10 Of The Best Public Golf Courses In The US

The USA's public courses include some of the world's best and most famous venues

Six golf courses pictured
(Image credit: Future)

Best Public Golf Courses In The US

The US is home to almost 17,000 golf courses but many of them are private and therefore unavailable to the majority of golfers.

Luckily, there are still plenty of public golf courses across the country and some of the USA's, and world's, best are included in that list. The US public courses include some of the planet's most famous golf courses that have hosted Majors, including Pebble Beach and Bethpage Black as well as The Players Championship venue TPC Sawgrass.

Below we take a look at 10 of the USA's best public golf courses that every golfer can play...

Bandon Dunes - Pacific Dunes

Bandon Dunes golf course pictured

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Bandon, Oregon
  • Majors: US Amateur 2020
  • Green fees: $100-$345

Bandon Dunes in Oregon is one of the premier golf resorts in the country. Bandon is globally renowned and features a total of six courses, including a par-3 course. The top course on the property is Pacific Dunes, which is regarded as one of the US's best layouts. All six can be played by visiting guests.

Bethpage State Park - Black Course

Bethpage Black 1st tee and sign pictured

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Farmingdale, New York
  • Majors: US Open 2002 & 2009, PGA Championship 2019
  • Green fees: $78-$150 ($39-$85 NY State residents)

Bethpage Black is one of the world's most famous courses, known for its hosting of the US Open and PGA Championship as well as featuring in the Tiger Woods PGA Tour video games. The course is also famous for its sign on the 1st tee, which warns people that the course is recommended for golfers of high skill levels. Bethpage State Park is home to five golf courses in total: Black, Red, Blue, Yellow and Green.

Chambers Bay

Chambers Bay golf course pictured

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: University Place, Washington
  • Majors: US Open 2015, US Amateur 2010
  • Green fees: $100-$289

Chambers Bay, on the Washington coast, rose to fame in 2015 when it hosted the US Open, which was won by Jordan Spieth. It received some criticism that week for the condition of its greens but it's regarded as one of the USA's best modern layouts, opening in 2007. The course is a British-style links with stunning vistas, and luckily for golfers it is open to the public. 

Erin Hills

Erin Hills golf course pictured

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Hartford, Wisconsin
  • Majors: US Open 2017, US Women's Open 2025
  • Green fees: $270-$330

Erin Hills in Wisconsin is yet another public venue to have hosted the US Open, with Brooks Koepka winning his first Major at the course in 2017. It measured a beastly 7,876 yards for the 2017 US Open, becoming the longest Major championship course in history. The US Women's Open is set to take place there in 2025. Erin Hills is one of the top courses in the state along with another famous public venue, Whistling Straits.

Kapalua - Plantation Course

Kapalua 18th hole pictured

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Maui, Hawaii
  • Tournaments: Sentry Tournament of Champions (every year)
  • Green fees: $365-$395

The stunning Kapalua in Hawaii marks the start of the golfing year for fans, with the Plantation Course being the established host of the PGA Tour's Tournament of Champions event in early January each year. Kapalua is another to have featured in video games and is famous for its incredible ocean views and incredible finishing hole - a 677 par-5 with its green that wraps around a waste area. Luckily it's downhill so many of the world's best players' drives travel over 400 yards to leave a shot into the green and a chance at eagle.

Kiawah Island - Ocean Course

Kiawah Island golf course pictured

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Kiawah Island, South Carolina
  • Majors: PGA Championship 2012 & 2021
  • Green fees: $600

Yet another Major venue to feature on this list, Kiawah Island and its Ocean Course, one of five layouts at the resort, was last seen on our screens in 2021 when Phil Mickelson became the oldest Major winner in history at the PGA Championship. It was also where Rory McIlroy won his second Major in 2012. It's top of the list when it comes to the best golf courses in South Carolina and is considered both one of the best and toughest layouts in the US.

How Can I Play Pebble Beach?

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Monterrey Peninsula, California
  • Majors: Six US Opens + five future, four future US Women's Opens, PGA Championship 1977, five US Amateurs and two US Women's Amateurs
  • Green fees: $595

Pebble Beach is arguably one of the three most famous golf courses in the world alongside The Old Course at St Andrews and Augusta National. Situated on the Monterrey Peninsula, the Ocean-lined course appears on our screens each year at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am and has hosted six US Opens, boasting winners including Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Tiger Woods. Pebble Beach also operates Spyglass Hill, another of the world's best courses that is open to the public.

Pinehurst - No.2 Course

Pinehurst No.2 pictured

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Pinehurst, North Carolina
  • Majors: US Open 1999, 2005 & 2014 plus five future, US Women's Open 2014 & 2029, PGA Championship 1936, Ryder Cup 1951 and three US Amateurs 
  • Green fees: Packages from $517

Pinehurst in North Carolina is most well known for its No.2 course, which has hosted three US Opens, a Ryder Cup, a PGA Championship, a US Women's Open and plenty more elite level tournaments. It is scheduled to host a further five US Opens and one US Women's Open. The stunning golf resort is arguably the country's best, with nine golf courses in total plus 'The Cradle' - a fun yet challenging pitch and putt short course.

TPC Sawgrass

The 17th at TPC Sawgrass

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
  • Tournaments: The Players Championship (every year), US Amateur 1994
  • Green fees: From $450-$600

The world famous Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass hosts the 'unofficial fifth Major' each year with The Players Championship. Sawgrass is home to the PGA Tour headquarters and has one of the most famous golf holes in the world in the 'island green' par-3 17th. The Stadium Course is one of the best golf courses in Florida and on the PGA Tour schedule, and it's one of two at the club along with the Dye's Valley layout.

Whistling Straits

famous bunkers

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Sheboygan, Wisconsin
  • Majors: PGA Championship 2004, 2010 & 2015, US Women's Open 1998 & 2012, Ryder Cup 2021
  • Green fees: From $270-$630

Whistling Straits in Wisconsin has hosted some huge events over the past two decades with three PGA Championships (2004, 2010 and 2015) as well as the 2021 Ryder Cup, where Team USA beat Europe in record fashion. The course is famous for its views of Lake Michigan and its 1,000+ bunkers! The resort was established in 1998 and has the famous Straits Course as well as the Irish Course.

Of course this list can't feature all of the USA's best public courses, with plenty of other famous and epic venues around the country including the TPC courses, Harbour Town, Pasatiempo, Shadow Creek, Sand Valley and many other world class layouts.

Elliott Heath
News Editor

Elliott Heath is our News Editor and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news, features, courses and travel sections as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as four Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. His first Open was in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, when he walked inside the ropes with Jordan Spieth during the Texan's memorable Claret Jug triumph. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Western Gailes, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 2-5. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!

Elliott is currently playing:

Driver: Titleist TSR4

3 wood: Titleist TSi2 HL

Irons: Mizuno MP-H4 3-iron, Mizuno MP5 4-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5