Pebble Beach, photo by Evan Schiller Photography
For all the non-professionals out there who wish to walk in the footsteps of golf’s biggest champions, there are a dozen or so public venues in North America that have hosted Majors events. These are some of the best.
Grover Cleveland Golf Course Buffalo, N.Y.
It may just be the best-kept secret in golf. Even most die-hard fans are unaware that this accessible municipal course, designed by architect Walter Travis, was home to the 1912 U.S. Open. Back then, the course served as the private Buffalo Country Club, but the country club later moved to the suburbs and granted the historic course to the City, who later transferred it to Erie County. Grover Cleveland, whose slogan is, “Serenity at its Best, Golf at its Finest,” remains the easiest and cheapest Major venue to play in the world—less than US$20 for a round.
Kiawah Island Golf Resort, South Carolina
It’s hard to beat the offerings here, which include a five-star hotel, a dozen dining venues and five stellar golf courses. But the highlight is the fabled Ocean Course, one of the only Major venues (PGA Championship) that has also hosted the Ryder Cup. It is ranked the fifth-best public course in the nation.
PGA National Resort & Spa, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Florida has more golf courses than any other U.S. state, but only a few Major venues. The Jack Nicklaus-designed Champion Course at the 90-hole PGA National resort hosted the 1987 PGA Championship, the 1983 Ryder Cup and currently hosts the PGA Tour’s annual Honda Classic. Rated one of the toughest courses on the PGA Tour’s annual schedule, it has water on 11 holes, tricky South Florida crosswinds and Nicklaus’ signature “Bear Trap,” a three-hole torture test (15 to 17).
Pebble Beach, California
Ranked among the best public courses in America, Pebble has hosted the U.S. Open five times and the PGA Championship once, one of only a handful of “dual-Major venues.” But the real appeal is the course itself, famously situated on a clifftop coastal stretch with several signature holes—including the downhill peninsula par-3 7th—overlooking the crashing waves of the Pacific. The posh resort has two other highly ranked courses, Spyglass Hill and The Links at Spanish Bay.