America’s Top Golf States


America’s Top Golf States

There’s always been a spirited debate amongst passionate golfers about which state in the U.S. is best for golf with a bit of bias towards one’s home state. We don’t know if we’ll solve the debate for good, but we wanted to take a deep dive into the numbers and provide some awards and insights for the best golfing states around the country. Below are the winners of our 2023-24 Top Golf State Awards!

Top Overall: New York

Folks from California, Pennsylvania and Florida won’t like this pick, but it’s hard to argue the numbers. There are 12 New York courses ranked in Golf Magazine’s Top 100 in the world, nearly double the next state (California with seven). There are 38 New York courses currently ranked in the Top 100 or Top 200 in the U.S. by Golf Magazine, Golf Digest, or Golfweek (we’ll call these “ranked courses” for the remainder of this article). This is five more than California, 12 more than Florida, and 14 more than Pennsylvania. Long Island and Westchester County are two of the top golfing regions not just in the U.S. but the entire world, with six and four courses ranked in Golf Magazine’s Top 100 in the world. London (four) is the only other region with four or more courses ranked in Golf Magazine’s Top 100 in the world.

One could debate the strength of the Top 10* courses in California compared to New York’s, but New York’s strength just keeps going. The Top 20* courses in New York are stronger than the lineup of the 1927 Yankees:

Honorable Mention: California

Top Public: Oregon

Oregon has the most public ranked courses in the U.S., three times the public courses ranked Top 100 in the world than any other state, and is the second most accessible state in the country (83% of courses are public). Oregon has two of the great public golfing destinations in the country: Bandon and Bend. Bandon Dunes is the OG of destination golf resorts in the U.S. and one could argue is the best golf resort in the entire world. Central Oregon near Bend is a sneaky good golf destination with courses like Tetherow, Crosswater, and Pronghorn. A few hours west of Bend is Silvies Valley Ranch which is a top-tier golf resorts and home to a reversible course (Craddock and Hankins) and three short courses.

Honorable Mention: Wisconsin

Bandon Dunes Resort changed the landscape of destination golf resorts in the world and is home to five courses ranked in the top-100 rankings. All are open to the public. Photo: Matt Hahn

Top Quantity: Florida

Florida has the most golf courses of any state in the U.S. with 1,348. That’s over 300 more than California, the next highest state, despite being less than half of its size. Florida’s reign at the top won’t go away anytime soon as there are 21 new build projects in the works in the Sunshine State, nearly double the next highest state.

Honorable Mention: California

Top Quality: New Jersey

The Garden State has the fifth most courses ranked in the Top 100 or 200 in the U.S., despite covering a relatively small footprint. Here are the size of the states (X-axis) with the most ranked courses (Y-axis):

To put things further into perspective, New Jersey has nearly the same number of ranked courses as Florida and Pennsylvania but is one-seventh and one-fifth the size, respectively. New Jersey has the same number of ranked courses as North Carolina, despite being less than one-fifth of its size. The northern New Jersey region near Newark is absolutely loaded with 16 ranked courses alone.

Honorable Mention: Massachusetts

The Lower Course at Baltusrol is one of many top notch courses in the state of New Jersey. Photo: Patrick Koenig

Most Accessible: Maine

Eighty-four percent of the courses in Maine are open to the public, the highest of any state in the country. An extremely underrated golf trip is hidden along the Maine coast where you’ll find top-ranked courses like Cape Arundel but also hidden gems along the coast and even on islands! Many clubs in Maine follow the semi-private model that is so popular in the United Kingdom and are very welcoming.

Honorable Mention: Oregon

Most Affordable: Kentucky

Across the Open Links database, Kentucky has the lowest average green fees** of any state in the U.S., narrowly beating out Alaska. Both are under $50. The Bluegrass State has one of the strongest state park course offerings of any state in the nation, highlighted by Dale Hollow Lake, General Burnside Island and Eagle Ridge at Yatesville Lake.

Honorable Mention: Alaska

General Burnside Island is one of many solid public options that are part of Kentucky’s state park system. Photo: David Morris

Best Value: Michigan

The average green fee in Michigan is $10 lower than the national average and the average ranked public course is over $100 less! Michigan has the third highest number of ranked public courses in the country, but there are plenty of great public courses that are not currently ranked, too, and most have a max fee** under $100. Examples are Pilgrim’s Run, Sweetgrass, Diamond Springs, The Mines, and Champion Hill.

Honorable Mention: Nebraska

Pilgrim’s Run is a Mike DeVries design that is top-100 public quality without the top-100 pricing. It’s one of many great public courses that one can play in the state of Michigan for under $100. Photo: Course Website

Highest Density: Rhode Island

Rhode Island is the most dense golf state in the U.S. You can find a golf course every 25 square miles in The Ocean State. Below are the top 10 most densely populated golf states and a map of the U.S. showing density by state.

Honorable Mention: New Jersey

Future Awards & Notes

If there are other categories that you’d like to see us include in the next State Awards write-up, leave a comment below!

*average of the current U.S. state rankings for Golf Magazine and Golf Digest

**peak season, weekend, non-resident, walking rate


Open Links Website

To find courses in your state or province, register for free on our website. Go to our filter view in the location section. You can also add additional filters to meet your preferences (e.g. accessibility, price, ranking, architect).

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