If you’re serious about golf, you need to get serious about where you play.

Challenging holes aren’t easy to come by at your average, run-of-the-mill course – to find them, you need to seek out the top courses.

These are links where the pros both practice their swing and compete for huge trophies. For average players like you who play for fun, they just might provide the exhilarating golf experience you’re looking for.

Take a look at five of the top courses in the country, then figure out when you can book a plane ticket and schedule a tee time.

5 Top Golf Courses in the U.S.

Most of these courses are located on the coasts, but that’s no surprise – rugged coastline provides incredible opportunities for challenging holes and fun golf games.

1. Pebble Beach Golf Links – Del Monte Forest, California

The sheer beauty of this idyllic golf resort on California’s coast will leave you breathless before you can step up to the first tee.

It’s not all sunshine and sparkling ocean waters, though – Pebble Beach has some seriously tough holes. In fact, they’re so hard, they regularly stump even PGA pro golfers. This course has hosted premier events like the PGA Championships, the PGA Tour, the U.S. Open, and the Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

However, this beauty of a course is open to the public, so you can take a swing at the challenge while you drink in the pristine views of the Pacific Ocean.

2. Shadow Creek Golf Course – Las Vegas Valley, Nevada

Shadow creek golf course

Image via Golf Advisor

This spectacular course is an oasis in the Las Vegas desert. It was designed by Tom Fazio, a famed golf course architect, who planned the course so it would be framed by mountains and crowned by immaculate gardens, hundreds of species of trees, waterfalls, and lakes.

However, the course is shrouded in mystique thanks partly to its design, which keeps it hidden from view, and partly to its exclusivity. To play here, you must be a guest at the MGM Mirage or one of their partner properties – no exceptions.

When you set up a tee time, a private limo picks you up at the hotel and whisks you off to the secluded course. No photos are allowed inside, but you can join the throng of golfers, including notable pros, celebrities, and one former president, who proclaim that Shadow Creek is their favorite course in the world.

3. Bethpage State Park Black Course – Farmingdale, New York

Bethpage state park

Image via New York State

This pretty public play golf course, tucked into dense hills and trees, has hosted the U.S. Open and is known for its Black Course.

The Black Course’s steep slopes, narrow fairways, and small putting greens make it one of the most difficult courses in the world. However, if you’re not quite up to the task, you can try your hand at one of the other four courses, each of which has a different difficulty level.

4. Chambers Bay – University Place, Washington

The incredible beauty of the Pacific Northwest is on full display at Chambers Bay. This championship-level course and golf club is located on the shores of Puget Sound and offers links-style play for all skill levels.

Here you’ll find incredible sand dunes, views framed by the Sound and the nearby Olympic Mountains, and huge fairways. This course has hosted top golf tournaments, too, like the U.S. Open and the PGA Championships.

Plus, if you feel like your game could use some work, Chambers Bay offers a fine golf academy where you can learn from PGA instructors.

5. Harbour Town Golf Links – Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

This revered course sits near the Calibogue Sound on the South Carolina coast. Views of the water are framed by a charming red and white lighthouse and picturesque coastal charm.

The course was designed by Pete Dye (legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus served as design consultant) and features one of the most notorious holes in the game, the par-4 18th hole.

Along with offering challenging holes and incredible beauty, the course is also a Certified Audobon Cooperative Sanctuary, which means it hosts a fascinating array of wildlife in a protected environment. The Sea Pines Forest Preserve alone boasts alligators, turtles, and a bevy of seabirds that flock there to nest.

Head to a Top Golf Range and Try Your Luck on a Pro Course

Even if you’re a novice golfer just looking for a nice day relaxing on the green, visiting a pro course can be an amazing experience. Not only will you have the game of your life, you’ll also understand why these courses are revered by golfers at all levels.

Feature image via WigWamGolf

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