The top 100 walking golf courses in America: The 25 best public and resort courses

Our Top 100 walking courses in America culminates with our top 25, an illustrious group among the country's most coveted, public tee times.
A lone golfer walks in the fading light.

This game was meant for walking. Be it with a caddie or without, carrying your bag or pushing or pulling a cart, golf is better on two feet than on four wheels.

Motorized carts certainly have their place - they have made it possible to build golf courses in otherwise hilly or inhospitable terrain, and they provide golfers with crucial mobility when they otherwise might not be able to get around the course - but truly great cart-only courses are few and far between.

For those who can walk, even for nine holes, the experience is rewarding not just for its health benefits, but also for the fact that it is only logical to take in a golf course in the way the architect laid it out: tee, fairway, green, repeat.

Carts force us to zigzag across corridors and approach landing areas and putting surfaces at oblique angles. It is often disorienting and it detracts significantly from any sense of place. And while GPS screens can be convenient for getting yardages and assessing an unfamiliar hole, they're yet another distraction from the outdoor, natural world into which golf thrusts us.

What are the best walkable golf courses open to the public? That's what our newest GolfPass Editors' Choice list sets out to determine.

First of all, we believe any golf course that is walkable has certain inherent advantages over one that is not, but certain other factors separate the very best walks from the rest.

More specifically, though, two main criteria guide our selections:

1. Golf course quality

Quality of architecture, as always, is paramount. Some of the easiest courses to walk are rudimentary, compact layouts without many interesting features to recommend them. If a course is not engaging to play, it becomes more like a hike with golf clubs than a truly superior golf experience. The physical toll walking a particular golf course takes on a player is a factor, too. Certain architects are better attuned to walking golfers than others, and it's no surprise that a number of courses built before the advent of golf carts appear on our list. At the same time, several contemporary architects know that routing a golf course well means making it walkable, too.

2. Walkability

There are multiple components to walkability. For instance, just because a course allows golfers to walk, it doesn't necessarily mean it is friendly to walkers. Walking may be confined to certain days of the week or certain times of day. A course may technically allow walking but discourage it by forcing walkers to pay the same green fee as riders. The overwhelming majority of golfers at such facilities may choose to use carts, making walkers feel marginalized. In other words, there is a difference between a course merely allowing walking and a course embracing and promoting the walking culture of the game.

Finally, as usual, this list consists of golf courses that are accessible to the general public: municipal, daily-fee, semi-private and resort courses - including those that are open to overnight guests - are fair game.

We analyzed the walking data from thousands of GolfPass reviews of more than 3,000 courses, and reached out to the staff of hundreds more facilities to ultimately find and select the best choices. When reviewing a course on GolfPass, golfers are asked "Did You Walk?", and taking it step further, they can check another box that notes 'This Course/Club is Great For Walkers'.

In many cases, the quality of the "walking culture" of our selections overshadows the quality of the course. For example, many of the best public courses that make Top 100 lists or host PGA Tour events CAN be walked, but with little to no walkers on a day-to-day basis, it wouldn't be a pleasant experience to be a lone walker among a sea of cart riders. That philosophy helps to explain how a number of less-heralded municipal courses made the cut over a number of higher-profile courses. It is also worth noting that no nine-hole courses or short courses (including those less than 6,000 yards) were considered.

From our research, we have identified the 25 best, publicly-accessible walking courses in America, in order from no. 1 through 25. Not surprisingly, many of them are mandatory walks.

We feel this might be the most influential Top 100 list GolfPass has ever created. We hope it inspires more golfers to walk and more facilities to consider making it easier to walk. Let's get moving.

To see courses no. 26 through no. 100 on our list, click here.

31 Min Read
June 30, 2023
Beyond the top 25 walking courses in America, we offer 75 other great walkable, publicly-accessible golf courses from affordable munis to high-end resort courses.

What are some of your favorite golf course walks? Let us know in the comments below.

