What is the Country's Best PUBLIC Golf Course?

During The Masters tournament over the weekend, the CBS commentators kept going on about how exquisitely beautiful the Augusta National course is, and how Yer Average Joe will never get to play there. In order to be a member at Augusta National, you have to have Old Money, and lots of it. And though it was never said by the CBS guys, there was the insinuation that you also have to be white, anglo-saxon and Protestant.

Seeing as I’ll never play at Augusta National (I’m WASP, but my money is neither old nor abundant (and I don’t really like golf)), what’s the best American golf course that Yer Average Joe can play at? For this discussion, price is no object. I don’t care if the place has $5,000 green fees; so long as the course’s only consideration is my ability to cover my check, then it’s up for discussion in this thread.

To get things started- I heard that Pebble Beach was, at one time, a public course. Is it still? Is it the best public course in the country?

Pebble Beach is public, but hard to get on. I think the group of Pinehurst courses are public as well. Golf Digest publishes a list of the top courses that the public can play. You might find it on their website

Pebble is actually listed as a resort course, although I do not think you have to stay there.

The Open this year is being played at Bethpage State Park in NY this year, on the Black course, which IS fully public - show up, and you can play if you can find a slot. (people sleep in their cars overnight waiting on weekends)

(Of course, since the guvmint is involved, it had to get screwed up somehow - the park is not in Bethpage, it’s in Farmingdale)

oh - and the men’s slope rating from the blues is 145…ladies(red) 149 (EEP!)

The Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland, the birthplace of golf is public. But I think you can only play there if you stay at the resort, and I think you also have to have proof that your handicap is below a certain number before they will even let you on the course. I could be mistaken about that last part, though.

I think that Mauna Kea on the big island is open to resort guests

The dormant volcano?! :eek: They’ll freeze to death up there!


As mentioned, Bethpage in NY is an outstanding (PUBLIC) course, as is Tilden in Berkeley, CA. Of course, there’s a whole lotta country between the two . . . . . . .

Oh - and for the frugal, I think Bethpage is like $30 during the week and $40 on weekends - but you have to walk - no golf cars. There are 4 other courses there, but they aren’t as difficult. (I play Red usually - and badly)

Think Pebble was like $300…

I think that there are 2 PGA events that are always held at public golf courses. One is the Greater Milwaukee Open. On TV, it looks like a really nice golf course. I’m not sure what the other one is.

The other one is in San Diego - Torrey Pines. I can’t remember what the tournament is called (this year). There may be another in Chicago. The Western Open was always played at the same course but was moved when the members told the PGA to stick it up there a** when it was pointed out that there were no (insert all minority races and religions here) members. I thought the course they moved it to was public.

To hijack slightly, the best public course value for your dollar has often been credited to (and I wholeheartedly agree) Pinon Hills in Farmington, NM. If you ever get there (it’s not too far from Durango, CO, or Mesa Verde NP) DO NOT PASS IT UP! I see that greens fees are all the way up to $20, from $17 when I played it.

There is a Jack Nicklaus-designed course in Anaconda Montana that is public and very reasonably priced.