The 10 best mountain golf destinations in North America

Enjoy low humidity and soaring drives at these elevated destinations from Vermont to California.

Up Next

Autoplay is paused

BANFF, Alberta, Canada - I can't believe what I'm seeing.

The same fairway at the Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course I played earlier in the day has been overrun with elk. The herd probably numbers 30 or more. Some eye my moving golf cart curiously, while munching away on grass. The young ones get skittish, scampering into the woods to hide.

These experiences are why mountain golf can be so exhilarating. You see scenery and wildlife you might not get anywhere else. Watching a ball soar against a backdrop of peaks and pines is one of my favorite things in golf. It never gets old. What I love most about mountain golf is the "mountain lifestyle" that accompanies places like Banff in the Canadian Rockies. If you aren't outside playing golf, you're just as likely to be hiking or fishing or doing some other adventure with Mother Nature. It can set your soul at ease just hanging out in the mountains.

Unfortunately, golf season in many North American mountain destinations is short. Peak season at high northern altitude isn't more than two months, three in a good year. Now's the time to get out and enjoy the fresh mountain air and the cooler temperatures away from summer's swelter.

Picking 10 of the best mountain golf destinations in North America isn't easy. Some of my choices are as small as a pair of resorts within an hour of one another to as large as an entire state.

I split the destinations evenly between east and west coasts, five apiece (plus a bonus selection), but for those keeping score, the west's mountain golf experiences are supreme.

Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

A bear and cub stroll in front of the tee box of the par-3 7th hole at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler Golf Club.

Best mountain golf courses: Big Sky Golf Club, Whistler Golf Club, Nicklaus North Golf Course, Fairmont Chateau Whistler

Comment: This ski destination in the Coast Mountains 75 miles north of Vancouver is equally awesome as a summer getaway. The village is loaded with bars and restaurants. Other adventures - hiking, ziplining, a peak to peak gondola ride and mountain biking - will keep you active outdoors. Golfers can stop at the scenic but quirky Furry Creek on the way in or out along the Sea-to-Sky Highway. Stay tuned for a Golf Advisor Round Trip show and Getaway in 2020.

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.

Mont Tremblant, Quebec, Canada

The par-5 15th hole on Mont Tremblant Resort's Le Diable golf course drops dramatically downhill with gorgeous views along the way.

Best mountain golf courses: Le Geant, Le Maitre, Le Diable, Le Belle, Le Bete

Comment: The Laurentian Mountains northwest of Montreal serve up some dramatic views for golf. Each golf course has some truly magical moments and at least one awkward hole jammed into the landscape. You take the good with the bad on such extreme terrain. On my last visit, I played several rounds with golfers who spoke only French. The names above translate to English as The Giant, The Master (a private ClubLink course availabe through stay and plays with the Fairmont), The Devil, The Beauty and The Beast. Sound like fun?

Canadian Rockies, Alberta, Canada

Up Next

Autoplay is paused

Canadian Rockies wildlife

Best mountain golf courses: Stewart Creek Golf Club, Jasper Park Lodge Golf Course, Silvertip, Mount Kidd and Mount Lorette at Kananaskis Country Golf Course, Canmore Golf & Curling Club, Fairmont Banff Springs

Comment: The Canadian Rockies is one of the 10 best golf destinations in the world, IMO. Jasper Park and Banff are legendary Stanley Thompson designs intertwined with two historic Fairmont resorts. Stewart Creek provides some contrast as a modern gem. Silvertip, for all its quirks, rates highly for vistas of the Three Sisters mountains. The return of the 36 holes at Kananaskis - reopened in 2018 after a 2013 flood derailed the property for five years - rounds out a fantastic destination that does require some driving (it's five-plus hours between Kananaskis and Jasper Park).

Blue Ridge Parkway Golf Trail

Primland Resort, hidden in the Blue Ridge Mountains in southern Virginia, can be a great spot for viewing autumn's changing of the leaves.

