15 of the Best Golf Resorts You’ve Probably Never Heard Of
Recently, I published a list of 10 of the most underrated courses in the world – and people seemed to love it.
But a comment I received from a few readers was “This is great, but many of these are private. What about underrated public courses?”
Well in going back, only 3 of those were private…but don’t worry, I’ve got you covered anyway!
Over the last 11 years since starting this site, I’ve been fortunate to experience a lot of great places.
But what about all of those places that fly a little more under-the-radar?
The ones that don’t get quite as much press?
The ones that are often just as enjoyable, but in (some) cases are much more affordable?
That’s what this post is about.
Today I’ve included a list of 15 of the best golf resorts that don’t get as much press as I think they should. Visiting any one of these places guarantees a great time, and some great golf as well.
15) Hammock Beach Resort – Palm Coast, FL
A few years back I planned a trip down to play TPC Sawgrass for the first time, and had a couple extra days. So my friend Patrick and I ventured over to Hammock Beach Resort to stay for a couple nights and play both their Ocean and Conservatory courses.
And I gotta say, it was a totally unexpected surprise.
I didn’t know a ton about the area, but the resort itself was fantastic. We had one of the best meals I had all year at their Atlantic Grill restaurant, and the massive hotel/condo units and spectacular pools make this a one-stop-shop for a golf vacation.
The Conservatory is known as one of the longest and most challenging courses in the state, and we really enjoyed the back 9 in particular.
But it’s the recently rebuilt Ocean course that is the true star, with some unique holes and great ocean views.
14) Four Seasons Punta Mita – Punta Mita, MX
If you’ve never considered a golf trip to Mexico before, this could be the wake-up call you need.
About an hour outside Puerto Vallarta is the spectacular Punta Mita compound. It’s about 2,000 acres and has luxury homes, 2 5-star resorts, and 2 fantastic golf courses at Punta Mita Golf Club.
The Pacifico Course is the easier of the two, and features the world’s only natural island green. It’s just as much fun as it sounds.
The Bahia Course is more of a players course, but still doesn’t lack on views or fun holes. The 17th is one of my favorite par 4s in golf.
Considering it’s a Four Seasons, the resort isn’t cheap. But it’s legitimately one of the very best family vacations we’ve ever had. Our daughter was 15 months old, and there was plenty for her to enjoy – including some fantastic baby sitting services.
Check out my review of what makes the Four Seasons Punta Mita one of the best golf resorts in Mexico.
13) Big Cedar Lodge – Ridgedale, MO
Depending on where in the country you live, you’re either thinking “Everyone has heard of Big Cedar Lodge” or “What? Where?”
Big Cedar Lodge is a sprawling resort outside Branson, Missouri – and it’s truly a specatacle.
While their famous “Top of the Rock” driving range may have succumbed to a massive skink hole, the golf their is world class.
This year I visited Payne’s Valley, Tiger Woods first publically accessible course design. It’s everything you’d hope for in a resort golf course with memorable holes, and an even more memorable “Disneyland-like” drive back to the clubhouse from the island 19th hole.
It’s worth a visit whether you live close by or not.
Check out some of my footage from the trip in my Garmin Approach S70 review.
12) Coeur d’Alene Resort – Coeur d’Alene, ID
Most golfers are familiar with Coeur d’Alene’s Floating Green par 3. But unless you’re from the Northwest, it’s not a place that’s usually very high on most people’s list as a golf trip.
But it should be.
The resort at CDA has been updated and is fantastic. Being right on the Lake, there are not only a ton of opportunities for fun activities, but the views are fantastic.
The course itself is fun, immaculately maintained and on top of the Floating Green has other things you don’t normally see at a golf resort (like a free 10-minute massage included with green fees, and golf carts with heated seats among other things).
Then add in the fact that you can also play Circling Raven, another top 100 public gem that is just as good, if not better than the resort course – and you’ve got a fantastic golf weekend ahead of you.
It’s so good in fact, we scheduled an Eighty Club event there.
I recently ventured back to Coeur d’Alene to play it for a second time, and you know what? It still lived up to the hype.
11) Salish Cliffs and Little Creek Casino – Shelton, WA
Salish Cliffs is about an hour from Seattle, and is the perfect place to spend a night or two if you’re trying to get out to play the US Open Venue Chambers Bay.
