City slickers: The best golf options in big cities and near airports for business travelers

I'm a business traveler like the rest of America's rat race except for one critical difference. The work meetings for most people tend to trap them in stuffy office buildings and conference centers. Mine? They're almost always on the golf course, playing rounds with head pros, directors of golf, marketing managers and other journalists.

Not fair, I know. But there are plenty of times when I'm jealous of the traveling suits -- their bonus checks and seats in first class and especially their trips into big cities. I rarely get to hang out in the vibrant downtown of a major metropolis. How many destination public/resort courses are located in urban areas? Not many.

Consider this story a go-to golf guide for every businessman and woman who loves golf. There are plenty of them who fly in a day early before the important client meeting or stay a day late to play some bucket-list golf.

For these travel warriors, I've researched the best places to play in 20 of America's largest cities (population numbers taken from and divided them into three categories: Courses near a major airport; a top 100-caliber public course worth the drive, and the swankiest country clubs for those movers and shakers who have private-club connections.

Maybe that next business trip won't be so boring after all.

New York, New York

Golf courses nearest the airports: Most courses in Queens near LaGuardia Airport are short on yardage, hemmed in by urban sprawl, although Clearview Park Golf Course stretches to 6,300 yards. Forest Park Golf Course is a muni just minutes from John. F. Kennedy International Airport.

Top 100 pick worth the drive: Bethpage Black, the ferocious major championship venue in Farmingdale, has long been the choice, but Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point in the Bronx gives golfers a new option.

Private clubs: Long Island is long on talent -- home to Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, National Golf Links of America, Friar's Head Golf Club, Sebonack Golf Club, etc. Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, N.J., might be the easiest to reach from Manhattan. The exclusive Deepdale Golf Club resides just eight miles from JFK.

Los Angeles, California

Golf course nearest Los Angeles International Airport: Westchester Golf Course recently added three new holes, expanding to a full 18-hole routing, although it's only 4,364 yards long.

Top 100 pick worth the drive: Trump National Golf Club Los Angeles in Rancho Palos Verdes is famous for a lot of things -- its 18th hole fell into the ocean when the Tom Fazio design first opened, hosting the Golf Channel's Big Break -- but those views of the Pacific Ocean still make for a premier experience.

Private clubs: The Los Angeles Country Club will host the U.S. Open in 2023. The Riviera Country Club -- home of the Northern Trust Open -- and Bel-Air Country Club attract Hollywood star power.

San Diego, California

Golf courses nearest San Diego International Airport: In 2015, I was teeing it up at the 27-hole Riverwalk Golf Club within 45 minutes of landing at the airport. Golf Channel travel expert Matt Ginella raves about the setting and affordability of municipal Coronado Golf Course.

Top 100 pick worth the drive: Barona Creek Golf Club at Barona Resort & Casino in Lakeside once held a Tour championship. Even more remote in the California desert is the amazing Rams Hill Golf Club, a Tom Fazio course in Borrego Springs on a major comeback after a long closure. I'd take both of those venues vs. the overcrowded feeling at Torrey Pines South.

Private clubs: Del Mar Country Club, Fairbanks Ranch Country Club and The Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe are all located in the fancy community Phil Mickelson calls home.

Worth the drive to find @RamsHillGolf a #TomFazio #stunner @VisitSanDiego

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Houston, Texas

Golf course nearest George Bush Intercontinental Airport: Cypresswood Golf Club, with its Tradition Course and Cypress Course, is actually right across the street from the runways at IAH.

Top 100 pick worth the drive: The Golf Club of Houston's Tournament Course in Humble, site of the PGA Tour's Shell Houston Open, is one of the best conditioned courses in the nation during late fall, winter and spring.

Private clubs: The usual suspects -- River Oaks Country Club, Lochinvar Golf Club and The Club at Carlton Woods -- are being pushed by the new kid on the block, Bluejack National, the first U.S. design by Tiger Woods.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Golf course nearest Philadelphia International Airport: The Olde Course at 36-hole Cobb's Creek Golf Club -- the first public course in greater Philly -- hosted multiple PGA Tour events back in the day.

Top 100 pick worth the drive: Twelve-minute intervals between tee times allow golfers to fully enjoy The Golf Course at Glen Mills, a Bobby Weed creation.

Private clubs: The same creek that runs through the local muni listed above terrorizes golfers at the famed Merion Golf Club in Ardmore. Philadelphia Cricket Club in Gladwyne and Aronimink Country Club in Newtown Square are proud clubs, but the legendary Pine Valley Golf Club across the New Jersey border stands alone.

Phoenix, Arizona

Golf course nearest Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport: ASU Karsten Golf Course, designed by Pete and Perry Dye for Arizona State University, is in Tempe just like the airport. (Editor's note, course closed in 2019), or head just east to ASU's new home course, municipal Papago Golf Course.

