Mike Keiser is famous for saying one course is a curiosity, but two makes a destination. It’s hard to argue that assertion, as typically the most-celebrated golf destinations have multiple courses—from Pebble Beach, Pinehurst, Kohler, Kiawah, and Streamsong to the super-successful golf getaways Keiser himself has built, like Bandon Dunes and Sand Valley.
That said, there are still plenty of resorts and getaways that have only a single golf course on property. Some are golf-centric, while at others golf is a complementary amenity to the overall experience.
Although you can find other nearby courses to create a more extensive golf trip in some of these locations, the following are 10 of the best single-course destinations in the U.S. At these spots, you’ll find that one special course can definitely be enough.
Manele Golf Course (Lanai, Hawaii)
Being able to stake a claim as one of the most picturesque courses in the Hawaiian Islands is saying a lot. Manele, at the Four Seasons Lanai, is a Jack Nicklaus design built on lava outcroppings and cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. For many Hawaii travelers, golf isn’t always at the top of the activity list. But for golfers, the Manele course is a must-play experience when on Lanai, especially as sunset approaches.
Erin Hills (Erin, Wis.)
Golf is unquestionably the focus at this destination in a state that also boasts golf getaways like Kohler (Whistling Straits) and Sand Valley. In 2017, Erin Hills became just the sixth public access course to host the U.S. Open and stamped itself as a bucket-list course for traveling golfers up for a championship-level challenge. Yes, Erin Hills has its 63,000-square-foot Drumlins putting course, but for those who want a diversity of course offerings, they’ll often tie other facilities into a Wisconsin golf road trip.
Chambers Bay (University Place, Wash.)
The first course in the Northwest to host the U.S. Open, Chambers Bay is quite simply one of the nation’s finest municipal golf courses. Built on the site of a former sand and gravel mine along the Puget Sound, Chambers Bay is routed across rugged sand dunes and hills and features stunning views of not only the waterfront but the Olympic Mountains. Public walking trails surround the links-style course, which itself is a walking-only venue and perhaps the most well-known layout in the state of Washington.
Shadow Creek (Las Vegas, Nev.)
A private limousine ride is just the start to this unrivaled golf experience that’s exclusive for MGM Resorts International guests in Las Vegas and has the highest green fee—$1,000—in the world. The manicured fairways, immaculate greens, and crystal blue lakes and streams were all sculpted from empty desert by architect Tom Fazio. Shadow Creek originally opened as a private club but has offered public access for over two decades to date and hosted “The Match” between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in 2018. For visitors seeking different golf options beyond the shows, nightlife, and gambling, there are a wealth of other (and cheaper) options in and around the Vegas area.
McLemore (Rising Fawn, Ga.)
This course, dramatically set on Lookout Mountain in northwest Georgia, is part of a master-planned community that offers stay-and-play guest access in addition to its base membership. The mountaintop Highlands course designed by Rees Jones and Bill Bergin is probably best known for its “above the clouds” 18th hole that’s been voted one of the game’s greatest finishing holes. While McLemore currently has a 6-hole short course as well, it’s looking to really dive into the destination golf category with plans for a second 18-hole course, The Outpost, expected to open in 2024.
The Coeur d’Alene Resort (Coeur d’Alene, Idaho)
The floating, par-three 14th green at this northwest Idaho resort is one of the most memorable in golf—a literal island in Lake Coeur d’Alene. Mahogany water taxis ferry golfers back and forth, but that’s just one of the many breathtaking lakeshore views at a stunner of a course spread across 200 park-like acres and winding up into a forested ridge and woodlands. The course is posh, like the resort itself, which also features a luxurious spa, lakeside infinity pool, and a wide range of dining and nightlife offerings.
The Highland Course at Primland (Meadows of Dan, Va.)
In the Blue Ridge Mountains and the highlands of Virginia, the Donald Steel-designed course at Primland Resort sits atop high ridges, with dramatic views of surrounding gorges and mountain ranges from its 3,000-foot elevation. There’s a distinctly remote feel to the golf at Primland, a back-to-nature escape that sits on 12,000 acres and features a wellness spa, observatory, and an outdoor activity center. The golf is special but just part of a mix that includes hiking, horseback riding, ATV tours, archery, fly fishing, and more.
CordeValle (San Martin, Calif.)
Playing through golden foothills, meandering creeks, and an oak-studded valley, CordeValle has hosted numerous PGA Tour events as well as the 2016 U.S. Women’s Open. Tranquility, wellness, and adventure are the central elements to this northern California lifestyle resort nestled into the Santa Cruz Mountains. The 1,700-acre sanctuary stretches along the inland coast between San Jose and the Monterey Peninsula, and features a golf course accomplished architect Robert Trent Jones Jr. has called his finest creation.
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The Sagamore (Bolton Landing, N.Y.)
The views of Lake George are breathtaking from this 1928 Donald Ross design that features lush, tree-lined fairways and deep greenside bunkers. The historic Sagamore Golf Course, which was restored in the 1980s, gets off to a memorable start with a downhill tee shot that offers vistas of Lake George and the Adirondack Mountains. It’s just part of the experience at the iconic Sagamore Resort, which combines classic elegance, upscale amenities, immersive outdoor activities, and more than 140 years of history.
Full Cry at Keswick Hall (Keswick, Va.)
Just outside Charlottesville, at the boutique hotel of Keswick Hall, is one of the last golf course designs from Pete Dye. Minutes from historic landmarks like Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and James Madison’s Montpelier, not to mention local vineyards, Full Cry has received national accolades since its 2015 opening, its 18 holes draped across the rolling topography of central Virginia with the Blue Ridge Mountains as a backdrop.
Let us know which other single-course destinations you would add to the list!