10 best golf destinations to host the Olympics

A number of summer and winter Olympic venues from Lake Placid, N.Y., to Tokyo are home to spectacular golf.
The Olympic rings greet visitors at Squaw Valley, site of the 1960 Winter Olympics.

I can't get my wife and kids to play golf with me, but I can gather everyone together to watch the Olympics as a family.

The Olympics is a tie that binds in our household, and probably millions of other homes around the world. There's something special about rooting for your country knowing that these talented athletes have spent the last four years training for this moment. Watching all the pressure, drama and emotion unfold is mesmerizing.

Visiting cities that have hosted memorable Olympic moments is always a thrill. I've been lucky to play golf in a handful of them. Now that golf is back in the Summer Games, maybe some day I'll actually play a host course. The 2016 Olympics - golf's first Olympic competition since 1904 - put the new Gil Hanse-designed Rio Olympic Course in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, squarely on the world map for traveling golfers.

Following this theme, we decided to rank past host Olympic cities according to how good they are as a golf destination. Virtually all of them made our World Top 100 Golf Destinations story in one way or another, either as the official destination we featured or part of a larger region we recommended. You won't be disappointed playing golf in any of these places. Maybe a little Olympic sight-seeing makes sense while you're there?

We'd be doing you a disservice if we didn't mention Colorado Springs as a great vacation spot to tour Olympic memorabilia and interesting golf courses at the same time. Colorado Springs has long been home to America's Olympic & Paralympic Training Center. In 2020, the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum opened, featuring 12 galleries that include exhibits on athlete training, the Summer and Winter Games and the USOPC Hall of Fame. Not far away are three fine golf resorts: The Broadmoor, Cheyenne Mountain and Garden of the Gods. And now on to our selections ...

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE FULL TOKYO 2020 OLYMPICS GOLF SCHEDULE FOR THE MEN'S AND WOMEN'S COMPETITION AT NBCOLYMPICS.COM

  1. Melbourne, Australia
    A view of the 5th green at West Course from Royal Melbourne Golf Club

    Melbourne hasn't hosted the Summer Games since 1946, nearly 20 years after a well-traveled Scot named Dr. Alister MacKenzie laid the groundwork for one of the golf's greatest destinations. MacKenzie's Royal Melbourne eventually became the anchor of a collection of historic clubs now recognized as Australia's Sandbelt. The Melbourne & Olympic Park continues to host elite sports competitions and events today, such as the Australian Open (tennis) and rugby, soccer, cricket and concerts at AAMI Park.

  2. London
    A sunset view of a hole at Wentworth Golf Club.

    London is known for so many things other than the Olympics, but as a three-time host in 1908, 1948 and 2012, it does have a deep connection to the Summer Games. Anyone can tour, live or work in Queen Elizabeth Park, built specifically for the 2012 Games. It is composed of parklands, trails, London Stadium, London Aquatics Centre and new neighborhoods and recreational facilities added after the Games, including a velo park, a hockey and tennis center and the ArcelorMittal Orbit, the world's longest tunnel slide. World-class golf is part of the fabric of London from the exclusive private clubs like Wentworth to the heathland courses of Surrey like Sunningdale and Walton Heath that we feature in an exclusive golf package to London.

  3. Calgary, Canada
    The Three Sisters mountains frame the 13th hole at Silvertip in the Canadian Rockies.

    Golf in the Canadian Rockies is a favorite of the editors at GolfPass, which explains why the host of the 1988 Winter Games ranked 14th among the World Top 100 Golf Destinations. The famous Fairmont hotels and Stanley Thompson courses at Banff Springs and Jasper Park are a bit removed from Calgary proper, but worth the spectacularly scenic drives. Closer options would be the more modern but equally stunning Stewart Creek, Silvertip and Kananaskis Country. WinSport’s Canada Olympic Park, site of the 1988 Olympic Winter Games in Calgary, houses Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame and has become a training ground and a source of recreation for athletes and locals alike, offering ziplines, mountain biking, hockey and summer and winter camps.

    Golf Packages
    Banff, Alberta
    FROM $617 (USD)
    Golf Packages
    Jasper, Alberta
    FROM $577 (USD)

  4. Olympic Valley, California
    This sixth hole at the Links at Squaw Creek showcases the beauty of the Olympic Valley.

    This beautiful ski and resort destination northwest of Lake Tahoe has transitioned from being called "Squaw Valley" into "Olympic Valley" after hosting the 1960 Winter Olympics. The Olympic rings are visible at the gateway to the development and in the village. Visitors who purchase a ticket for the 10-minute aerial tram ride for stunning views of the lake at High Camp get free admission to the Olympic Museum. Golfers will want to stay at the Resort at Squaw Creek to play its Links at Squaw Creek designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. More golf awaits 12 miles north in Truckee, including a PGA Tour stop at Old Greenwood. | Browse Truckee Golf Packages here and here

  5. Sydney, Australia
    The sixth hole at New South Wales Golf Club attracted a crowd during the 2009 Australian Open.

    Host of the 2000 Summer Games, Sydney is one of my favorite cities in the world for its beautiful beaches, cosmopolitan vibe, epic landmarks (the Sydney Opera House) and eclectic mix of golf courses. I was too busy playing links golf at St. Michael's, Long Reef and New South Wales - and teeing up the exclusive Royal Sydney - to tour the Sydney Olympic Park, home to an aquatic center, miles of cycling pathways, acres of parklands and an archery center. Maybe next time because I'm itching for a return to play more courses and see more of the city and surrounding Blue Mountains.