The Little Creek Casino certainly isn’t the biggest or best casino I’ve ever been to, but they have cheap table games, and a seafood raw bar where locals drive for hours (literally) just to come and visit (and I’ll attest, it’s worth it).
Personally, I love Salish Cliffs, and think it’s one of the most underrated courses in the Northwest. It’s got views, elevation change, and fun.
It works great as both a buddies weekend trip, or a couples getaway – and I’ve done both.
Just remember, it is an Indian casino, so be prepared for a little smoke if you do visit the resort.
10) Turning Stone Resort – Verona, NY
Back in the early days of this site when I was actively pursuing the Top 100 Public Course list, Turning Stone was a must-stop spot, with 2 of its three courses on the list.
It was a bizarre experience driving the 4 hours from New York City to what felt like a pretty remote place, only to get there and have it feel like Vegas.
The place was PACKED on the weekend we were there, in the best way possible. There was a ton of energy and people were having a blast.
The Atunyote course is a sight in and of itself (check out the million-dollar front gate), and has played host to a PGA event in the past. The Kaluyat course was my preference, however. It’s a super fun routing through meadows and forests, that will challenge even the best golfers.
If you’re looking for a unique golf experience that doesn’t skimp on the nightlife as well, plan a weekend at Turning Stone.
9) Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge – Jasper, Alberta
There have been some remote resorts on this list, but Jasper Park Lodge may be the most remote of them all.
It’s about a 4-hour drive from Banff to get to Jasper, and it’s worth coming to Alberta for the drive alone. It’s absolutely spectacular. And with stops like Lake Louise or Moraine Lake on the way? It’s just that much better.
Once you’re at Jasper Park Lodge it feels like you’re in a wildlife haven, or super fancy adult summer camp.
It’s unlike any place I’ve been, and is truly a place to escape to if you’re sick of city life.
Unfortunately, the morning after we arrived as we were preparing to hit the first tee, well, it snowed.
We took a tour of the course, buuuuuut it was covered in about 8 inches of snow at this point.
That being said, you can tell it truly is a special course. And it would have to be, as it’s routinely considered one of the top 5 courses in the country.
And if you do happen to get snowed out? Make the most of it:
8) Four Seasons Hualalai – Kona, HI
Many of the resorts on this list are proper golf resorts.
At the Four Seasons Hualalai, it’s usually the resort that gets top billing, rather than the golf – which is ridiculous.
The Hualalai Golf Course is quite simply one of the most fun golf courses I’ve ever played. It has views, fun holes, surprises, oh – and did I mention it’s all-inclusive?
You pay $380 for the day, and that includes unlimited golf, food, and drinks.
And then when you’re done? You get to go back to one of the most spectacular resort hotels in the world. It’s not cheap, but if you’re looking for a luxury golf vacation, this is about as good as it gets.
7) Quivira Golf Club – Cabo San Lucas, MX
I’d heard all of the hype of the cliffside par 3, 6th hole at Quivira.
But do you know what makes this golf course so underrated? The fact, that the rest of the course is equally as good and as fun to play.
Quivira is one of the most fun rounds of golf I’ve had in recent memory, and the accommodations at Pueblo Bonito Resort truly put it over the top.
To have access to multiple all-inclusive resorts and a golf course of this caliber? It amazes me that the club doesn’t get more recognition than it does. It truly is a phenomenal vacation experience, and one of the best golf resorts I’ve been to.
6) Forest Dunes – Roscommon, MI
Forest Dunes has been on most top 100 public lists ever since it first opened – and for good reason.
The course is a lot of fun, and because of it’s remote location and great on-property lodging, it feels more like a destination private club, than it does a public golf course.
The course even has a “Bye” hole, which you rarely see at other public courses.
Throw in the recently opened Tom Doak reversible course, The Loop, and now you’ve got a destination with three unique golf courses, in a beautiful remote setting.
It may take a while to get to, but the drive is most definitely worth it.
5) Silvies Valley Ranch – Middle of Nowhere, OR
Silvies Valley Ranch might be the most unique golf resort I’ve ever been to. It’s on a 140,000 acre working cattle ranch in the middle of nowhere in Eastern Oregon.
And that’s part of the reason why I love this place so much.
