An Expert Guide to the Best Golf Courses in New York

Published on 10/05/2023 · 17 min readExplore New York's finest golf courses with the recommendations in this guide! Golfing Expert Brendon Elliott lists the top destinations for golfers in the state.
Brendon Elliott, Golf Expert
By Golf Expert Brendon Elliott

Photo by Raw Films

I was born in 1975 in the small central New York city of Norwich. This sleepy little farm town of roughly 10,000 residents (at that time) was an hour north of Binghamton and an hour south of Syracuse, far from the hustle and bustle of New York City or other bigger cities within the state.

This was where I fell in love with golf.

From what I have been told, I was very young when I first picked up a club, around 5, to be exact. My dad was an avid golfer, getting down to a low single-digit handicapper at his best. Between him and my late grandfather on my mother's side, I grew up a golfer, and as I became a teenager, I knew that I would eventually make golf my profession.

I played golf all four years of high school. I learned and sharpened my game at the Canasawacta Country Club in Norwich during those years. I also cut my teeth working in the business at Canasawacta. After high school, I attended the State University of New York at Delhi, where I majored in Golf Course Operations.

I grew up playing high school golf in Norwich, NY, in the early 90’s. I’m the kid with glasses in the blue windbreaker. Photo by Brendon Elliott

Upon graduation in 1996, I promptly moved to where I now reside in central Florida. That move south was always the plan for as long as I can remember, as Florida was the place to be for anyone looking to work in golf. I have been working in the golf industry since that move some 27 years ago, and I became a PGA professional in 2009.

Being born and raised in Central New York and falling in love with the game there allowed me to play some fantastic golf courses. Remarkable golf is abundant in Central and Western New York, as well as the greater New York City area.

Today, I share with you a few of the many incredible golf courses that pepper the landscape of New York State. As was the case in my recent review of Orlando’s golf courses, including all of the outstanding golf facilities in New York would be an impossible undertaking, especially with nearly 1,000 courses statewide.

Considering that, I have boiled my list down to just 12 courses. They range from top exclusive private clubs that have hosted some of golf's most significant events to storied municipal golf courses and other gems worthy of inclusion.

I will undoubtedly miss many worthy courses on this list, and by no means should that be a reflection on any I may leave out. There are simply far too many to list. With so much great golf in New York, you can't go wrong in most cases with any course you might tee it up on.

Some of New York’s Best Golf Courses

Bethpage State Park

One of New York State's best golf courses is also one of America's most renowned municipal facilities. Bethpage State Park has five outstanding 18-hole courses, and the Black course is by far the granddaddy. The Black has hosted the 2002 and 2009 U.S. Open, the 2019 PGA Championship, the 2012 and 2016 Barclays, and will host the 2025 Ryder Cup matches.

The Skinny:

  • Location: Farmingdale, NY
  • Course Type: Public municipal
  • PGA Golf Professional: Justin Koff
  • Website: https://www.bethpagegolfcourse.com/
  • Courses
    • Black
  • Opened: 1936
  • Designed By: A.W. Tillinghast (original designer); Rees Jones (restoration in 1998 and 2008)
  • Par & Tees: Par 71 with 4 sets of tees ranging from 6,220 to 7,465yds. The tips have the highest slope that the USGA bestows on a course: 155.
  • Awards & Notes
    • Golf Digest #39 America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses
    • Golf Digest #7 Greatest Public Golf Courses in America
    • Golf Digest #7 Hardest Golf Courses In America

”It’s awesome to win the nation’s title, on a public facility, in front of these fans,” — Tiger Woods after winning the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage

  • Yellow
    • Opened: 1958
    • Designed By: Alfred Tull
    • Par & Tees: Par 71 with 5 sets of tees ranging from 5,598 to 6,288yds
    • Awards & Notes
      • Built mostly from scratch in 1958 by Alfred Tull with some partial holdovers that survived the rerouting of A.W. Tillinghast’s original Blue Course
  • Green
    • Opened: 1935
      • Designed By: A.W. Tillinghast
      • Par & Tees: Par 71 with 5 sets of tees ranging from 5,696 to 6,378yds
      • Awards & Notes
        • Originally called the Lenox Hills Course back when Bethpage State Park was still the Lenox Hills Country Club
        • Known by some as the “mini Black”
  • Blue
    • Opened: 1935
    • Designed By: A.W. Tillinghast; Alfred Tull (redesign in 1960)
    • Par & Tees: Par 72 with 5 sets of tees ranging from 6,007 to 6,693yds
    • Awards & Notes
      • The front 9 considered by some as one of the toughest on Long Island
  • Red
    • Opened: 1935
    • Designed By: A.W. Tillinghast
    • Par & Tees: Par 70 with 5 sets of tees ranging from 5,866 to 7,092yds
    • Awards & Notes
      • The Red course is a very different Tillinghast course — it features long par 4s, dogleg holes, and one of the toughest starting holes in the country

Friar's Head Golf Club

For those who have had the luxury of playing Friar’s Head, a common comment is that it is a pristinely manicured golf course. Friar’s Head is a Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw masterpiece and is just one of many courses the PGA MET Section calls its own. What the pair was able to do with a piece of land consisting of sand dunes 200 feet above Long Island Sound and a potato field is absolutely breathtaking.

