Best Courses: On Tour and open for play
The world’s best players might play a game with which we recreational amateurs are unfamiliar, but they often play courses with which we’re quite familiar.
Our annual list of Golfweek’s Best Tour Courses You Can Play reveals that far from being elitist undertakings, the pro circuits – PGA Tour, Champions Tour, Nationwide Tour and LPGA – are surprisingly public and accessible in terms of venues.
Of the 50 layouts highlighted on our list, 26 are regular PGA Tour stops – starting with No. 1 on the roster, Pebble Beach Golf Links.
Indeed, the entire Florida swing of the PGA Tour is played on public-access courses: TPC Sawgrass – Players Stadium Course (No. 8), Innisbrook Golf Club – Copperhead Course (No. 25), Bay Hill Club (No. 30), Doral Golf Resort & Spa – TPC Blue Monster (No. 35) and Walt Disney World Resort – Magnolia (No. 42).
Major sites also fare pretty well in terms of accessibility. British Open courses for 2010 and ’11 are on the list: St. Andrews – Old Course in Scotland (No. 2) and Royal St. George’s in Sandwich, England (No. 4). So is last year’s home of the PGA Championship: Whistling Straits – Straits Course in Kohler, Wis. (No. 3).
Though some of these public layouts have considerable green fees, others are municipally owned and operated and a bargain to play, at least for local residents. Joining St. Andrews and Carnoustie Golf Links – Championship Course in Scotland (No. 5) – in such company are two city-owned courses at Torrey Pines in San Diego, the South (No. 29) and North (No. 45), TPC Scottsdale – Stadium Course in Arizona (No. 32) and TPC Harding Park in San Francisco (No. 41).
You’ll need a Tour card to play in the scheduled tournaments. But any other week, access to the first tee of these sites is open to everyone.