Which U.S. cities are like a second home to the avid golfer?
To mark National Golf Lover’s Day on Oct. 4, LawnStarter ranked 2023’s Best Cities for Golfers.
We compared the 200 biggest U.S. cities based on 6 categories. More specifically, we factored in public and premium course access, course quality, golfer groups, and climate, among 25 metrics.
Find out if your city is up to par in our ranking below. To learn how we ranked the cities, see our methodology.
See how each city fared in our ranking:
Top 5 Close Up
Check out the slideshow below for highlights on each of our top 5 cities.
Although “warm and sunny” doesn’t guarantee a high ranking on our list, a mild climate makes for perfect golf weather. Of the top 25 cities for golf, 16 ranked in the top half of our Climate category.
The top half of our ranking is dominated by Southern cities. Outside of a few Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania cities, the large majority are in lower latitudes.
Good weather also makes for great turf conditions. Public and Premium Course Access is a major factor in golfability, so it’s no surprise that the highest-ranked cities generally have the most courses.
Everyone except fans of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail will be surprised to see Birmingham, Alabama, in our top 10 after rising from No. 14 to No. 8.
Scottsdale Is King
- For the second year in a row, the low round of the day goes to Scottsdale, Arizona, which ranked top 5 in 5 of 6 categories. Scottsdale blew away the competition, scoring a hole-in-one in Public Course Access, Premium Course Access, Training Access, and Course Quality. It also ranked No. 2 in Community.
The Home of Golf
- At No. 2 overall, Orlando, Florida, was the only other city apart from Scottsdale, Arizona, with a top-5 ranking in at least 2 categories (No. 2 in both Premium Course Access and Training Access). Orlando also ranked top 10 in Public Course Access (No. 6) and Course Quality (No. 8). Orlando really is one of the most magical places on Earth — for golfers.
The Perfect Storm
- Florida-based golfers might feel they missed the fairway with only 2 Florida cities, Orlando and Tampa, appearing in our top 25. That’s a bit of an eyebrow raiser for those familiar with Florida’s reputation as a golf hotbed — or even the “golf capital of the world,” thanks to legend Arnold Palmer. Florida cities were dinged for their Climate scores because of the hot, humid, and thunderstorm-y summers that the state is well known for.
- California and Arizona each have 5 cities in the top 25, making them the most golf-friendly states on our list. California golfers will feel they won the match, however, with a total of 9 cities in our top 50 compared with Arizona’s 6.
- St. Louis was the top-25 city that jumped the highest from our 2022 ranking. The Gateway to
the WestGolf shot 57 spots up the leaderboard from No. 68 to No. 11 thanks to new metrics in our methodology, particularly amateur golf contests (No. 9). Sacramento was the biggest overall mover, climbing 125 spots — from No. 157 to No. 32 — after scoring an ace in Community.
Putting Golf at a Premium
- The best cities on our list make top-tier golf a priority. Every city in the top 10 ranks 34th or better in Premium Course Access, with 8 ranking 15th or better. They also score highly on Course Quality, with only 3 ranked lower than 26th and 5 ranked in the top 10.
Ask The Experts
Whether you’re new to the game, perfecting your stroke, or a scratch golfer, there’s always more to learn from golf experts. Understanding nuances like how local turf could affect your golf swing or which clubs best suit your game can make your golf experience much more enjoyable.
For tips, we turned to a panel of golf experts with the following questions. Read their responses below.
- How might regional turf types affect a player’s ability to strike the ball?
- How might climate or weather impact ball flight?
- What clubs should every player have in their golf bag?
- Is it necessary to get fitted for clubs? Why or why not?
- How should a player choose courses that are best suited for their game?
- What is your best tip for getting better at golf?
How might regional turf types affect a player’s ability to strike the ball?
Golf courses use different types of grasses in their fairways, roughs, and greens, which can affect various aspects of the game, including:
- Ball flight
- Roll and bounce
- Overall playability
The regional turf composition influences a golfer’s contact with the ball or the ability to strike the ball.
How might climate or weather impact ball flight?
Weather conditions have a significant impact on ball flight including temperature, humidity, wind, rain, and elevation. If you play golf in the Colorado Rocky Mountains at high elevation, you often need to club down a bit.
What clubs should every player have in their golf bag?
Clubs are designed for various situations on the golf course and what clubs are needed depends on skill level and individual preference.
For a high handicap or beginner, at a minimum, a player should carry:
- A driver or 3 wood to get distance off the tee for long par 5s and 4s.
- A few hybrid woods for longer shots from the tee, fairway, or rough.
- Irons that are versatile, including 5 to 9 for a wide range of distances.
- A pitching and sand wedge.
- Absolutely a putter.
As you get better, you can start adding different clubs.
Is it necessary to get fitted for clubs? Why or why not?
For beginners and casual golfers, custom-fitted clubs are not necessary. This can be a substantial financial investment. Before making this investment, it’s a lot cheaper and easier to practice on the driving range.
How should a player choose courses that are best suited for their game?
A player should choose a golf course by considering several factors including:
- Skill level
- Tee-box selection
- Objectives for a round of golf
- Course difficulty and length
- Course reviews
- Speaking to local golfers
What is your best tip for getting better at golf?
The best tip for getting better at golf is to focus on consistency.
To improve consistency, work on fundamentals by:
- Taking lessons
- Developing a pre-shot routine
- Course management
- Staying fit and flexible
- Setting realistic goals for each round
First, we determined the factors (metrics) that are most relevant to rank the Best Cities for Golfers. We then assigned a weight to each factor based on its importance and grouped those factors into 6 categories:
- Public Course Access
- Premium Course Access
- Training Access
- Course Quality
The categories, factors, and their weights are listed in the table below.
For each of the 200 biggest U.S. cities, we then gathered data on each factor from the sources listed below the table.
Finally, we calculated scores (out of 100 points) for each city to determine its rank in each factor, each category, and overall. A city’s Overall Score is the average of its scores across all factors and categories. The highest Overall Score ranked “Best” (No. 1) and the lowest “Worst” (No. 200). Note: The “Worst” among individual factors may not be No. 200 due to ties.
Sources: Golf Digest, Golf Tournament Association of America, GOLF.com, GolfLink, Golfweek, Lessons.com, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Nextgengolf, PGA of America, and Yelp
Why is LawnStarter ranking the Best Cities for Golfers?
For starters, a golf course literally cannot exist without grass (i.e. lawn). As the online leader in outdoor services, we know a thing or two about maintaining immaculate turf.
We can do more than just tell you where to find the best greens in town. Our lawn care experts can help you trade pushing the lawn mower for swinging the club faster than you can say FORE!
So, on National Golf Lovers Day this Oct. 4, park the riding lawn mower, hire a local LawnStarter pro, and go hit the links.
- High-resolution images of cities
- 2022’s Best Cities for Golfers ranking results
- 2021’s Best Cities for Golfers ranking results
Main Photo Credit: Shutterstock