The Skinny:

  • Location: Baiting Hollow, NY
  • Course Type: Private
  • PGA Golf Professional: Adam McDaid
  • Website: https://www.friarshead.org/
  • Course
    • Opened: 2002
    • Designed By: Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw
    • Par & Tees: Par 71 with 6 sets of tees ranging from 5,302 to 7,071yds
    • Awards & Notes
      • Golf Digest #15 America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses
      • Golf Digest #5 Best Golf Courses in New York

Shinnecock Hills Golf Club

Shinnecock Hills Golf Club is America's oldest incorporated golf club and has played a significant role in making golf what it is today in the United States. Shinnecock Hills was one of the five founding member clubs of the USGA. Shinnecock has long been recognized as one of the top courses in the world. It has several USGA events, including the second U.S. Open Championship and U.S. Amateur in 1896, the Women’s Amateur in 1900, the Walker Cup in 1977, and the U.S. Open again in 1986, 1995, 2004, and 2018. The 2026 U.S. Open will also be held at Shinnecock.

The Skinny:

  • Location: Southampton, NY
  • Course Type: Private
  • PGA Golf Professional: Sean Quinlivan
  • Website: https://www.shinnecockhillsgolfclub.org/
  • Course
    • Opened: 1891
    • Designed By: The original 12-hole golf course was designed by Willie Davis and expanded to 18 holes in the spring of 1895. C.B. Macdonald had his hand in some of the early designs. The course was revised four times before the present course, designed by William Flynn, was opened for the 1931 season. In 2012, Coore and Crenshaw made some slight renovations, including green expansions, to prepare for the 2018 U.S. Open.
    • Par & Tees: Par 70 with 4 sets of tees ranging from 5,394 to 6,932yds
    • Awards & Notes
      • Golf Digest #4 America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses
      • Golf Digest #1 Best Golf Courses in New York

National Golf Links of America is a C.B. Macdonald masterpiece and the place where Seth Raynor got his start in building courses. After studying many of the top courses in Scotland and England, Macdonald looked to build a course in the United States that would rival courses that he admired in the British Isles. Design features from Europe that inspired Macdonald in laying out the National included the Road Hole and Eden from St. Andrews, the Alps from Prestwick, the Redan from North Berwick, and the Sahara from Sandwich.

The Skinny:

  • Location: Southampton, NY
  • Course Type: Private
  • PGA Golf Professional: Elliott Johnson
  • Website: https://www.ngla.us/
  • Course
    • Opened: 1908
    • Designed By: C.B. Macdonald and Seth Raynor
    • Par & Tees: Par 72 with 3 sets of tees ranging from 5,771 to 6,935 yds
    • Awards & Notes
      • Golf Digest #7 America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses
      • Golf Digest #2 Best Golf Courses in New York

Fishers Island Club

Fishers Island Club was designed by the infamous Seth Raynor and opened in 1926. Many call Raynor one of the best architects and builders ever. Unfortunately, he died in early 1926, never seeing Fisher Island before it officially opened. With the Atlantic Ocean and Long Island Sound as his backdrop, Raynor included his trademark steep-faced bunkers and two Redan greens.

The Skinny:

  • Location: Fishers Island, NY
  • Course Type: Private
  • PGA Golf Professional: Daniel Colvin, PGA
  • Website: https://ficlub.net/
  • Course
    • Opened: 1926
    • Designed By: Seth Raynor and Charles Banks
    • Par & Tees: Par 72 with 6 sets of tees ranging from 4,015 to 6,636yds
    • Awards & Notes
      • Golf Digest #9 America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses
      • Golf Digest #3 Best Golf Courses in New York

Winged Foot Golf Club

Winged Foot is, without question, one of the most storied golf clubs in the history of the American game. The club has hosted numerous national championships, including six U.S. Opens, the 1940 U.S. Amateur, the 1949 Walker Cup, and a PGA Championship on the West Course. The East Course has hosted two U.S. Women's Opens and the inaugural U.S. Senior Open. The 2004 U.S. Amateur was played over both courses. Initially designed by A.W. Tillinghast, both courses were updated by Gil Hanse in 2018.