Best mountain golf courses: Virginia: Highland Course at Primland, Cascades at the Omni Homestead Resort. Devils Knob and Stoney Creek at Wintergreen Resort. North Carolina: Omni Grove Park Resort Inn & Spa, Mount Mitchell Golf Resort, Jackson course at Rock Barn

Comment: This loosely knit trail transcends the Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountains from Virginia into North Carolina, including some of the region's finest golf resorts: Primland and Homestead in Virginia and the Grove Park Inn in North Carolina. The private Jones course at Rock Barn has hosted the PGA Tour Champions.

March 22, 2019
The Sandhills, home to Pinehurst Resort, is the most famous golf destination in North Carolina, but don’t sell the rest of the state short. A year-round golf climate and a variety of landscapes make North Carolina’s golf scene quite compelling.

Stowe, Vermont

Stowe Mountain features spectacular golf and skiiing in Vermont.

Best courses: Woodstock Country Club, Stowe Country Club, Stowe Mountain Club, Jay Peak Resort

Comment: The Green Mountains rise up to form one of the premier ski hubs in the northeast. Golf has taken root, too, with roughly 10 courses worth playing to create a Top 10 northeast golf destination according to our Tim Gavrich. Stowe CC and Stowe Mountain are part of the Stowe Mountain Resort. Lodge guests get access to both courses. Woodstock CC, a Robert Trent Jones Sr. design, was ranked third in New England by Golf Advisor users in 2018.

Truckee, California

Best mountain golf courses: California: Schaffer's Mill Club, Old Greenwood, Golf Club at Gray's Crossing, Coyote Moon. Nevada: Championship course at Incline Village.
Comment: Near the northern shores of Lake Tahoe, Truckee has become a second home destination three hours from the Bay Area that rocks with snowsports in winter and fun in the summer. The ultimate mountain experience in the High Sierras is a stay at the Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe, which is a gondola ride away from the Northstar village, 15 minutes from the sister courses of Old Greenwood and Gray's Crossing it offers as a golf package and 20 minutes from its chic and private Lake Club right on Lake Tahoe. Schaffer's Mill has gone fully private but the Ritz concierge should be able to get you on. Crossing into Nevada, the Championship course at Incline Village (there's also a Mountain par 3) feels the most like a mountain retreat.

Colorado

Up Next

Autoplay is paused

Colorado Trip Dispatch Part I: The Broadmoor

Best courses: Red Sky Ranch Fazio and Norman courses, Vail; BeaverCreek Golf Club, Vail; East and West courses at The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs; Rollingstone Ranch at Sheraton Steamboat Resort; River and Ranch courses at Keystone Resort, Dillon; Country Club of Colorado at Cheyenne Mountain Resort, Colorado Springs; the 27-hole Pole Creek Golf Club; the 27-hole Breckenridge Golf Club; The Raven Golf Club at Three Peaks, Silverthorne; Telluride Golf Club.

Comment: The Colorado Rockies are littered with golf courses so we can't cover them all here, but there's more than a few great ski-golf resort combos. Red Sky Ranch and The Broadmoor are the premier 36-hole resorts and each require a stay to play their courses. Pole Creek has been ranked No. 1 in Colorado by Golf Advisor users every year since 2015. Most of the courses around Denver aren't true mountain courses, although there's plenty of fine public tracks. There are five Colorado courses located above 9,000 feet, according to this story, with No. 1 being Copper Creek at 9,863 feet in Copper Mountain. If you can't drive it long at the elevation of this 5,880-yard Pete/Perry Dye course, you never will!

FROM $247 (USD)
DENVER, CO | Enjoy 2 nights’ accommodations at TownePlace Suites by Marriott and 2 rounds of golf at The Ridge at Castle Pines North.

Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania

This bridge leads to the holes of the Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort on the island in the middle of the Delaware River.

Best courses: Jack Frost National; Shawnee Inn & Golf Resort; Pocono Manor; Skytop Lodge; Split Rock.

