The Best Cities for Golfers in America

But where are the best cities for golf lovers in America? Places like Augusta, Pebble Beach and Merion seem to be obvious choices, but it takes more than one famous course or a PGA event to be a great golf town in which to live.

The best places to live for golf lovers reach from coast to coast, south to north. Here are the top 10 golf cities in America with populations above 100,000 based on the ratio of courses to the municipal population.

10. Peoria, IL

peoria

“Will it play in Peoria?” is a famous idiom, with the city as a metaphor to wonder if a product or show will find success in Middle America. But when it comes to golf, it will certainly play in Peoria. Despite Chicago, just three hours up the road, this Central Illinois town has become a golfer’s paradise in the Land of Lincoln.

In addition to its 11 golf courses, Peoria boasts the famous Peoria Zoo, The Museum Block, which features the Riverfront Museum, Dome Planetarium and Caterpillar World Visitors Center (although the company moved out of the city in 2017) and the Peoria Santa Claus Parade, the oldest holiday parade in America.

With one golf course for every 10,262 Peorians, this heartland college town’s greens can be at your doorstep for just $654 on average for a one-bedroom apartment.

9. Salt Lake City, UT

salt lake city

As the site of the 2002 Winter Olympics, the Salt Lake City region is as known for skiing, snowboarding and sledding as much as it is for the Tabernacle Choir and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints headquarters. Despite its proximity to eight winter resorts (including Park City and Alta), it’s the warm weather sport of golf that’s making the SLC a summer hotspot.

With 21 courses throughout the Salt Lake Valley, the Deseret can hold its own as a golf sanctuary despite a links season half as long as its Florida and California counterparts. And if you’re looking for something special, a destination those Sunbelt states can’t compete with is the Mountain Dell Golf Course, a 36-hole vista 6,000 feet above sea level on the western slope of the Wasatch Mountains.

Salt Lake offers a golf course for every 9,550 residents. But this combination of summers on the fairway and winters on the slopes will cost you an average of $1,362 a month for a one-bedroom.

8. Temecula, CA

Temecula

About halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego, the Inland Empire city of Temecula is a perfect mountain valley getaway for California coastals. Nestled among the San Bernardino, San Gabriel and San Jacinto Mountains, Temecula has a long history as a tourist and resort destination.

The region features attractions and activities including the Temecula Valley Wine Country growing region, Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival, Polo Club, International Film Festival, Old Town downtown district, Pechanga Resort & Casino and a number of public and private golf courses.

But why drive the hour-plus from the Pacific coast when you can live among Temecula’s 39 parks, 22 miles of hiking and biking trail and 12 golf courses, one for every 9,527 inhabitants. It might be a golfer’s paradise, but it will cost you, with a one-bedroom unit running $1,613 on average per month.

7. Saint Paul, MN

saint paul

Golf may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the capital city of the continental U.S.’s northernmost state. But beyond the 10,000 frozen lakes and high school hockey tournaments is one of America’s golf magnets.

While Saint Paul might sit in the shadow of its more-famous Twin City neighbor to the west, the town formerly known as Pig’s Eye has become its own major league city as home to both the NHL’s Wild and the MLS’ Minnesota United.

But it’s the climate that makes it an excellent golf destination in the warmer months, with an average summer high temperature of just 82 degrees with low humidity, well more tolerable than the scorching heat in the South. This combined with year-round events such as the Saint Paul Winter Carnival and Minnesota State Fair makes Saint Paul attractive to new citizens, especially the patriated Hmong settlers from Southeast Asia, which now make up nearly 10 percent of the population.

Thirty-three golf courses dot Saint Paul, which is one per 9,292 residents. And an average one-bedroom apartment here comes in at $1,321 a month.

6. Orlando, FL

orlando

The recipe of why Orlando is one of the top golf cities in America isn’t complicated. Combine ample space, throngs of tourists, 145,000 hotel rooms and warm year-round summer-like temperatures and you’ve got a golf lover’s dream.

Orlando features a whopping 31 golf courses – that’s one for every 9,041 folks who have made the city their happiest place on earth full-time. Disney itself has four courses on their properties, and Universal Resorts offers their guests access to courses at Grand Cypress and Windermere Country Clubs, plus clubs, balls and transportation for foursomes.

In a tourist-heavy market in a tourist-heavy state, a number of available rental units are in use for short-term or seasonal occupancy, keeping demand for permanent space and lease prices high. Whether permanent or periodic, $1,385 a month will snag you an average one-bedroom rental.

5. Springfield, IL

Springfield

If you thought Peoria was an odd place for a golf haven, wait until you see its capital city neighbor to the south. Springfield is, of course, best known as the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln’s political career, a fact which Barack Obama knew well when he announced his candidacy for President on the grounds of the Old State Capital in 2007.

