Hilton Head, South Carolina
10 Best States For Public Golf
By Kickntrue on 12/7/10
When you think of good golf for the public your first inclination is to think of Arizona, Florida and California. Golf Digest made a list based on the most top rated public courses per capita and comes up with a different take. Unfortunately- their number 1 is a bit tough to access (Hawaii), but others on the list including South Carolina, Nebraska, Michigan and South North Dakota present plenty of options throughout the country.

There is plenty to disagree with on this list- mostly the fact that some of these places are a little impractical to live (did I mention South Dakota?), but the list makes a good point. There is a lot of good golf out there, not just in big markets.

To me- and I've visited about 3/4 of the country (though certainly have not seen every golf course), the best golf for the money, climate, etc is South Carolina. Nebraska may have great golf- but it's spread out- and, you know, in Nebraska. In South Carolina- living anywhere near Myrtle Beach gives you access to hundreds of public courses within an hours drive many of them very nice. You may miss out on a single world-class high end course, but the options and year-round weather make up for it. Hawaii sounds nice- but even if you could cut off ties with family and friends and move there who can afford $8 for a gallon of milk?!

Golf Digest 10 Best Public Golfing States

photo source

[ comments ]
TeT says:
I have found that price has no bearing on the lists comprised by staff writers on the rags buck. Be interested to see affordable mixed into the equation.
Bryan K says:
Um....North Dakota is on the list...not South Dakota. Yes, I live in North Dakota.

We have a ton of great golfing in the Fargo-Moorhead area. Edgewood was mentioned in the article, and it is a beautiful course for a state that doesn't have any elevation changes. Hawktree, Bully Pulpit, and The Links at Ray are three public courses that routinely make Golf Magazine's top 100. Plus, there are some rural courses like Wahpeton's Bois de Sioux and Mapleton's Maple River along with Dakota Winds down by Hankinson that are just a joy to play. So, yeah...it's a little impractical to live here,and even though it's windy as hell during the summer, the golfing is great.
bducharm says:
@Bryan - are you familiar with Oxbow CC? Played my first ever competitive tournament there - ND State Am in 1980. Awesome golf course...
bkuehn1952 says:
The problem with the list is ranking the states by 4/5 star courses per capita. The list is somewaht skewed to states with low populations and a few highly rated courses. Seriously, does anyone think that a state like Vermont with six (6) courses rated 4/5 stars deserves a place on the list? So they have one top-rated course per 100,000 of population - big whoopee! You can play all the good courses in a week. Same can be said for South Dakota except driving time might add a few days.
bkuehn1952 says:
Excuse me, North Dakota!
Kickntrue says:
** We've edited for "North" Dakota as to not offend our member(s) who live there. South Dakota... sorry to bother you. Please continue to feel useless.
tennesseeboy says:
Never been there so I can't verify but I've heard stories of golfers in North Dakota being carried off by giant mosquitoes. As you probably know, the mosquito is the state bird.
Bryan K says:
bducharm: Oxbow is one of the few completely private courses in the area (one of three in the state that I know of). I have two friends that are members, but our weekends just never seem to jibe. It's one of my goals for next year, though, because Oxbow is supposed to be the nicest course in the state (but since it's private, it doesn't get on any of the lists). Of course, it has been flooded out the last two Springs, so I don't know how it's recovered. Plus, it's future is currently in doubt due to the fact that the current flood diversion project being promoted by the Army Corps of Engineers would put the entire town of Oxbow under water. We shall see what will happen.
Bryan K says:
tennesseeboy: Well, our mosquitos aren't giant. I saw much bigger ones in Wyoming a couple of summers ago. But what we lack in size, we more than make up for in numbers. They tend to spray pretty well on most of the area courses, but believe me...if they don't, golfing is impossible...unless, of course, it's windy (like it usually is). The wind tends to keep them at bay. But on the truly nice days during the summer when it's still, I recommend you stay near civilization. Otherwise, you will either get eaten by mosquitoes or you will asphixiate on them.

Oh...and BTW...our state bird is the Western Meadowlark, which is significant only because they eat mosquitos.
Bryan K says:
Kickntrue: Thank you:) It's not often that we North Dakotans get to see our state ranked near the top at anything, so this is a big deal. But to be frank, there is a huge difference between North and South Dakota. South Dakota actually has some scenery and tourist attractions. Plus, about 1/3 of the state actually has a relatively mild winter. Here in North Dakota, the state is 90% flat and 10% flatter. And our idea of a mild winter is when the number of days that don't get above 0 stays in the single digits.
Trav says:
Those ND course pictures look really nice. And I bet it's not hard to get a tee time now.
couz22 says:
I am biased, but I think that Michigan has the most public courses than any state (or at least, top 3), and with the economic hit that they it took, the courses have drastically reduced their prices just to get people to show up. I have played in many states, and I can say that some of the top courses are here; check it out, worth the trip.
Bryan K says:
Trav: I don't think anyone is answering the phones in the pro shops this time of year. But I do know some people who still go out and play a fairway from time to time even when it's under a foot of snow. Good luck finding your ball no matter what color it is.
woobwoob says:
I'd like to see which states have the longest playable season. That in my mind makes for better public golf. I get to play year round in TX and it makes it much easier to work on your game and not have to get back in shape once spring thaws.

Another cool thing about down here is replay rates. Most public courses around here only charge a cart fee for a second round. I went on a trip to Washington DC a few months back and they wanted full greens fees and cart fee for a replay.
tonydod says:
I agree with the price comments and best places to play. We here in central Pennsylvania enjoy some of the cheapiest prices in the country to play year round and for the most part are spoiled. I play with friends hear who have a fit if they see $50 on a weekend prime time to play. How do our courses survive with a 45-50 rate 18 to 23 winter rate. does Price = best or are you paying way to much elsewhere. Don't know what the people mean by playable season. Try Scotland or Ireland out in the summer with sweaters and rainsuits. If playable means sunny and 75 degrees maybe you ought to buy a boat.
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