Top 10 budget buddies trip destinations in the U.S.

I'm often asked about not only where the world's best golf destinations are, but also where I can go to find exceptional value.

Over the years covering buddies trips for Golf Digest and now Golf Channel's Morning Drive, I've determined these 10 destinations do golf on a budget better than anywhere else in the United States.

And with fall around the corner, this is a particularly good time to take a value-based golf trip. Destinations like northern Michigan and Myrtle Beach drop their rates, while other destinations are in prime time, like Crossville, Tenn. and San Diego.

The most recent query came from Twitter user @KingElder10, which I used to revisit and update my 10 best budget buddies trip destinations.

Be sure to ask me all your golf and travel questions on Twitter at @MattGinellaGC and #AskMattyG.

Top 10 budget buddies trip destinations

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#AskMattyG: Best budget trip?

1. Northern Michigan

The best budget buddies trip on earth combines quantity, quality and value. My ultimate itinerary in northern Michigan flies into Traverse City and starts with a round at Black Forest, followed by a stay-and-play at Treetops Resort for the Signature, Masterpiece, Premier and Threetops.

Wrap up your trip by heading an hour south on I-75 to Forest Dunes Golf Club (which is on pace to open Tom Doak's reversible course late next summer).

FROM $167 (USD)
With more than 650 courses, Michigan claims to be "America's Summer Golf Capital." Browse golf packages to this epic summer golf destination.

2. Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail (Alabama)

This revolutionary golf trail concept changed the landscape of value golf forever. There are 11 hubs and 22 courses that attract golfers from all over the country. $65 courses leave you feel as though they're worth so much more. It's easy to book four nights and eight rounds for less than $800.

3. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Legendary variety and value await along the Grand Strand, home to 100-plus golf courses of all shapes and green fees. Less than $100 per person per day can get you an awful lot at resorts like 54-hole Legends Golf Resort.

GolfHoliday.com offers a limitless amount of golf packages and travel tools. While April is the busiest and priciest time of year for golf, the last two weeks of November is the best time to find value here.

4. Crossville, Tennessee

Home to 10 courses within a 30-minute drive, Crossville is the golf capital of Tennessee, between Nashville and Knoxville. Affordable, well equipped accommodations complement great golf at courses like Stonehenge and Bear Trace at Cumberland Mountain. September is a peak season here and five-night/five-round packages can be found under $500.

5. St. George, Utah

It's about a two-hour drive northeast from Las Vegas to St. George, Utah, where the ambiance and scenery is a total change from the bright lights of the Strip. There are exceptional resorts like Entrada at Snow Canyon, but public courses with a little more value include Coral Canyon, The Ledges, Sun River and Sky Mountain Golf Course.

6. Tampa, Florida

There are a tremendous amount of golf courses in Tampa-St. Pete, which leads to plenty of tee time bargains. Buddies trips should head north to World Woods, a 45-hole playground for classic buddies trips. This secluded property features two very different Tom Fazio designs, Pine Barrens and Rolling Oaks, plus a huge practice facility and short course, plus on-site villas.

7. Orlando, Florida

An abundance of golf awaits throughout Orlando, and the best facility for golf-til-you-drop buddies trips is Orange County National. This mecca of golf, which has affordable on-site accommodations, is perfect for a three- or four-night stay, thanks to two championship courses, a practice facility that stays lit until 11 p.m. and an exceptional short course, The Tooth.

FROM $157 (USD)
ORLANDO, FL | Enjoy 4 nights' accommodation at The Fountains Resort Championsgate and 6 rounds of golf at Orange County Panther Lake, Orange County Crooked Cat, Omni International, Omni National, Celebration Golf Club and Falcons Fire Golf Club.

8. Brainerd, Minnesota

Stay, fish, and play golf at family-friendly Madden's on Gull Lake. The resort's Classic Course, a top-100 pick, is still underrated. Maddens promotes walking and has a caddie program.

Jason Scott Deegan recently wrote about how to make $200 stretch over three days of golf in the Brainerd area.

9. San Diego, California

With 90-plus courses in temperate San Diego County, you can name your price for golf 12 months out of the year. The ultimate splurge is a stay-and-play at the Lodge at Torrey Pines. You can offset the high green fees of the famed Torrey Pines South Course with budget rounds at Coronado and Balboa Park.

Golf Packages
SAN DIEGO, CA | Enjoy 2 nights' accommodations at Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Golf Club & Spa and 2 rounds of golf at Aviara Golf Club.

10. Atlantic City, N.J.

Two hours from Manhattan, less than an hour from Philly, golf here dates back to 1903 and Atlantic City Country Club, which has hosted six USGA major championships and is now open to the public. Round out your golf and gaming vacation with rounds at Sea View, Twisted Dune, Shore Gate Golf Club and player-friendly Vineyard Golf at Renault Winery.

