Best of 2016: Top 25 golf courses in California

If you believe California is the best state for golf in the U.S., Golf Advisor reviewers have certainly submitting the ratings to back it up.

The top-rated course in the country in each of the past two years according to Golf Advisor has come from California. While in 2015, Sacramento-area Yocha Dehe Golf Club took this honors, this time, it was a remote San Diego County course, Rams Hill Golf Club, that had a superlative year of ratings and reviews from golfers. Six California courses made the Top 50, and it's also worth noting the No. 1-rated value course in the U.S. was also from the state.

Our Top 25 courses in California, gathered from your ratings and reviews in 2016, feature courses from many of the top destinations like Monterey, San Diego and Palm Springs. To compile the Top 25, we used a similar method to that of our our national Top 50 ranking. A course's score is based on their overall (50%) rating and subcategory average (50%). A review is weighted based on how prolific that reviewer is on Golf Advisor, and a course receives a bump in their rating if their score is better than that reviewer's average score.

There are high-end resorts as well as some over-achieving, daily-fee facilities. That's the beauty of our reviews from regular golfers: virtually any facility with enough reviews, and not just those on the ocean or with a $200-plus green fee, is eligible. (A few of the most well known courses in California failed to receive enough reviews to be considered in 2016. Want to see your favorite California course in the 2017 list? Leave a review here.)

Top-rated course in each subcategory in 2016

Course layout: Rams Hill Golf Club
Course conditions: Rams Hill Golf Club
Value:Ranch Course at Diablo Grande
Off-course amenities: Desert Willow Golf Resort
Pace of play: Ridge Creek Dinuba Golf Club
Staff friendliness: Yocha Dehe Golf Club
Most improved
: Boulder Oaks (Formerly Meadow Lake)

Top 25 courses in California in 2016

25. Black Gold Golf Club

Yorba Linda

24. Escena Golf Club

Palm Springs

23. Arnold Palmer Classic Course at SilverRock Resort

La Quinta

22. Carmel Valley Ranch Resort


21. The Reserve At Spanos Park


20. Pasatiempo Golf Club

Santa Cruz

19. Moorpark Country Club


18. Maderas Golf Club


17. Celebrity Course at Indian Wells Golf Resort

Indian Wells

16. Mountain View at Desert Willow Golf Resort

Palm Desert

15. Aviara Golf Club

San Diego

14. Ranch Course at Diablo Grande


13. San Juan Oaks Golf Club


12. Black Horse at Bayonet/Black Horse


11. The Ridge Golf Club


10. Ridge Creek Dinuba Golf Club


9. Heritage Palms Golf Club


8. La Purisima


7. Players Course at Indian Wells Golf Resort

Indian Wells

6. Ojai Valley Inn and Spa

No. 41 in the U.S. in 2016

5. Greg Norman Course at PGA West

La Quinta
No. 40 in the U.S. in 2016

4. Classic Club

Palm Desert
No. 19 in the U.S. in 2016

3. Bayonet at Bayonet/Black Horse

No. 18 in the U.S. in 2016

2. Yocha Dehe at Cache Creek Casino Resort

No. 12 in the U.S. in 2016

1. Rams Hill Golf Club

Borrego Springs
No. 1 in the U.S. in 2016

Video: Rams Hill earns No. 1 spot in Golf Advisor Top 50

Jan 31, 2017

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Brandon Tucker

Managing Editor

Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Advisor. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker and on Instagram at BrandonTuckerGC.