Top Metro Courses in the U.S.
Over the past 25 years, numerous world class courses have been built in remote locations across the United States. Examples include Sand Hills in Nebraska, Bandon Dunes in Oregon, Streamsong in Florida, Ohoopee Match Club in Georgia, and Gamble Sands in Washington. These courses have received their fair share of attention from the golfing world, and rightfully so. The anticipation rises as you are on your journey to these far-off places. The remoteness only adds to the experience.
However, these courses are often far from where we live and difficult to visit. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 81% of the U.S. population lives in urban areas, so we thought it would be interesting to take a deep dive into the best courses that are close to home for the majority of us.
Memorial Park, annual host of the PGA Tour’s Houston Open, is located only 4 miles from Houston’s city center. Memorial Park is open to the public and hosts over 60,000 rounds per year. Photo: Connor Dougherty
To put together what we have dubbed as the top metro courses in the United States, we first identified the major metropolitan areas of the U.S., which we defined as a city with a population in the top-50 or a GDP in the top-50. We then looked at courses that were within a 10-mile radius of each city center and chose what we thought were the top courses. There may be some lesser known courses on our list, but our goal was not to create a list of hidden gems nor include all of the courses near a city center. Instead, we sought to identify courses close to cities that would be considered one of the best in their respective state and courses that an out-of-towner may go out of their way to play. The result is a list of 250 courses, of which 168 are private and 82 are public. Before we show the list, we wanted to hand out some high-level city awards based on our findings.
Important Note: This first edition was put together by the Open Links Golf staff with an emphasis on the golf course and not the experience (e.g. amenities). We added user ratings to our website a few months ago, and our vision is that this list, as well as others we put together, will be driven solely based on your ratings! We encourage you to go to our website and leave ratings and reviews for your favorite metro courses, amongst others that you have played.
Top Metro Courses (Public): Shadow Creek, Commonground, George Wright, Memorial Park, The Broadmoor (East)
Top Metro Courses (Private): Merion (East), San Francisco Golf Club, The Country Club (Brookline), Southern Hills, Los Angeles Country Club (North)
Commonground is one of the finest municipal courses in the country, offering great golf at an affordable rate and a convenient location only 7 miles from downtown Denver. Photo: USGA
The North course at Los Angeles CC will host the men’s U.S. Open next year. It’s one of the best courses in the country and is 10 miles from downtown Los Angeles. Photo: Club + Resort
Best City (Overall): San Francisco
This was a tough call but we decided to give the overall nod to the City by the Bay due to its combination of quantity, quality and accessibility. All four of its private courses are ranked in the U.S. Top 100 (or soon will be in the case of Lake Merced, which just re-opened after a Gil Hanse renovation), and there are three solid public options, including major event host TPC Harding Park and the charming Presidio.
Best City (Public): Miami
Not only does Miami have great weather during the wintertime but plenty of great public options for golfers living in the city or traveling to the city for work or vacation. There are seven solid public options, the most of any major city in the U.S., including The Biltmore, Crandon GC at Key Biscayne, and the Blue Monster at Doral.
Best Large City* (Overall): Dallas
Dallas was tied for the most metro courses of any city. Its nine courses span from solid public options like Stevens Park to top-ranked privates Brook Hollow, Dallas National, and Trinity Forest. With Dallas being one of the fastest growing cities in America, it’s great for passionate golfers that world-class courses can be accessed so close to the center of the action. This is a challenge for many of the biggest cities in America, with none of the Top 4 population cities (NYC, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston) boasting more than five top ranked metro courses.
An honorable mention goes to Philadelphia, which has eight courses on our Top Metro list, and many are very high quality. The biggest knock was the fact that all eight courses are private. Philadelphia may take the top Large City spot once Cobbs Creek is finished with its restoration by Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner, as it will likely be one of the best municipal courses in the country.
Best Large City* (Public): Phoenix
Phoenix has the most public courses of any city with a population in the Top 10, with four courses and was the only in this category that had more than two courses on our list.
Trinity Forest, designed by Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw, is recognized as one of the finest courses in the country and is only 6 miles from the center of Dallas. Photo: Evan Schiller
Best Mid-Sized City**(Overall): Boston
Boston was in the running for Best City Overall behind San Francisco. Similar to San Francisco, it has quantity, quality and accessibility. The private clubs are solid, led by one of our overall top metro courses, The Country Club at Brookline. The public options are very good, too, and two are municipal courses (George Wright, Franklin Park) that are very reasonable for locals and out-of-town visitors to play.
An honorable mention goes to Minneapolis. Despite being the 46th most populous city in the U.S., it was tied for the most metro courses! The biggest drawback is that eight of its nine course are private, so you’ll need to befriend a member or leverage your network to gain access. Keller is a very good municipal course that is close to the Twin Cities.
Best Mid-Sized City**(Public): Miami
Tucson and New Orleans were the other mid-sized cities that had four or more public Metro courses on our list.
Most Convenient City: Raleigh
The average distance of the courses on our list in Raleigh were only 2.5 miles from downtown!
Of cities with five or more courses on our list, Providence had the lowest average distance from city center, of only 4.2 miles. Charlotte was second at 4.8 miles and New Orleans was third at 5 miles.
Worst City (Overall): Chicago
Despite being the third largest city in the U.S., there are only two courses on our list and no public options. This may change if the Tiger Woods project at Jackson Park gets approved, but that is not looking too good at the moment. Also, Chicago had the furthest average distance from city center, right at 10 miles, so both courses on our list (Beverly CC and Bryn Mawr CC) just made it in the 10-mile radius cutoff. We typically like to focus on the positives but feel we don’t need to hold back about Chicago since it is our hometown and we’ve experienced the lack of high quality golf near the city!
*Ranked in Top 10 in population
**Ranked 11-50 in population
Below is our list of Top Metro Courses in the U.S., sorted alphabetically by city and miles from the city center. Below that is a high-level breakdown by city, sorted by the number of top metro courses.
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