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Best golf courses near Carmel, CA

Below, you’ll find a list of courses near Carmel, CA. There are 20 courses within a 15-mile radius of Carmel, 13 of which are public courses and 7 are private courses. There are 19 18-hole courses and 1 nine-hole layouts.

The above has been curated through Golf Digest’s Places to Play course database, where we have collected star ratings and reviews from our 1,900 course-ranking panelists. Join our community by signing up for Golf Digest+ and rate the courses you’ve visited recently.

Santa Lucia Preserve: The Preserve
Located a few miles inland from the glorious fivesome of 100 Greatest courses on California’s Monterey Peninsula (Pebble Beach, Cypress Point, Spyglass Hill and the two courses at Monterey Peninsula C.C.), The Preserve is dramatically different, the only golf course contained within a 20,000-acre parcel of gentle hills and mammoth oaks. Fazio moved almost no earth here, so perfect was the routing established by Poellot and Tatum. The greens are subtle, the bunkering low key, the atmosphere one of absolute tranquility.
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Tehama Golf Club: Tehama
Private
Tehama Golf Club: Tehama
Carmel, CA
3.5
1 Panelists
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Carmel Valley Ranch
Public
Carmel Valley Ranch
Carmel, CA
3.3
1 Panelists
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Quail Lodge & Golf Club
Public
Quail Lodge & Golf Club
Carmel, CA
2.8
22 Panelists
Located in Carmel Valley, just east of the nearby gems on Monterey Peninsula, Quail Lodge plays along scenic terrain with the Carmel River bisecting the course. Not overly long at 6,500 yards from the tips, the course is generally walkable and features a few narrow corridors off the tee. The course hosted the 1975 U.S. Senior Amateur when it was known as Carmel Valley Golf and Country Club.
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Cypress Point Club
Private
Cypress Point Club
Pebble Beach, CA
5
201 Panelists
From Golf Digest Architecture Editor emeritus Ron Whitten:Cypress Point, the sublime Monterey Peninsula work of sandbox sculpture, whittled Cypress and chiseled coastline, has become Exhibit A in the argument that classic architecture has been rendered ineffectual by modern technology.I'm not buying that argument.Those who think teeny old Cypress Point is defenseless miss the point of Alister MacKenzie’s marvelous design.MacKenzie relished the idea that Cypress Point would offer all sorts of ways to play every hole. That philosophy still thrives, particularly in the past decade, after the faithful restoration of MacKenzie’s original bunkers by veteran course superintendent Jeff Markow.Certainly one way to play Cypress is the full-bore, take-dead-aim, grip-it-and-rip-it, bomb-and-gouge approach. But it’s also a course where finesse still matters, where course management is still rewarded. Yes, long bombers can go low at Cypress Point these days, but so can short-hitting, thoughtful players, who much like sailors in a storm tack their way around bunkers, trees, dunes and ocean coves. And when the winds come up, as they often do at Cypress, it’s the latter approach that’s likely to be more successful.MacKenzie never believed much in three-shot par 5s, so if the 491-yard par-5 fifth is just a driver and 8-iron to many, well, both shots must still avoid acres and acres of sand bunkers splattered across the rolling fairway.Would the downhill 289-yard par-4 ninth, with its narrow stairstepped green tucked between sand dunes, be any more challenging if it would be lengthened 50 or 75 yards? It would still be reachable from the tee for big hitters, but out of range for ordinary players, robbing the majority of the fun and consternation of trying to drive a par 4.Likewise, little would be gained by lengthening the tiny 139-yard 15th, which plays over a cauldron of swirling Pacific. Curiously, MacKenzie lamented that the 15th lacked, “a sufficient number of alternative shots necessary to play it.” But he forgot about the wind, which invariably is either directly into one’s face, or blowing out to sea.As for the infamous par-3 16th, listed at 233 yards, its tee could be moved back up a hill to 260 yards, or even the 280-yard range. But why? To revive the debate whether Mackenzie originally intended the hole to be a short par 4?One of the great myths of Cypress Point is that founding member Marion Hollins, the 1921 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion, convinced MacKenzie to reduce the 16th to a par 3. Jack Fleming, who supervised construction of the course, set the record straight 50 years ago. MacKenzie always conceived the hole as a heroic one-shotter, alternatively as a drive-and-pitch-par 3. Describing the 16th to San Francisco golf writer Art Rosenbaum, Fleming related:“Miss Marion Hollins and I watched as he [Dr. MacKenzie] took his place exactly where the back tee is today on the 16th. He said, ‘This is the place, over the water.’ We thought he was crazy and told him so, politely of course. Dr. MacKenzie would not budge. He said, ‘Dammitall, the land side is too simple. It they don’t have the game for it, they can play to the left. If they go to the green, they will be credited.’ ”Ironically, the one hole Mackenzie wanted longer was the 343-yard 18th, where a conventional fairway later become forested by the encroachment of cypress trees. Mackenzie had designed a back tee 50 yards out on an ocean rock, even proposed a suspension bridge to reach it, but it was never built. Today, despite some tree clearing, it’s still the most confounding of holes at Cypress Point, where even a big hitter has no true advantage.What’s not to like about that?
