Picking the top PGA Tour-host golf courses for the traveling golfer

Golf Advisor takes a look the top PGA Tour host courses you can play, including TPC Sawgrass' Stadium Course, Harbour Town, Doral's Blue Monster and Pebble Beach Golf Links.

Here at Golf Advisor, we're rating the PGA Tour's top public layouts - but not by prize money or how nicely the concierges treat the touring pros.

Rather, we're looking at how pleasurable they are for the traveling golfer.

Now, some golfers want to play the most prestigious course. Others want to enjoy a tournament venue but not have sticker shock. Still others look for a great golf vacation destination.

Here then is our ranking of the top seven regular PGA Tour stops open to the public in each category. You decide which venue is worth shelling out the dough for.

TPC Sawgrass, Stadium Course: The PLAYERS Championship

Prestige: 9 - The best field of the year comes to the Stadium Course at the TPC Sawgrass each spring to tee it up for the richest purse in the game. Sounds like a major to us. Oh yeah, and there's this island green everyone can't shut up about ...

Value: 6 - Rack rate is in the $375 range on the Stadium, but a two-round, two-night package starts around $650 and includes the next door Valley Course.

Golf Destination: 7 - Aside from the TPC's two standouts, Jacksonville is littered with golf courses along the coastline, from World Golf Village's King & Bear and Slammer & Squire course, to the Ocean Course at Ginn Hammock Beach or Donald Ross' classic Hyde Park Golf Club.

Total Score: 22

Pebble Beach Golf Links: Pebble Beach AT&T National Pro-Am (and U.S. Open host)

Prestige: 10 Pebble Beach is a major championship host and celebrity playground. It also boasts picture perfect scenery, a slew of the world's most famous holes (like No. 7, No. 8 and No. 18) and a history dating to 1919. Perhaps only the Old Course at St. Andrews and Augusta National can compete.

Value: 2 - Every golfer knows Pebble will max out your plastic: $495 for 18 holes, plus a mandatory stay at the resort, where rooms start at $580 for the Inn at Spanish Bay or $675 at the Lodge at Pebble Beach. (Non-resort guests can book Pebble a day ahead, though tee times are usually sparse).

Golf Destination: 9 - The Monterrey Peninsula is on most traveling golfer's bucket lists thanks to a wealth of eye candy along the famous 17-mile drive. Spyglass Hill, Spanish Bay and Poppy Hills are a few. The area also has top-shelf accommodation options.

Total Score: 22

The South Course at Torrey Pines: Buick Invitational (2008 U.S. Open host)

Prestige: 8 - Interest in this San Diego muni has never been higher after last year's Tiger-Rocco U.S. Open duel. Of course, Woods seldom leaves without hardware during the yearly Buick Invitational.

Value: 6 - Fees on the Torrey Pines' South Course have shot up for visitors in recent years, now $160-$200 for non-residents.

Golf Destination: 8 - San Diego's mild, maritime climate is made for golf (as long as you don't mind a little fog), so there are plenty of worthy courses to choose from. Tee it up on two more coastal resort courses designed by Tom Fazio at Pelican Hill Golf Club or the La Costa Resort golf courses.

Total Score: 22

Harbour Town Golf Links: The Verizon Heritage

Prestige: 7 That candy striped lighthouse on the oceanfront 18th is as iconic a sight as there is on tour, and Harbour Town Golf Links is a classic Dye & Nicklaus design with tiny greens that only back-to-back champ Boo Weekley seems able to hit.

Value: 5 Harbour Town is pricier than the other Hilton Head golf courses, but stay-and-play packages for two golfers are available at the Sea Pines Resort for $219-$269 a night.

Golf Destination: 8 - Hilton Head Island is one of America's favorite destinations, with a wealth of courses both on and surrounding the island. A few favorites include Heron Point at Sea Pines Resort and the three courses at the Palmetto Dunes Resort. Or head just off the island to two hidden gems at the Daufuskie Island Resort.

Total Score: 20

Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill Club and Lodge: Bay Hill Invitational presented by MasterCard

Prestige: 7 - Thanks much in part to Palmer's involvement, Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando, Fla. receives some of the best fields on the PGA Tour leading up to the Masters, and Woods' domination lately has beefed up the tournament's resume.

Value: 6 - Only members and guests of the Lodge can play Bay Hill. Stay-and-play packages with breakfast in the peak season are about $420 and go down to about $250 in the summer.

Golf Destination: 7 - It's a worldwide family destination thanks to amusement parks, but there is as much top notch golf in Orlando as anywhere in the United States. Walt Disney World has four exceptional courses; the new Shingle Creek Golf Club has emerged as one of the area's best plays; and the 45-hole Orange County National has one of the world's most impressive practice facilities.

Total Score: 20

The TPC Scottsdale: FBR Open

Prestige: 5 - You probably won't have a theater of 50,000 drunks heckling you on the 16th hole when you tee it up at TPC Scottsdale, but anytime you lace 'em up at a TPC venue you'll get the tour treatment - especially in luxurious Scottsdale.

Value: 5 Value varies greatly depending on the time of year. Peak rates are $272, while $157 in the low shoulder season (May) is a pretty good mix of weather and price.

Golf Destination: 9 - Desert golf is done right in the Valley of the Sun, which attracts millions of northerners each year to its scores of golf courses, many of them upscale (especially in Scottsdale). Multi-course facilities like Troon North's Monument and Pinnacle courses, We-Ko-Pa's 36 holes and Talking Stick are among many heavyweights.

Total Score:19

Doral Resort: WGC Championships

Prestige: 8 - A sinister name like the Blue Monster, plus a golf design Tiger Woods applauds, make the Doral Resort a tour mainstay.

Value: 5 - Peak season green fees on the Blue Monster runs $325, while summer rates drop as low as $160. Stay-and-play packages at the resort range from $169-$399 based on double occupancy.

Golf Destination: 5 - Doral is the main draw in swanky and sunny Miami, home to four 18-hole courses other than the Blue Monster. Around Miami, however, there isn't much exceptional golf to choose from when compared to other Sunshine State coastal destinations such as Palm Beach County or Tampa.

Total Score: 18

Brandon Tucker is the Sr. Managing Editor for Golf Advisor. Prior to the launch of Golf Advisor in 2014, he was the managing editor for Golf Channel Digital's Courses & Travel. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and nearly 600 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 BrandonTuckerGA.
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