Remember when golf was supposedly "dying"?
It seems like a distant bad dream. In less than three years, the game has gone from merely surviving to thriving. Tee times require more advance planning than they have since the early 2000s as existing golfers play more than they ever have and curious golfers find themselves getting hooked, just like we've always told them they would if they gave the game a try.
More golfers playing more rounds means more discerning enthusiasts leaving more reviews on GolfPass for playing partners past and future to use to make wise decisions about where they should play next. In 2022, for the second straight year, we processed more than 315,000 course reviews from golfers like you, bringing us ever closer to a big milestone: 2 million reviews in the history of our site, which should happen in the next few months.
But for now, we've taken the collective wisdom of thousands of golfers who reviewed the courses they played in 2022 and compiled dozens of informative lists, headlined by this one: the Top 50 U.S. Courses.
Our list looks a little different from some of the other lists you may see in magazines and on other golf websites. That's because instead of hand-picked panels of insiders, we let golfers like you decide. Experts' and critics' opinions are valuable, too, but they are only part of the story.
The rest is where you come in.
When you and your fellow golfers leave honest reviews - be they rating-only or inclusive of your written thoughts about the experience of playing a course - every other golfer benefits. You are doing the game a great service, and we are honored that you would take the time to use our platform to do it.
How GolfPass determines the Golfers' Choice Top 50 U.S. public golf courses
First of all, in order to be eligible for this list, a golf course must a) be publicly-accessible (including resort and semi-private courses) and b) receive at least 10 reviews in the previous year. Just for some perspective, more than 7,424 courses around the world received at least one review in 2022, but less than half that were eligible.
In determining the final rankings for the year, we weigh several factors, each of which correspond to the way our reviews are structured:
- Overall Rating
- Pace of Play
- Staff Friendliness
- Off-Course Amenities
You'll notice that we provide green fee information with these course rankings, too. As you peruse the list, it should provide some context as to the way golfers view individual courses. Lower green fees tend to denote a more value-oriented course that consistently exceeds golfers' expectations, while the top-dollar courses on this list are resort or high-end public layouts that deliver on the promised experience.
This year’s Top 50 features an eclectic mix, from bucket-list resort layouts to hidden-gem mom-and-pop public courses and even some municipal standouts. A college course from a perennial football-powerhouse university also appears. Maybe your home course does, too. Or a course you’ll fall in love with on your travels this year.
You rated these 10 golf courses the best of 2022:
One of two scenic gems along the northwest coast of the Big Island, Mauna Lani South features one of America's most photographed holes, the par-3 15th, which plays over a cove of Iliilinaehehe Bay. Golfers with a sharp sense of timing value the opportunity to play late, because they reach this hole as the sun is setting over the Pacific Ocean.
What they're saying: "This was our second round of the week and had a blast. The views here can't be beat. Lots of fun holes to challenge you. Greens were quick, but not as fast as we're used to in Las Vegas, so we left a few puts short until we got used to them. If you have to pick the North or South course, this is the one we'd recommend." - bobheist
Franklin, W. Va.
Built in 2016, this course in the mountains 50 minute west of Harrisonburg, Virginia, is remote, but rewards adventurous golfers with spectacular views, shockingly great conditioning and tremendous value. Not for the faint of heart, it does carry a high Slope - 144 from the back tees.
What they're saying: "Blown away by the value for the money at this course. Really nice playable layout with great views and super tricky undulated greens a good test for any player. It is a bit of a drive but I am looking forward to making the trip again soon." - indyclay
This 1976 Larry Packard design for the local park district 20 minutes south of Peoria mixes holes on open rolling parkland with some tighter, tree-lined tests. The par-5 18th has a double-fairway, where golfers taking the direct route will attempt a heroic carry over a pond in order to get close to the green in two.
What they're saying: "A few blind shots, fast greens and some length make this a tougher than most course. Some holes are wide open and a couple are narrow off of the tee. I like a challenge." - Thomas7217782
This 1986 Robert Muir Graves design along California's central coast has been a top-rated public course for decades. Its somewhat remote location helps it endure as a hidden gem.
What they're saying: "Having driven 4 hours from the San Francisco Bay area my expectations were high and La Purisma did not disappoint! It is a true test of golf from any of the tee boxes with great course conditions and one of the best layouts on the coast that I have seen." - GolfPass reviewer
Home to the PGA Tour's Barracuda Championship since 2020, this Jack Nicklaus design from 2004 sits at an elevation of nearly 6,000 feet above sea level, helping golfers hit long, soaring tee shots off its many elevated tees. Along with neighboring Gray's Crossing Golf Course, it is part of the Tahoe Mountain Club, a staple of many Lake Tahoe-based golf trips.
What they're saying: "Had a great time playing with strangers as I signed up as a single. The course is in immaculate condition. Love to play this course and would recommend to all." - edisax
Ponte Vedra Beach Fla.
As green fees on the more famous, PGA Tour-hosting PLAYERS Stadium course surge toward $800, Dye's Valley begins to look more and more like a bargain. Helped by protege Bobby Weed, this Pete Dye design is not to be overlooked.
What they're saying: "Very nice round at Dye’s Valley. Plenty of water to contend with but fairways had landing generous zones to keep the ball in play. Greens were in great condition and the layout offers many (risk) reward decisions, overall a fun course to play." - Patrick2494966
This 1999 Ron Garl Design features 27 holes: the Creekside, Meadows and Woodlands nines. It sits close to the junction of Interstates 95 and 20, making it a convenient, strong-value stop for golfers on a road trip.
What they're saying: "My buddy mentioned that the rough was a little fuzzy. I told him to try it from the fairway. They were perfect. Always a real treat to play here." - djsmith57
Twin Lake, Mich.
This tree-lined 2004 design just northeast of Muskegon has graced past Golfers' Choice lists of the top-rated courses in Michigan, as well as the Friendliest Golf Courses in the U.S. In 2022, it really hit its stride, garnering dozens of glowing reviews from visiting golfers.
What they're saying: "Drove an hour to meet up with a buddy and it was worth the trip. A few hidden ravines got us where the needed carry was more than you could tell from where we were hitting from. Would like to give it another shot knowing where to be and more importantly where not to be." - jaytbad
Benton Harbor, Mich.
Pieced together from more than 140 different land purchases as part of a huge industrial remediation effort, this expansive, challenging Jack Nicklaus Signature design and host of multiple Senior PGA Championships is a prime example of how golf can help turn around the prospects of a struggling community.
What they're saying: "The course layout was amazing. Most holes were dramatic and could be signature holes for the course. Great experience." - rhisco0
This spread-out Arthur Hills/Steve Forrest design is one of America's more popular casino resort courses, featuring a vertical drop of more than 175 feet off one particularly memorable tee.
What they're saying: "Finally decided to play this course. It was a wonderful experience from the golf pro shop to the starter to even the players I was teamed up with. Can’t wait to play the course again" - GolfPass reviewer