Tired of the same old courses – the same bunkers, collection areas and quirks that you always get at your local course?
While you could just head to the next big-name course to get your fix, there are dozens of hidden gems across the country that can offer you a trifecta of beautiful environs, challenging courses and expert design.
We’ve compiled a list of four of America’s best hidden-gem golf courses, the kind of courses your Sunday afternoon buddies may not know about but should.
Gasparilla Inn & Club – Boca Grande, Florida
Sometimes being a small fish in a big pond can be a bad thing.
However, in the case of the Gasparilla Inn & Club, being a lesser-known course among the titans of Miami, Orlando and West Palm isn’t a big deal. This course can hold its own.
Gasparilla underwent a redesign by the famous Pete Dye, he of the ever-challenging TPC Sawgrass on the other side of the state in Ponte Vedra Beach.
The course made Golf Vacation Insider and Golf.com’s lists of hidden gems, the latter listing Gasparilla as one of Florida’s best-kept secrets.
According to Golf.com, the course totals 6,942 yards, is a par-72 and has green fees that will run you between $95 and $117. The drawback: You have to be a hotel guest to play.
“Pete Dye redid the course a few years ago, and while not completely defanged, it is a gentler effort than most of the fearsome Dye products you’ve seen over the years,” Golf.com wrote.
Heritage Palms – Indio, California:
Don’t get this Heritage Palms confused with the Florida course by the same name. Not that you’d be disrespecting the Azinger-Lewis creation in Fort Myers, though.
Indio’s arid environs are home to a formidable course that, according to Golf Channel, is one of the top four under-the-radar facilities in California.
This course doesn’t play quite as long as Gasparilla and it is, admittedly, in a blazing-hot, bone-dry town, but Heritage Palms has a litany of little features that will bring a smile to the face of the clubsmen who play it.
“Highly playable, well-manicured and endlessly fun, (designer Arthur) Hills makes use of seemingly every inch of the Heritage grounds,” Golf Channel wrote. “For the average/older player, both landing areas and green complexes are sizeable to keep play well-paced and scoring opportunity prevalent.”
And how about this description of the course’s bunkers:
“The sand is so soft, you’ll feel like the 56-degree is navigating a silken bed sheet teased with melted butter.”
We’re sold. Are you? Green fees start at $40 and, according to Golf California, you’ll thoroughly enjoy Heritage Palms’ “inventive” par-3’s.
Palmilla Beach Golf Club – Port Aransas, Texas:
We aren’t going to lie; there’s nothing better than loading up your clubs and heading to the nearest ocean for a round on a formidable links course. Frustrating? At times. Beautiful? Always.
That leads us to our next course: Palmilla Beach, a links course a few miles away from Corpus Christi that used to be called Newport Dunes.
Arnold Palmer designed this course nearly 10 years ago, Golf.com says, and green fees run between $75 and $90. The course is a par-71 and plays 6,900 yards.
“This 2008 Arnold Palmer design on Mustang Island affords views of both the Gulf of Mexico and Corpus Christi Bay. Plus, it incorporates a links-like design that includes sod-style bunkers, rolling dunes and native grasses,” Golf Texas’ description of the course says.
Farmlinks – Sylacauga, Alabama:
Our final course on the list is just a few doors down from Palmilla and tucked up amid beautiful rolling hills dotted with evergreens and seasonal trees.
While you may not be familiar with this course, Alabama residents are: Golfweek has ranked Pursell Farms the top course in Alabama for the past four years.
Dana Fry and Michael Hurdzan designed the course, which is situated in the 3,500-acre Pursell Farms. The land is pretty pristine and, it goes without saying, picturesque.
Farmlinks at Pursell Farms is part of the Robert Trent Jones Trail, but somehow has managed to keep itself hidden from the masses.
“Despite the dominance of the Robert Trent Jones Trail over Alabama golf, we’re shocked that Farmlinks at Pursell Farms flies under the radar as much as it does,” Golf Vacation Insider wrote.
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