  1. Pebble Beach Golf Links - Pebble Beach, Calif.

    The combination of history and scenery makes Pebble Beach Golf Links the best walking course in America. Golfers can take carts, but a cart-path only policy makes riding a chore. When golfers turn the corner of the dogleg par-4 third, they are greeted with a backdrop of the Monterey Bay. For the next six holes, they never leave the coast. The pandemic changed the resort's thinking on push carts: they are now available for rent. Golfers who don't want to pay the caddie fee don't have to carry their own bag anymore. It's a small thing - especially when most golfers prefer the caddie experience - but it shows that Pebble Beach is committed to making its legendary course more walker-friendly for all.

    GolfPass reviewer 'gsmunn02' says: "This place couldn’t be anymore beautiful!!! The course layout is every bit as challenging from all tees as it looks on TV!! The shotmaking you have to do at times is amazing but you do get to be creative on the greens! Check your lines when putting 3 times because they aren’t anything what you initially think! The course itself is so pure and greens are like fresh carpet! The price tag is well worth the experience to walk or ride on the hallowed grounds of the greats from the past and present."

    Which of our top 25 "best walking courses" should be ranked higher or lower? Let us know in the comments below.

  2. Pacific Dunes at Bandon Dunes - Bandon, Ore.
    The par-4 13th hole is the last in a string of holes on the ocean on Pacific Dunes at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort.

    The debate will forever rage about the best course at the walking-only Bandon Dunes, but we don't think you'll be disappointed that Pacific Dunes wins the argument among America's greatest golf strolls. The scenery is simply spectacular, coupled with the strategy and challenge of Tom Doak's architecture.

    GolfPass reviewer 'danielseville' says: "Simply the best! Pacific Dunes deserves the top ranking of all the Bandon courses. The layout, shot value, and endless views of the Pacific Ocean ... almost too good to be true! The greens were absolutely perfect and staff is beyond great."

  3. Straits Course at Whistling Straits - Haven, Wisc.
    The white jumpsuits of the caddies are part of the stunning color palette at Whistling Straits.

    Lake Michigan is not an ocean, but it might as well be as you traverse Pete Dye's dramatic, completely manmade dunescape while playing the walking-only Straits Course at Whistling Straits along its splendid shores. The four par threes here comprise one of America's best sets, and they're connected by a strong and dynamic run of par 4s and 5s that hug the "third coast." Knowledgeable caddies shepherd golfers along for the wild ride.

    GolfPass reviewer 'QuantumGolfx' says: "Our caddy, Ray, was a perfect addition to the round. He was informative, knowledgeable, and had a great sense of humor! Could not have asked for a better caddy for the Straits. He had our clubs pretty well dialed in by the 4th hole and he had the right selection pulled for me on every shot going forward."

  4. Ocean Course at Kiawah Island - Kiawah Island, S.C.
    Caddies at The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island keep golfers on track and rounds on pace.

    A stroll by the ocean with golf clubs in hand is a rare pleasure in America. Pete Dye's seaside masterpiece, the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island in South Carolina, opened with a banger of a Ryder Cup in 1991 and has continued to impress ever since. Caddies move play along efficiently and guide golfers through one of the toughest second-shot courses ever built, especially when the wind blows. Lunch in the Ryder Cup Bar afterward is well-earned. Carts can be taken during hot summer days or in the afternoon.

    GolfPass reviewer says: "If you get the opportunity, request Jamison to be your caddy!! Not only did we share Long Island roots (we lived in the same area), but he is very personable, knowledgeable about the course, and was full of anecdotal stories to make the day more interesting."

  5. Bandon Dunes at Bandon Dunes - Bandon, Ore.
    If the courses are the flesh of the Bandon Dunes experience, the caddies are the blood. They're equal parts advisor, guide, local historian, confessor and post-round drinking buddy.

    The 1999 debut of Bandon Dunes by David McLay Kidd changed the trajectory of modern resort golf. It popularized the walking-only concept and set in motion the build-it-and-they-will-come motif of golf travel. There are many golfers who believe this is the resort's best overall experience.

    GolfPass reviewer 'DesertGolf' says: "This in my opinion is the best course at Bandon Dunes. The original has everything you wish for with great links golf. Great views of the area. Fun and fair greens. Unbelievable conditions and hole after hole you are just amazed by the course beauty."

  6. Pinehurst No. 2 - Pinehurst, N.C.
    The first hole introduces the new look of Pinehurst No. 2, a Donald Ross classic restored by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw in 2011.