Top 100 pick worth the drive: We-Ko-Pa Golf Club in Fort McDowell and Troon North in Scottsdale each boast a pair of top 100 courses carved from the Sonoran desert.

Private clubs: Current and former PGA Tour pros gravitate to Whisper Rock Golf Club. Six courses populate the famed Desert Mountain Golf Club. Golf Digest ranked The Estancia Club as the top course in the state for 2015-16.

San Antonio/Austin, Texas

Courses nearest the airports: For those using Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, the side-by-side Jimmy Clay Golf Course and Roy Kizer Golf Course offer two different playing experiences. For San Antonio International Airport, try the interesting Quarry Golf Club.

Top 100 pick worth the drives: Since the premier resort options in San Antonio (TPC San Antonio) and Austin (Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa) require a stay-and-play, the best public options are the courses at La Cantera Resort & Spa in San Antonio and the tough Wolfdancer Golf Club at the Hyatt Regency Resort & Spa in Austin.

Private clubs: Golf fans around the country got to tour the beautiful Austin Country Club during the 2016 World Golf Championships-Dell Match Play. In San Antonio, the private Oak Hill Country Club saw its share of historic Texas Opens.

Dallas, Texas

Golf course nearest Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport: Bear Creek Golf Club -- with its Ted Robinson-designed Masters Course and Presidents Course -- is literally right next door.

Top 100 pick worth the drive: There are no "top 100s," just plenty of solid four-star attractions. Cowboys Golf Club is close by in Grapevine. Those who want to chase down arguably the top public course in Texas should head 100 miles southeast to Pine Dunes Resort & Golf Club in Frankston.

Private clubs: The Holy Trinity of area clubs is Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Dallas National Golf Club and Preston Trail Golf Club in Dallas.

Jacksonville, Florida

Golf course nearest the airport: Arnold Palmer designed the Golf Club at North Hampton in Fernandina Beach 10 miles away.

Top 100 pick worth the drive: Is your swing ready to take on the island green on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass?

Private clubs: Jacksonville isn't laden with elite clubs. Amelia National Golf & Country Club, Timuquana Country Club and Jacksonville Golf & Country Club all fight for attention.

San Jose, California

Golf course nearest Mineta San Jose International Airport: San Jose Municipal Course is a solid muni with a couple of four-star reviews on Golf Advisor. The Johnny Miller-designed Metropolitan Golf Links is adjacent to Oakland International Airport if that's your landing point.

Top 100 pick worth the drive: Bring your "A" game to Pasatiempo, the Alister MacKenzie gem over the mountains in Santa Cruz.

Private clubs: Silver Creek Valley Country Club is located in a community where many Bay Area professional athletes live, while San Jose Country Club is one of the oldest clubs in northern California.

Another fine day at #Pasatiempo. #AlisterMacKenzie

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Charlotte, North Carolina

Golf course nearest Charlotte Douglas International Airport: Renaissance Park Golf Course, a Dr. Michael Hurdzan course, is a Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Facility managed by Ratcliffe Golf Services, Inc., less than 10 minutes from the airport.

Top 100 pick worth the drive: You're only 91 miles from Pinehurst Resort -- Pinehurst No. 2 should be No. 1 on your to-do list.

Private clubs: With Quail Hollow Club, host of the Wells Fargo Championship, under the knife to prepare for the 2017 PGA Championship, head to Charlotte Country Club.

Seattle, Washington

Golf course nearest the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport: Foster Golf Links, a muni owned by the city of Tukwila, resides five miles from Sea-Tac.

Top 100 pick worth the drive: Controversy from the 2015 U.S. Open aside, Chambers Bay will deliver one of the more unique golf experiences you'll ever find.

Private clubs: The 1998 PGA Championship made Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish famous. Its giant evergreens make every shot an adventure.

Denver, Colorado

Golf courses nearest Denver International Airport: Both Green Valley Ranch Golf Club and Buffalo Run Golf Course are still a good hike away (more than 10 miles).

Top 100 pick worth the drive: Roughly 75 miles south, the East Course of The Broadmoor is part Donald Ross, part Robert Trent Jones Sr. in Colorado Springs.

Private clubs: Cherry Hills Country Club and Castle Pines Golf Club in Castle Rock are the historic choices. The modern Colorado National Golf Club in Parker held a contentious 2013 Solheim Cup lost by the Americans.

Washington D.C./Baltimore, Maryland

Golf courses nearest the airports: Fliers into Baltimore BWI Airport can try the Timbers at Troy in Elkridge, although Golf Advisor users note inconsistent conditioning. Washington Dulles International Airport users can taxi six miles to the 1757 Golf Club in Dulles, Va., which gets mostly four- and five-star reviews on Golf Advisor.