Abraham Lincoln lived in Springfield long before golf was widely-known in America, but the town itself, with its flat Plains topography, moderate summer temperatures and state capital infrastructure, has become a popular spot to hit the links.

It features 13 courses, one for every 8,836 Springfieldian, surely including a gaggle of state Representatives and Senators and their lobbyists. And to live near where Lincoln did for a quarter-century, it will run you a monthly average of $680 for a one-bedroom unit.

4. Dayton, OH

Dayton

Manufacturing, shipping and industrial engineering. Insurance, legal and healthcare. And, of course, aviation and aerospace. As a central location between Columbus, Cincinnati and Indianapolis and sitting within 500 miles of about 60 percent of the nation’s population, it’s no wonder Dayton has so many industries. And that diversity in the workforce has led to a golf explosion in the Miami Valley among CEOs and salespeople alike.

Dayton contains 17 golf courses, one per each of 8,257 residents. And they aren’t your average public courses, as the city’s greens have hosted a bevy of big-time events, including the 1945 PGA Championship at Moraine Country Club, the 1957 PGA at Miami Valley Golf Club and the 1969 PGA at NCR Country Club, which also hosted the 1986 U.S. Women’s Open and the 2005 Senior Open.

From dignitaries visiting Wright-Patterson Air Force Base to business titans out with a foursome, golf is pervasive in Dayton. And an average one-bedroom in the Gem City leases for $808 a month.

3. Lakeland, FL

Lakeland

The largest city between Orlando and Tampa, Lakeland is known for its — well — lakes. In fact, within its 75 square miles, there are 38 named lakes and many more unnamed. That’s not great news for golfers who tend to spend a lot of time in water hazards.

While beaches and high-rises fill the peninsulas and harbors of Tampa and St. Petersburg, Lakeland’s open spaces make it an ideal getaway community for Tampa Bay and Central Florida fairway hackers.

But unlike many of its Florida neighbors, Lakeland is not a resort town. Instead, it’s had a history in the citrus, cattle and phosphate mining industries, and as a shipping and transportation hub.

The town offers Florida weather, an abundance of water sports and Detroit Tigers’ spring training to go along with its 16 golf courses, one for every 6,753 citizens. Whether you’re a FedEx logistics worker or a Detroit Tigers’ rookie, you’ll still be paying $876 a month for an average one-bedroom.

2. Scottsdale, AZ

Scottsdale

Forty-two. That’s how many golf courses exist within the city limits of Scottsdale. That’s a lot of links. But Scottsdale isn’t just golf, nor is it a sleepy retirement community.

“Downtown Scottsdale is turning into a desert version of Miami’s South Beach. No ocean, of course, but plenty of late-night partying and a buzzing hotel scene,” boasts the New York Times. As well, the city’s Airpark district contains 2,600 businesses and more than 55,000 employees surrounding one of the busiest single-runway airports in America.

Upon its founding a mere 65 years ago, a time when many of its current residents were already alive, Scottsdale had a mere 2,000 residents. Flash forward to today, and that figure has risen to nearly a quarter-million. And in the evening after a long workday or the morning after a long night out, those residents need a respite, which they can find at all those golf courses, one for every 5,951 people.

A fast-growing hub for tech workers, active seniors and golf enthusiasts, a one-bedroom unit in Scottsdale isn’t cheap, going for a monthly average of $1,487.

1. West Palm Beach, FL

West Palm Beach

While its namesake beach sits along the Atlantic Ocean barrier island across the Intracoastal Waterway, the proper inland of West Palm Beach is a Florida resort town of the highest degree.

The city of 100,000 is a hub of culture, recreation and relaxation. The vibrant arts community includes the Norton Museum of Art, the largest art museum in Florida, Kravis Center for the Performing Arts and the historic Carefree Theatre.

The annual SunFest music festival has been held in West Palm for more than 35 years, featuring acts from The Beach Boys to James Brown to Ed Sheeran. The east coast version of the famed Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction attracts more than 50,000 attendees to bid on nearly 500 classic cars.

Both the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals hold spring training here, and WPB’s Antique Row was named one of Condé Nast Traveler‘s best shopping destinations in the U.S.

And then there’s golf. West Palm Beach bills itself as “Florida’s Golf Capital.” The city features 23 golf courses, one for every 4,792 residents, including several designed by Jack Nicklaus and the private 27-hole Trump International Golf Club.

Additionally, the PGA National Resort & Spa, just north of town in Palm Beach Gardens, offers five 18-hole courses, including “The Champion,” which has hosted the Ryder Cup, the PGA Championship, 19 Senior Championships and the annual Honda Classic. Overall, the entire Palm Beach region contains more than 160 courses to choose from.