FROM $147 (USD)
ATLANTIC CITY, NJ | Enjoy 4 nights' accommodations at Seaview Dolce Hotel & Courtyard Allentown Behtlehem/Lehigh Valley and 4 rounds of golf at Seaview Pines Course, Seaview Bay Course and Architects Golf Club.

Matt Ginella is Golf Advisor's Editor-at-Large and host of Golf Advisor Round Trip travel series on Golf Channel. Matt serves as resident buddy trip expert and captains a collection of VIP trips called Golf Advisor Getaways.
17 Comments
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I am fortunate to live near several inexpensive beautiful layouts just north of Tacoma, WA. For less than $50, these golf courses are tracks cut through the dense rich forests in the rolling hills with mountain views. Three in Port Orchard are clustered within 15 minutes; the 36 hole Gold Mountain complex, Trophy Lakes golf and casting club, and McCormick Woods. In case you want to spend more, Chambers Bay is not far, but you can play all the above mentioned courses for one round there. It's worth checking out.

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Browsing and surprised to see Tacoma WA mentioned in the comments! I live in Kirkland and I agree those courses are all awesome and not bad price wise. Trophy Lake is a gem and wish there were more courses up north of that level and value

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Skip the Classic at Maddens for Brainerd! Grandview Lodge has the best stay and play packages in the area. Golf the Pines (3 different 9 hole courses) and The Preserve. Then pay for a round not included in the stay and play and golf Arnie's course Deacon's Lodge.

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Have never been to the great NW US courses that i read about in OR = assuming that the “budget” angle doesn’t work there?

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Bend, OR is the best place to go in the NW. I take a group of 20 there every year for 6 days and we spend $1000 for lodging and green fees. Just got to search deals out (stay & play packages, vacation home deals, re-round rates, group discounts, etc). The extra effort to find deals is worth it. Bend has several high quality courses to choose from so we can change courses every year.

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not to mention. 30 breweries. ive been to Bend about 20 times. lets keep it a secret

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YOU OBVIOUSLY PASSED OVER WYNNE ARKANSAS HOME OF THE RIDGES OF VILLAGE CREEK. THERE IS NO BETTER VALUE IN THE COUNTRY. A WORLD CLASS 27 HOLE COURSE AND CABINS IN THE PARK NEXT DOOR. STAY AND PLAY FOR UNDER 75.00 A DAY. WE HAVE BEEN GOING FOR 5 YEARS PLAY 36 A DAY FOR 4 DAYS AND CAN'T SPEND 400.00. CHECK IT OUT

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My name is Patrick and I am an avid golfer out of Salt Lake City. I am a 5.2 handicap and obsessed with golf. Each year my friends and I have been lucky enough to take some great golf trips to compete for our very own "champions cup". Throughout the years of doing this, I have become very proficient in creating fun betting games for each day or the whole trip. Creating videos of our rounds has always been something that I have found fun and has been a great way to remember the vacation years down the road. I wanted to help others with their trip and make it as fun as ours have been. This is a hobby of mine for a long time and I would love to share in your next adventure! Check out the site - http://unbouncepages.com/golf-2040/

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I’m super late here but it’s criminal to not mention Sand Hollow in your review of St. George. The best course in Utah.

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Agreed

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Agreed with Sand Hollow. Just stayed there on our buddy trip....2 rounds there, one at Wolf Creek (less than an hour away),and one at Sky Mountain. All three courses great layouts, stunning views, and perfect, perfect conditions in early April.

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No North Carolina, South Carolina, Northern California, Arizona or Las Vegas? Not a good list

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it says affordable. Las Vegas is not

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Agreed with Arizona but Vegas is vastly overrated for golf. I’d guess the author was providing St. George as a representative of the UT/NV/AZ region.

3f87f5d2-e376-576c-b42e-11c191574110
Commented on

I completely agree on Michigan golf buddy trip since I do one every year (add Boyne Resorts to the list of places to play and stay). Wisconsin we did once and it was pretty solid: Erin Hills, Lawsonia (two courses), the Dells has a number of courses, University Ridge (U of Wisconsin course), Green Bay Country Club, and on and on. LOTS of golf courses. More driving between courses than Michigan, but easy to fly in and out of Milwaukee.

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Am thinking we are "golf poor" these days. I just spent a week wandering around Texas and Texas is not in this Top Ten. If you get a chance to go to Big Bend Black Jack's Crossing, it is special, 50 mile views from some tees. Liked Butterfield Trail in El Paso too. San Antonio has a couple "gooders" too.

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Commented on

Some good stuff in Texas. San Antonio can make a case for some having some good value for buddies trips. I've played Black Jack's Crossing and boy it is special but not a "budget" buddies trip by any imagination. 

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Top 10 budget buddies trip destinations in the U.S.