    The fullest expression of Donald Ross' genius is on display in the heart of North Carolina's Sandhills. The nice but not especially dynamic tract of land on which No. 2 sits shifts full focus to the stunning quality of the course, which tests every facet of every golfer's game to the limit. Greens roll off onto following tee boxes, making it a wonderfully peaceful journey, especially in the company of Pinehurst's caddies, many of whose service to the resort is measured not in years but decades.

    GolfPass reviewer 'tacrisp' says: "After your round, you will sit on the veranda, cocktail in hand and watch this beauty as the sun sets and the pines cast their shadows across the landscape. You will reflect on shots made and missed, then yearn to walk it again."

  7. Pasatiempo Golf Club - Santa Cruz, Calif.
    A golfer walks across the bridge toward the 11th green at the Pasatiempo Golf Club.

    Carts are available, but what sets Pasatiempo apart as a great walk is its compact routing by Dr. Alister MacKenzie. It will, no doubt, be the longest 6,500-yard course you'll ever play. So many golfers walk off the uphill 222-yard third and intimidating 390-yard 11th holes with double bogeys or worse, feeling like they just got bullied by the toughest par 3 and par 4 on the planet. An 18-month-long restoration completed in December 2024 is set to restore the MacKenzie greens and bunkers to their original sizes and shapes.

    GolfPass reviewer 'achoi79' says: "It's an excellent test of golf and a very humbling experience. It's a short course but long hitters cannot really overpower this course. Accuracy is placed at high premium here."

  8. Mammoth Dunes at Sand Valley - Nekoosa, Wis.
    The first tee of Mammoth Dunes is steps from the clubhouse at the Sand Valley Golf Resort.

    David McLay Kidd brings the fun on Mammoth Dunes, the second walking-only course at Sand Valley added in 2017. Everything feels supersized - the fairways, the greens, the bunkers. It's a hitter's paradise that also requires strategy and thoughtful play.

    GolfPass reviewer 'noahjurik' says: "I have never been as excited to hit golf shots in my life. The variety of landscapes and shot requirements are out of this world. There’s nothing like watching a golf ball bound, ricochet, and tumble on these enormous golf holes. You have a stadium all to yourself and it’s hard not to smile. It’s a routing masterpiece. Sand Valley is a really special place and Mammoth Dunes just might be the best (and most fun) course I’ve ever played."

  9. Bethpage Black - Farmingdale, N.Y.
    A caddie lugs two bags toward the fifth fairway on the Black Course at Long Island's Bethpage State Park.

    The famous sign at the first tee that provides a warning to golfers just how difficult the course is should probably warn them that it's a stout walk, too. Some of those elevated greens could use an escalator to reach. Bethpage Black is a proven championship test, having hosted U.S. Opens in 2002 and 2009 and the 2019 PGA Championship. A rowdy Ryder Cup comes next in 2025. With green fees costing no more than $150 for out-of-state residents, this state-owned muni might be the best bargain in our entire Top 100.

    GolfPass reviewer 'DJSlider' says: "It doesn't live up to the hype, it exceeds it! ... Not only do they NOT allow carts on the Black, but they don't want you setting your bag down on the tee box. That's how much they care for their course. Everybody walks the Black. As big as it gets, with winds, bends, sand, long wispy grass, boy this course was more than I could handle and kicked my butt! Just so memorable and (such) gorgeous holes!"

  10. Harbour Town Golf Links at Sea Pines Resort - Hilton Head Island, S.C.
    The seventh hole at Harbour Town Golf Links is a par 3 guarded by sand in front.

    Harbour Town's list of merits is as long as the biggest alligators that hang out in its lagoons, and it includes the fact that architect Pete Dye (assisted by Jack Nicklaus on his first foray into design) managed to route the course through a housing development without compromising its walkability. Carts are available, but the flatness of the property makes it a worthy walk. Any golfer who has played other courses among real estate will come away wondering why they can't all be as enjoyable as Harbour Town.

    GolfPass reviewer says: "Harbour Town lived up to its reputation- it was a fantastic course (for me #3 all time), challenging but fair, very scenic and each hole is a treat. One of the highlights of our trip was 3 rounds (also played the other 2 courses) with our caddie Rick P. I can’t say enough about how he enhanced our experience and enjoyment."

