Top 5 California Golf Courses in the Forelinx Network

Golf Courses

Top 5 California Golf Courses

There are few states better suited for a diverse array of quality golf courses than California. 

With a sprawling coastline, mountains, deserts, and valleys all driving distance, there's no surprise as to why great golf is abundant in The Golden State. Forelinx, COO, Sam Kestin joins the Just Jaks Golf Podcast to discuss the amended 2020 PGA Tour and Major Championship schedule, trending players before COVID-19 halted the season and the top 5 golf courses in California available within the Forelinx network. 

5. Sandpiper Golf Club

Some may call it, "The Poor Man's Pebble Beach" but it's more than that. Sandpiper Golf Club in Goleta, CA is just 10 miles North of Santa Barbara and offers sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean from all 18 holes. Sandpiper’s eighteen holes are routed over one of the best pieces of land possessed by any golf course in Southern California. The bluffs that sit atop the crashing Pacific Ocean permeate the experience here and it’s easy to get caught up staring at the magnificent vistas presented throughout the course. The par-three eleventh hole in particular plays straight downhill to a greensite that sits on a sandy beach, just steps away from crashing waves. Sandpiper Golf Club is a fantastic value and can be enjoyed by players of all levels.  

Sandpiper Golf Club

4. Poppy Hills Golf Course

Renovated in 2014, Poppy Hills Golf Course is located just 2.3 miles away from the world famous Pebble Beach Golf Links. For the money, you're going to be pleasantly surprised with the conditions and very fun layout. The renovation that was completed fundamentally transformed this golf course into the gem that sits just off 17-Mile Drive today. Poppy Hills now features fairways that stretch the complete width of the corridors created by the towering Monterey pines. The end result is a golf course that has some Augusta National-esque elements (wide carpets of fairway amid tall trees) mixed with a more Pine Valley look to the bunkers and waste areas. The course is eminently playable for the higher handicapper but presents a fantastic test to the accomplished player. Poppy Hills is a must play if you visit the Monterey Peninsula.  

Poppy Hills Golf Course

3. TPC Harding Park 

Host of the 2020 PGA Championship (August 3-9 2020), TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, California is probably the best municipal golf course you'll ever play. Set against the cypress tree-lined Lake Merced you'll find a championship layout that forces you to shape your shots off the tee and have soft touch around the greens. TPC Harding Park is sure to challenge even the best golfers in the world but offer one of the nicest "walks in the park" that the recreational golfer will cherish forever. The course is routed between two reservoirs and the majority of the inward nine plays along the outside of the property atop the cliffs overlooking the water. It’s truly a ballstriker’s paradise — with very narrow fairways, tall cypress trees and pushed-up greens that require that first-rate iron shots to yield birdies. It’s no surprise that the course produced great iron players like Ken Venturi and Johnny Miller — both of whom cut their teeth here before going on to their incredible careers. TPC Harding Park has some steep competition from its neighbors, Olympic Club, Lake Merced Country Club and San Francisco Golf Club all within a few mile radius but TPC Harding Park will leave a major impression as it has done to everyone who has had the opportunity to play it. 

TPC Harding Park - Golf

2. The Stadium Course at PGA West

You better bring a lot of golf balls. Just kidding. Actually, we are not. The Stadium Course is part of the La Quinta Resort & Club, Waldorf Astoria property. The course includes a number of bold features — including a bunker that runs nearly 25 feet deep at the par-five sixteenth hole as well as the famed island green seventeenth entitled “Alcatraz.” The course has a fearsome reputation as one of the hardest tests of golf in California, but (like most Pete Dye courses) this track looks a lot harder than it plays. Strategic golfers will love this course as its penal hazards require a constant evaluation of risk against reward. Playing the Stadium Course in the winter or summer will yield polar opposite turf conditions, parts of the golf course will go dormant (brown color), and some a lush dark green color, both provide excellent scoring conditions but may alter the way you choose to play certain holes off the tee. The Stadium Course is host to The American Express, an annual event on the PGA Tour schedule. Depending on what time of year you play, the green fees can be pricey, but checking the Stadium Course off this list will be well worth it. 

The Stadium Course at PGA West

 1. Pasatiempo Golf Club

Nestled in Santa Cruz, California, a surf town on the Central coast, Alister MacKenzie (of Cypress Point and Augusta National fame) loved his vision for Pasatiempo so much that he chose its 6th hole as the place for his home in the United States. It’s easy to see why as the course possesses the most intricate green complexes of any public-access facility anywhere in the world. Each hole has so many unique pin positions that one could play Pasatiempo every single day without a touch of boredom. The bold contours on the putting surfaces work both ways — sometimes serving as feeder slopes used to collect shots around the hole while other times serving as repellants that reject all but the most perfectly judged iron shot. The experience ends with a beautiful par-three finishing hole that sits nestled perfectly in a canyon that sits just below the understated clubhouse. Pasatiempo is about an hour's drive from Cypress Point, a Monterey Peninsula neighbor to Spyglass Hill and Pebble Beach Golf Links. Pasatiempo is a highly rated course — it is ranked 12th in Golf Magazine's "Top 100 Courses You Can Play" and ranked 31 in Golf Digest's "America's Greatest Public Course". It's safe to say that Pasatiempo is a bucket list golf course and that the experience is worth every penny. 

Pasatiempo Golf Club