The 12 Best Value Golf Courses in America

Buffalo Dunes

Time-consuming, challenging, expensive. These three critiques are etched in the tome of golf literature that should-but-won’t steer us towards a more practical hobby, like birdwatching or that pickleball league our spouse has begged us to join. A round on the links will always be both difficult and swallow up a good chunk of our day—that we can’t avoid. Pricey, though? Yes, golf can be costly, but it doesn’t have to be. This guide to the best value golf courses in America will show you how to keep your costs down. This is a player-tested, expert-curated guide to twelve of the greatest budget-friendly rounds in the country.

What’s a Value Golf Course?

While higher-priced courses do tend to produce superior layouts, that’s far from a truism (overpriced resort courses are a dime a dozen in the golf industry). On the flip side, an affordable golf course to one player’s wallet won’t necessarily align with another player’s view of a decent round. A $20 round might be economical in theory, but if its fairways are saturated with Grand Canyon-sized divots, its greens indented worse than a hail-damaged windshield, and there’s a 10-minute wait behind a fivesome on every tee box, that’s merely an inexpensive play, not a “value” play.

How We Chose These Courses—and How to Get Even Lower Rates

This guide highlights good-to-great eighteen-hole golf courses (short courses and nine-holers didn’t make the cut) at a better-than-normal price. The green fees listed below include a cart, and the figures represent the most you will pay during peak season (excluding local taxes). That means you could score even lower rates during shoulder seasons, or take advantage of lower resident/in-state, senior, weekday, twilight, walking-only, and special rates for even better deals than the prices listed below.

For instance, Rustic Canyon near Los Angeles is a Top 100 public-access course in America that tops out at $90 in peak season. If you’re a walker, the green fee drops to $74—a serious bargain. Wild Horse Golf Club in Nebraska, a very walker-friendly track, will run you just $71 à pied (versus $93 for a round with a cart).

You’ll be more than happy to book a round at any of the affordable golf courses on this list. From California to Massachusetts, all are worth the price of admission; none will break the bank. Pony up and swing away.

Lawsonia (Links Course)
Green Lake, WI
Lawsonia (Links Course) Green Lake, WI

1. Lawsonia (Links Course)

Green Lake, WI 

Max Green Fee: $125

It’s hard to stand out in the Badger State. It’s a hotbed for world-class public golf and boasts renowned courses like Sand Valley, Whistling Straits, and Erin Hills. Built in 1930, this Golden Age masterwork in central Wisconsin, about two hours northwest of Milwaukee, tops many charts for the best-value 18-hole track in America (it cracks Top 100 lists as well). Architecture aficionados drool over Bill Langford and Theodore Moreau’s classic course design, which is punctuated by some of the gnarliest green drop-offs this side of, well, anywhere.

Buffalo Dunes Garden City, KS
Buffalo Dunes Garden City, KS

2. Buffalo Dunes

Garden City, KS

Max Green Fee: $45

If Dorothy Gale had a home game, Buffalo Dunes would certainly be her Oz. Playing a whisker over 6,800 yards from the back markers, this beloved, wide-open muni in windswept western Kansas is the ultimate Sunflower State pitstop for club-carrying roadtrippers. A course-wide overhaul wraps up in 2026, just in time for its 50th birthday.

Related: Clay Payne Superintendent of Buffalo Dunes Golf Course

Wild Horse Golf Club Gothenburg, NE
Wild Horse Golf Club Gothenburg, NE

3. Wild Horse Golf Club

Gothenburg, NE

Max Green Fee: $93

Two Coore and Crenshaw proteges, Dave Axland and Dan Proctor, created this ode to minimalist design in the heart of Nebraska’s golden prairie. Dubbed “a poor man’s Sand Hills” by some—the high-ranking private club sits a couple hours north—Wild Horse’s inviting layout glistens with many of the same traits: firm fairways fringed by native knee-high grass and fast greens ringed by tactical blow-out bunkering (e.g. Hole 11, an innocent-looking 126-yard par-3).

Piñon Hills Golf Course Farmington, NM
Piñon Hills Golf Course Farmington, NM

4. Piñon Hills Golf Course

Farmington, NM

Max Green Fee: $65

Pinon Hills is a shiny pearl in the high desert of northwest New Mexico. Sandstone cliffs, greenside boulders, arroyos, and washed-out canyons offer a scenic backdrop from the first tee box to the last. Fresh off a hefty renovation, this course serves up peak conditions and an enchanting round in the Land of Enchantment.

Rustic Canyon Golf Course Moorpark, CA
Rustic Canyon Golf Course Moorpark, CA

5. Rustic Canyon Golf Course

Moorpark, CA

Max Green Fee: $90

If you know it, you know it—and L.A. golfers know it. Gil Hanse, who co-designed this Southern California gem with Jim Wagner and golf historian Geoff Shackelford, calls it “a public course with little ego and a lot of heart.” 