  6. Vancouver/Whistler, Canada
    Nicklaus North in Whistler, B.C., Canada, hosted Shell's Wonderful World of Golf in 1998, pitting Fred Couples against Ernie Els.

    The 2010 Winter Games will always be celebrated in Canada for that epic gold-medal-winning, overtime win over the Americans in hockey in Vancouver. The best golf and Olympic tourist attractions, however, are in Whistler 75 miles north on the Sea-to-Sky Highway. Golfers will love the laid-back vibe of Whistler Golf Club and the nearby Whistler Olympic Village and Whistler Museum, all located right in the heart of the ski village. The Fairmont Chateau Whistler, Big Sky and Nicklaus North are three of Canada's premier courses. More adventurous golfers can try bobsleigh or skeleton rides at the Whistler Sliding Centre. Although you can hike and tour in the summer, the Whistler Olympic Park is better in winter for the chance to attempt the biathlon, a mix of cross-country skiing and rifle shooting.

    FROM $357 (USD)
    WHISTLER, CAN | Enjoy 4 nights' accommodations at Hilton Whistler Resort & Spa and 4 rounds of golf at Big Sky GC, The Fairmont Chateau Whistler GC, Nicklaus North GC & Whistler GC.

  7. Atlanta, Georgia
    A family poses in the Fountain of Rings at Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park.

    Unforgettable U.S. gold-medal-winning performances by gymnast Kerri Strug, sprinter Michael Johnson, long jumper Carl Lewis and softball pitcher Lisa Fernandez highlighted the 1996 Summer games in Atlanta. The city's Centennial Olympic Park is now home to tributes like the Fountain of Rings. Award-winning golf surrounds the city with famed resorts such as Reynolds Lake Oconee, Chateau Elan Winery & Resort and Callaway Resort & Gardens. The legend of Bobby Jones lives on at private clubs like East Lake, site of the Tour Championship, and Atlanta Athletic Club, host of men's and women's majors, and even the Bobby Jones Golf Course, a hub for growing the game with its new reversible nine-hole course, Cupp Links short course and putting course. | Browse Atlanta tee times on GolfNow

  8. Lake Placid, New York
    A walking bridge leads to the green at the par-3 14th on The Lake Placid Club's Links course.

    I regret not spending any time touring Lake Placid's Olympic Center and Herb Brooks Arena, site of the "Miracle on Ice" from the 1980 Winter Olympics, during a great golf trip to upstate New York in the fall of 2019. You can see the towering ski jump from the clubhouse patio of the 36-hole Lake Placid Club., home to two classic courses with ties to Scotland's Seymour Dunn and Alexander H. Findlay. There's more old-school golf at Whiteface Club & Resort and Saranac Inn. Often overshadowed by the 1980 Winter Games, the 1932 Games in Lake Placid also boast a few claims to fame as the first Olympics where the medalists stood on a podium and where American speed skater Eric Heiden became the first Olympian to capture five gold medals.

  9. Los Angeles, California
    A player tees off on the scenic 13th hole on the Ocean South course at Pelican Hill.

    The City of Angels has been a popular spot for the Summer Games, hosting in 1932 and 1984 and again in 2028. LA's golf scene is legendary on the private club side (Los Angeles Country Club, Riviera, etc.) and a little light on the public side, led by munis Rancho Park and Griffith Park and Trump National Los Angeles. Golfers can extend their boundaries to Orange County for ocean golf at the Resort at Pelican Hill and Monarch Beach. Attending sporting events at USC (Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, where Carl Lewis won four golds) and UCLA (Pauley Pavilion, where gymnast Mary Lou Retton won America's first all-around gold) gives out-of-towners a taste of past and future Olympic glory. | Browse LA tee times on GolfNow

    The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is an iconic sports venue for both the Olympics and USC football games.

  10. Tokyo, Japan
    Hideki Matsuyama hits toward Mt. Fuji on the eighth hole on the final round of the 2016 Mitsui Sumitomo VISA Taiheiyo Masters at the Taiheiyo Club Gotemba Course.

    A number of large international cities could have occupied this spot - Montreal (1976), Paris (1900, 1924, 2024), Barcelona (1992) and Seoul (1988) - but we went with Tokyo, host of the summer games in 1964 and this year. The Japanese love their golf. It's too bad local fans won't get to watch some of the best players in the world compete - Rory McIlroy and Collin Morikawa for the men and Nelly Korda and Inbee Park for the women. Most of the best courses near the city are private, so locals need to travel beyond the urban landscape to find greener pastures to tee it up. Japan's Kasumigaseki Country Club, a private course in Saitama, will be showcased on the world stage. Listen to Brad Klein's podcast with GolfPass Managing Editor Brandon Tucker about Japan's golf culture.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 1,000 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Instagram at @jasondeegangolfadvisor and Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
3 Comments
Commented on

Who told you "Squaw Valley" transitioned post-1960 into "Olympic Valley"???
The *only* things that anybody refers to as "Olympic Valley" are the weather station and post office.
Save your fact-deficient Comcast/NBC-driven virtue-signaling idiocy for people credulous enough to believe it... which generally won't include golfers.

Commented on

Considering the entire region plans to move away from the "Squaw" reference, calling it the "Olympic Valley" makes sense for the times we live in today.

Commented on

The "entire region", eh?
Strike two.
Thank you for demonstrating that today's journalists, among virtually every topic of reporting, are the least-informed, least-curious, most credulous, and most subject-matter-expertise deficient people to be found. You folks are always wrong, but never in doubt.

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10 best golf destinations to host the Olympics