The Pacific Coast Highway’s golf courses are one reason the PCH drive along the California Coast is popular, as it has some of the top golf courses in the USA.
You might be able to drive the Pacific Coast Highway between San Diego and San Francisco in one day (if you push it), but golfers should make the trip last as long as they can, so they can linger on the links.
If you’re passionate about golf you could certainly dedicate at least a week to driving along the coast and playing rounds on several of the Pacific Coast Highway’s golf courses. There are many top class courses along the way. As just one example, the Pebble Beach Golf Links has hosted several US Open Championships, while one of the courses has what's been described as the single best hole in the world. Read on to find out which one!
From south to north, going from San Diego to San Francisco, these are the best Pacific Coast Highway golf courses.
A few miles north of La Jolla, the Torrey Pines Golf Course offers both a North and a South course. It was on the South Course in 2013 that Tiger Woods notched up his 75th PGA Tour title with an even-par 72 round. That was despite fierce crosswinds on a freezing cold winter day. Both courses offer equally dramatic Pacific Coast clifftop scenery.
Close to Carlsbad, and 6 miles (9.6 kms) from Legoland, this luxury resort and spa offers access to the Aviara Golf Course which overlooks the Batiquitos Lagoon Nature Preserve. It’s a par 72 course of 7,007 yards (6,407 meters) and is the only golf course on the California coast to be designed by Arnold Palmer.
Just south of Newport Beach, Pelican Hill is a 5-star spa resort of over 400 acres and with magnificent views towards the Pacific Ocean. Its Ocean North and Ocean South courses designed by Tom Fazio make full use of the beautiful landscapes with some holes right on the cliff edge.
Located on the Palos Verdes Peninsula and with great views out towards Santa Catalina Island, this is only a 9-hole course but provides a challenging golfing experience. It’s frequently voted one of the top par 3 courses in the USA.
This is a 15-minute drive west of Santa Barbara and has hosted many tournaments since it opened in 1972. It’s over 7,000 yards (6,401 meters) and has often been in lists of the top public courses in both California and the USA.
Monarch Dunes is near the little town of Nipomo, where the Pacific Coast Highway veers inland south of Pismo Beach. You won’t be playing by the ocean but the two courses here are within sight of five lakes that are on the grounds.
The Old Course is an 18-hole par 71 championship course, while the Challenge Course is a 12-hole par 36 course, noted for its massive greens which can change up to 4 feet (1.2 meters) in height from one end to the other.
Also in Nipomo and just a few miles from Monarch Dunes, Blacklake is unusual in comprising three 9-hole courses so that you can play 9, 18, or even 27 holes, for lots of variety. The Canyons course undulates and has several elevated tees, while the Oaks course does indeed go through coastal oak forests. The Lakes course has wide fairways and is designed with newer golfers in mind.
The Pismo Beach Golf Course is just south of Pismo Beach and the Pacific Coast Highway runs right by it, with the ocean and dunes on the other side. It’s a 9-hole par 27 course with a large pond posing a challenging water hazard. It was designed so that everyone from children to professionals could play and enjoy it.
Located in the small and scenic coastal community of Avila Beach, this resort is just north of Pismo Beach and 3 miles (4.8 kms) from the Pacific Coast Highway. Its golf course is a par 72 championship course of 6,500 yards (5,944 meters) which starts off on hilly terrain but the final holes offer the challenge of crossing a tidal estuary.
Situated between San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay in the Chorro Valley, Dairy Creek has a 9-hole par 36 course that’s good for beginners, while still offering even golf pro’s a challenge. The full 18-hole course is a par 71 with plenty of bunkers and water hazards, and an undulating landscape which rises and falls by 300 feet (91 meters) twice as you go round.
The Sea Pines Golf Resort has a spa and a 9-hole course which is a mix of par 3s, par 4s, and par 5s. It offers good views of Morro Bay and Morro Rock, with protected sand dunes alongside it. As the name suggests, the resort has lots of magnificent pine, cypress, and eucalyptus trees, and there’s horse-riding on offer as well.
This par 71 course offers a unique experience, as it’s within the Morro Bay State Park and has sea views from every one of its 18 holes. It’s also an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary, so you’re sure to see and hear birdies even if you don’t play any.
This course stands alongside the 17-Mile Drive which links Carmel and Monterey and is one of the most famous public courses in the USA. No list of Pacific Coast Highway golf courses is complete without it. Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus are just two of the famous names who have won US Open Championships here and we're sure they enjoyed the ocean views every bit as much as you will.
Don’t miss a visit to the Tap Room, either, where there’s plenty to see about the course’s long and distinguished history, going back to 1897. Because of all this, the course is in very high demand so you’ll usually need to plan and book ahead.
If you can’t get a booking at Pebble Beach there are several other courses within a few miles. This one has the most spectacular setting, right by the Point Pinos Lighthouse with the 18 holes having views of Monterey Bay or the Pacific Ocean.
The final outstanding course on our south-to-north journey is this one, with 36 holes spreading along behind a mile of beautiful sandy beaches. You can choose between the Ocean Course and the Old Course, which was designed by Arnold Palmer. The 18th hole on the Old Course is said by many to be the best hole in the world. What a way to end your trip playing these Pacific Coast Highway golf courses! You can also stay at the Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay, which sits between the two courses.
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