When you think of a TPC course, the first one that comes to mind, of course, is the Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass .
The best part for golfers everywhere is that it's actually open to the public, as is the other course at TPC Sawgrass, the Valley Course .
Of course, it'll cost you to play the Stadium Course, upwards of $300, but here's the good news: There are 12 other clubs in the TPC Network open to the public, and many of those -- even a couple that host tour events -- are fairly affordable.
With that said, my colleague Jason Scott Deegan and I have come up with a list of the favorite TPC courses we've played. All of them are open to the public or are accessible through at least one local stay-and-play package.
One qualifier, though. Both of us had The Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass as our favorite, so I took it off my list. Instead, I've given you my next five.
Video: Matt Ginella's top 5 public TPC courses, Part 1
Mike Bailey's Top Five TPCs
1. TPC Harding Park, San Francisco: Two of the reasons I give the nod to Harding Park as my favorite TPC course (behind The Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass) are its location and its history. Northern California, particularly the Bay Area and Monterey/Pebble Beach, provides some of the most spectacular terrain and coastline in the world, which makes it the perfect setting for golf. In the case of TPC Harding Park, we're talking Lake Merced, just a few miles from Olympic Club and San Francisco Golf Club, two of my other all-time favorites. The initial 18-hole design at Harding Park is credited to Willie Watson and Sam Whiting, who did the famous Lake Course at Olympic, and it's infinitely more special after its renovation in 2003.
2. TPC Stadium Course at PGA West, La Quinta, Calif.: It's been billed as the hardest golf course in America, but I don't even think it's the hardest Pete Dye course I've ever played. For me, those honors go to the Dye Course at French Lick and Pound Ridge in New York. The reason is because the fairways are much more generous, or at least forgiving, on the TPC Stadium Course at PGA West . The California desert course is still difficult, though. There's lots of water for a course in the desert, deep, deep bunkers and plenty of difficult approaches. If you hit to the wrong side of the green, or miss on the wrong side, you've got very little chance to save par. There's even an island green. All in all, though, PGA West is one of Dye's better designs, not too far behind Sawgrass.
3. TPC Scottsdale Stadium Course, Scottsdale, Ariz.: The Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale , designed by Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish, plays host to the most fun event on the PGA Tour, and the course is one of the reasons why. Oddly enough, the raucous par-3 16th, which is enclosed by an amphitheater of boisterous golf fans during the Waste Management Phoenix Open, is rather sublime without the bleachers during regular play, but a solid hole nonetheless, mostly because of the interesting green complex. The hole before it (a terrific risk-reward par 5 with an island green) and the hole after (a drivable par 4 with water down the left side) are two of my favorites on the course. Throughout, though, fairways are wide, course conditions are usually perfect and if you play the proper tees, it's not too difficult.
4. TPC Louisiana, Avondale, La.: The host course of the Zurich Classic on the PGA Tour was designed by Dye in collaboration with Steve Elkington. It reminds me a little of The Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass. Of course, the New Orleans area is similar in climate to the Jacksonville area, and so are the terrains, trees and wildlife. In fact, you'll find more gators here than at Sawgrass. The bunkering at this Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary course is just as severe, and there's water everywhere, just like Sawgrass. The biggest difference is price. TPC Louisiana costs about a third of what Sawgrass does.
5. TPC Deere Run, Silvis, Ill.: The host course of the John Deere Classic might be one of the more overlooked courses in the TPC Network, but it shouldn't be. Former PGA Tour player D.A. Weibring, who has an impressive body of work in Texas, did a splendid job using the natural rolling landscape in the Quad Cities area to create a beautiful, enjoyable test. The 7,256-yard par-71 layout stretches across wooded ravines along the Rock River. Best of all, green fees at TPC Deere Run are among the lowest in the TPC Network, as little as $50 during shoulder seasons.
Jason Scott Deegan's Top Five TPCs
1. The Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.: The Stadium Course will always be the TPC's most recognizable course. It plays much tougher than it looks on TV. The three-hole finish tests your will more than your talent.
2. TPC Snoqualmie Ridge, Snoqualmie, Wash.: The host of the Champions Tour's Boeing Classic is only accessible through a stay-and-play package at the nearby Salish Lodge & Spa overlooking the Snoqualmie Falls. The beauty of the Pacific Northwest almost overshadows the work of Jack Nicklaus at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge . A horseshoe-shaped fairway adds drama to the 14th hole. Playing 448 yards from the tips, this daunting par 4 requires just a 293-yard carry over the canyon to reach the green 80 feet below. Do you have that shot?
3. TPC Treviso Bay, Naples, Fla.: Architect Arthur Hills and player consultant Hal Sutton were handed a virtual jungle five miles east of Naples bordering the 110,000-acre Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Thick scrub vegetation and tree cover and wetlands make up this stunning 7,367-yard course. TPC Treviso Bay , which hosted the Champions Tour's ACE Group Classic in 2009, opened as a private club in 2008 before eventually allowing public play. Water lurks everywhere, especially on the Cape hole at No. 11 and the long par 5s at Nos. 12 and 18.
4. TPC Las Vegas: A mountain backdrop and a canyon in your face on the back nine converge to create quite a setting. The demanding carries from the blue tees of the par 4s at No. 13 and No. 14 -- nicknamed "Death Valley" and "Gorge-ous" -- are two of most exciting shots in Sin City. The 7,080-yard design, a former host to the Champions Tour and PGA Tour, teams up with the JW Marriott to provide golfers a great home base away from the madness of the Strip.
5. TPC Michigan, Dearborn, Mich.: The host of 16 majors on the Champions Tour still has the teeth that tormented the old guys at the Ford Senior Players Championship. The 14th hole is still one of the toughest par 4s in Michigan. Even after the perfect drive to a narrow fairway bordered by wetland, the next step requires a 180-yard carry over the hazard to reach a difficult green. This scene plays out throughout the round. Bring some extra balls or your A-game. The course is accessible through several stay-and-play packages at many Dearborn hotels or even the MGM Grand in Detroit.