The Skinny:

  • Location: Mamaroneck, NY
  • Course Type: Private
  • PGA Golf Professional: Mike Gilmore
  • Website: https://www.wfgc.org/
  • Courses
    • East
      • Opened: 1923
      • Designed By: A.W. Tillinghast; Gil Hanse (2018 redesign)
      • Par & Tees: Par 72 with 4 sets of tees ranging from 5,377 to 6,737yds
      • Awards & Notes
        • Golf Digest #41 America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses
        • Golf Digest #9 Best Golf Courses in New York
  • West
    • Opened: 1923
    • Designed By: A.W. Tillinghast; Gil Hanse (2018 redesign)
    • Par & Tees: Par 72 with 5 sets of tees ranging from 5,481 to 7,426yds
    • Awards & Notes
      • Golf Digest #11 America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses
      • Golf Digest #4 Best Golf Courses in New York

Oak Hill Country Club

Donald Ross's genius brought the courses of Oak Hill Country Club to life in 1901. Oak Hill’s East Course has a long and storied history of hosting major golf events. Oak Hill has hosted three PGA Championships (1980, 2003, 2023), the 1995 Ryder Cup, three U.S. Opens (1956, 1968, 1989), two U.S. Amateurs (1998 and 2027), the 1984 U.S. Senior Open, and two Senior PGA Championships (2008, 2019). Oak Hill is the only course in America that has hosted all six rotating men’s golf championships.

The Skinny:

  • Location: Rochester, NY
  • Course Type: Private
  • PGA Golf Professional: Jason Ballard
  • Website: https://oakhillcc.com/
  • Courses
    • East
      • Opened: 1925
      • Designed By: Donald Ross was the original designer, and redesigns have been done by Robert Trent Jones, Jr.; Tom Fazio; and Andrew Green over the years.
      • Par & Tees: Par 72 with 7 tee options ranging from 5,251 to 7,334yds
      • Awards & Notes
        • Golf Digest #22 America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses
        • Golf Digest #6 Best Golf Courses in New York
  • West
    • Opened: 1925
    • Designed By: Donald Ross was the original designer, and redesigns have been done by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., and Tom Fazio over the years.
    • Par & Tees: Par 71/72 with 7 sets of tees ranging from 3,563 to 6,703yds
    • Awards & Notes
      • Golf Digest #30 Best Golf Courses in New York

Sebonack Golf Club

Located in golf-heavy Long Island and right down the street to two-storied, remarkable, timeless venues in Shinnecock Hills and National Golf Links, Sebonack definitely holds its own. Magic happened in this Jack Nicklaus and Tom Doak venture, two designers with vastly different tastes. Using what the land gave them, they created a very unique look. Sebonack hosted the 2013 U.S. Women’s Open with great success.

The Skinny:

  • Location: Southampton, NY
  • Course Type: Private
  • PGA Director of Golf: Jason McCarty
  • Website: http://www.sebonack.com/
  • Course
    • Opened: 2006
    • Designed By: Jack Nicklaus and Tom Doak
    • Par & Tees: Par 72 with 9 tee options ranging from 4,805 to 7,512yds
    • Awards & Notes
      • Golf Digest #43 America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses
      • Golf Digest #8 Best Golf Courses in New York

Maidstone Club

The Maidstone Club was founded as a 9-hole course in 1891 and expanded to 18 holes in 1899. William H. Tucker designed the original course, one of America's first 100 golf courses. Willie Park, Jr., created the 80-acre Gardiner Peninsula addition in 1922. With that expansion, the club had two 18-hole courses. Because of damage sustained at Maidstone from New England's Great Hurricane of 1938, the club was reduced to the current 27-hole layout seen today.

Not only one of America's earliest links courses, Maidstone is also one of the country's earliest golf residential communities. In 2012, Coore and Crenshaw cleared out brush, restored many dune areas, and removed turf in some spots of rough to expose the sand beneath, while shaper Jeff Bradley returned the jagged, windswept edges to the bunkers.