Bordered by cactus and sagebrush-speckled hillsides, little was altered during the course’s construction—so much so that a drone’s-eye view makes it look as if its holes have existed on the canyon floor since the beginning of time. An earthquake fissure, for instance, splits the fairway at the par-5 first hole, a birdie opportunity if there ever was one.

Pacific Grove Golf Links Pacific Grove, CA
Pacific Grove Golf Links Pacific Grove, CA

6. Pacific Grove Golf Links

Pacific Grove, CA

Max Green Fee: $99

Golf and the Monterey Peninsula—talk about a match made in heaven. Bad news first: This is not Pebble Beach. The good news? Pacific Grove is short (5,727 yards from the tips), scenic (think windswept dunes, cypress trees, lighthouse views, and Monterey Bay frontage), and most importantly, it’ll scratch your golfing itch without requiring a second mortgage.

Related: Q&A with the USGA’s John Bodenhamer

George Wright Golf Course Boston, MA
George Wright Golf Course Boston, MA

7. George Wright Golf Course

Boston, MA

Max Green Fee: $77

Funding from President Franklin Roosevelt’s WPA program helped create this historic 1938 Donald Ross layout, and it was quite an undertaking: Workers used 60,000 pounds of dynamite to excavate its craggy terrain. Today, it’s run by the city of Boston and is one of the hottest tee times in town. Prepare yourself for elevation, blind shots, doglegs, and country club-like conditions. The $1,500 annual resident rate includes unlimited golf—a deal so good that a Beantown relocation is sure to cross your mind.

Related: Boston Public Golf is the Nation’s Gold Standard

Wailua Municipal Golf Course Lihue, HI
Wailua Municipal Golf Course Lihue, HI

8. Wailua Municipal Golf Course

Lihue, HI

Max Green Fee: $80

Hawaii is awash with fancy, high-end tracks that cost an arm and a leg. That makes this walkable Kauaian jewel a true standout: It’s one of the best munis in the country on one of the most jaw-dropping islands in the world. A favorite among locals, Wailua has hosted multiple U.S. Amateur Public Links Championships and remains a bargain of a vacay round. Several holes hug the Pacific Ocean, most notably No. 17, a downhill one-shotter that funnels to the beach.

Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Grand National (Lake Course) Opelika, AL
Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Grand National (Lake Course) Opelika, AL

9. Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Grand National (Lake Course)

Opelika, AL 

Max Green Fee: $106

468 golf holes scattered across 11 sites: Alabama’s RTJ Golf Trail is an unmatched utopia of a public golf project. Every hole at Grand National’s Lake Course is enjoyable, and twelve of them hug Lake Saugahatchee’s shimmering shoreline. Sure to test your long-iron game (and nerves) is the signature par-3 15th, a 230-yard poke onto an island green that makes a strong case for the best hole on the entire trail. Visit in the fall to pair your round with a college football game (you’re a hop, skip, and a jump from Auburn University).

Dancing Rabbit Golf Club at Pearl River Resort (The Azaleas) Philadelphia, MS
Dancing Rabbit Golf Club at Pearl River Resort (The Azaleas) Philadelphia, MS

10. Dancing Rabbit Golf Club at Pearl River Resort (The Azaleas)

Philadelphia, MS

Max Green Fee: $100

Laid out on ancestral land by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, Azaleas at Dancing Rabbit Golf Club is best played in the spring when its eponymous flower blooms full and bright beneath stately pines and native hardwoods. Tom Fazio and Jerry Tate teamed up on this hilly, heavily-wooded routing that pulls a cue or two from the Augusta National playbook. Case in point: the picturesque par-3 13th, a bunker-and-creek guarded hole oozing with Masters charm.

Gold Mountain Golf Club (Olympic Course) Bremerton, WA
Gold Mountain Golf Club (Olympic Course) Bremerton, WA

11. Gold Mountain Golf Club (Olympic Course)

Bremerton, WA

Max Green Fee: $97

Ah, the conifer-lined fairways of the Pacific Northwest. This course was where a 17-year-old Jordan Spieth captured his second U.S. Junior Amateur title in 2011. His caddie was Michael Greller, a PNW local who loops for the three-time major champion to this day. The monstrous par-5 ninth and the drivable par-4 18th are epic front and back finishers. In between, a dramatic string of par-3s, underscored by the forest-framed 12th hole and lake-fronted 16th, highlight this Olympic eighteen.

Four Mile Ranch Golf Club Cañon City, CO
Four Mile Ranch Golf Club Cañon City, CO

12. Four Mile Ranch Golf Club

Cañon City, CO

Max Green Fee: $69

Jim Engh, golf design’s unofficial “King of Quirky,” sketched this tricky layout a short drive south of Colorado Springs. While its bunker-free profile might sound like a gift from the golf gods, the challenging track makes up for it on the dance floor, where some of the most devilishly deceptive greens—many of which are punchbowl-shaped—make posting a low number a difficult task.

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