An Expat’s Guide to the Best Golf Courses in the US and Canada

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10 Best Golf Courses in the US and Canada

Author: Jordan Fuller

The US and Canada have some of the most fantastic golf courses in the world. Between the sheer size of the US and the stunning scenery of Canada, it’s not hard to see why that’s so!

We know that expat golf lovers might not know all the joys of golf in these areas. So we put together an expat’s guide to the best golf courses in the US and Canada. We know… It’s a big area to cover! But we can assure you, every course on this list is absolutely worth traveling for

You may want to hit those golf instruction books and brush up with the training aids before visiting some of them! They’re spectacular in design, view, and gameplay, but not all easy. However, they’re all bucket list courses, so start ticking them off! 

Pebble Beach Golf Links, Monterey, CA

It’s surprising that this golf course is open to the public, given what a spectacular course it is. It tops many a golfer’s bucket list, and for good reason. Not only is it a challenge for golfers of all levels, but it’s unusually beautiful. 

At over $500 a round, it’s not for the faint of heart (or of wallet!). But it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you should certainly aim to experience. 

Nine holes run alongside the ocean, which leaves you open to two dangerous possibilities: being distracted by the lovely view and being blown off-course by the ocean wind. The wind isn’t the only thing that could land your ball in the sea, though—while the fairways are generous, the greens are small, fast, and slope towards danger. 

It’s hard to pick the best hole here. Each one is fair to golfers of all skill levels, but some stand out: keep your wits about you on the doglegged 3rd, try not to get distracted by the view on the 6th, and keep your concentration on the long-drive 9th. The 18th is the official signature, a risk/reward ending to a great round. 

Tobacco Road, Sanford, NC

Tobacco Road has been described as being like “looking at a great golf course through a funhouse mirror.” It’s certainly unique and definitely worth a trip to play. If it’s not already on your bucket list, it should be! 

Each hole is creatively designed and memorable. There’s no way you’ll get bored on this course, as you never know what’s coming around the next corner! Blind shots, tricky doglegs, extreme elevation changes, plenty of sand traps, and tiered greens keep you guessing throughout your round. 

The 13th is the signature, a long par-5 that starts on an elevated tee and heads straight for a dogleg with no view of the green. Hire a caddie and download the course app to have the best chance of getting a good score at Tobacco Road! 

Mauna Kea Golf Course, Hawaii 

Who doesn’t want an excuse to visit Hawaii? This course is beautiful and worth a trip just to get in a round! There’s a distinctly tropical vibe to it, with palm trees and sea views throughout the course. 

The par-3 3rd hole has the distinction of being one of the most photographed holes in the world, so you know this course is going to be spectacular in design and view. 

It’s a difficult course, not the best choice for beginners but those with some experience will appreciate its trickiness. The course may also be plagued by a strong sea breeze, which only adds to its toughness. 

Seaside Course, Sea Island, GA

The Seaside Course is a classic links layout with a dramatic flair. With expertly manicured fairways and greens, the gameplay is excellent and suitable for players of all talents. 

Native grass, beautiful wildflowers, and an unpredictable wind, the course is as pretty as it is challenging. 

Some unique routing, light undulations, intimidating bunkers, and angled greens mean you need to be precise in order to get a good score here. Miss the greens and you’ll have a hard time clawing your way back. A caddie is recommended! 

The entire experience is superb, from the course to the locker room to the restaurant. Absolutely worth a round! 

The Ocean Course, Kiawah Island, SC

You’ll be treated to unparalleled views on this course, with 10 holes along the seashore and 8 running parallel to those, slightly raised so the view is clear and unobstructed from every hole. 

Note that a round on this course is not cheap. But given the spectacular nature of both the views and the gameplay, it’s amazing that this course is even open to the public! 

Newbies may find it uncomfortably challenging, thanks to both the notorious winds and the demanding layout of the course. 

The fairways are wide but don’t let that make you complacent. You’ll need to play with skill and precision to counteract the wind. Small, elevated greens and guarding bunkers will test your game. 

Cabot Cliffs, Nova Scotia, Canada 

Playing along the cliff tops overlooking the Gulf of St Lawrence, Cabot Cliffs is one of Canada’s most well-known courses. It’s not hard to see why, though—from the cliff top you can see for miles and it’s impossible to now be awed by the views. 

It’s hard to label this course, as it plays through wetlands, woodlands, and open space. The course is walking only, which allows you to take in every beautiful element as you go. 

The fairways undulate gently, just enough to add some challenge. Unusually, the rough is fairly friendly and the bunkers are light. Perfect for golfers of all skill levels. 

Rough coastal winds can make the course seem much longer, but who wouldn’t want to experience that view for a little while longer? 

