Pebble Beach and the 10 Most Picturesque Golf Courses in the United States

Mike LynchContributor IIISeptember 13, 2011

Pebble Beach and the 10 Most Picturesque Golf Courses in the United States

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    Golf courses are unique among sports venues with the amazing scenery they provide.  They can have appeal to someone with no interest in the sport.  You could hate golf, but enjoy walking along the beach.

    In these rankings, the course itself is secondary to the surrounding area.  That is why Augusta National is not on the list.  It is a beautiful golf course, but it derives its appeal in a much different way then Pebble Beach, which has non-golf appeal.  That factor was critical in coming up with these rankings.

    Every course on this list, with one exception, is located near a coastline or body of water.  It is largely a subjective list.  People will naturally have differing opinions on what constitutes pretty scenery.  With that, here is my list of the most picturesque golf courses. 

10. Ritz-Carlton Golf Club

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    The Jack Nicklaus-designed course is located at the Dove Mountain Resort near Tucson, Ariz.  The best way to describe it would be as a "desert mountain course."  

    There is essentially no rough on the golf course; stray shots land in the native desert.  The course hosts the WGC World Matchplay Championships in February.

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    Hard to forget you're in the desert.

9. Liberty National

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    Liberty National is located along the Hudson River in Jersey City.  It offers views of the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty.  Designed by Robert Cupp and Tom Kite, it is one of the courses in The Barclays rotation.

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    You won't find a view like this on any other course.

8. Harbour Town Golf Links

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    Harbour Town is located within the Sea Pines resort in Hilton Head, S.C.  It has been the host of the Heritage since 1969.  The 18th hole is one of the most famous in golf.  It is located on the Calibougie Sound with a candy-striped lighthouse just beyond the green.

    Pete Dye, along with Jack Nicklaus, designed the course, which is inland until the final three holes. However, they are not devoid of scenery.  Towering pines mix with palm trees and oaks with hanging Spanish Moss.  You may even encounter an alligator lurking in one of the lagoons.

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    The 18th can be a cruel ending.

7. Whistling Straits

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    The Pete Dye-designed course has hosted the 2005 and 2010 PGA Championships.  It is situated along the shore of Lake Michigan in Sheboygan, Wisc.  

    In addition to the breathtaking coastline holes, the course features over 1,000 bunkers.  This famously became an issue after Dustin Johnson grounded his club in one during the 2010 PGA Championship.

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    The Lake Michigan shoreline can be an intimidating distraction.

6. Chambers Bay

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    Chambers Bay is a links-style course located along the Puget Sound in the state of Washington.  It will host the US Open in 2015 after previously hosting the 2010 US Amateur Open.  Robert Trent Jones Jr. designed the course, which also features mountain views along with the water.

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    The links style is evident at Chambers Bay.

5. Kiawah Island Ocean Course

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    The Pete Dye-designed course hugs the Atlantic Ocean.  It is situated on sand dunes between the beach and the marsh.  There is no forgetting that you are on a barrier island at any point on this course.  

    The next PGA Championship will come to this challenging South Carolina venue.  The Ocean Course is generally considered one of the toughest venues in the country.  It had previously hosted the 1991 Ryder Cup and the 2007 Senior PGA Championship.

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    Some of the scenes in The Legend of Bagger Vance were filmed on the course.

4. Spyglass Hill

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    Spyglass Hill is the first of three courses on this list on California's Monterey Peninsula.  Robert Trent Jones Sr. designed the course, which opened in 1966.  It is one of the courses used during the Pebble Beach Celebrity Pro-Am.  

    The opening holes work towards the Pacific Ocean, then the layout turns back uphill through the forest. The fourth hole is particularly famous, featuring a slender green surrounded by native iceplant.  It is a public course and plays 6,953 yards from the tips.

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    Going back from the ocean is pretty, too. 

3. Pacific Dunes

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    Pacific Dunes was opened in 2001 and is a modern masterpiece.  Designed by Tom Doak, the course is part of the Bandon Dunes resort in Oregon.  

    It makes use of the high bluffs along the Pacific Ocean for dramatic views.  Amazingly, the course is almost entirely crafted from natural features along the site.  It is also open to the public, as are the other courses within the resort.

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    It is no wonder the accolades came so early for Pacific Dunes.

2. Pebble Beach Golf Links

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    Dating back to 1919, Pebble Beach is located on cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  It is another course on the Monterey Peninsula that is open to the public.  

    It annually hosts the Pebble Beach Pro-Am and has hosted several US Opens, most recently in 2010. Many would call it the best course in the country, and it is certainly one of the most famous. 

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    Expect to be distracted if you play this course.

1. Cypress Point

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    The Monterey Peninsula adds in another course.  Cypress Point features several holes that play over the Pacific Ocean.  

    Unfortunately for golf fans, this is a very private course.  It used to be part of the Pebble Beach Pro-Am until 1991.  The course opened in 1928 and was designed by Alister MacKenzie.  It is regularly rated as one of the best in the world.