Top 100 pick worth the drive: Bulle Rock Golf Club, an intimidating Pete Dye design, is 75 miles from D.C. in Havre de Grace, Md., but hours away considering traffic. It's an easier ride from Baltimore.

Private clubs: Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., is associated with professional tournament golf, but Burning Tree Club is where the political elite congregate.

Boston, Massachusetts

Golf course nearest Logan International Airport: Larry Gannon Municipal Golf Course in Lynn is an easier drive 10 miles north of the airport. The better track, the 6,444-yard George Wright Golf Course in Hyde Park 10 miles to the south, might require battling the city's epic traffic troubles.

Top 100 picks worth the drive: Head west to Red Tail Golf Club in Devens or south to 36-hole Pinehills Golf Club in Plymouth.

Private clubs: The Country Club in Brookline -- site of the legendary 1913 U.S. Open won by amateur Francis Ouimet and the 1999 Ryder Cup -- will host another U.S. Open in 2022. TPC Boston in Norton and Old Sandwich Golf Club in Plymouth are hardly second fiddle, either.

Chicago, Illinois

Golf course nearest the airports: White Pines Golf Club is a 36-hole championship venue that's been around since 1928 near the Chicago O'Hare International Airport. The better courses -- Cog Hill Golf & Country Club in Lemont and the 36-hole Harborside International Golf Center -- are within 14 miles of Chicago Midway Airport.

Top 100 pick worth the drive: The Glen Club in Glenview and No. 4 at Cog Hill (the notorious "Dubsdread") battle for supremacy in the Windy City.

Private clubs: So many classics, you'd need about 10 trips to check them all off. Medinah Country Club and Olympia Fields Country Club have hosted majors. Some of the more exclusive ones like Chicago Golf Club, Butler National Golf Club and Shoreacres avoid the spotlight.

Detroit, Michigan

Golf courses nearest Detroit Metro Airport: Lakes of Taylor Golf Club and Gateway Golf Club in Romulus are solid bets within eight miles of the airport.

Top 100 pick worth the drive: The mature trees and rolling land of Shepherd's Hollow Golf Club in Clarkston give golfers a taste of northern Michigan.

Private clubs: Don't bother with the feared South Course at Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Township unless your game is sharp. TPC Michigan in Dearborn and the Country Club of Detroit in Grosse Pointe Farms are more fun.

Indianapolis, Indiana

Golf courses nearest Indianapolis International Airport: Golf Advisor users generally rave about conditions at Winding River Golf Club and the nine-hole Buffer Park Golf Course, both minutes from the runways.

Top 100 pick worth the drive: If you make the 90-mile trek from the city, play both the Donald Ross Course and Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort. They're a study in contrasting architectural styles. If you can't manage French Lick, Brickyard Crossing -- with four holes inside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway -- will have to suffice.

Private clubs: Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel hosted John Daly's shocking win in the 1991 PGA Championship.

Columbus, Ohio

Golf course nearest Port Columbus International Airport: Redesigned in 2012 by Dr. Michael Hurdzan, Airport Golf Course borders Big Walnut Creek and the airstrips.

Top 100 pick worth the drive: The Virtues Golf Club, the former Longaberger Golf Club in Nashport 50 miles east of the city, ranks as the top public course in Ohio.

Private clubs: Jack's Place -- Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin -- is on everybody's bucket list. The Golf Club in New Albany and Scioto Country Club in Columbus are also top 100 private playgrounds.

San Francisco, California

Here's a less blurry look at the famous #18th at #TheOlympicClub #gaBestPhoto

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Golf course nearest San Francisco International Airport: Of the two courses in nearby Burlingame, Crystal Springs Golf Course generates slightly better reviews on Golf Advisor and offers better scenery than Poplar Creek Golf Course, a muni closer to the airport.

Top 100 pick worth the drive: TPC Harding Park still maintains a city address, but if you really want to get away from the crunch of traffic and find the sun, Yocha Dehe Golf Club at Cache Creek Casino Resort sits in an idyllic valley in remote Brooks 100 miles from SFO.

Private clubs: Three exclusive clubs -- The Olympic Club, San Francisco Golf Club and Lake Merced Golf Club -- are all virtually neighbors.

Editor's Note: Miami, Florida, didn't make the cut population-wise, but choosing where to play near the airport and for top 100 chasers is easy: The Blue Monster at Trump National Doral Miami.

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.
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French Lick is in the middle of everywhere...70 min from Louisville, 90 min from Indy, 2.5 hour from Cincy & 3 to Nashville and St Louis...well worth the short drive.

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The Cliffs is also a great collection of seven courses located between Asheville, NC and Greenville, SC that is only minutes from Greenville-Spartanburg International and Asheville Regional Airport, and just a quick 2 hour drive from Atlanta. The Cliffs is a private collection of courses. Find more information at for more information.

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