  11. Streamsong Blue - Bowling Green, Fla.
    The par-3 seventh on Streamsong Blue is becoming one of Florida's most photographed holes.

    The toughest part of walking Tom Doak's marvelous Streamsong Blue effort comes at the beginning: the climb to the first tee, which sits on a 50-foot mound created by mining operations. But the early workout is worth it: practically the whole property unfurls before you. What better inspiration to play golf could there be?

    GolfPass reviewer 'ajwilly21' says: "In terms of the actual course, it is simply incredible. There is just something about playing golf in a remote location with absolutely nothing to worry about except your next shot. The fairways are firm and fast, as are the greens. I've never played true links golf in the British Isles, but I can't imagine it is much different than this."

  12. Sand Valley Golf Resort (Sand Valley) - Nekoosa, Wis.
    A view from behind the fourth green of the Sand Valley course at Sand Valley Golf Resort.

    Coore & Crenshaw's original Sand Valley course at this walking-only Dream Golf property is the perfect introduction to central Wisonsin's surprisingly sandy interior. Its two nine-hole loops comprise a journey over dunes, through pine barrens and back up to Craig's Porch, one of modern resort golf's best gathering spots.

    GolfPass reviewer 'GolferJake78' says: "Speaking of caddies. Our foursome had two great ones. I definitely recommend spending for the caddies. They made the entire experience even better."

  13. Streamsong Red - Bowling Green, Fla.
    The 181-yard, par-3 14th hole with the 474 yards par 4, with the 15th hole behind of the Red course designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw at the Streamsong Resort.

    Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw make a great team, and their mutual respect and shared gentility is reflected in their golf courses, which sit on the terrain as comfortably as those built by architects a century ago. Their courses also tend to be wonderful to walk as well, and Streamsong Red is no exception, weaving between sandy mounds and lakes carved out of the unique property. Streamsong's caddie corps makes the experience even more enjoyable.

    GolfPass reviewer 'Drew5024906' says: "The layout is phenomenal. I have played Sawgrass and Torrey Pines South and this stacks up right against those two and could arguably be better. The design is something you will have never experienced before. Each hole is its own real estate, meaning there aren't any adjacent holes near it so it seems like you are playing that hole only. If you get off the tee well, you will be ok and I definitely recommend a caddie."

  14. Chambers Bay - University Place, Wash.
    The view from above the fourth hole at Chambers Bay.

    Chambers Bay, the host of the 2015 U.S. Open, enjoys a western-facing piece of land that affords some of American golf's greatest non-ocean water views and a killer sunset. The sloping terrain and multiple trips up and down the property makes it a tough (mandatory) walk and a long round no matter how efficiently you play, but the sheer beauty of the setting makes the Robert Trent Jones, Jr. design worthwhile.

    GolfPass reviewer 'sorenj' says: "I'm very glad I played this course and would recommend it to any big golf fan at least once. Based on pace and cost, I'm not sure how many times I'll play it again, but that has nothing to do with the quality of the golf itself, which was great."

  15. Pinehurst Resort (No. 4) - Pinehurst, N.C.
    The par-5 17th green at Pinehurst No. 4 is tucked into a beautiful spot.

    When Gil Hanse overhauled No. 4 in 2019, Pinehurst Resort finally gained a course that could compare strongly to No. 2. Some golfers even favor this course for its more varied terrain and (only slightly) less relentless demands. It meanders up and down and around a lake before journeying back to the stately main clubhouse. Although carts are available, 70 percent of golfers choose to walk.

    GolfPass reviewer 'toothysaw2' says: "The main thing I can say about No 4 is that it was fun. The greens were definitely challenging, but not difficult. There were hazards, but also options. Overall making this a very approachable course for any skill level, but still tricky enough to engage the better player."

  16. Streamsong Black - Bowling Green, Fla.
    The fourth hole on Streamsong Black is an intimidating par 5, playing to a fairway and green on an upper shelf above a sandy hazard.

    All three of Streamsong's layouts - Blue, Red and Black - are a pleasure to walk during peak season. Wisely, carts are available for all of Streamsong's walking-only courses in summer. Gil Hanse's Black Course boasts a routing that returns to the clubhouse after 11 holes, granting some flexibility for golfers who may want or need to shorten their loop due to time constraints.