Comment: My kids still talk about the visit we had to Shawnee years ago. It's such a pretty spot and historic place along the Delaware River. Its A.W. Tillinghast course, one of 32 public courses to host a major, held the 1938 PGA Championship. Pocono Manor is also on the National Register of Historic Places with its Donald Ross course. Jack Frost is a modern Jack Nicklaus design.

Big Sky, Montana

Best mountain golf courses: The Club at Spanish Peaks, Big Sky Resort Golf Course, Reserve at Moonlight Basin.

Comment: Avid skiers/travelers say Big Sky - while booming - still has that small-town mountain feel like Aspen, Colo., or Jackson Hole 25 years ago. I got my first taste of Big Sky golf last fall, playing both Spanish Peaks and Moonlight Basin - two private clubs purchased by the same owner during the recession. There is limited access to both by renting a home within their high-end communities. High-end resort hotel projects (a Montage at Spanish Peaks and One&Only at Moonlight Basin) are in the works. The resort course, while relatively flat near the burgeoning town, does have a unique hook. It is Arnold Palmer's first-ever design, dating back to 1973.

Branson, Missouri

Best courses: Top of the Rock, LedgeStone Country Club, Thousand Hills Resort & Golf Club, Ozarks National, Mountain Top, Buffalo Ridge Springs.

Comment: Branson has been marketing itself as a golf destination for a while, but it's really the emergence and stunning growth of Big Cedar Lodge that has put the Ozark Mountains on the map for traveling golfers. The nine-hole, par-3 Top of the Rock hosts a PGA Tour Champions event. Payne's Valley by Tiger Woods will open next year, bringing another signature course to the resort.

March 29, 2019
With the rise of the Big Cedar Lodge, Missouri has found a place on the map for golfers.

BONUS SELECTION

Allegheny Mountains, West Virginia

The Old White TPC Course at The Greenbrier.

Best mountain golf courses: TPC Old White, Greenbrier, Meadows - all at The Greenbrier. Woodhaven, Stonehaven, Cobb Course - all at The Resort at Glade Springs.
Comment: Roughly 60 miles separates Glade Springs from the legendary Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, host of the PGA Tour's A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier tournament on its Old White course this September and the 1979 Ryder Cup/1994 Solheim Cup on its Greenbrier course. Although overshadowed, the Cobb course at Glade Springs features 200 feet of elevation change.

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.
21 Comments
Default User Avatar
Commented on

Sunday River in Maine is beautiful.

Default User Avatar
Commented on

You guys have missed the best course in the US. Monticello, UT and the Hideout. Beautiful layout and nature abounds. After finishing my round I went back to my car and retrieved my camera and then drove the course a 2nd time just taking pictures. That doesn't happen often.
A second course you missed and the best course in Canada is Tobiano in Kamloops. You play from mountain top to mountain top. Spectacular.

Default User Avatar
Commented on

Jim Engh's masterpiece, Lakota Canyon Ranch, is by far the best course in the mountains...some of the other courses mentioned in this article can't hold a candle to LCR. If you are looking to test your game with elevated tee boxes, undulating fairways, testy greens amongst awe-inspiring beauty, then play Lakota Canyon Ranch.

Default User Avatar
Commented on

Hey Jason,

My neighbor and I are looking for a great mountain semi/private/public course roughly 2 hour drive time from Charlotte NC for our final round of the year. Please let me know what other courses you recommend that are not in the mountains as well.

Thanks!
Josh

Default User Avatar
Commented on

Matt, if you are heading to whistler on the way up you must play Squamish Golf and Country club, great track, friendly people with that old country club feel. Enjoy your trip.
Tony, Vancouver

Default User Avatar
Commented on

Go to the Poconos for great, cheap mountain golf. Jack Frost is the most expensive course I've played there, and was only $65 on the weekend. Plenty of other courses for under $50. A previous comment has Jack Nicklaus as the designer of Jack Frost. I've seen this elsewhere as well, but the Jack Frost website lists Terry LaGree as the designer. Whoever designed it, it's a tough layout. Lots of fairway traps, native growth very close to the fairways with no chance of finding your ball for a recovery shot. Pocono Manor is a great more than a hundred year old Donald Ross gem. Plenty of room off the tee, but small greens with lots of break. Many interesting holes.

