As one of the premier golf destinations, there’s no shortage of world-class golf courses in Southern California that can make for truly memorable experiences. But as any experienced golfer can tell you, no matter the quality of the course, the people you play with can completely make or break your impression of the round. I’ve had outings on gorgeous grounds ruined by partners dead-set on sucking the joy out of golf, and unforgettable moments with great friends on dog tracks. You can’t always pick who you play with, but when you know who’s in your group, picking the right course for the circumstances can help make the most of the experience. There’s a wide variety of groups you may play with, so with that in mind, we put together some suggestions of where to book your next round in Orange County:
Best place to play with your usual weekend foursome
Oak Creek Golf Club (Irvine)
If you’re a regular on Orange County tracks, make sure to treat yourself to one of the premier forms of public golf in the region. Tucked away on the historic Irvine Ranch property, escape the noise and combustion on this challenging but fair par-71 course. The course is in great condition year-round and also features a top-end practice facility to warm up before your round or just get some extra work in on a day off the course.
Best place to play with your significant other
Monarch Beach Golf Links (Dana Point)
Scenic ocean views are a staple for special outings in Orange County, and you’ll find no shortage of those at Monarch Beach. The course offers enough of a challenge from the back tees for skilled players while still proving playable for high handicappers from the forward tees, plus more extreme couples can spice up the round by renting a Phat Scooter or Golfboard. Better yet: make it a weekend getaway by staying at the gorgeous Monarch Beach Resort on the same property.
Best place to play with your parents
Ben Brown’s Golf Course at The Ranch at Laguna Beach
An excellent reflection of the laid-back Orange County lifestyle, this course is perfect for those trying to stay active but looking to avoid the grind of a long 18-hole round. Nestled in the canyons of Laguna Beach, play a quick round on the 9-hole executive layout and stick around to treat your parents to dinner, drinks, and live music.
Best place to play with your kids
Navy Golf Course (Seal Beach)
Who wouldn’t want their kids to follow in the steps of where Tiger learned to play the game? And speaking of history, the Navy Golf Course facility has plenty of Navy relics and memorabilia that the kids will love. Get them started at the great practice facility and the Cruiser Course (a 9-hole executive track) before taking on the aptly-named Destroyer Course.
Best place for a business meeting
Black Gold Golf Course (Yorba Linda)
Built into the hills of an upscale Yorba Linda community, Black Gold has the feel of a private club at an affordable daily rate. In addition to the well-maintained course, the facility features a high-class clubhouse, locker room, and dining area, including a patio with an awesome view overlooking the 18th green. (Personal note: I got married here if that’s enough of an endorsement for you.)
Best place to play with your broke buddy
Costa Mesa Golf Course
In an area chock-full of high-end resort and public courses, Costa Mesa Golf Course is a breath of fresh air for those searching for a more budget-friendly round. With two 18-hole courses located centrally in the county, this is the perfect spot for a weekday twilight round for under $30 while waiting out traffic after a long day at the office.
Best place to show off to your super wealthy friend
Pelican Hill Golf Club (Newport Beach)
One of the premier courses in all of California, Pelican Hill falls on many Orange County golfer’s bucket lists. With 36 pristine holes offering some incredible vistas, it’s easy to see why. Some may not balk at the price point, but if the rack rate gives you pause, you can always join us for a Member Outing for an incredible experience at a discount.
Best place to teach a beginner
Birch Hills Golf Course (Brea)
There aren’t too many beginner-friendly courses in Orange County, but this 18-hole executive course offers a forgiving layout while still providing a fun outing for experienced golfers. They also have a lighted driving range and newly-remodeled bar and grill great for drinking away some frustrations post-round.
Best place to challenge your scratch golfer friend
Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club (Mission Viejo)
Long holes, elevation changes, plenty of hazards: this course features all the standards for challenging even the most skilled golfers. While proving difficult from all tees, scratch golfers can especially be tested from the back tees, which play at over 7,000 yards and sports a 73.8 Course Rating. Good luck!
Kevin is a born and raised Southern California golfer. His golf highlights include occasionally breaking 90, losing an entire dozen balls in one round, and sinking a 20 foot putt on camera on the first take. Kevin is a member of Tiny Putters Golf and his current Handicap Index is none of your business.