It can be easy to forget that the one of the largest operators of golf courses in the United States is the Department of Defense. There are over 150 military golf courses in the country and can be found from California to Maine and many areas in between.
These courses all have unique histories. Some date back to the early 20th century while others are modern. Some military courses are tucked inside the gates of a military installation while others are located nearby. It's up to the base commander to determine whether or not civilians can play the base golf courses. Some of the most well known base courses are exclusive, like Eisenhower, Mamala Bay or Sea 'n Air. But many more offer tee times to the public, and more and more are offering online times, too. These golf operations are generally funded by the DoD's Morale, Welfare & Recreation Fund, and public support helps keep them alive. In fact, more and more military courses have opened their fairways to civilians in recent years as a way to help keep their courses operating in the green (quite a few military courses have suspended operations in the 21st century as a result of budget constraints, like the historic Arsenal Island golf course on the Mississippi River among many others). In Maine, Mere Creek Golf Club was built for the former Naval Station Brunswick in the 1950s, and now it's serving as part of a new mixed-use development.
So as a golfer, consider it a patriotic duty to support the country's military courses that serve so many service members and their families. You might also be surprised at their quality. Many of theses courses are walkable, affordable, scenic and void of suburban housing. And being on the grounds during Reveille or Retreat and participating is a distinctive event to experience if you never have. It all adds up to a base vibe that is very unique compared to your suburban courses.
GolfNow is honoring the military all November by partnering with the NFL's Salute to Service. Golfers can roundup their green fees when they book their tee time at GolfNow this month. Proceeds go to the Salute to Service organization that empowers and connects service members. Ready to play your first military golf course? We scanned your reviews of military golf courses currently open to the public to see which facilities are satisfying civilians and DoD-affiliated golfers alike. Check it out these 10 courses (GolfPass members, you can use your monthly tee time credit at all these courses. View benefits page)
South and North at Admiral Baker Golf Club
With plenty of sunshine and over 90 courses in the county, San Diego is home to one of the best year-round golf destinations. It's also one of the most expensive, thanks to a collection of luxury golf resorts as well as U.S. Open host Torrey Pines. But some of its best value can be found thanks to military facilities, led by 36-hole Admiral Baker Golf Club. Both the North and South courses earn similar reviews but the North is a little longer at over 6,800 yards from the back tees, while the South is more tactical. Tee times can be tough to come due to popularity so be sure to book early.
"The North course is in great shape and is a fun, challenging course," wrote bstein711. "Greens are in excellent shape. The value is also excellent." | View Admiral Baker tee times
Windy Harbor Golf Club
Due east of Jacksonville, Florida you can discover a military course just a whiff off the Atlantic coastline. Windy Harbor Golf Club at Naval Station Mayport features a par-72 layout (Base access required - secure your pass in advance)|. "God Bless America & Windy Harbor," wrote reviewer Mkmane. "Great course. May appear to be straightforward but many good challenges out there. The two 9s play completely different especially when there’s a strong breeze from the east (frequently with the ocean being right there!)." View Windy Harbor tee times on GolfNow
Destroyer and Cruiser Navy Golf Course
South of Los Angeles and bordering the Joint Forces Base Training Los Alamitos, Seal Beach Navy Golf Club features an 18-hole Destroyer Course and 9-hole Cruiser Course. Both are available to civilians and immensely popular, especially considering the low green fee in an exclusive SoCal golf market. The Destroyer Course stretches to 6,700 yards, while the Cruiser is a par-31 layout great for seniors and beginners. Both were built in the 1960s and very walkable.
"Just love playing this course," wrote yogigurl1. "Nice greens, lovely breeze, nice challenge. My new home course." | View Navy Seal Beach GolfNow Tee Times
Golfers everywhere are familiar with the Monterey Peninsula. But this area also has a deep military history. Bayonet & Blackhorse are modern courses built at the former Fort Ord base. A bonafide military course still remains and it's a sharp contrast to the glitzy championship courses on the peninsula. Monterey Pines is a par-69 layout that can be enjoyed by civilians looking for relief in the form of a short, laid back and affordable course. | View Monterey Pines tee times and green fees
San Antonio has multiple military facilities with golf around the city and feature notable nationally recognized architects. Randolph Oaks, located at the Joint Base San Antonio dates back to 1950 and was designed by Perry and Press Maxwell along with Joe Finger. Civilians can walk this popular course, which was recently renovated and over 7,100 yards from the tips, for just $32 on weekends.
"Conditions were great throughout," wrote reviewer joshsmith12. "Wide between the trees on most holes. Greens rolled smoothly, slightly above average speed, but still nothing lightning quick. Perfect for their slopes. Wow, are those things tiered and sloped. The course is fairly flat tee to green, but doglegs and carries over creeks/ditches make it very interesting. | View current green fees at tee times at Randolph Oaks
Glen Eagle Golf Course
Located north of Memphis at NSA Mid South, Glen Eagle Golf Course has made our Golfers' Choice list for the state of Tennessee the past three years. It's a layout that stretches over 6,800 yards and features TifEagle greens that receive a lot of rave reviews from our community.
"It’s a little bit of a drive north of Memphis, but man is it worth it," wrote reviewer jrglenn7. "Well taken care of course with some challenging but fun greens at a very good price. The clubhouse serves some mouthwatering burgers with a smile. Overall had a wonderful experience and I will probably back next week."
Eagle's Pride and Whispering Firs Golf Course
Seattle-area golfers familiar with The Home Course, a top daily-fee course in the market, may not know about two nearby military base courses they can also book online: Eagle's Pride Golf Course nearby in Olympia. Part of the Joint Base Lewis-Mcchord, it's a 27-hole facility with a lighted driving range. The layout is quintessential Pacific Northwest with a lot of towering pines and narrow fairways. It's also not far from another military course with public access, Whispering Firs, which also features some narrow holes thru pine chutes and some sharp doglegs.
Trident Lakes Golf Club
When you play golf at a Naval base, there's a good chance the course is near the water and exposed to the coastal elements. Trident Lakes, located at Georgia's Kings Bay Submarine Naval Base, is an Arthur Hills-designed course located near the East River which flows out to the Atlantic Ocean. The course is natural with a lot of wildlife and features some gentle hills in this part of southeast coastal Georgia.
"The value and condition of the course is outstanding," wrote reviewer peter8687489. "Always a lot of fun to play and challenging but fair. Any player no matter what their handicap is will enjoy." | Browse Trident Lakes Green fees and tee times
Playing military base courses as a civilian: What you need to know
Keep in mind that many military courses are actually located within a military base. It's always a good idea to leave a few minutes early in case you run into any backups at the gate. In order to enter, everyone will need to show valid government I.D. In some cases, you need to call a few days ahead and get sponsored so they have your name when you arrive. These base access rules can change depending on the base commander's orders. Be sure to check out the "Notes" section on a military course's course page to see current rules about gaining access to the base. See the example below for how golfers can access Randolph Oaks:
Military members both active and veterans can save 20% on a membership at GolfPass (click here for more details and to sign up). You can also sign up to receive 15% off tee times at MilitaryTeeTimes.com, a booking portal exclusive for military members and their families and features more than just Department of Defense facilities.