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 ...
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.
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.
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.
Olympic Valley, California
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
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.
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.
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
Lake Placid, New York
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.
Los Angeles, California
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
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.