The Skinny:

  • Location: East Hampton, NY
  • Course Type: Private
  • PGA Director of Golf: Eden Foster
  • Website: https://www.maidstoneclub.org/
  • Courses
    • 18-Hole West Course
      • Opened: 1891 as 9 holes, expanded to 18 in 1899, 36 in 1922, and reduced to the current 27 in 1938
      • Designed By: William H. Tucker (1891); Willie Park Jr. (1899, 1922); Jack Park, Coore and Crenshaw (2012 renovation)
      • Par & Tees: Par 72 with 7 tee options ranging from 4,731 to 6,742yds
      • Awards & Notes
        • Golf Digest #52 America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses
        • Golf Digest #9 Best Golf Courses in New York
  • 9-Hole East Course
    • Opened: 1922
    • Designed By: Willie Park Jr.; Coore and Crenshaw (2012 renovation)
    • Par & Tees: Par 34/36 with 2 tee options ranging from 2,461 to 2,668yds
    • Awards & Notes: A great complement to the 18- hole course, which also saw work done to it by Coore and Crenshaw in 2012. There are two holes along the ocean, adding another special treat.

Westhampton Country Club

Westhampton Country Club offers terrific views and challenging play for golfers at every skill level. It’s a club that often flies under the radar in the mecca of Long Island area courses. With its undulating greens and water views, the Seth Raynor design is a classic example of his use of mounding, bunkers, water, and contours.

The Skinny:

  • Location: Westhampton Beach, NY
  • Course Type: Private
  • PGA Head Golf Professional: Kirk Satterfield
  • Website: https://www.westhamptoncc.org/
  • Course
    • Opened: 1890
    • Designed By: Seth Raynor
    • Par & Tees: Par 70/72 with 7 tee options ranging from 4,994 to 6,548yds
    • Awards & Notes
      • Golf Digest #25 Best Golf Courses in New York

Turning Stone Resort

With five remarkable courses, three 18-hole championships, a regulation 9-hole, and a brilliant 9-hole par 3 course, the Turning Stone Resort offers some of the best golf in Upstate New York — and some of the best in the state.

The Skinny:

  • Location: Verona, NY
  • Course Type: Resort
  • PGA Director of Golf: Miles Blundell
  • Website: https://www.turningstone.com/golf
  • Courses
    • Atunyote
      • Opened: 2004
      • Designed By: Tom Fazio
      • Par & Tees: Par 72 with 5 tee options ranging from 5,120 to 7,315yds
      • Awards & Notes
        • Golf Digest #94 America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses
        • Golf Digest #33 Best Golf Courses in New York
  • Kaluhyat
    • Opened: 2003
    • Designed By: Robert Trent Jones, Jr.
    • Par & Tees: Par 72 with 5 tee options ranging from 5,293 to 7,105yds
    • Awards & Notes
      • Golf Digest #35 Best Golf Courses in New York
  • Shenandoah
    • Opened: 2000
    • Designed By: Rick Smith
    • Par & Tees: Par 72 with 5 tee options ranging from 4,813 to 7,013yds
    • Awards & Notes
      • Golf Digest #46 Best Golf Courses in New York
  • Pleasant Knolls (9 Hole)
    • Opened: 1950
    • Designed By: Ed Peters
    • Par & Tees: Par 36 with 3 tee options ranging from 2,710 to 3,388yds
    • Awards & Notes
      • A player-friendly recreational course offering a relaxing 9 holes of par 36 golf
  • Sandstone Hollow (9-Hole Par 3 Course)
    • Opened: 1999
    • Designed By: Rick Smith
    • Par & Tees: Par 27 with 3 tee options ranging from** **912 to 1,482yds
    • Awards & Notes
      • This isn’t a pitch-and-putt course — it’s a magnificent test, even for a par 3 course.

Saratoga National Golf Club

Saratoga National is a gem on the east side of New York State, near its capital of Albany. This public track is both beautiful and challenging. Although there are several forced carries over water throughout the course, the 9 different tee options provide something for all ability levels.

The Skinny:

  • Location: Saratoga Springs, NY
  • Course Type: Public
  • PGA Director of Golf: Peter Tavares
  • Website: http://www.golfsaratoga.com/
  • Course:
    • Opened: 2001
    • Designed By: Roger G. Rulewich
    • Par & Tees: Par 72 with 9 tee options ranging from 4,928 to 7,241yds
    • Awards & Notes
      • Golf Digest #48 Best Golf Courses in New York

Summing It Up and Honorable Mentions

As I mentioned at the onset of this review, there are far, far too many outstanding golf courses in New York State to list all that are deserving of a mention. For the large part, golf in America was based in the Northeast part of the country.

What is remarkable to me is this – of the courses we consider to be top rated in the country, many of the game's oldest and most historically significant venues find their way to the top of these lists year after year. That is a testament to the rich history of the game and the brilliance of those who were the forefathers of its development in America. Many of those individuals and courses are New York-based.

I added a few more great courses in New York State. I put an asterisk next to the courses that helped mold me as a golfer and future PGA professional when I was a boy growing up in Central New York.

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