to the spirit of Scotland.” While Bandon may garner most of the attention when talking about golf in Oregon, with five public courses in the top 200 per Golf Digest, the Beaver State boasts plenty of other options—199 in total—specifically in Portland, Seneca and Eugene.

Is golf on the Oregon coast the closest thing this U.S. has to golf in Scotland? There’s only one way to find out.

Notable courses: Bandon Dunes, Pacific Dunes, Bandon Trails, Old Macdonald, Sheep Ranch, Pronghorn Resort

Wisconsin

While the weather may affect when and how frequently players are able to get out on the course, when they’re able to, golfers are treated to a plethora of riches. Eighty-eight percent of the state’s 528 courses (including Whistling Straits and Erin Hills) are public, whether daily fee, municipal or resort.

The ability to easily play courses that previously hosted majors like the PGA Championship or U.S. Open makes this Midwest state a strong candidate for one of the top golf states in the country.

“Wisconsin’s golf scene is a testament to the state’s dedication to making the sport accessible to all,” said Drew Westphal of Group Golf Therapy. “This commitment has fostered a golfing community that spans generations. Wisconsin boasts premier destinations like the renowned Kohler courses, Sand Valley and Erin Hills, where golfing legends have walked the fairways that welcome public play. Beyond these iconic venues, Wisconsin is home to a diverse array of courses, offering both intriguing layouts and Midwest beauty on any budget.”

Notable courses: Whistling Straits, Milwaukee Country Club, Erin Hills Golf Course, Sand Valley Golf Resort, Blackwolf Run

Honorable mention: Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Texas.

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Michael LoRé

Michael LoRé

Michael LoRé

Michael LoRé is a freelance journalist (and very average golfer) based in New York City. With more than 15 years of experience in the industry, Michael has worked for daily newspapers, pro sports teams/leagues and online media startups. Bylines include: PGATOUR.com, GOLF.com, PGA Tour Essential Guide to Golf, AZ Golf Insider, Forbes SportsMoney, Robb Report, Boardroom, and Travel + Leisure.

Michael LoRé

Michael LoRé

Michael LoRé

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      Hopp Man

      3 weeks ago

      Colorado is awesome for golf, River Valley Ranch, Redlands Mesa etc., love the Colorado haters on here that are drunk and mad.

      Reply

      Max

      4 weeks ago

      Im fortunate enough to live in a suburb of Cleveland, OH where — within a 25 minute drive — I have access to:

      Fowlers Mill – a public Pete Dye course (Dye was originally conscripted by TRW to build this as their “Corporate” course in the 1960’s)
      Manakiki – A Donald Ross course from the 1920s that was once private, but is now part of the Metroparks system
      Sleepy Hollow – A Stanley Thompson design, also a part of the Metroparks system
      Stonewater – Hurzdan & Fry design – was host to a local Nike Tour event in the 2000’s – but now public

      Let’s just say, Im not complaining

      Reply

      Colin Clark

      4 weeks ago

      I’d love to make a case for Indiana to at least get an honorable mention. Pete and Alice Dye lived here and because of that there are an absolute TON of Dye-designed courses that are extremely affordable to play. This includes the French Lick Dye Course, Indianapolis Brickyard Speedway Course, and Crooked Stick. Indiana University, Purdue, and Notre Dame all have fantastic college championship courses as well and don’t forget the Donald Ross course at French lick which hosted the PGA championship in the 20’s and was recently renovated and restored to its original glory. As mentioned Indiana golf is that it is EXTREMELY affordable. There are Pete Dye designed golf courses in Indianapolis that you can play for under $50 with a cart, which is pretty incredible.

      Reply

      Jason S

      4 weeks ago

      No Tennessee?! Apparently you’re not paying attention.
      Ohio? Really? I’m from there and I’d not put it over TN, where I live now.
      Colorado?! Ha, that’s a joke. And yes, I’ve lived there too. Yeah, the views are pretty, but the courses aren’t special, unless it’s all about private courses we can’t play.

      Reply

      PHDrunkards

      4 weeks ago

      TEXAS????? Where is Texas?????
      WHAT A STUPID LIST!!!!
      Spieth and Scheffler….. Hogan?
      Sheesh!
      Colorado???? They only play golf half a year, as the other half they are frozen, and the altitude makes it not really golf. It should not be on any golf list

      Reply

      Aguy

      4 weeks ago

      Hey now, Colorado has a pretty awesome golf scene. They left off some great courses as well. Sure the altitude helps a bit but honestly most the courses I play are over 7000 from just the blues so the length evens it out.

      Reply

      Theo

      4 weeks ago

      There are only a handful of truly great courses in TX and none of them are public. You need to travel more.

      Reply

      Tom V

      4 weeks ago

      Private courses shouldn’t be included in whether a state is a top golf state. If I can get in my car or on a plane and go play the course, it may as well not exist…

      Reply

      Scott

      4 weeks ago

      Totally agree. There are several courses in Southwestern PA designed by the legendary architects (Ross, Raynor, Dye but they’re all private; a couple are part of very expensive resorts so a round will cost $250+. I can’t drive across the state and play Merion, nor can I drive 20 minutes and play Oakmont.

      Reply

      Dave Wagaman

      4 weeks ago

      Pennylvania and South Carolina not in the top 10? You have to be kidding! Colorado, Michigan don’t come close and Wisconsin and Ohio are close but no cigar.

      Reply

      Johnwagner

      4 weeks ago

      Get real..have you ever been to michigan to play golf

      Reply

      Steve Jennings

      4 weeks ago

      How can South Carolina not be on this list?!

      Reply

      PHDrunkards

      4 weeks ago

      Exactly!!!
      And Georgia!!!

      Reply

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