8 Incredible Golf Courses Hiding in Plain Sight

When planning a golf trip, there can be a lot of pressure to play the "best of the best," which can steer you to the most popular -- and usually most expensive -- courses in a particular destination.

And while you'll probably enjoy these layouts, in some cases, only playing them means you're missing out on wonderful, often-inexpensive courses hiding in plain sight.

I differentiate these courses from other "hidden gem golf courses" which are off the beaten path but have been written up to the point of not really being hidden anymore.

The courses I'm focusing on today are located in golf hotspots but tend to be overlooked in favor of the more trendy (and spendy) options.

If you've been to these popular golf areas, chances are you've overlooked these courses, too. But you won't after reading this...

If you're traveling to: the Palm Beach, Florida area 
Check out: West Palm Beach Golf Course

Sure, you can shell out $200 or more to play the courses at The Breakers or PGA National, and we're not saying you shouldn't, but if you do so without stopping by this fun, absurdly inexpensive municipal course originally designed by Dick Wilson (original designer of Doral's Blue Monster) and recently restored by Mark McCumber, you'll be missing a chance to mingle with the locals and revel in how inexpensive golf can really be. (I played it on a perfect spring day last week and paid $22.)
Rate Range: $22 - $48 (vs. top area green fees of $200 - $300)

If you're traveling to: Pinehurst
Check out: Southern Pines Golf Course

Donald Ross aficionados treat Pinehurst as a pilgrimage site, with good reason. With the resort courses - headlined, of course by No. 2 - as well as Pine Needles and Mid Pines all in a cluster, Ross' stripped-down, less expensive and charming-as-heck Southern Pines is often overlooked. It's a pity, because it may be the best course in Pinehurst for high-handicappers and ladies, in addition to being a blast for all others.
Rate Range: $48 - $110 (vs. top area green fees of $200 - $400)

If you're traveling to: Las Vegas
Check out: Boulder Creek Golf Club

Given that Boulder Creek is located just across the highway from Vegas mainstream favorite Cascata Golf Club and its $395 top green fee, we consider it to be hiding in plain sight. Its 27 holes - the Desert Hawk, Coyote Run and Eldorado Valley nines - are scenic, playable and well-priced.
Rate Range: $65 - $110 (vs. top area green fees of $250 - $500)

If you're traveling to: Myrtle Beach
Check out: Avocet at Wild Wing Plantation

The greater Myrtle Beach area was once home to some 120 golf courses, with Wild Wing Plantation being home to four of them. Now, only 27 holes remain there, and lucky for visiting golfers, the best 18 remains intact. Designed by three-time major champion Larry Nelson and underrated architect Jeff Brauer, the Avocet is a thoroughly modern test, with moguls strewn about the perimeters of many holes and perhaps the best par four on the Grand Strand: the drivable 14th. Those opting to stick to the Pawleys Island-area courses or the highfalutin Barefoot Resort courses of North Myrtle Beach will enjoy their trips, but they'll pay more for the privilege.
Rate Range: $39 - $84 (vs. top area green fees of $150 - $200)

If you're traveling to: Kauai
Check out: Wailua Golf Course
Princeville Resort and Kauai Lagoons are wonderful - don't get me wrong - but suppose I told you you could play a lovely course complete with awesome ocean views for about 80% less than the cost of a round at the more highly-touted courses on the island? How could you pass that up? And yet, many visitors come and go without enjoying a round at what might be America's most scenic muni.
Rate Range: $24 - $60 (vs. top area green fees of $200 - $250)

If you're traveling to: Phoenix/Scottsdale
Check out: Papago Golf Course
The name "William Bell" may not ring a, well, bell for most people, but the father and son by that name were responsible for a number of excellent courses out West, including the original Torrey Pines South Course as well as Bel-Air in Los Angeles and Stanford University's course. Son William Francis Bell designed Papago, which is centrally located between Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe and offers a crisp, classic look in contrast to the mostly modern area golf scene.
Rate Range: $42 - $82 (vs. top area green fees of $200 - $300)

If you're traveling to: Los Angeles 
Check out: Rustic Canyon Golf Course
Gil Hanse may be the biggest rising star in golf course architecture today, with his design chosen for the Olympic course in Brazil, followed by a big commission from Donald Trump to renovate the courses of Trump National Doral. Rustic Canyon is characterized by wide fairways that tend to "play" narrower because the best angle into a given green is often from one side of the landing area.
Rate Range: $25 - $81 (vs. top area green fees of $250 - $300)

If you're traveling to: Denver
Check out: CommonGround Golf Course

This Tom Doak-designed municipal course is so well-respected that when the U.S. Amateur was held at the private Cherry Hills in 2012, CommonGround was chosen as the secondary stroke-play course. Built for walking with tees close to the previous green, the course is elegantly routed. Particularly if you use Denver as a jumping-off point to visit places like The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, a round at CommonGround is a must.
Rate Range: $35 - $55 (vs. top area green fees of $150 - $250)

Do you have any nominations for seemingly overlooked or underrated golf courses in popular golf destinations? As always, please share your thoughts or read what others are saying below.

Tim Gavrich is a Senior Writer for Golf Advisor and the Managing Editor of the Golf Vacation Insider newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @TimGavrich and on Instagram @TimGavrich.
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8 Incredible Golf Courses Hiding in Plain Sight
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