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Best golf courses in Northern California

One of the best golfing regions in the States, Northern California offers incredible quality and quantity when it comes to golf. Take a look at the very best!

Adam Ward
Adam Ward
6 mins read
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With year-round sun and iconic golf courses, Northern California is one of the best golf destinations in the world. Experience world-class golf at Pebble Beach, take in the sensational views of the Pacific Ocean at Monterey Bay and more in this iconic location.

Check out the best golf courses in Northern California to make your next golf trip extra special!

Pebble Beach Golf Links Club

Globally renowned, Pebble Beach Golf Links is considered one of the greatest public golf courses in America. Having hosted numerous U.S. Opens and covered in PGA TOUR tournament history, the experience you’ll receive at Pebble Beach is truly exceptional.

Offering sensational views of Carmel Bay and opening up to the vast Pacific Ocean on the south side of the Monterey Peninsula, Pebble Beach Golf Links will be a “once-in-a-lifetime” round.

Pebble Beach Golf Links - ©Joann Dost. Reproduced by permission of Pebble Beach Company

Holes 7 to 10 are arguably some of the greatest holes in the world. Kicking off with a short yet challenging par-3 7th that plays just over 100 yards from an elevated tee, finishing off on a green situated just above Pacific Ocean. If you’re considering a vacation to the Golden State, Pebble Beach is one for the itinerary and rightly sits at the top of our best golf courses in Northern California list.

Spyglass Hill Golf Club

Also located at Pebble Beach Golf Resort, Spyglass Hill Golf Club is a par-72 California Links-style course that boasts an array of on-site facilities, being named one of the greatest courses in the country. Designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr in 1966, the course measures just over 6,900 yards, and features some fantastic and challenging elements including large, undulating greens and sloping fairways.

Spyglass Hill Golf Club

Signature holes at this course include the par-4 4th, where the green is surrounded by ice plant vegetation and sand dunes, as well as two par-3s on the back nine that will have your accuracy tested with pond-protected greens and falloff hazards.

There are two sides to Spyglass for those who are bold enough take it on – with the first five holes being played along the coastal dues, and the and the final 13 meandering through the dense forest of Del Monte.

Spyglass Hill Golf Club

Pasatiempo Golf Club

Set on the rolling southern hills near Monterey Bay, Pasatiempo Golf Club is one of California’s most historic golf courses. Designed by Alister Mackenzie and rated a top 100 course, Pasatiempo is truly one of the finest championship golf courses in the world. The course features rolling hills and small ravines, and lined with a variety of tree species, the view of Monterey Bay from the first tee sets you up for a brilliant round at Pasatiempo.

Pasatiempo Golf Club

Measuring 6,512 yards, the course will present a challenge due to its changes in elevation, multiple bunkers, and the little-roll fairways. The signature hole for this round has to be its unique finishing hole. Not many courses finish on a par-3, but the 18th is filled with yawning bunkers and undulating greens, playing 169 yards, this hole requires both accuracy and a delicate shot to finish on a high.

Pasatiempo Golf Club

The Links at Spanish Bay

Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, The Links at Spanish Bay is set on the site of a former sand mine between the Monterey Peninsula Country Club and Asilomar State Beach. Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. and Tom Watson, the course was modelled after an authentic Scottish course, featuring rolling sandy dunes, blistering wind and links-style elements that can be found throughout the landscape.

With sensational views of the Pacific Ocean and an immaculate design, Spanish Bay Golf Links will certainly be an unforgettable round, especially with the Spanish Bay bagpiper that can be heard throughout the course.

The Links at Spanish Bay

The first course to open at Bayonet and Black Horse Golf Club, the Bayonet Course plays 7,104 yards from the back tees with long narrow fairways lined with indigenous trees. Having hosted the PGA Professional National Championship in both 2012 and 2018, and steeped in military history, the Bayonet Course is a must play on your trip to California. Especially with its impressive practice facilities and outstanding views of Monterey Bay.

Bayonet Course at Bayonet & Black Horse Golf Club

The military background of the Bayonet & Black Horse Golf Club plays into the design of this course with holes 11-15 nicknamed “Combat Corner”, due to a fierce series of sharp doglegs that will test even the most skilled golfer. Renovated in 2008, steep bunkering was added that makes the course even more demanding.

Poppy Hills Golf Club

Also basking in Pebble Beach golfing history is Poppy Hills Golf Club. Located deep into the Del Monte Forest, Poppy Hills is a legendary Robert Trent Jones Jr. design that is elevated 200ft above sea level and features tree-lined fairways with little to no room around the edges.

Poppy Hills offers a slightly different playing experience to the traditional coastal layouts of other Pebble Beach courses as it meanders through rolling terrain and dense woodland.

Poppy Hills Golf Club

Undergoing extensive renovation in 2013 centered around water conservation, fairway waste and pine straw areas were established which brought the surrounding nature more into play and reduced the amount of irrigated turf at Poppy Hills. These enhancements transformed Poppy Hills into an eco-friendly venue and is a must-play golf course in Northern California.

Bayonet & Black Horse Golf Club – Black Horse Course

Located north of Monterey, and overlooking the stunning Monterey Bay, the Black Horse Course is the sister to the Bayonet Course. Built 10 years after the Bayonet Course, the Black Horse is a championship layout which features undulating greens, generous cypress-lined fairways, and serrated bunkers.

Black Horse Course at Bayonet & Black Horse Golf Club

Rated as one of the top 20 public courses in North California, the Black Horse Course was recently renovated by award-winning architect Gene Bates. Transformed into a more open and flowing layout, the course received new tees, fairways, greens and bunkering on each hole. The course was also lengthened to 7,024 yards and with 4 sets of tees this course is perfect for golfers of all abilities.

Del Monte Golf Club

Located just a few minutes from downtown Monterey, is Del Monte Golf Club. A classic course designed by Charles Maud in 1897, the Del Monte Course’s fairways are plotted with mature pine, oak and cypress trees, and the greens are well-protected by an array of bunkers that will challenge any golfer’s game. Despite being a par-72, the Del Monte Course is only 6,357 yards however it is far from a simple round of golf.

Full of history, Del Monte was an original host of the California State Amateur which is still played to this day. The 16th Warne Hole is one of the toughest holes on the back-nine and designed to be played in all weather and throughout any time of the year. The Del Monte Course offers magnificent surroundings and an unforgettable round.

Carmel Valley Ranch Golf Course

As the only Pete Dye designed course in the whole of Northern California, the Carmel Valley Ranch Golf Course is a must play for golfers of all abilities. Located at the bottom of the Santa Lucia Mountains, this 18-hole championship golf course offers a wonderful experience with tight fairways, and raised and sunken greens.

Carmel Valley Ranch Golf Course

Ranked by Golf Magazine as one of “Monterey’s must-plays”, Carmel Valley Ranch utilizes mother nature with the layout of the course dipping and twisting through the hills. With water hazards featured on several of the holes, challenging topography and breathtaking scenery, Carmel Valley Ranch Golf Course is definitely one to take on in Northern California.

Feeling inspired?
Discover more about the abundance of golf in Northern California, one of the top golfing regions in the States.


Adam Ward avatar
Adam Ward

Director of Product

Director of Product, developing great golf packages and experiences in North America for our customers

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