    GolfPass reviewer 'rich4par' says: "A truly epic layout with the largest most challenging green complexes I have seen to date. Massive fairways with hard to execute approaches into every green."

  17. Old Macdonald at Bandon Dunes - Bandon, Ore.
    Golfers cherish the walk together on Old Macdonald.

    Old Macdonald is the most controversial of the walking-only courses at Bandon Dunes. Some golfers love it; others not so much. Either way, you have to respect its uniqueness. Tom Doak and Jim Urbina led the charge to honor C.B. Macdonald's legacy with a layout loaded with blind shots and tricky greens. The putting surfaces rank among the most raucous in the game. A winter storm almost took down the famous ghost tree, but for now, it lives on, guiding golfers over a ridge on the third hole.

    GolfPass reviewer 'dahlryan' says: "Old Mac is a great Tom Doak master piece. I loved Old Mac alot. It is a great course to play early in the morning as the sun is rising. You get some great pictures of the Ghost Tree on hole 3. The course is awesome and maybe the toughest walk (at the resort)."

  18. Erin Hills - Hartford, Wis.
    You'll certainly appreciate the help of a caddie at Erin Hills, site of the 2017 U.S. Open.

    The Kettle Moraine region northwest of Milwaukee resembles ski moguls for giants, and Erin Hills is draped over some seriously impressive up-and-down topography, with long, sinuous fairways carved through deep fescue and jagged-edged bunkers defining the challenge. The 2017 U.S. Open host is a long, difficult (mandatory) walk, with many uphill climbs from one green to the next tee. The caddies here earn their keep in a big way, and are rewarded with one of the best caddie yards in golf. Visiting golfers can hang out there, too.

    GolfPass reviewer 'Dekowski' says: "I played Erin Hills as part of a foursome. From the time we arrived and all of the way through our round, we had excellent customer service. Our caddies were great-knowledgeable and very personable. The pace of play was slower than we are used to, but manageable. The facilities are beautiful and the restaurant was very good."

  19. Torrey Pines Golf Course (South) - La Jolla, Calif.
    The South Course at Torrey Pines was renovated prior to both its U.S. Opens.

    The regular host of the Farmer's Insurance Open and a two-time U.S. Open venue, Torrey Pines South is among American golf's most recognizable name brands. For La Jolla residents, it's just their local muni, an affordable, walkable delight that just happens to roam the cliffs of the California coast. Carts are available.

    GolfPass reviewer says: "Where Legends Walk. Of course Torrey Pines is legendary and a bucket list course to play. I played from the back tees and it was certainly a challenge."

  20. Sheep Ranch at Bandon Dunes - Bandon, Ore.
    The site of Sheep Ranch, just north of Bandon Dunes.

    Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw took the bold - and correct - step to design the fifth walking-only links course at Bandon Dunes in 2020 without any bunkers. The 6,600-yard clifftop Sheep Ranch is so exposed that whipping winds would blow the sand everywhere. The result is a creative walk that maximizes every inch of coastline.

    GolfPass reviewer 'QuantumGolfx' says: "My biggest takeaway from the course was the scenery. You will have breathtaking views on so many points of the property. Holes #6, #9, and #16 were really remarkable, but the rest of the track did not have many great golf holes in my opinion."

  21. TPC Harding Park - San Francisco, Calif.
    The setting around Lake Merced -- such as off the 18th -- is what makes TPC Harding Park's back nine so good.

    TPC Harding Park has a legacy of tournament golf as good as any public course in America. It was a PGA Tour host in the 1950s. The muni run by San Francisco Recreation & Parks received a $16-million renovation in 2002-03 that brought it back into the tournament fold, hosting the 2005 World Golf Championship-American Express Championship, the 2015 WGC-Match Play Championship, The Presidents Cup in 2009, the Charles Schwab Cup Championship from 2010-12 and the 2020 PGA Championship, its first major. The 2023 Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown brought the best of the LPGA Tour for the first time. The walk along Lake Merced is more taxing on the back nine, especially if you can't keep your ball out of the rough. Carts are available.

