Golf that won't break the bank: My top 10 U.S. value destinations

Expensive golf isn't necessarily great golf, while inexpensive golf doesn't automatically mean you're playing on a goat track. In fact, some of the most fun golf courses I've ever played would definitely fall in the "value" category, which makes those finds all the more enjoyable.

Over the years, of course, I've had a chance to play golf all over the United States, and every once in a while, I come across a location that offers exceptional golf at good to great prices.

Here are 10 examples of destinations where you can put together two, three or four rounds or more and combine them with reasonable accommodations in a setting that's more than memorable.

1. Brooksville, Florida

You won't find a better one-two course combination less than $100 than the two layouts by Tom Fazio at World Woods Golf Club, less than hour from Tampa. Perennially ranked among the top 100 in the country, the Pine Barrens Course (which has a bit of a Pine Valley look) is the one most talked about, but locals might even prefer Rolling Oaks, the more traditional of the two layouts. The landscape is beautiful, there are no homes, and the club has outstanding practice facilities and a par-3 course.

Throw in nearby Lake Jovita Golf Course, some budget accommodations, and you've got a great weekend of golf.

2. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

With close to 100 courses in the Myrtle Beach area, you have your choice of courses at all price points, plus reasonable accommodations, many of which are right on the beach. But if I had to pick one of the best deals going, it's the three-course combination of The Witch, The Wizard and Man-O-War from Mystical Golf. Packages start as low as $99 per person per day and include green fees, some meals and accommodations. The Wizard and Man-O-War, by the way, are one of the only two courses on the Grand Strand to offer bentgrass greens.

3. Oglebay Resort, Wheeling, West Virginia

Not far from Pittsburgh, historic Oglebay Resort offers three excellent golf courses -- two of them designed by Robert Trent Jones and Arnold Palmer -- as well as comfortable accommodations, a spa, restaurants, hiking, biking, swimming, shopping and even a zoo. Ogelbay's Speidel Course is especially challenging, while the Klieves Course is very enjoyable with plenty of great views from elevated tees. Two-night packages start for as little as $500 with unlimited golf.

4. San Antonio

There are several high-end resorts in the Alamo City, but if you're looking for a budget golf vacation with plenty to do, just find a reasonable hotel and take your pick of golf courses at every price point, eat Tex-Mex to your heart's content and maybe even take in a theme park like SeaWorld or Fiesta Texas. San Antonio has some really nice muni offerings, including Cedar Creek and historic Brackenridge Park Golf Course, plus a great list of daily fees -- such as Canyon Springs, for example -- that won't break the bank.

5. Mesquite, Nevada/St. George, Utah

Not far from Las Vegas, is Mesquite, Nev., and nearby St. George, which provides some of the most stunning golf courses in the West, and most of them are priced substantially less than their Vegas counterparts. Start with inexpensive accommodations in Mesquite at one of the casino hotels, then check out the great golf at Wolf Creek and Coyote Springs Golf Club.

The gem near St. George is the spectacular Sand Hollow Golf Club, which is also the priciest at around $100 or more to play, but pair it with any number of other daily fees such as Coral Canyon or The Ledges, and you have a pretty reasonable golf package.

6. Northern Michigan

There are certainly high-end resorts in northern Michigan, such as Boyne's Bay Harbor and Grand Traverse, but there's also a great selection of semi-private and public courses in the area that you could combine with an ordinary hotel for a great three or four-day golf trip to the area.

Among my favorite courses in the United States is in Charlevoix, where you'll find historic and fun Belvedere Golf Club (super interesting greens), a Willie Watson design that opened in 1927.

Also on the radar should be the Rees Jones-designed Black Lake Golf Club in Onaway, Tom Doak's Black Forest Golf Club as well as the Tribute golf course at the Otsego Club in Gaylord, where there is no shortage of panoramic views.

7. Bend, Oregon

Not only is central Oregon one of the country's best golf destinations, it's also a great value, too. Start with the Eagle Crest Resort in Redmond, where there are two championship courses (Resort and Ridge) and excellent stay-and-play golf packages. Or catch one of my favorites, Black Butte Ranch near Sisters, where there are two magnificently restored classic golf courses (Big Meadow and Glaze Meadow) set against the backdrop of the Cascade Mountains.

In Bend, Widgi Creek, a shotmaker's design by Robert Muir Graves, is also a good value pick. With the money you save, you could pair it with the pricier Tetherow Golf Club, a spectacular linksy design by David McLay Kidd of Bandon Dunes fame.

8. Gulf Shores, Alabama

This coastal area of Alabama offers quality resort golf for less than half the price of some other parts of the country. And it comes with beaches, terrific restaurants and great blue-collar entertainment, such as the legendary Flora-Bama Lounge on the Florida/Alabama border.

As for the golf, the area offers everything from coastal links to hillier courses with elevated tees and greens. There are more than a dozen to choose from in the area, including Craft Farms, home to 36 holes of Arnold Palmer-designed golf; Kiva Dunes, which may be Jerry Pate's best public course, as well the Earl Stone-designed Timber Creek Golf Club and 27-hole Peninsula Golf & Racquet Club, the latter of which is set along Mobile Bay.

9. Reno/Carson City, Nevada

In between Reno and Lake Tahoe are a nice collection of golf courses and accommodations that won't break the bank while providing some very memorable golf experiences. Courses such as the Ed Seay/Arnold Palmer-designed Dayton Valley Golf Club, 27-hole Empire Ranch Golf Club and Sun Ridge Golf Club offer great deals. One of my favorites, though, is Genoa Lakes Golf Club, which has two excellent 18 hole layouts that can be played for far less than $100 if you book online. Like Vegas and Mesquite, the Reno area has plenty of reasonable casino hotel accommodations, too.

10. Louisville, Kentucky

With a nice collection of municipals and daily-fee courses, the Louisville area sets up as a value-driven golf destination for those in the Midwest and mid-South. The hometown of the late and legendary Muhammad Ali offers the Ali Museum, as well as the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory to go along with the golf. One way to go would be to book a stay-and-play package deal with a local hotel that includes the Fuzzy Zoeller-designed Covered Bridge Golf Club and Champions Pointe Golf Club along with another course such as Hidden Creek or Heritage Hill Golf Club.

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.
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Golf that won't break the bank: My top 10 U.S. value destinations
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