The 6 most affordable tee times in our new Top 100 U.S. Courses rankings
Think it might cost you an arm and a leg to score a tee time on one of our Top 100 U.S. Courses? Not everyone forces you to sacrifice your mortgage payment for the month.
Several of the public tracks in our latest rankings command greens fees upward of $500, and that prices out a good chunk of us from ever getting to peg it on some of those hallowed grounds by our own dime.
However, the peak rates of six courses fall under a more manageable $300, which is still a lot of money, but hey, these are the best courses in the country. Among them are two that even fall below $150.
For sake of consistency, we used peak season and time rates for each course, but some of these tracks can be booked for cheaper depending on factors such as time or residency.
Here are the six most affordable tee times in our 2022-23 Top 100 U.S. rankings:
6. Gamble Sands (Peak rate: $285)
Gamble Sands ushered in a new era for designer David McLay-Kidd. It was more going back to what worked when he laid out Bandon Dunes 15 years earlier. With wide fairways and generous greens, the Scotsman put down a course prioritizing fun rather than the brutal challenges he had put his name to over the previous decade.
The most a tee time will set you back for the North Central Washington gem, which comes in at No. 82 on our 2022-23 Top 100 list, is $285 for the premium weekend rate, booked 60 or more days out. However, residents of Okanogan County or nearby Bridgeport, just up the Colombia River, can purchase a Residents Card for $149 and get $80 weekend rates and $70 weekday rates for the entire year.
T4. Streamsong Red and Blue (Peak rate: $279)
Neither Coore and Crenshaw’s Streamsong Red (No. 86) nor Tom Doak’s Streamsong Blue (No. 92) will feel anything like typical Florida golf. Built on the site of a former phosphate mine, the sandy landscape presented to two legendary architects a remarkable canvas to simultaneously design the resort’s first two courses.
If you don’t want to stay on the property, you can play either course at Streamsong for the day guest rate of $279 during their peak winter season. If you’re willing to brave the heat, a trip to Streamsong during the summer, the rate is just $109 to play either of the Top 100 courses or the resort’s third course, Streamsong Black, as long as you’re staying at the resort.
3. Sand Valley (Peak rate: $235)
Owner Mike Keiser said the Wisconsin land used to create Sand Valley reminded him of a cross between Pine Valley and Sand Hills in Nebraska. The second Coore and Crenshaw work on this list — which comes in at No. 98 on our Top 100 list — bewitches players with firm fairways, majestic bunkers and one of the great punchbowl greens.
There’s no difference for resort guests and day guests for rates from June 1 through Oct. 3, as each will pay $235 for a tee time. The steal here is to bring your junior golfer (16 or under) and have them play for free after 2 p.m.
2. Bethpage Black (Peak rate: $150)
Host of the people’s U.S. Opens in 2002 and 2009, the Black Course at Bethpage State Park on Long Island was the first municipal golf course to host the U.S. Open and remains one of the best deals to play a major championship venue. Although the sign on the first tee reminds all that the course (ranked No. 30 in our Top 100) is not for the faint of heart. The Black also hosted The Barclays in 2012 and 2016, and the 2019 PGA Championship, and will host the Ryder Cup in 2025.
If you’re not a New York resident or camping out the night before, tee times can be reserved online five days in advance for $130 on weekdays and $150 during the week. New Yorkers get a couple of extra days to book and get about half those rates. Perhaps the best deal in Long Island golf is the Black’s in-state twilight rate of just $39!
1. Lawsonia Links (Peak $125)
Lawsonia Links again tops our list of most affordable Top 100 courses. The golden age Wisconsin masterpiece cost nearly $4 million to build in 2020 dollars, but that cost is certainly not passed on to the golfer. Steam shovels shaped one of the most underrated courses in our rankings’ most spectacular features, including some of the game’s boldest greens. Rumor has it a boxcar was buried under the 7th green to create the dramatic 20-foot drop-off.
During peak season, a tee time can be had for just $125 with a cart on the weekends, or just $95 if you want to hoof it. Should you wait to play until after 4 p.m. during the long days of a Wisconsin summer, you’ll shell out just $70.
Honorable mention: Bandon Dunes in January ($110)
While Bandon Dunes, with a peak rate that will rise to $450 next summer for non-resort guests, doesn’t exactly fit the formula we used to create the above list, we’d be remiss if we didn’t tell you about this deal. All five of Bandon’s 18-hole courses found our Top 100 rankings, and each can be played during the month of January and late December for just $110 with a stay in one of the resort’s many accommodation options.
If you’re thinking, “why would you take a trip to Oregon for golf in the dead of winter,” let us inform you the average high temperature for Bandon is still about 55 degrees in January. That’s only 14 degrees lower than August, and while it may rain more often during the winter on the Oregon coast, they’re links courses! That’s how it’s supposed to be.
While it may be tough to squeeze in 36 during the month — there are about nine to 10 hours of daylight in January — and take advantage of the $55 replay rate, the 13-hole Bandon Preserve par-3 course is just $50, while the nine-hole Shorty’s is free.