    GolfPass reviewer 'Michael2777392' says: "TPC Harding might be the best public course in California. The layout was terrific, the views breathtaking and conditions were wonderful."

  22. Bandon Trails at Bandon Dunes, Bandon, Ore.
    The uphill approach shot to a shallow green on Bandon Trails' short, par-4 14th hole is one of the most feared on property at Bandon Dunes.

    Bandon Trails' greatness shines in so many ways - some believe it's the best at the entire walking-only resort - but we docked it major walkability points for the fact players have to be shuttled up to the 14th tee by a cart. Even if it's lower on this list than its resort siblings, it's still a memorable walk.

    GolfPass reviewer 'danielseville' says: "Stunning course! Visual stimulating as you go from the ocean to forest inland. So many good holes on this course you can't keep track."

  23. Gamble Sands - Brewster, Wash.
    Looking back from the 6th green at Gamble Sands Golf Club.

    Gamble Sands was designed to be walked by David McLay Kidd, but golfers can take carts if they wish. Sitting above the Columbia River gives the 7,200-yard course plenty of panoramic views. Golfers can bang away while playing to wide fairways, but the best shots follow the proper lines of play funneling the ball into good spots. Managing large greens might be the biggest difficulty for most.

    GolfPass reviewer 'sorenj' says: "Gamble Sands is just a fun course, I don't know how you can like/love golf and not have a terrific time playing here. And, if you can master the putting, there's real scoring opportunities."

  24. Charleston Municipal Golf Course - Charleston, S.C.
    Aerial view of the 18th green at Charleston Municipal Golf Course.

    Architect Troy Miller breathed new life into this historic layout, and Charleston Municipal Golf Course is now an incredible public playground. Bracketed by residential neighborhoods and the Stono River, with busy Maybank Highway running through it, the place locals simply call "Muni" is a thrilling slice of life in one of America's great cities.

    Senior Writer Tim Gavrich says: "The greens are still firm as the course is maturing, so scoring is very tough at times, but every year promises to mellow it out and make it more and more playable. Charleston has long been one of America's greatest cities, and now it has a public golf course to match."

  25. Forest Dunes (The Loop) - Roscommon, Mich.
    Tom Doak's groundbreaking course, The Loop, is a major attraction at Forest Dunes in Roscommon, Mich.

    Tom Doak designed The Loop as a walking-only reversible course that can be played forward one day and backward the next, but Forest Dunes changed the rules to allow carts several years ago to get more golfers playing. We decided to treat both the Black and Red loops as a single course in our rankings.

    GolfPass reviewer 'hornedwoodchuck' says: "Has to be seen to be believed. A truly reversible course that plays in both directions! The first time golfer should buckle up and plan for a beyond fast and firm course and the need for a serious ground game! The greens on this course are as unique and wild as they get and the amount of thought and planning that went into them to play in both directions had to have been staggering."

Tim Gavrich is a Senior Writer for GolfPass. Follow him on Twitter @TimGavrich and on Instagram @TimGavrich.
Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed and photographed more than 1,100 courses and written about golf destinations in 25 countries 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 @jasondeegangolfpass and Twitter at @WorldGolfer.

Played Straights and Erin hills last summer. What a fun time!
I want to warn everyone! Do NOT rent one of those pull carts for the Straights--Pay up for a caddie! Walking this course is hard enough, pulling a big wheeled cart thru very deep very narrow paths was a nightmare. The course is awesome and after a grueling round when you see the US Open cup in the clubhouse with Vjay's 18 under score your mind will be blown!

I've played both of the Sand Valley courses (and the Par 3 Sandbox - a real treat in itself!) and they are challenging as well as entertaining. And visually stunning, sometimes intimidating. Be sure to make a stop at Craig's Porch at some point. This is simply a great golf resort!!

These are the people that are responsible for six hour rounds: For what they charge at some of thes “resorts” listed, they should be taking golfers around in Cadillacs! Post pandemic golf has ruined fast play on golf courses. Most courses will say that people should finish in under four hours and fifteen minutes. That is ridiculous! There is absolutely no reason that a foursome playing 18 holes is NOT finished within 3 hours and 30 minutes.

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The top 100 walking golf courses in America: The 25 best public and resort courses