From the high-rises overlooking the ocean to complexes across the lakes, West Palm Beach isn’t a cheap place to live. An average one-bedroom apartment here runs an average of $1,636 a month.

The back 40

There are many other great golf cities in America, from posh New England hamlets to California coastal towns. Searching for more cities where you can get your foursome on? You’ll find a number of surprising rankings up and down our list of the 50 best cities for golf lovers.

RankCityStateGolf CoursesPopulationPer Capita
1West Palm BeachFL23 110,222 4,792
2ScottsdaleAZ42 249,950 5,951
3LakelandFL16 108,054 6,753
4DaytonOH17 140,371 8,257
5SpringfieldIL13 114,868 8,836
6OrlandoFL31 280,257 9,041
7Saint PaulMN33 306,621 9,292
8TemeculaCA12 114,327 9,527
9Salt Lake CityUT21 200,544 9,550
10PeoriaIL11 112,883 10,262
11SavannahGA14 146,444 10,460
12CincinnatiOH28 301,301 10,761
13Broken ArrowOK9 108,303 12,034
14Saint LouisMO25 308,626 12,345
15KnoxvilleTN15 187,347 12,490
16South BendIN8 102,245 12,781
17CarlsbadCA9 115,330 12,814
18BellevueWA11 144,444 13,131
19EvansvilleIN9 118,930 13,214
20ColumbiaSC10 133,114 13,311
21High PointNC8 111,513 13,939
22TopekaKS9 126,587 14,065
23LubbockTX18 253,888 14,105
24LincolnNE20 284,736 14,237
25TampaFL27 385,430 14,275
26Fort WayneIN18 265,904 14,772
27WilmingtonNC8 119,045 14,881
28Ann ArborMI8 121,477 15,185
29AkronOH13 197,846 15,219
30Grand RapidsMI13 198,829 15,295
31Las VegasNV41 641,676 15,651
32BirminghamAL13 210,710 16,208
33TucsonAZ33 535,677 16,233
34RockfordIL9 147,051 16,339
35San AngeloTX6 100,119 16,687
36PittsburghPA18 302,407 16,800
37RosevilleCA8 135,329 16,916
38Port Saint LucieFL11 189,344 17,213
39MinneapolisMN24 422,331 17,597
40TacomaWA12 213,418 17,785
41SyracuseNY8 143,396 17,925
42AtlantaGA27 486,290 18,011
43TempeAZ10 185,038 18,504
44WichitaKS21 390,591 18,600
45RenoNV13 248,853 19,143
46ClearwaterFL6 115,513 19,252
47RochesterMN6 115,733 19,289
48Virginia BeachVA23 450,435 19,584
49BeaumontTX6 119,114 19,852
50ChattanoogaTN9 179,139 19,904

Cities with the most overall golf courses (Population over 100,000)

Need to play a different course every week? If you’re looking for the cities with the most overall public and private golf courses, here are the top 10 for sheer volume.

RankCityStateGolf Courses
1ScottsdaleAZ42
2Las VegasNV41
3HoustonTX39
4(t)Saint PaulMN33
4(t)TucsonAZ33
4(t)IndianapolisIN33
4(t)DallasTX33
8San AntonioTX32
9PhoenixAZ32
10(t)OrlandoFL31
10(t)LouisvilleKY31

Cities that missed the cut (Population under 100,000)

There are a handful of notable golf cities not included in our analysis because of their population. Here are the top 10 cities with less than 100,000 people ranked by the total number of golf courses.

RankCityStateGolf Courses
1NaplesFL82
2Fort MyersFL50
3Myrtle BeachSC38
4Palm DesertCA32
5SarasotaFL29
6(t)Boca RatonFL27
6(t)BradentonFL27
8Bonita SpringsFL24
9Hilton Head IslandSC23
10La QuintaCA21

Methodology

We took cities with populations more than 100,000 according to the U.S. Census Bureau July 2018 estimates and used more than 8 million commercially available business listings to add up the number of golf courses with a mailing address in each city. We then divided each city’s population by this total to determine a ratio of the number of golf courses for each resident to come up with a quantitative ranking. These listings may not reflect recent course openings or closings.

The rent information included in this article is based on June 2019 multifamily rental property inventory on ApartmentGuide.com and Rent.com and is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein does not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.

This article fits under the following categories:

Michael HochmanMichael is a Philadelphia-based writer with a variety of interests, including music, TV, politics, travel, and sports (Fly Eagles Fly!). His background includes a decade as a programming executive in network television, six years as a marketing executive at a technology company, and time at two magazines and two advertising agencies. He also sits on the board of a non-profit law firm that assists veterans with disabilities. Michael is a proud Syracuse grad (Newhouse) who has lived in Kansas, Chicago, Saratoga and beyond.

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