But the other reasons?
- A fantastic reversible golf course, which makes up 2 unique courses: the Hankins and the Craddock
- A brutally hard (and fun) 7 hole par 3 course called the Gauntlet – which features the “Beer Tree” which hands out free beers to all who pass it.
- A hole that was specifically designed to help you hit the longest drive of your life (where I did).
- Goat caddies. Yes. Goat caddies.
- And so many other things.
It isn’t easy to get to, and it’s not as cheap as some of the courses on this list, but I guarantee it will be one of the most unique and enjoyable golf experiences you ever have.
4) Arcadia Bluffs – Arcadia, MI
I remember driving up from Chicago to play Arcadia Bluffs for the first time. The airline lost my friend’s clubs, so we had to wait for them to arrive on the next flight.
This meant that we weren’t going to arrive at Arcadia until around 2 in the morning – when it was pitch black.
To this day I remember waking up around 6:30, walking out onto the balcony of our room, and seeing this:
From that moment on, I knew we were in for a very good day.
Arcadia Bluffs is a fun golf course. It’s got insane views, unique shots, and is much less punishing than its neighbor across the lake.
With the new South Course modeled after the Macdonald gem Chicago Golf Club, it makes for a fantastic golf destination that’s slightly off the beaten path.
3) Pronghorn Resort – Bend, OR
Obviously, this list has a little bit of a Pacific Northwest slant to it. Part of this is because I live in Oregon, so naturally, I’ve played more golf here than anywhere else. But the bigger reason is simply due to the fact that there really are a lot of under-the-radar, fantastic golf resorts in the area.
Pronghorn Resort has been expanding their facilities over the past couple years, and just added a new hotel to go along with their cabins you can rent. Not to mention their world-class True Spec fitting studio.
It’s immaculately maintained, challenging, and 12-15 is one of my favorite stretches of holes in golf.
Every time I play Pronghorn I think to myself, “man, I love this place.”
The winding 4-mile road through BLM land truly makes you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere while you’re there, but it’s actually just a 20 minute drive from Bend – so it’s still very accessible if you want to get off property, or go play another course (like the equally fantastic, Tetherow).
2) Reynolds Lake Oconee – Greensboro, GA
For years all I knew about Reynolds Lake Oconee was that they had one of the top public courses in the country, in their Nicklaus-designed Great Waters course.
It wasn’t until I recently took a visit down there myself to understand just how special this place really is.
It has 6 golf courses that are all unique from each other and very fun to play. But spread out over the 12,000 acres of property they have on Lake Oconee you’re treated to not just world-class golf, but so many other outdoor activities as well.
To get access to everything Reynolds has to offer you’ll want to stay at the Ritz-Carlton Lake Oconee. It’s similar to Jasper in that it’s kind of like luxury adult summer camp.
The Creek Club there is private, but you can play each of the other 5 reynolds courses if you stay at the resort.
1) Sunriver Resort – Sunriver, OR
I’m just going to come out and say it, Sunriver Resort is one of my favorite places in the world. You literally have every outdoor activity imaginable, in a beautiful setting along the Deschutes River and in the shadow of Mt. Bachelor.
But if you’re not from Oregon, you may not realize just how good of a golf destination this is.
There are three courses and a par 3, and if you stay at the Resort you have access to all of them.
The crown jewel of the resort is the phenomenal, Crosswater Club which I have ranked in my top 50 courses in the world.
It’s fun, scenic, and has a nice tournament pedigree as well.
Oh, and did I mention they have one of the best stay-and-play deals in the world? Certain times of year you get unlimited golf (including one round a day at Crosswater), and a room at the Sunriver Lodge for $99/night!
The typical summer green fee for a resort guest at Crosswater alone is pushing $200, so if you cash in on the stay and play offers, it becomes a no-brainer.
That’s My Take on the Best Golf Resorts that Fly Under the Radar – Where Should I Go Next?
I know there are dozens of other great golf resorts out there, so which ones did I miss? What places do you love that I should add to my list to check out? Drop a comment and let me know what you think the best golf resorts out there are.
Oh, and have you heard the news about Rodeo Dunes? Expect this to make the list very shortly 🙂
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If you enjoyed this post, check out the 10 Most Underrated Courses in the World.