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Pebble Beach Golf Links
Public
Pebble Beach Golf Links
Pebble Beach, CA
Not just the greatest meeting of land and sea in American golf, but the most extensive one, too, with nine holes perched immediately above the crashing Pacific surf—the fourth through 10th plus the 17th and 18th. Pebble’s sixth through eighth are golf’s real Amen Corner, with a few Hail Marys thrown in over an ocean cove on the eighth from atop a 75-foot-high bluff. Pebble hosted a successful U.S. Amateur in 2018 and a sixth U.S. Open in 2019. Recent improvements include the redesign of the once-treacherous 14th green, and reshaping of the par-3 17th green, both planned by Arnold Palmer’s Design Company a few years back—and the current changes to the iconic eighth hole.
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Monterey Peninsula Country Club: Dunes
Private
Monterey Peninsula Country Club: Dunes
Pebble Beach, CA
4.6
182 Panelists
The Dunes Course, long in the shadow of its big brother Shore Course (ranked 62nd), was originally routed by Seth Raynor, who died before construction. It was completed by Robert Hunter, a partner to Alister MacKenzie (who did not participate in the work), and Raynors ideas for the greens were altered before they were even built. In the 1990s, Rees Jones remodeled the course and reshaped holes to mimic the Raynor look, to mixed reviews. In 2016, Tom Fazio was brought in to make the Dunes as appealing to members as the gorgeous Shore Course, though it was former associates Tim Jackson and David Kahn who conceived of and carried out the details of the plan to give the Dunes a MacKenzie look. Sandscapes now frame most holes, fairways now zigzag around jagged bunkers and nearly all the greens are oriented diagonal to lines of play. The Dunes Course now lives up to its name.
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Monterey Peninsula Country Club: Shore
Private
Monterey Peninsula Country Club: Shore
Pebble Beach, CA
4.6
230 Panelists
Mike Strantz was battling cancer while transforming the bland, low-budget Shore Course into a scenic and strategic marvel that rivals next-door neighbor Cypress Point. Strantz reversed direction of the fifth through 15th holes to provide a Pacific Ocean backdrop to most of them. He weaved fairways among trees so players could “dance among the cypress,” and added native grasses for a coastal prairie look. The stunning landscape would be Strantz’s last work of art. He died six months after completing the redesign. Former PGA Tour player Forrest Fezler, who was Strantz’s associate on the project, later served as a consulting architect in order to retain the Strantz vision, until he died in 2018.