Cape Breton Highlands Links, Nova Scotia 

Highland Links often plays second fiddle to Cabot, but if you’re in Nova Scotia, it’s well worth taking a few hours to play a round here. It’s laid out in national forest territory, so it’s extremely scenic and has a beautiful solitary feeling to it. 

Every fairway is lined with trees, giving you the feeling of being alone in the forest. That being said, the fairways are wide and forgiving, but if you do go off-course, expect to lose a few balls in the trees! 

The signature hole is the par-3 3rd, which plays downhill (as does every other par-3 on the course). You’ll have to lift the ball over a small pond, where the well-protected green awaits. There’s some undulation to the green, so you’ll need to focus to get a good putt. 

In true links style, the course undulates a fair bit, which adds to the challenge. Each hole is named according to Scottish tradition, making it feel a little more like you’re playing in the home of links golf. 

Banff Springs Golf Course, Banff 

Laid out in the spectacular Canadian Rockies, sandwiched between Mount Rundle and the Bow River, this course is playable by golfers of all levels. It offers three different nines, so golfers can choose from three different 18-hole layouts based on which nines they select. 

One of the things that makes the course so playable is that it’s quite flat, despite being located in a mountainous region and having amazing views. It has a classic design but isn’t overly easy, with intimidating tee shots, tree-bordered fairways, and plenty of bunkers. 

The signature hole is the 15th, which features an elevated tee, a 200-yard over-water carry, and a dogleg left to a tightly guarded green. It’s not the only exciting hole, as the course has 11 doglegs, many bunkers, and water coming into play on 4 holes. 

Note that Banff is a tourist spot, so it’s likely to be busy! 

Muskoka Bay Golf Course, Ontario 

Rugged and beautiful, this course runs through varying terrain including wetlands, woodlands, valleys, and cliffs. This makes for a stunning and varied course that has something exciting for every kind of golfer. 

There’s plenty of drama in the layout. You’ll find a bit of everything here—tricky elevation changes, significant undulations, difficult doglegs, and natural hazards. 

Stray off the fairways and there’s a high chance of losing your ball in the rough undergrowth. The greens are true and fast, with plenty of movement so take your time and get it right. Concentration and precision will be rewarded! 

You’ll have an easier time of the course if you take a cart, as the elevation changes and distance between greens and tees can rob you of the energy you need for your drives! 

The Links at Crowbush Cove, Prince Edward Island 

Another superb links course, Crowbush Cove features everything a golfer wants: excellent gameplay and absolutely stunning scenery. 

You won’t find an easy hole on this course, but it’s worth every swing. The course blends into the surroundings quite seamlessly, making it a lovely experience both in play and in nature. 

The combination of wetlands, woodlands, and sand dunes make this a true links-feel course. And then there are the ocean views, which are amazing but of course, come with the ocean wind. 

You’ll need to be in good form to get a good score here. Wayward drives will be lost, and impatience with the elevated, curvy greens will cost you shots. Many greens are elevated, making it even more difficult to nail those approach shots. 


Our expat’s guide to the best golf courses in the US and Canada excludes all the amazing private golf courses that are well worth a play if you can find a member to sponsor you a round. 

But every one of these spectacular courses is open to the public, and although some are pricey, you won’t find a better round of golf than these. And with the sheer number of beautiful courses out there, it’s not difficult to play your way cross-country! 

Gather your best golf accessories, shine your shoes, and grab a new, sleek shirt, because playing on these courses ups your status! 

About the Author

Jordan Fuller is a retired golfer and businessman who has played on some of the most spectacular courses in the world. When he’s not on the course or traveling to play a round at one of his favorites, he shares his knowledge on this website, Golf Influence.

Review golf news: Lassi Pensikkala, Golf Insider, – I keep my readers updated with news that interests them. This article is worth reading – I recommend it to you.

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By MSc(Econ) Lassi Pensikkala - International News Curator: Travel, Golf, and Business

Lassi Pensikkala is the creator of He writes regularly providing thought leadership on topics related to Travel, Golf, Business, Health, and Lifestyle. You can follow him on Twitter @amerexperience or connect on Linkedin. You can read his travel and golf news in Google News, and business and travel magazines on Flipboard @amerexperience Expertise: International Travel And Business Expert Creator of - Education: Studied International Business in Business School of Turku Finland, and Economy, Psychology and Sociology at the University of Hamburg graduated as MSc(Econ) - Language skills: Multilingual - English, German, Spanish, Swedish and Finnish - Life philosophy: 1959 and the 60’s were the golden times of Rock’n Roll, student movements, and first flight to moon. The nordic people were free to travel in the Scandinavian countries including Finland. No passports or travel documents were needed. The freedom still today is the most important for the Scandinavians from that epoch. Freedom is to travel, learn to know new countries and other languages, and meet different people and cultures. He wishes the new generations would have the same possibilities experiencing all that what makes you feel free, and building a strong personality. -

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