Find out where the stunning Spyglass Hill and US Open host Pebble Beach fit in a rundown of the Golden State's finest

Our rundown of the best golf courses in California continues with the top 5, starting at a familiar stop…

Best golf courses in California – 5. Riviera

Opened in 1927, it is another George Thomas design and another to have a storied championship-hosting pedigree.

The PGA Tour makes one of its most characterful annual stops here and it’s also staged the US Open (1948) and the PGA Championship (1983 and 1995) – and will be the stage for the 2028 Olympic Games tournament.

best golf courses in california

It has lustre too, being the home club of the likes of Humphrey Bogart and Dean Martin in the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw have lightly revised this strategic layout, which includes a ‘Redan’ par 3, a bunker in the middle of a green and a vintage split-fairway two-shotter.

Best golf courses in California – 4. San Francisco

After members laid out the original course in 1918, two of the great names in architecture then took over.

First, AW Tillinghast reworked it five years after it opened, a commission that included creating the stellar short 7th as well as his trademark greens and bunkering.

Then in 2006 Tom Doak reintroduced three original Tillinghast holes that were lost in anticipation of an ill-fated road project, as well as removing trees and restoring lost bunkers.

Expect a design masterclass here: a lively routing, uphill and downhill holes, bold and varied tests, wide playing corridors, and dog-legs in both direction. 

Best golf courses in California – 3. Los Angeles (North)

The club was founded in 1897 but after a couple of relocations eventually set up permanent base in Beverly Hills in 1911.

The course was later redesigned by English heathland maestro Herbert Fowler and George Thomas (him again!) and was then overhauled in 2010 by Gil Hanse along with writer Geoff Shackelford with a view to it hosting the 2017 Walker Cup.

The restoration has returned the fun and shot values of the Thomas classic and was a brilliant Walker Cup venue… and will be a fascinating host of the 2023 US Open.

Best golf courses in California – 2. Pebble Beach

Hosts its sixth US Open this year – which is more than any other course over the last 50 years – and will stage a seventh episode of America’s national championship in 2027.

It will also host its first US Women’s Open in 2023 and every February the PGA Tour’s Pebble Beach Pro-Am is held here.

Pebble Beach

The course is draped over cliffs above Stillwater Cove and Carmel Beach and includes a stellar run from the 6th along the bluffs that incorporates the all-world 106-yard 7th to a tiny water’s edge green.

Pebble has some more mundane holes inland but this is a bona fide bucket list experience.

So who’s in at No. 1 of our best golf courses in California? Find out on the next page…