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Spyglass Hill Golf Course
Public
Spyglass Hill Golf Course
Pebble Beach, CA
Given the task of designing a course just up the 17 Mile Drive from Pebble Beach and Cypress Point, Robert Trent Jones responded with a combination of Pine Valley and Augusta National. The five opening holes, in Pine Valley-like sand dunes, are an all-too-brief encounter with the Pacific seacoast. The remaining holes are a stern hike through hills covered with majestic Monterey pines (which, sad to say, may someday disappear to pitch canker, but are being replaced in some areas with cypress trees). Add several water hazards that hearken back to the 16th at Augusta (a hole which Trent Jones designed, by the way) and you have what some panelists consider to be Trent’s finest work. Others say it’s the best course never to have hosted a major event. After all, even Pine Valley and Cypress Point have hosted Walker Cups.
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Poppy Hills Golf Course
Public
Poppy Hills Golf Course
Pebble Beach, CA
When originally built, Poppy Hills had unpopular perched greens framed by massive containment mounds. Following a 2013 remodeling by Jones and Charlton, it's now a graceful, low-profile layout. "We popped the hills at Poppy Hills," says Trent Jr. A new feature are sandy naturalized areas and pine straw off the fairways instead of manicured rough, part of a concerted effort to significantly reduce water consumption. The renovated course was on display at the 2018 U.S. Girls' Junior, won by current LPGA player Yealimi Noh.
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The Links At Spanish Bay
Public
The Links At Spanish Bay
Pebble Beach, CA
The Links at Spanish Bay was the first true links course built in America in many decades, but it took years for conveyor belts to deposit sand atop exposed bed rock to return this mined-out sand quarry back to a linkland site. The trio of designers, playfully dubbed "The Holy Trinity," thoughtfully shaped an 18 that looks natural, plays strategically and is sensitive to the coastal wetland environment.
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The Club At Pasadera: Pasadera
Private
The Club At Pasadera: Pasadera
Monterey, CA
3.8
34 Panelists
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Bayonet & Black Horse: Bayonet
Public
Bayonet & Black Horse: Bayonet
Seaside, CA
3.8
63 Panelists
This pair of 18-hole championship courses is riddled with history: The Bayonet and the Blackhorse are built on Fort Ord, a retired U.S. Army training facility. General Robert B. McClure famously built the Bayonet to perfectly fit his chronic fade as a left-handed golfer—the course is known for its “Combat Corner,” a series of sharp doglegs on the back nine. The Blackhorse was added in 1964, 10 years after the Bayonet, and features panoramic views of Monterey Bay.
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Bayonet & Black Horse: Black Horse
3.4
18 Panelists
This pair of 18-hole championship courses is riddled with history: The Bayonet and the Blackhorse are built on Fort Ord, a retired U.S. Army training facility. General Robert B. McClure famously built the Bayonet to perfectly fit his chronic fade as a left-handed golfer—the course is known for its “Combat Corner,” a series of sharp doglegs on the back nine. The Blackhorse was added in 1964, 10 years after the Bayonet, and features panoramic views of Monterey Bay.
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Pebble Beach Golf Links: The Hay
Public
Pebble Beach Golf Links: The Hay
Pebble Beach, CA
One of the most anticipated course openings of 2021 wasn't a regulation course. Pebble Beach's nine-hole short course, The Hay, was given a complete overhaul by Tiger Woods' design team. It now includes an exact replica of the iconic seventh green at Pebble Beach Golf Links—features holes ranging from 47 to 106 yards and includes a 20,000-square-foot putting course and a restaurant. "There are a few key ideas that I like to include when we build a short course," Tiger Woods told Golf Digest before his accident. "One of those is being able to use your putter from the tee box. I grew up playing Heartwell, a par-3 course here in Long Beach—and you could tee off with a putter on 17 of the 18 holes. ... It makes it a lot less intimidating."
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Pacific Grove Golf Links
Public
Pacific Grove Golf Links
Pacific Grove, CA
Of course, Pebble Beach is on most golfers' bucket lists. For locals, though, it's tough to beat the $40-60 normal rate at Pacific Grove, aka The Poor Man's Pebble. Pebble's designers, Jack Neville and Chandler Egan, did the layout for Pacific Grove, too—and the back nine has a Pebble feel in terms of your sense of enjoying the intimate setting on the Monterey Peninsula. Just like everyone should experience Pebble Beach once in their life, you should play Pacific Grove, too.
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