Default User Avatar
Commented on

Most of these courses are for the lifestyles of the rich and famous. The Canadian courses are very expensive and so is lodging as we found out. The Tahoe course also go for over $150,
but lodging during weekdays is reasonable. All these premium courses are why golf is dying off in the world. I used to enjoy traveling with my spouse to golf but when going to these places cost over $400 for a couple on the average for us to play a round then there are better things to do with our disposable income. I see a great exodus soon as many courses a few years ago were $50 to play are now asking over a $100 and even more on weekends. Add 5+ hours rounds as all these courses are very difficult then you lose the new millineals, who don't think they have the time for these beautiful walks.

Default User Avatar
Commented on

Great post Mike. I feel the same. I’ve played all of the UK’s & Ireland’s top 100 courses. Not one cost more than £200 (at the time), however so many of the USA’s best public courses (Pinehurst, Kiawah, Harbour Town, Pebble etc) are too expensive, and way out of the budget of 99% of most recreational golfers.

Yes - there are some great deals out there, however too many courses are pricing themselves at a level where only Corporations/ businesses will be able to justify the fees..

When (arguably) the best course in the world (St Andrews) can be played for £140, there is no justification for a fee of $500 plus, for course like Pebble / Pinehurst.

Staff
Commented on

The higher costs are probably twofold: 1, More expensive to build and maintain golf in the mountains. 2, the short season forces courses to charge high rates that keep the place open for such a limited amount of time. Yes, all of these courses are pricey. They are the best of the best. But you can always find budget courses in these regions, too.

Default User Avatar
Commented on

What about the Raven at Snowshoe Mountain Resort (elevation 4200'+), and WV State Parks courses like Pipestem, Cacapon, and Canaan Valley? All great courses and affordable!

Default User Avatar
Commented on

Surprised no mention of Mt. Washington Golf Course at the Omni Resort in New Hampshire. Donald Ross. Sweet!

Staff
Commented on

It's on my bucket list, but I couldn't call one good mountain course a "top 10 destination" when there are so many good options out there.

Default User Avatar
Commented on

The top five courses in Maine define mountain golf.

Staff
Commented on

I've played Sugarloaf and want to get back to see what kind of shape it's in.

More from the author
3 Min Read
October 14, 2021
The wild and wavy North Course complements the Australian Sandbelt look of the acclaimed South Course near Oakland's airport.
4 Min Read
October 14, 2021
Comfort stations have become the new norm at exclusive private clubs like The Summit, which makes its PGA Tour debut this weekend.
5 Min Read
October 6, 2021
Kauai has fewer than half the courses of Oahu, Maui and the Big Island, but the quality is top notch.
3 Min Read
October 4, 2021
The number of publicly accessible tournament venues will shrink during the 2021-22 PGA Tour schedule as the majors move to private clubs.
5 Min Read
October 4, 2021
Golf courses in California's Coachella Valley and Phoenix-Scottsdale are hotbeds of overseeding, but it's a common, and sometimes controversial, practice throughout the southern United States.
7 Min Read
September 30, 2021
From the largest elevation drop to the wildest greens and deepest bunker, all these U.S. courses take the game to the edge.
Popular
12 Images
October 11, 2021
This Albuquerque gem is one of the tournament capitals of collegiate golf.
21 Images
September 30, 2021
This collection of photos sent in by reviewers might be the best we've ever seen.
7 Min Read
October 7, 2021
We found the 10 cities where it's easiest to score a tee time.
3 Min Read
October 4, 2021
America's largest golf resort, and one of its smallest, are expanding to enhance the guest experience.
Load More
Now Reading
The 10 best mountain golf destinations in North America